Rev. Dr. Scott Peddie

Conjectures of an Eclectic Christian

Viktor & I: An Alexander Vesely Film (2010) Screening on Thursday 26th January, 7.30pm @ The Strand Arts Centre, Belfast Part of Holocaust Memorial Day Viktor & I is about famous Holocaust survivor, Dr. Viktor Frankl, author of ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. Filmmaker Alexander Vesely travelled the world to document the personal and unique side …

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The Lady in No. 6 is one of the most remarkable and moving documentaries I’ve ever seen.  Yes, that sounds like hyperbole, but consider that this 2013 film won the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary.  The film is an exploration of Alice Herz-Sommer’s life.  At 109 years old, Herz-Sommer was at the time of …

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It was Henry Marsh, a celebrated neurosurgeon, who once so perceptively said: ‘what are we if we don’t try to help others…we’re nothing, nothing at all.’ These words were uttered in the closing moments of ‘The English Surgeon’ an emotionally charged BBC film that looks at Marsh’s charitable work in Ukraine. Marsh, and his fellow …

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The iconic and heroic figure of Sophie Scholl still speaks to those of us who espouse non-violence in the modern age.  Scholl, who was a member of the White Rose resistance movement in Nazi Germany, paid for her activism with her life. Her implacable opposition to the nihilistic ideals of the Nazi party led to …

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In this film one encounters a man who lived life to the full, and crucially, lived out his own philosophy.  He understood the import of Socrates’ maxim: ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’. Also, like Socrates, Frankl understood what it is to be human and to experience the panopoly of emotions; he experienced the …

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It was the famous Holocaust survivor, psychiatrist and founder of the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy, Viktor Frankl, who frequently drew upon Friedrich Nietzsche’s insightful maxim to explain the core philosophy of his existential analysis: “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”  Throughout the various stages of his life, Frankl collated …

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Albert Schweitzer (14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965) was unique.  A theologian, musician, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Schweitzer was a Christian who lived out his faith in an intensely practical way. After giving up a career as a distinguished theologian, Schweitzer dedicated his life to serving God as …

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Paradox And Interconnectedness: Seeing The World Through New Eyes

September 17, 2013


As the musician and activist Kathy Mattea once sagely observed: ‘That’s the great paradox of living on this earth, that in the midst of great pain you can have great joy as well’.

Nowhere have I observed this paradox played out with such thought-provoking beauty and profundity than in the experimental non-narrative documentary by Ron Fricke entitled ‘Baraka’.  Fricke’s extended cinematographic meditation explores themes via a mesmeric compilation of nature, everyday life and human activity shot in twenty-four countries on six continents over a fourteen month period.

The existential paradox is presented through poignant images of grinding poverty, monotonous work, factory farming, prostitution, economic exploitation, pollution and the crushing of individuality. The contrast with the beauty of creation, the peace of meditation, thoughtfulness and self-transcendence tells its own story. It is at this level of transcendence, whether it is expressed through the world’s major religions or philosophies, or through some other means, that humanity comes alive and radiates beauty and hope.

I find myself drawn to watch and meditate on the message of ‘Baraka’ when I am in reflective mood.  Like any good film though, each time I watch it I see something new and emerge with a different perspective. Notwithstanding that ever-changing landscape, as I watch, I consistently turn over in my mind those very famous words Thomas Merton uttered during his ‘Louisville Epiphany’:

‘Yesterday, in Louisville, at the corner of 4th and Walnut, suddenly realized that I loved all the people and that none of them were, or, could be totally alien to me. As if waking from a dream — the dream of separateness, of the “special” vocation to be different. My vocation does not really make me different from the rest of men or put me is a special category except artificially, juridically. I am still a member of the human race — and what more glorious destiny is there for man, since the Word was made flesh and became, too, a member of the Human Race!

Thank God! Thank God! I am only another member of the human race, like all the rest of them. I have the immense joy of being a man! As if the sorrows of our condition could really matter, once we begin to realize who and what we are — as if we could ever begin to realize it on earth’.

Merton, in his epiphany, calls on us all to explore our radical interconnectedness and to reflect on what it means to be human.  Intriguingly, ‘Baraka’ does just that too, although this time through the highly effective medium of film.

I’d highly recommend ‘Baraka’.  Once you’ve watched it once you’ll almost certainly want to watch it again….and again!

In the meantime, you can watch the official trailer here (and you can also view the entire film courtesy of Youtube):

Check out Pastor Bob Larson’s website (http://www.boblarson.org/) and you’ll see that he refers to himself as ‘the world’s foremost expert on cults, the occult, and supernatural phenomena’.  Quite how he makes this assessment is not clear.  Maybe it’s because he travels the world ‘exorcising demons’ in their thousands, embarking on tours around the US, the …

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Today saw the funeral of Margaret Thatcher, arguably the most divisive Prime Minister the UK has ever had.  Some love her, some loath her; nobody has ‘no opinion’ when it come to assessing her legacy. When Thatcher swept to power in 1979, I was only 6 years of age. Over the next eleven and a-half …

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