Last Wednesday night as I was falling asleep I began to think about the film The Departed. That film troubled me so deeply that I wondered if one could develop PTSD from watching a film. Perhaps I could coin a new term “Post Traumatic Film Disorder.” Anyone who knows me well may wonder why I even saw the movie. The problem with being pretty detached from mainstream culture is that when my husband and I went out on a date to the movies about 5 years ago we had put so much energy into finding childcare and getting to the theater that we didn’t even think about what movie to watch. The only information we had was the line-up of stars and the critical acclaim, so we thought we’d go ahead and watch it. About two hours and too many murders later I was shaken to the core by the cruelty, greed and power of the character played by Jack Nicholson who was based roughly on Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger. I was equally troubled by a group of young men in the audience that laughed out loud at just about every killing.
So as I lay in bed last Wednesday night trying not to think about the scary images that still come back to haunt me I began to pray against the stronghold of violence in our culture. I prayed for peace and justice and that such a mean and wicked man could be brought down. The following morning as I was washing up breakfast dishes and listening to NPR I stood hands deep in soapy suds in utter amazement. They had announced that James “Whitey” Bulger had been caught in LA on Wednesday. It is moments like these that affirm my belief that our thoughts are not random and that prayer can connect us to the heart of God and to the needs of people we may never meet here on Earth. He would have already been arrested when he came to my mind that night, but I still think God brought him to my mind on purpose. I know that the arrest of one man and the prayers of one woman will not bring sudden peace to crime ridden streets, it won’t stop violent media from streaming into hearts and homes, it won’t make those young men in the theater weep instead of rejoice at suffering. But perhaps troubling things come to our minds so that we can join the fight against them and their destructive power. Rather than being paralyzed or overcome by fear we can be stirred to action, even if that action is as simple as a prayer. So the next time my mind is assaulted by some troubling detail of the state of the world today I will turn it into prayer and not be too surprised when God hears and answers it. Imagine if we all prayed more. Oh and Michael and I learned that we are better off spending our date night money on nice restaurants, or concerts or contra dancing - things we KNOW we’ll enjoy and not trust Hollywood to entertain (or terrorize) us.
“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)