Posts Tagged ‘Forrest Gump’

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As Stupid Does

Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. 1 Corinthians 3:18-19a

There is a verbal exchange that recurs several times in the movie, Forrest Gump. A character asks Forrest, “Are you stupid or something?” Forrest’s immediate and rote response is, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Forrest’s character is one with a very low IQ and, at least by common standards, would be considered marginally functional, at least intellectually. His mother taught him the saying as a defense against those who would imply that he was different or less worthy of love and kindness than anyone else was. Like many of Forrest Gump’s sayings, one wonders if he grasps the depth of the statement. I consider myself relatively intelligent, but I have spent much time pondering some of his one-liners. Indeed, that is part of the charm of the movie. There is no doubt that Forrest Gump, while a fictional character, is of low intelligence; but he is also of high understanding.

The saying, “Stupid is as stupid does,” is a variation of similar sayings in other works of fiction like, “Handsome is as handsome does,” or “Beauty is as beauty does.” The underlying theme is that we find real truth or beauty beneath the surface, and often times what is underneath is the opposite of the outside appearance. Stupid is not the one who appears stupid, but the one who chooses to act stupidly. In the movie, many of his classmates, soldiers, and other townsfolk act very stupidly.

Forrest Gump has an uncanny ability to cut to the heart of an issue. He has no intellectual capacity to waste on superfluous window-dressing. Forrest has a handle on what is important in life and keeps his focus on those things: family, friends, home. That limited and laser-like focus is what makes a person like Forrest, who appears stupid, to actually be deceivingly perceptive and wise. It also makes him a heck of a Ping-Pong player.

In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul labels earthly wisdom as foolishness to God. When we participate in wrongdoing – either as an active participant or as a passive bystander – we act foolishly. When we refuse to act contrary to others out of fear of what those others might do to or think about us, we are fools in God’s eyes. God’s instruction to us is unambiguous, at least in terms of how we are to treat others. Love, respect, and caring for needs – especially for the sick, unfortunate, and social outcasts – is our standard. Even Forrest Gump – low IQ and all – understood those directives perfectly.

Come home to church this Sunday. Faithful is as faithful does.

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Not Enough Rocks

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Psalm 51:10-12

In a touching scene from the movie Forrest Gump, Jenny returns to live with Forrest for a time as she strives to stabilize her wretched life. After years of drug abuse and wandering in search of something to build a life upon, she returns to her hometown and to the one person who had loved her in a healthy way since childhood – Forrest Gump. Jenny and Forrest walk leisurely together and end up in front of the run-down, deserted house where she grew up with her abusive father. Jenny’s countenance immediately changes to one of intense anger. She begins picking up rocks and throwing them at the house, eventually breaking a window. She falls to the ground in an exhausted and emotional heap, weeping. Forrest sits down beside her and says, “Sometimes, I guess, there just aren’t enough rocks.”

Jenny made many poor decisions in her life. The house of her childhood stood as a reminder of the years of anguish from which she had long tried to escape. She threw the rocks in a fruitless attempt to find peace by harming this physical remnant of her nightmare childhood – perhaps in hopes that it would suffer a portion of the pain she experienced within its walls. Although the house was not the cause of her childhood abuse, it was inseparable from the painful memories.

Similar recollections occur with us today. For example, I cannot drive by my old high school without remembering the violent racial tension that existed during my years there. Decades later, the memory makes me uncomfortable. The building, while having nothing to do with the unrest, stands as a reminder and a transport vehicle back to that difficult time in history. It is natural for us to develop aversions to people and places that are associated with pain from our past. We must remember, however, that the physical objects are separate from our suffering. Our on-going pain from hurts of the past is a spiritual issue that requires spiritual healing. The writer of the 51st Psalm cries for God to create a “clean heart” within, complete with a “new and right spirit.” If we truly desire restoration from pain to joy, we need a loving God, not a whipping boy.

Granted, there are times when we feel the need to strike out in retaliation against our pain, even when the objects were only innocent witnesses. That sort of striking back may actually help in some cases, if only temporarily. Some people feel a need to hold onto their suffering, and God gives us free will to do so. To actually heal our pain, however, requires the intervention of a Savior. Because sometimes, there just aren’t enough rocks.

Come home to church this Sunday. Throw the one true Rock at your pain…

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