God is God and I Am Not

A couple of years ago I was learning how to use Windows Movie Maker for the first time, and it thrilled me. Music and songs were so woven into my life that I loved the thought of being able to find the perfect images to match everything I felt when I heard a certain song, and put it all together just so. WMM is such an intuitive program that I learned quickly. I still use it today.

One project I did was a video to accompany Steven Curtis Chapman’s “God is God.” I’ve mentioned before that the loss of his little girl impacted me very deeply, and I think making this video was a kind of journey for me—the summation of all my wrestling and praying and sorrowing on that family’s behalf. I wanted to capture the entire redemption story in a few minutes, with Steven’s loss as the starting point. That sounds ambitious, but I was stubborn.

I’d like to think I succeeded, and I certainly know it touched me when I finished it. Recently I obtained permission to put the video on Godtube. I’m posting it here because Maria Sue Chapman went home to be with the Lord four years ago today. I pray it will be a reminder of the hope that we so often forget. Here’s the link (I had planned to embed it, but Godtube has changed its code so I’ll have to figure out how to convert to shortcode for WordPress all over again).

Here’s a cool note about the final shot: It looks like a painting, but it’s actually a photo of a telephone pole. The photographer was extremely gifted and caught it in a sunset, looking exactly like a cross. He called it “When the Telephone Pole Tries to Tell You Something.”


Psalm 23 and The Elephant Man

Last year, I watched David Lynch’s The Elephant Man. By the time I’d finished it (and wept about as hard as I’ve ever wept for anything), there was no doubt in my mind that I’d just seen one of the most heartbreaking, devastatingly beautiful pieces of film in cinematic history. If you can handle it, it is well worth watching. Though it takes some liberties with historical details, it is based on the true story of Joseph (“John”) Merrick, an Englishman born with severe physical deformities that made him a circus sideshow for much of his life. He found compassion through a doctor who took him under his wing, and by the time he died in 1890 at age 27, he had become a respected member of British society.

The film has many powerful moments, but I think one of the most beautiful scenes comes when Doctor Treves is attempting to keep Merrick from being moved out of the hospital. The chairman of the committee expresses a desire to meet Merrick, and Treves teaches him to say a few polite words to make a good impression. Along the way, he also coaches him in the beginning portion of Psalm 23. Merrick is then presented to the chairman, but is so overcome with humiliation that he all but freezes up, leading the chairman to conclude that he is simply parroting words and cannot think for himself. Merrick is then left alone in his room.

What follows at that point can hardly be described in words. I can only allow it to speak for itself. It’s like seeing one of God’s great faces. Embedding has unfortunately been disabled for the video with this scene, but click to watch it on Youtube here.

I loved something John Hurt (the British actor who played Merrick) said in a making-of featurette. He told a story about running into somebody at the Academy Awards who said, “Well John, it’s great that you’re here… just a shame you’re not gonna get it [the Oscar for Best Actor].” Hurt was mildly surprised, but graciously said, “Well, I think you’re quite right, it’s probably so-and-so’s year instead. But just out of curiosity, why do you think I’m not gonna get it?” The guy said, as if it were obvious, “Well… noone can see who you are!” Here Hurt chuckles and says, “To which I replied, rather naively, ‘I thought that was the point?'”