Dancing with truth and peace



January 2017



5 reasons you should watch “Hidden Figures”

Written by , Posted in Blog

Beth and I can’t quit talking about the movie Hidden Figures, which is based on the true story of three African-American women who were critical to NASA’s first space launch. It’s rare that I want to watch a movie again, and even more rare for me to want my kids to watch it. But I loaded up the older kids and took them last week. They needed to see it. There are five big reasons you should watch it too:

(note, minimal spoilers)

A worthy story – It’s more than a shame that we all didn’t already know this story. History matters. History that both teaches and inspires us towards good things really matters. Hollywood, we need lots more of this, please.

Role models for girls – Female heroes in movies usually have to look like runway models and karate chop like Bruce Lee. Most girls realize that these “qualities” are not in their future. But the accentuated qualities of the heroes of Hidden Figures  are more attainable and far more virtuous: tenacity, optimism, bravery, love, honesty, intelligence, compassion and faithfulness. Their strength resided in their mind and spirit, not in their ability to seduce the man and kill the villain.

Civil rights – The movie masterfully provokes discomfort, disgust, hope, laughter and thought. In one scene, I wanted to laugh at the sight of a woman running through the rain in high heels, but I wanted to cry at the reason she was in the predicament. The most powerful moments of the movie unfold when Katherine Johnson, wonderfully played by Taraji Henson, finally gets asked to explain why she goes missing everyday. Emotion, combined with a devastating critique of her surroundings, erupt from her trembling body. Truth: Sometimes we just don’t understand people…but all it takes is one simple question. Just one. We’ve got to quit thinking we’ve got people figured out when we have not ever asked and listened.

Soon thereafter, Al Harrison, the NASA Space Task Force Director, played by Kevin Costner, literally takes a sledgehammer to workplace discrimination. Tears filled my eyes. Truth: It usually takes people from both the majority culture and oppressed culture to bring about change. Sometimes there’s only one person who has the authority to swing the hammer. If that person doesn’t swing it, nobody else can or will.

How to find a spouse – (warning, if you want to be surprised by the love story, skip this paragraph). Johnson’s love story is not front and center, but it’s powerful nonetheless. Everything about her love story is near perfect: She rejects the man when he undervalues her (she’s never desperate), she shows grace and kindness, she’s patient, and she’s an amazing mom. The man pursuing her shows respectful persistence, he serves her, he honors her children, and he sets his mind on decades of marriage instead of cheap satisfaction. It worked. In real life, the two are approaching 6 decades of marriage.

Faith – The church was the backbone of their community. Faith in God kept their spirits afloat and set their moral compass. I’m so thankful that the movie rejected the notion that civil rights ought be divorced from faith in Christ. When handled properly, it’s faith in Christ that drives people to work for the betterment of all people.

Hollywood catches plenty of grief. You probably ought to quit complaining if you won’t watch this one. Now is it too much for me to ask that they win some Oscars?