Monday, August 19, 2013
I recently saw the movie titled 42, which is the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American major league baseball player. His story is one of many trials and challenges, and at the same time is one of hope and inspiration. One of the most impactful aspects of this story for me is the undercurrent of theological truth that runs through the whole story. True to the historical events that took place there was a man, who owned the Brooklyn Dodgers, and who sought to be the first to bring an African American player into major league baseball, his name was Mr. Rickie, he is played in the film by Harrison Ford. Ford transforms completely into this character, and at times I had to do double takes to see who it was behind the makeup and disguise.
Mr. Rickie grew up a Methodist and attended Ohio Wesleyan University where he played baseball and witnessed first hand how the segregation of baseball crushed the hopes and dreams of African American baseball players. The injustice of what he saw, drove him to push against the current of social norms, and reach for the just and equal playing field that ought to exist among all human beings regardless of the color of their skin.
I am a Free Methodist minister and our denomination has long stood head and shoulders above most in the fight for freedom for slaves and equality among all human beings. Some of the very first Free Methodists were among the earliest abolitionists in the United States. This identity trait of ours, comes from a faith rooted in the power of Jesus Christ to free slaves of all kinds from captivity, and to seek justice for the oppressed, the trampled and the marginalized. That is at the heart of our faith story, and it largely shaped the story of one of America's greatest baseball players. I loved this movie, I loved the story, I love the characters and the truths behind it all, and above all this I love that my faith, the theological tradition I partake in, saw this kind of good fruit from its core character. Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose Holy Spirit shaped this story! Amen!