February 13, 2019
While retaining the skepticism of the James Baldwin novel, Barry Jenkins’ Beale Street also offers a more nuanced view of Christian faith.
Real faith that is accepted by God is always rooted in Jesus Christ. I, like the characters you speak of, prayed before meals, asked God to bless my son (born in 1975) born outside of marriage, and celebrated with many a “toast”. But it wasn’t “true” faith. To hold up this type of characterization as real faith dissuades folks from realizing they need repentance. I was born again in 1980 and by God’s grace able to lead my teenage son to real faith in Christ. Sure, the hypocritical “Christian” in the film reacts in a way that is unloving but that is rarely seen among the saints. As a matter of fact, my girlfriends parents were devout Christians who embraced our son and myself, even when they understood that I wasn’t marrying their daughter. It was their unconditional love and acceptance that helped me understand true Christianity.
I happened to read some bios about James Baldwin this morning. Being a believer, I'm always curious about how people who have impacted what I call the "American culture", and thier view of the Christian faith. I'm speaking not of christiandom but of the basic tenets of christianity set forth by Christ and the new testament writers. That in turn lead to your review of " If Beale Street Could Talk". I did not watch the film, because of what I thought Baldwin's own seeming animosity towards Christianity, partially by his early experiences with his rigidly over-pious somewhat hateful stepfather/pastor and some particularly dogmatic church bodies. But after reading your review, the Spirit, as he always does, nudges me towards doings things my fallen mind shys away from, so I've chosen to see the film, and make up mind. I feel sorry for Baldwin though, as it seems the "Church" failed him. My hope is that, privately, perhaps in his last days, he opened to the Good Sheperd, and found the jouyous grace, peace, and acceptance of God who made him.
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