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God's Top Ten and Children of Men

Book

God’s Top Ten: Blowing the Lid Off the Commandments by Anne Robertson spells out the challenges faced by all who try to follow these guides to morality. Robertson, a Methodist minister and retreat leader, has written a substantive volume that has no shortage of prophetic rigor. She believes we need to apply the Ten Commandments to the complex choices of our times. In her muscular treatment of the First Commandment, for example, she discusses the bottom line—the national interest, freedom, gun control, hate speech and the Pledge of Allegiance. You know after reading this chapter that you are in the presence of a gutsy and sober-minded Christian who takes the ideal of social responsibility seriously.

Robertson hits high stride in her robust and hard-hitting treatment of the Sixth Commandment, which forbids killing. In this chapter, she covers stem-cell research, abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, war, the taking of animal life and hunting. God’s Top Ten should be studied in small groups: It offers wise Christian counsel and relevant material on the most pressing ethical issues of the day (Morehouse Publishing).

Movie

Children of Men is an engrossing science-fiction film set in England in 2027. The country is under martial law since terrorists have been bombing public places. Illegal immigrants have been rounded up and put in pens for deportation. The public is mourning the death of 18-year-old Diego Ricardo, who amazingly was the youngest person in the world. Since the flu epidemic of 2009, women haven’t been able to give birth, although scientists in the Human Project are working on a remedy.

Theo Faron (Clive Owen) meets up with Julian (Julianne Moore), a lover of 20 years ago when they were both activists, and learns that she wants him to get transit papers for Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), a young, black, illegal immigrant, so they can take her to the Human Project. The big surprise is that Kee is pregnant.

Children of Men, directed by Mexican Alfonso Cuaron, is based on a 1992 novel by P.D. James and brings to mind two other dystopian dramas—1984 and the screen adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale—and like those difficult dramas, it is not for everyone.

Theo is a former idealist who still harbors some embers that can flash into flame. On his mission of mercy with Kee, he becomes a nurturing male who is willing to do all he can to protect her and her baby. The film speaks poignantly about the tragedy of blaming refugees for all the problems in society. But even more to the religious point, it recognizes, as theologian Howard Thurman once wrote, that the birth of a child “suggests the growing edge of human life, the hope of every generation.” (Universal Pictures, R—for strong violence, language, some drug use and brief nudity).


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