Earlier today, I reported at least 10 supposed comments on my blogs that were actually scams – the plans of schemers who spend their spare time trying to hitch a ride on other people’s online materials. Also, earlier today, I posted part of one of my posts where I talk about times in my childhood that I would go to Tent Revivals with my grandmother. My grandmother was not Pentecostal, but there were a lot of Pentecostal people in my small. hometown community. Besides, there is something simply Evangelical about the South, and I am born and raised Southern. Although I am not Pentecostal either, I have a fascination with Pentecostalism. It is part of my heritage.
About twenty years ago, my youngest child and I went to see a concert of the Mississippi Mass Choir. I was standing and cheering, and as much moved by the music as anyone else there. My child, who was about six-years-old, asked me, “Are we Pentecostals?” I responded, “Tonight, we are.”
In the way that much of life is bejeweled by synchronicity, later today, I turned on my television and caught Steve Martin’s movie The Leap of Faith. It was oil for my soul
Southerners are known to be great storytellers, and a great Pentecostal evangelist is also a great storyteller. A storyteller is about 25% story and 75% drama, and that is probably also true of a successful evangelist.
Before the next clip, the choir sings “Are You Ready for a Miracle. I could not find that clip.
Quote: “A twelve-gauge, double-barreled, grenade-launcher of LOVE!”
For almost as long as I can remember, I have been dubious of the faith healer’s schemes, but something within me has to love it.
Have you got trouble?
My talent is telling people the truth.
Jonas: What did the doctors tell you about your legs?
Boyd: The doctors have nothing to do with my legs. I’ll walk if it’s God’s will.
Jonas: God doesn’t have a trucker’s license.
Boyd: I believe that things happen for a reason.
Jonas: You believe that. I’m gonna run.
Jonas’s response after the Sheriff exposes him as a criminal
Even after the above scene, Jonas really goes to work. On his way toward his “mission,” he stops beneath the crucifix, and the viewer is led to wonder that perhaps Jonas does have an element of faith and a thread of decency. Soon, the statues of Christ has changed, and the town, that had been cursed by it poverty and overwhelming rate of unemployment, changes overnight, and Jane and the sheriff develop an honest relationship.
Sheriff Will Braverman: Feeling better now?
Jane: [getting her feet rubbed by Will] Yeah. I guess I just needed to be alone.
Sheriff Will Braverman: I’ll take that as a compliment.
Jane: [Jane checks her watch and starts pulling her feet away] It’s before 6:00. I’ve got to go.
Sheriff Will Braverman: Whoa.
[pulls Jane’s bare feet back and resumes gently rubbing her toes]
Sheriff Will Braverman: Places to go. People to rip off.
Jane: Oh, you should talk. Here you are consorting with the enemy.
Sheriff Will Braverman: Yeah, well, I’m an easy consort.
Every good story needs a climax, and in the next scene, The Leap of Faith becomes a true Leap of Faith–for everyone, including for Jonas.
Jonas knows that he is not a healer, and he has genuine feelings for Boyd. When Boyd wants to be “healed” by Jonas, Jonas does not want to be involved. Boyd is not a plant in the audience. Everyone in the community knows that he has been unable to walk. Jonas walks away from a crowd begging for more, and then, the true miracle occurs. Every time I watch the following clip, I weep, and I buy into the miracle, too.
For a moment, Jonas is stunned and we believe that he might get out of the racket, but that doesn’t last long:
Jane: You really don’t care about anybody or anything except yourself, do you?
Jonas: Oh, Jane… I never pretended I did.
Jonas: Hey boss. Remember me? Jack Newton. Got a question for you. Why did you make so many suckers? You say, ‘love never endeth.’ I say love never started. You say ‘the meek shall inherit the earth.’ And I say all the meek can count on is getting the short end of the stick. You say, ‘is there one among you who is pure of heart?’ and I say not one.
And Boyd walks into the tent and asks if he can join Jonas’s show. Jonas admits that he didn’t heal Jonas.
Jonas: Look, I run a show here. It’s a lot of smoke and noise and it’s strictly for the suckers. I’ve been pulling one kind of scam or another since I was your age, and if there’s one thing I know it’s how to spot the genuine article because that’s what you’ve got to watch out for. Not the cops, you can always get around the cops. But the one thing you can never, ever get around is the genuine article, and you, kid, are the genuine article.
Boyd: Are you saying that your a fake? … What difference does it make if you get the job done?
Ultimately, Jonas does one great thing: He does not allow Boyd to join his act, and he rides out of town–alone.
What is the message of the movie Leap of Faith?
I believe that Boyd uttered the truth of the movie: What difference does it make if you get the job done?
Jonas was not a healer and he probably didn’t even have faith. In reality, he was a damaged human being but through him, great things happened. A community found faith and hope again. For a while, they even enjoyed a degree of tourist-like prosperity. And not because of Jonas, but ecause of a miracle, Boyd was healed. In one way, the scheme and the scam did not work, but in another way, it did work. And when Jonas walked away from hi scheme and his scam, another miracle occurred. It rained.
acki Normally, I don’t love comedic drama, but Leap of Faith is one of my very favorite movies. It is a perfect story told perfectly. It begs me to believe the story and the storyteller, and I do. In the end, even I am healed–if only just a bit. In my opinion, this is the power of every great story. Every great story heals, and every great storyteller is a healer.
Earlier today, I wrote that all of us have dark and light within ourselves and that our greatest challenge is to balance the two. I belive that something about the movie Leap of Faith say Amen to that.
©Jacki Kellum September 4, 2016
This is my first post in a new feature that I am adding to this blog site: My Favorites. I have a lot of favorite movies and a lot of famorite television series and a lot of favoirte books, stories, and musical pieces. My favoirtes contribute greatly to who I am. I want to share them.