Friday, March 12, 2010

Faith Like Potatoes

Anyone who's read this blog knows I don't know much about movies. I like them, but don't ask me about cinematography, film editing, costuming, scoring, or any of those things the Oscars are given for. But I do enjoy a good story. Faith Like Potatoes is great story. 

The story line is pretty simple: a struggling farmer, Angus Buchan, overworked, alienating his family, and despairing of life meets Jesus in a sudden salvation experience.  His life turns around, his farm thrives, and he becomes an evangelist in his spare time, leading hundreds to Christ and gaining fame for his faith.  If this were pure fiction I could dismiss it as too simplistic, like Facing the Giants.  In that movie, the football coach can't win a game, he's alienated from his wife, and he despairs of life.  But once he fully commits his life to Christ, his team wins the championship, his wife gets pregnant, and everything's right with the world.  It made for a great story, but the skeptic/realist in me thought it looked too easy, clean, and formulaic.  You don't have to be a Christian very long to learn that Christians don't always win the championships, that Christians deal with infertility, and that everything does not always work out.

I had some of the same feelings with Faith Like Potatoes, except that I knew it was based on a true story.  So I thought maybe they had cleaned it up and dramatized it for the movie.  Then I watched the "real story" documentary on the DVD, and realized that the true story of Buchan's life is at least as interesting, inspiring, and miraculous as the movie portrays.  He did pray for a woman who had been struck by lightning and was left for dead, and she was healed.  He did rent a huge soccer stadium so he could preach.  He did grow a healthy crop of potatoes during a drought.  He did start an orphanage on his farm.  He continues to live a life worthy of note, sacrificial, passionate for preaching the gospel and loving his neighbor.

While I do love stories like this, of lives miraculously changed by the grace of the gospel, and the impact one changed life can have on the world, I still struggle with the existential reality of many lives that remain unchanged.  The faithful parapalegic who will never walk, the faithful father who continually struggles with mental illness, the faithful mother who struggles with depression, the missionary who dies after a struggle with cancer: did these Christians have less faith than Buchan?  I know I will never know the answer.  I am not even sure I'll know the answer in heaven. 

I know the reality of the goodness of God.  I can celebrate and cry with joy when God works miracles in other people's lives.  I can mourn and cry with sadness, even anger, when healing, wellness, and happiness do not come in other people's lives.  In my own life, whether rejoicing or mourning, I have to remember the truth of God's word and the sovereignty of God.

From the perspective of a film critic, I don't know how this movie would rate.  Sappy?  Emotionally manipulative?  Poor character development?  I thought it was entertaining and well-done, beautifully filmed in a beautiful part of the world I've never seen first-hand.  From the perspective of a Christian, this movie moved me and led me to think about expressing my faith in my work, family, and community.  Even though the movie doesn't explicity present the gospel, a non-believer watching must face the question of the meaning of following Jesus and the power of God at work in the world and in people's lives. 

Bottom line, 4 stars.

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