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Chanukah: Why Light Candles and Ignore the War?
Video 3 of 4
I am going to show you a clip from a film, and as you watch it, think about the story we’ve been telling about Chanukah, think about the significance of our lighting those lights. Think about when Chanukah happened in history. Think about it from the standpoint of relationships. There has been a falling out between you and God, years before the destruction of the first temple, leading to an era when there was no prophecy, there was no miracles, and now you just didn’t know where God was in your life. And then, there is this event that happened, this really important event, that war; but where was God in that war? There is this gnawing sense of unfinished business I just don’t know. And now what this clip, the clip from the film ‘The Sixth Sense’.
There is this single mother who loves her little boy very deeply. But the little boy is troubled; he has this secret that he is just not telling his mother. And she send him to therapy for a very long time, and gradually you would come to understand the boy’s secret. It turns out he has this sense, that allows him to sense the presence of people who have already died. At first, the boy is very scared by this. But then, as he begins to figure out what’s happening, he realizes that these people who have passed on, they are seeking to grapple in some kind of way, with the unfinished business they left in the world, and they feel that somehow, the boy is able to help them.
And then there is this moment towards the end of the film, the boy and his mother are in a car, and they are stuck in standstill traffic, and the boy turns to his mother and says, “I am ready to tell you my secret. Here is what happen.”
Okay. So note to video editor, you want to go through this entire scene until the moment mother hugs child and begin with his voiceover.
So moving back to Chanukah, in a way, that was our question to our beloved too, “I didn’t see you at the dance recital. Were you there? Do I make you proud?” We too have gotten in a fight with God. God has withdrawn, become more hidden in our lives, we are no longer in that age of prophecy and miracle. In that falling out between us and God, it was unclear how much God was involved in our lives. Was He there in the great turning points? Or were we all alone? And then there was this little moment of light, it wasn’t a dance recital; it was a war. We won! And in seeking to make sense of that triumph, we asked ourselves that nagging question, “Was our creator there?” And that question continues to haunt us. It was like the greatest gift our creator could give us. Was that answer a little bit of light that says “Of course, I was there. I was hiding in the back row. Do you think I would have missed this?”
Let me take you into one more clip with an entirely different premise, but the emotional climax is the same. In this case, the drama begins when you the viewer are introduced to an anchorman on a news show. He is a fellow that has carefully sought to distance himself from any sort of political positions, and then tends to take safe positions; never really get involved in much controversy. And then there is this moment that he is on this talk show in front of an audience of students at a major university. And, on one side of him, is a respected Right-winged political commentator, and on the other side, a respected Left-winged political commentator. And then a question was thrown to him, a simple innocent question, that although he doesn’t know it, it was about to become a turning point in his life.
By the way, note to video editor: during all of this, if you want, instead of animation, if you want, you could really have the scene in the background leading up to this, because it’s also a great footage of the university hall and the debate going on, you can kind of have that either with the sound very low, or the sound off while I am talking.
Here is that moment, let’s start with timestamp 3:12, into the first episode of the newsroom, let’s start right where the moderator says, “Go ahead”, right before Jenny’s question. Now as it happens, I am just going to record a little bit of voiceover that you can insert at the right parts as this clip continues.
Here is the first of the voiceovers:
So at first he starts to evade her question.
Here is the second voiceover:
His eye seems to catch someone in the crowd, someone he thinks he recognizes, but now he looks again and he is not sure who she really is. Is it her, or isn’t it her? Maybe it’s just his imagination
You want to put those notes in. Once again, just a note to the video editor, around 4:03, moving forward a few seconds, you will see what I am talking about. I think you can continue all the way to about 5:11 and I would cut from 5:11 to about 5:17, because he uses some curse words. And I will continue from 5:17 to 5:38 and then just use the following voiceover by me. What you can do is drop down his voice, right where the moderator comes in and says, “Okay, next question.” We don’t really need the rest of his diatribe, we just need to give the sense that he is giving a diatribe.
So I am going to say something like this:
Okay, and then our friend the anchor continues his diatribe, but it is not like he hates America or thinks it’s awful, he just yearns for an earlier time, he has a vision that things could be so much better. .
Now back to video editor, you can cut in some sections of his later speech where he says “it wasn’t always this way, there was a time when things were better”, and you can take parts of that if you like. Now if you don’t want to take so much of his speech, you can take part of that and then you can include these words that I am saying as a kind of voiceover:
So here he waxes poetically and he talks about the great potential America could be and what it once was and how he can recover that and closes with these words
Note to our video editor again over here, I think that you could pick up at 7:44 where he says, “The greatest step to solving problem I stop realize that there is one; America is not the greatest country in the world anymore”. And then you can close it out there at about 7:50 or so.
This has become a huge turning point in his life. He gets all sort of flock for this terrible diatribe that he made, but it’s also shaken up him, it has given his an idea, that he really ought to devote himself, to try to be the kind of newsman that there once was in the world, who was not afraid to take a stand, to help shape the country for the better. And then, this anchor man gets an executive producer and she provokes him, argues with him, and insists that he can do better with his news show.
Note to video editor: you might want to take a little clip here from about 42: 23 thereabout.
And it becomes clear that they have some kind of pass together, they were once in love, they were once married, you don’t know exactly what, but it seems they had some terrible falling out in the pass. And they do their first newscast together, it happens to be the day the Deep Water Horizon well explodes, and with very little time, they pulled together an outstanding news cast. And then it’s over.
And she catches up with him, just as he is about to go into an elevator, he talks about that moment, months before, standing in front of that college audience, when he made that unscripted response that so dramatically changed his life. Since that moment, whenever he has been asked to explain why he answered as he did, he blamed it all on his vertigo medication that he has been taking. But then he tells us, standing in front of that elevator, that it was not vertigo medication.
One hour, ten minutes and ten seconds in, start from when he says “good show tonight”, and walks into the elevator, till 1:11:32 or so. Towards the end of that, there is about ten or fifteen seconds or so that you could use a voice over from me and here is the voice over:
The revelation never takes place. It’s the moment that passes without him understanding. Here was this life changing moment, the moment he actually felt inspired to take a stand, and he felt that he had something to do with her. He thought he saw her there holding that sign, but he never knew if she was really there. So he always has to wonder, maybe it was just a figment of his imagination. Maybe he really was all alone.
Well for us, in our national drama with God, at the end of it all we knew; we knew because God wanted us to know, God allowed us to know; we got that gift of understanding. It came in the form of light and to commemorate that moments, those great gifts, we shine those lights back; we return the wink, with the wink of our own.
These films are the creation of Hollywood, but Chanukah celebrates something real. Its meaning is not just theological that God can become involved in the world, even in which he seems to be hidden. The meaning of the miracle lies most of all, in the gift of its love, in the fact that God loved us enough to let us know that he was there, and that we in turn were able to understand that message, appreciate it and say, “Thank you”.
Before I let you go though, and before we close the door on this idea, I want to entertain a possible challenge to it, the kind of skeptics challenge; a challenge that says that at the end of the day, this is a kind of Pollyannaish view of ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’, but in some kind of way, it doesn’t reflect the fullness of our reality, which is not always quite so pretty. In a world, what happens when Maccabees don’t win the war? Surely there has been a number of great defeats in the last two thousand years too, what does Chanukah has to say about all of that? Let’s come back and explore that in our next video.
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