March 31, 2009

the wisdom of ghost dog(?)

I have to admit, the thought of Forest Whitaker playing some kind of urban samurai seems laughable to me. And until recently I hadn't bothered to watch the movie, Ghost Dog: The Way of The Samurai. But our friend Holly, who owns and operates Citizen Video says that Jim Jarmusch is her favorite director. And Holly's husband says that Ghost Dog is his all-time favorite movie. Neither of their recommendations have done me wrong so far so I decided to check it out on a night that I'd had too much coffee and I knew Brooke was going to crash early.

My expectations were low, so I think that may have helped it out. But I actually enjoyed the movie. The RZA's soundtrack isn't bad either. It's got a lot of violence, and a funny scene where Whitaker is doing this meditation and then kung fu stuff in slow motion. But besides that, it wasn't bad.

The best part was this quote, supposedly from the book, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai. Now, there were a lot of quotes from this book that I wouldn't highlight. But this one got me thinking:

"It is bad when one thing becomes two. One should not look for anything else in the Way of the Samurai. It is the same for anything that is called a Way. If one understands things in this manner, he should be able to hear about all ways and be more and more in accord with his own." [emphasis mine]

As silly as it seems–to me–to take a quote from this film so seriously, I feel as though this is how I see following the Way of Jesus. I'm not deterred by hearing about other "ways." Even if they seem contrary to mine. I remember hearing Deborah Loyd of the Bridge in Portland talking about creationism vs. evolution. She said that when she heard evolution explained her response was, "Wow! God is awesome."

The task is to see our own Way through the lens of others. Is this universalism or syncretism? I don't think so.

When I read my friend Matt's post on Horus, or hear my friend Sunil talk about the Bali raja or my Muslim friends talk about the prophet Isa, I am more enamored with the Way of Jesus than dismayed at a lack uniquity.

What do you think?

Not sure if I've explained myself well here.

3 comments :

Mark Van Steenwyk said...

I really enjoyed Ghost Dog...but have never been able to get anyone else to watch it. For some reason, the idea of a gangster samurai pic featuring Forrest Whitaker is a bit of a stretch for people. But for some reason it works.

storbakken said...

I have to admit that this is one of my top two favorite movies in the world. (The other favorite is Jeremiah Johnson.) Rza created some incredible beats for this movie,and even makes a cameo.

This movie is definitely gangster-- not "gangsta", but more cliche Italian mafiosi gangster--meets urban samurai.

Matt Gonzales said...

Love the idea that a movie named Ghost Dog about an urban samurai could have so much depth. Will check it out.

I must agree with the later part of your post. The more stories I hear from people, and the more I read about "ways" of doing life I see elements of connectivity. Like your friend, it makes me excited.

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