Preaching Connection: Death

Movies for Preaching

The Thin Red Line (1998) – 5

The Thin Red Line (1998).  Written and directed Terrence Malick.  Starring James Caviezel, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, and Elias Koteas.  170 mins; rated R.  Metacritic: 78%; Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Films have not historically done much with death.  By this, I mean real actual dying.  In general movies have greatly prettified the usually stark and often…

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The Thin Red Line (1998) – 1

The Thin Red Line (1998).  Written and directed Terrence Malick.  Starring James Caviezel, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, and Elias Koteas.  170 mins; rated R.  Metacritic: 78%; Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. The big question, crisply and resonantly put, comes late in the film, though throughout it has echoed and ramified through people and events.  It comes in…

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Reading for Preaching

The Seven Perennial Sins and Their Offspring

“For centuries philosophers have recommended an exercise to lend more gravity to our lives, that is, contemplating our mortality.  A common epitaph one comes across on old tombstones is memento mori, ‘remember, you must die.’  Death is a lonely road and you travel it but once.  So people postpone writing wills, make excuses for not...
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Band of Brothers

War is hell, but there are dimensions of battle that become “secret attractions,” as Glenn Gray (a member of E Company) writes. For one thing combat is a spectacle. Its sights and sounds are dramatic—fireworks displays of bursting shells, antiaircraft searchlights bouncing beams off clouds to illuminate the battlefield below, and also flares and tracers....
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Treblinka

On rifle shooting of Jewish victims at close range in Poland. “The inadequacies of the system, which were of two kinds, technical and psychological, had to do with the method of execution, namely, shooting. In the first place, shooting produced a low output, and in the second place, it created a relationship between the executioner...
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“That the Taste of Good and Evil Depends in Large Part on the Opinion that We Have of Them”

The stoic Montaigne: “O. Maximus buried his son, a consul; M. Cato his, a praetor-elect; and L. Paulus both of his, within a few days, with a calm face that bore no sign of grief.” One guy had three grownup children die violently in one day. “He all but took it as a favor. And...
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The Year of Magical Thinking

People in grief “think a great deal about self-pity. We worry it, dread it, scourge our thinking for signs of it. We fear that our actions will reveal the condition tellingly described as ‘dwelling on it.’ We understand the aversion most of us have to ‘dwelling on it.’ Visible mourning reminds us of death, which...
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Eyes of Prey

A physician speaks: “When you know somebody’s about to die, well, there are things that have to be done with the body and the room. You have to clean up the room, you have to prepare to move the body down to Pathology. Some patients are quite clearheaded when they’re dying. So how must it...
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Self-Consciousness: Memoirs

Hemingway, 1947, wrote of recovering from World War I wounds: “I was very ignorant at nineteen and had read little and I remember the sudden happiness and the feeling of having a permanent protecting talisman when a young British officer I met in the hospital first wrote out for me, so that I could remember...
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From Beirut to Jerusalem

Friedman describes what street life was like during Lebanon’s civil war in the 1980s: “The frightening thing about Beirut is the prospect of dying a random death there. Long distance sniping and shelling make it difficult or impossible to say where bullets or shells will land, and their launchers don’t care. You never know whether...
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The Sacred Journey

Buechner’s father committed suicide one Saturday morning in 1936. Buechner writes, “When somebody you love dies, Mark Twain said, it is like when your house burns down; it isn’t for years that you realize the full extent of your loss.”
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The Pilgrim’s Progress

When Mr. Valiant-for-Truth understood that his time to die had come, he said to his friends “’I am going to my fathers, and though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give...
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To a God Unknown

(Joseph’s wife, Elizabeth, has just died in a fall at the strange rock in the glade where the two of them felt the mysterious Life-Force moving). “He went to his own dark home and lighted the lamps and set fire in the stove. The clock wound by Elizabeth still ticked, storing in its spring the...
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East of Eden

“I have wondered why it is that some people are less affected and torn by the verities of life and death than others. Una’s death cut the earth from under Samuel’s feet and opened his defended keep and let in old age. On the other hand Liza, who surely loved her family as deeply as...
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The Life of Samuel Johnson

In Johnson’s play Irene, Demetrius speaks to Aspasia, a dead woman he had loved: “From those bright regions of eternal day, Where now thou shinest amongst thy fellow saints, Array’d in purer light, look down on me! In pleasing visions and delusive dreams, O! soothe my soul, and teach me how to lose thee.” That...
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Additional content related to Death

Psalm 16

Probably we misread Psalm 16, or at least its most famous verses about how our bodies will rest secure.  We have all been to our share of funerals that lift out verses 9-11 and put a resurrection spin on them.  And maybe as Christians exegeting the Old Testament there is something right about that.  All…

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Mark 6:14-29

How sordid.  How tawdry.  How stupid.  How tragic.  It’s all here in Mark 6 where we learn to our shock and sadness that the last great Old Testament prophet and the first great New Testament gospel herald, John the Baptist himself, was done in because of a boozy promise made by an oversexed older man…

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John 3:1-17

I wonder what Nicodemus was thinking about when he walked home that night. My guess is that it wasn’t the Doctrine of the Trinity!  Yet this is the Year B passage assigned for Trinity Sunday.  So what did he ponder?  No clue.  John doesn’t tell us.  That’s ironic seeing as, according to John’s reportage at…

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2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

So here we are at the most intimate, and soul laid bare, part of Paul’s letters to Timothy. In these sermon starters, we’ve hinted all along about what Paul reveals in these verses—that he’s at the end of his earthly life, abandoned by fellow ministry partners, waiting on his imminent death. The lectionary selection leaves…

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John 12:1-8

In Tennessee Williams’ play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, one of the characters keeps saying over and over to the character of Big Daddy that you can just smell “the mendacity in the air.”  This was a play with many layers of deception and lying and it became so very nearly palpable to some…

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