Friday, 16 March 2012

Machine Gun Preacher

Last night I watched the movie Machine Gun Preacher (here's the official site). It was quite interesting to note the transformation of Sam Childers from a drug addict to a 'missionary' with a very definite and clear vision. The movie is based on the book Another Man's War and describes the story of an American who takes up the gun, again, albeit for a different cause now. That too in a far off land, Uganda to save children from becoming victims of a bloody civil war.

It also in a subtle way shows the swings of the 'hero' between his personal life and the chosen extended family; between reliance on God and carrying out His mission and his own determination to 'set things right'; between being a preacher and a mercenary...

Gerard Butler, who plays the lead role, does a great work and as one review of the movie reads, his "born again, dead again" characterisation is something that makes the movie realistic. An interesting angle to this movie is the recent outcry on social media against Kony and the 'wave' to get rid of him and save the children of Uganda and South Sudan.

Besides these contemporary and actual facts, the movie raises several moral questions. The most challenging of them is perhaps the one posed directly by Sam Childers himself at the end of the movie.

... If your child or family member was abducted today, if a mad man came in or a terrorist came in, abducted your family member or your child, and if I said to you, "I can bring your child home," does it matter how I bring him home?

In another instance in the movie, a relief worker questions Sam Childers' 'rogue' means of carrying out his 'ministry', to which he replies that he does the same thing as she, but in a different way. Having heard all his arguments, she concludes, "Kony too had the same reasons when he began his reign of terror!"

I suppose it is a thin line that one treads here. Killing a human being is always wrong, but does become permissible if that one wrong preserves and promotes the lives of several children?

(last photo: the real Sam Childers)

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