Last night I stopped in at the local video store (can we still call them that now that they are phasing out ‘videos’ and using DVDs exclusively???) and saw the pile of videos that were being cleared out for a dollar each.
Among them was Romero, the story of the El Salvadorian archbishop who stood against both the armed forces and the rich and powerful elite to try and bring harmony to the country. I’d seen it before and remembered it as worth watching again.
Romero began the journey as a fairly innocuous ‘safe bet’ for the ruling class, but as he stood with people and felt the pain of injustice he was transformed both theologically and practically into a different person. His ecclesiology was radical and powerful as he called the church to actually be the church in the face of terrible oppression and injustice. Although it was hoped his bookish approach to life would keep him hidden away, his intellect and courage actually moved him to action and to service of those with no voice. Its a good study in liberation theology and how experience shapes our grasp of the gospel.
I had a debate with a friend recently about the impact power and position has on us. She argued that it always corrupts and changes a person for the worse. I argued that it often does – but that others can live with it and live with integrity. Sadly it seems they often die with integrity more than they live. Think MLK, Ghandi and also Romero.
Its probably not the world’s best made movie, but it is a tale of courage, transformation and the nature of the church. It will disturb you – but then I have a feeling we middle classers all need more disturbing.