Music as it is in Heaven
The Swedish film As It Is In Heaven (Så som i himmelen) is a movie that I’ve wanted to see for a while now and as luck would have it, I had some spare time and I did. It was in one word: evocative. It stirrs so many feelings inside of you that when the movie ends abruptly you are still wondering about it.
Not that it is a bad movie. On the contrary. It is brilliant. It contains some of my greatest loves: God, the church (not the institution, the people!) and some very good music (including violin playing).
I’m not gonna discuss the plot – see the movie for yourself. But what I want to talk about is what it brings up: how NOT to be church, and how it really SHOULD be. One striking scene shown the Sunday mass being canceled. Leaving the solemn atmosphere of the church building, the people gather joyously outside, come together and BE church there.
The people’s issues are resolved throughout the movie and not in one climactic dramatic scene like with so many other movies. It is touching, really touching (and I’m not sarcastic). They embrace the village idiot, whom they’ve never really pushed out, but they make him part of them completely – maybe for the first time. He is welcome to contribute whatever he has to give.
The relationship between the reverend and his wife is the thing that saddened me the most. That stupid guy just can’t get past the whole “sex-is-bad” thing, while his wife saw the light wonderfully. She accuses him that sex isn’t bad and states quite rightly that God made it good. That woman deserves a medal. Even after she discovered her husband’s porn stash, she still gives herself to him. What does he do? The next morning he denies that their night of “getting to heaven” ever happened. Who’s the village idiot now?
He is also the one that feels like he’s “lost” his people, the same people that loved him that is now hanging onto Daniel (the conductor)’s lips. And the sad thing here is that he could just as easily have been part of them. He was the one that welcomed Daniel at first and if he just recognized the new possibilities for what they were instead of condemning them, he would have been part of what would have been a spectacular ministry. What a lesson for contemporary theologians! A case of “Bad Helmsmanship”, as professor Malan Nel would put it. I mean, this pastor wants to should his church cantor with a shotgun??!!!
But, sad as it may be, it is beautiful. The one song that we actually hear the choir singing is a masterpiece that keeps the whole movie together. As one critic put it: “It could have been the movie’s downfall, but instead it sends it soaring”.
The big question coming out of this film for me is: is what I am doing with my life making a difference to other people and by implication to me? And if it is a difference, what does this difference entails? Do I draw people to God or do I push them away? You can be a pastor/reverend/minister and still not be fulfilling your destiny as a servant of God.