No debating The Great Debaters

Preparing for a wedding ceremony last week gave me cause to consider the differing ways people connect with media. The young couple selected a couple of musical pieces from one of my favorite groups, Coldplay. Wanting to understand the connection I spent time listening, reading lyrics and locating any back story on the two songs. These two young people found the lyrics expressive of the way their relationship brought deep and important meaning to their lives.

Undoubtedly when directors and producers select a movie script they often consider the same issues. We went to a later dinner and a movie with the staff of our church for a post-Christmas get together. Nathan suggested we see “The Great Debaters.” Others may be far better critics than I, but I suggest someone(s) ought to win awards for this one. Set in Marshall, Texas, the story of the debate team from Wiley College is nothing short of gripping.

Stories change lives. The intersection of Henry Lowe, Samantha Booke and James Farmer Jr. stirs us to  understand the way in which our relationships shape our very lives. Maybe this is an obvious assertion. But, in a day where we must constantly wrestle with an overconfident individualism, The Great Debaters does more than make us aware of the subtleties of a glance (like a son to a father or a father to a son). Thrown together on a debate team with an activist teacher makes for a window into just how redemptive relationships may be.

I do not want to spoil your trip to the show or your future rental. Instead, I would hope to encourage you to let the interactions of these students move to the deeper issues they unearth. Issues of power and control. Matters of race and religion. Actions of violence and non-violence. See if you are not taken by the closing argument of young James Farmer Jr.

Movies and songs offer little to debate when they beautifully expose the value of the “other.”

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.