I've just seen two amazing films which came in the mail on successive days. The first I saw four years ago, at the Seattle Arab Film Festival. Then I moved to Morocco for three years and learned some of the language and culture. I just now saw it through Blockbuster's DVD by Mail program- Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets.
As Hideous Kinky shows a truer portrayal of Morocco than any other movie I've seen, so Ali Zaoua shows the real Casablanca. Casablanca, Dar Baida, is not like the rest of Morocco. It's big, dirty, ugly, and gritty. What it has going for it is the people. Six million of them, with three million living in shanty towns, and the rest struggling to find work and live in poverty. Dar Baida has the potential, to live with and care for the poor. This is what this movie shows. It is about kids, sniffing glue, experiencing the horror of life on the streets, with mothers as prostitutes- all life so real it's difficult to take it in. It also shows some of the hope they have; some of it tied to that greatest of all football teams, Raja.
I was just overcome with nostalgia as I watched this. Here was not only my favorite team, but the Dareeja I had grown to know and love (sometimes not completely accurately translated), the schoolgirls in white frocks, the red taxi cabs, the beggars, the docks, the Twin Towers- it brought back many fond memories as I played it over and over again to catch every nuance. For anyone interested in Morocco, or living there, I would highly recommend it. And all those times when you wished for some medium of a story in Dareeja- here it is, complete with subtitles.
The second movie was one I've mentioned afore in late August. Late last month my dad's narration of the movie Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher showed on KQED. Frisbee is about the guy who comes the closest to being the founding father of the Jesus Movement. It was due to him that Calvary Chapel and Vineyard exist at all. He was there not only on the nights when the Spirit came down initially in those two churches, back when they were an Assembly of God and a Calvary respectively, but he was the impetus for their growth and the movement of the Spirit. He was the evangelist, healer, and exorcist of those churches- not Chuck Smith or John Wimbur, for all the good that they did do. He was there at Fuller Seminary the night Peter Wagner first realized about Signs and Wonders. This movie describes the power that flowed through Lonnie, which even the skeptics couldn't deny. People wary of charlatans were impressed at how the presence of the Holy Spirit was palpable when Lonnie was present.
But he's been erased from the histories of Calvary and Vineyard. As I realized how he was linked to these different pivotal moments in recent Spirit history, I tried to do a paper on him at one point when I was at Fuller. But I couldn't get Wimbur or Smith to return my calls, despite a rather high profile last name. The best I got was a note from Wimbur's son saying he was too busy. At the time I didn't realize the controversy I was stepping into.
What do you do when the founder of your church turns out to be gay? What do you do when the impetus of the growth of your movement struggles with bitterness and doesn't seem to care at all about working on a healthy relationship with his wife? What do you do when a man obviously filled with the Holy Spirit dies of AIDS? This is the story the movie addresses. David di Sabatino calls this a Biblical story, for it is the story of how God uses tragically flawed people to show His glory greater. He uses Deborah, Gideon, Sampson, Delilah, David, Peter... the list goes on and on, for not many of us were wise in the eyes of the world, or great, or glorious. That is the brilliance of Christianity, and of Christ's message. He uses the weak to confound the strong.
This movie speaks powerfully to me. When I was 13, living on the Big Island of Hawaii, I briefly met Lonnie, just before he died. He was leading a prayer time, and he laid hands on me, and the Spirit came down powerfully, perhaps for the first time for me, as Lonnie prophesied about events in my future.
I think of my Dad, and the things he's done for the Kingdom, with thousands coming to Christ through his work. But he's made mistakes at times, and like Lonnie, I am impressed at how he's been written out of histories as inconvenient.
I think of myself, and the struggles I have around evolution. I don't see it as an error, but rather a scarlet E. Seeing the power of God in it, affirming the science behind it, has closed doors to me in the Evangelical world, both in the past and the future. I think of how we all have ways we are the 100th sheep, and ostracized because we don't fit the mold- or ostracize others because they don't fit our box of who God would want. That's what this movie is about.