Saturday, April 30, 2011

Monks in a Muslim town

Yeah, it has been a crazy week. Grades have been computed, but not posted yet. I've created a to-do list for the summer. And I've been trying to get in a few cultural events I didn't have time for during the semester.

One of those cultural events was to go see the movie Of Gods and Men. It is in limited release so may be hard to find. A monastery of only 8 monks sits on the hill above a town where all the inhabitants are Muslim. Since there is complaints about remnants of French colonial rule my guess the town is somewhere in Algeria, but it is never named. Even with the religious divide, the monks are seen as the foundation of the community. They provide medical care and counseling and the town helps in their farm and buys their honey. But members of a terrorist organization visit the town and the monastery. The movie isn't much about the conflict between monks and terrorists (who aren't on screen all that much) but about how the monks should deal with the situation. Leave? Ask for army protection when their mission is peace? Remain unprotected and likely become martyrs?

It wasn't until close to the end of the movie that I realized there was no background music. There is a lot of music -- all of it chanted by the monks -- until close to the end when one monk turns on a cassette of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. I kept wondering what that particular piece had to do with the story.

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