Russell D. Moore Gives His Thoughts on “Boyhood”

Russell D. Moore
Russell D. Moore

The other night I was mentally exhausted from writing frenetically on two book projects, so I did a Binx Bolling and slipped off to a late-night movie. The film was “Boyhood,” directed by Richard Linklater, filmed over twelve years with the same cast. I’m glad I was in an almost empty theater, because I sat there in tears.

To be honest, I went mostly for cultural analysis, to be prepared to answer questions about it. The film is groundbreaking in approach, and deals with the issues I work with every day, family dissolution and substance abuse and so on. But this film is about more than that. It’s about, as Jesus put it, sin, righteousness, and judgment.

Let me put my culture-warrior armor on first for moment, since that’s what I was expecting to be as I sat there. The film shows honestly what can happen when marriages break apart. The child Mason, whose perspective guides the film, moves from school to school, peer group to peer group, and from one drunk, mean, abusive stepfather to another.

In the father, played by Ethan Hawke, I saw a familiar figure, the fun but irresponsible adult. In his constant political opinions, I recognized what I see everyday on social media. The people who can least keep their lives together seem often to be the most willing to be Facebook warriors, fighting it out on politics or religion.

I winced at the profanity, the violent bullying, and the awful situations this young man found himself in. But my response wasn’t what I thought it would be. It wasn’t, “See! This is why fathers are crucial,” as true as that is. Instead, I found myself breaking down in tears, because Mason in the film was, alternatively, the ages of four of my sons. I could imagine, through his eyes, them having to navigate all this trauma.

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SOURCE: Moore to the Point
Russell D. Moore is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral and public policy agency of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

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