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Peter T Chattaway

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

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We all watched the film very recently. By the end we were all openly weeping -- it was quite something.

I cry every year, repeatedly throughout the film.

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Nick Alexander wrote:

: It's funny how this movie reinvents itself each passing year, as current events take place. At the forefront of my mind, while watching it, I was thinking of the current banking crisis . . .

Funny you should mention that. I logged in here partly to post this:

- - -

George Bailey, Subprime Lender

But knowing what we know now, about the dangers of subprime mortgages and the virtues of disciplined bankers, perhaps it's time to reconsider the financial

Edited by Nezpop

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As someone who got to watch the bubble build and burst firsthand through my job, it was not that Bailey's that caused it.
Could you elaborate?

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As someone who got to watch the bubble build and burst firsthand through my job, it was not that Bailey's that caused it.
Could you elaborate?

I have already addressed this. It's the Bailey B&L type banks, small banks in local communities where bankers know people on sight and a face and a handshake is enough to get a loan, that are still solvent and having no problems. The big banks that are failing represent what happens when the Potters of the world try a new predatory strategy. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

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As someone who got to watch the bubble build and burst firsthand through my job, it was not that Bailey's that caused it.
Could you elaborate?

Due to how closely we are monitered at my job, I don't want to slip up and say something publicly I should not. But Steven pretty much nail it on the head.

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SDG wrote:

: I have already addressed this. It's the Bailey B&L type banks, small banks in local communities where bankers know people on sight and a face and a handshake is enough to get a loan, that are still solvent and having no problems. The big banks that are failing represent what happens when the Potters of the world try a new predatory strategy.

A strategy which, of course, presents itself as ripe for exploitation by people who shouldn't be borrowing such money in the first place. ("I can get a mortgage WITHOUT making a down payment, and WITHOUT having a reliable source of income? Really?") As I noted, the exploitation goes both ways. If a small bank "knows people" in the community, then presumably it also knows when NOT to lend money to a high-risk borrower. Not all handshakes are equal, and the wise lender knows which handshakes to trust.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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As I understand it (and I'm admittedly no expert), both parties were at fault for the current financial crisis. Republicans were at fault to enact laws that deregulated the actions of the major banks (Potter), whereas Democrats were at fault to instill laws that would make it easier for unqualified mortgage applicants to secure mortgages (Bailey's pool-hall partners). There was to be some sort of regulation by means of a computer program, but there was a bug in it, and it wasn't discovered until too late.

This is what I remember from listening to the two economics-specific "This American Life" special broadcasts earlier this year. There were other points, but this was about two months ago.

It stands to reason that Potter is the "Scrooge" for this Capraesque tale. Fine. But here's the clinker; Scrooge was redeemable. Why can't Potter be?

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This isn't the politics forum. Please take such discussions over there.
All due respect, this discussion isn't meant to be political, except in regards to a re-interpretation of IAWL. It belongs here.

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It stands to reason that Potter is the "Scrooge" for this Capraesque tale. Fine. But here's the clinker; Scrooge was redeemable. Why can't Potter be?

Scrooge chose redemption, Potter did not.

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It stands to reason that Potter is the "Scrooge" for this Capraesque tale. Fine. But here's the clinker; Scrooge was redeemable. Why can't Potter be?

Scrooge chose redemption, Potter did not.

Scrooge was given the opportunity to choose redemption. Mr. Potter, otoh, was always assumed to be eeeeeeevil from the get go, when the one opportunity for George Bailey to make a difference was struck down by the screenwriters, who had stacked the deck so much against him. Where was "Joseph's" intervention into the life of Mr Potter? Come to think of it... why didn't Clarence, who knew where the missing $8000 was, just tell George Bailey?

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Scrooge was given the opportunity to choose redemption. Mr. Potter, otoh, was always assumed to be eeeeeeevil from the get go, when the one opportunity for George Bailey to make a difference was struck down by the screenwriters, who had stacked the deck so much against him. Where was "Joseph's" intervention into the life of Mr Potter? Come to think of it... why didn't Clarence, who knew where the missing $8000 was, just tell George Bailey?

(1) A movie about Mr. Potter being given the chance for redemption is just an adaptation of "A Christmas Carol". It's been done lots of times; it isn't what Capra chose to do. He chose to make a different movie.

(2) Mr. Potter and all of the secondary characters in the movie are quite thin, deliberately so, I think. This serves the purpose of sharpening the movie's focus on George Bailey. A lack of background detail is a useful technique when the artistic intent is to sharpen the focus on what's in the foreground. It could be argued that the secondary characters are thin because Capra and the writers didn't know how to make characters who weren't thin, but George Bailey is anything but thin, and his character serves as a refutation of that idea.

(3) George Bailey's happiness at the end of the movie is complete. Knowing that Mr. Potter had the $8000 would have added nothing to it. Worrying about what happened to (or should have happened) to Mr. Potter leads you down the path of the (very well done) SNL skit "The Lost Ending of It's a Wonderful Life" where George and his friends turn into an enraged mob and go to Mr. Potter's office and beat him to death. That skit showed very well why Capra did very well to end the movie where he did.

Edited by bowen

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Scrooge was given the opportunity to choose redemption. Mr. Potter, otoh, was always assumed to be eeeeeeevil from the get go, when the one opportunity for George Bailey to make a difference was struck down by the screenwriters, who had stacked the deck so much against him. Where was "Joseph's" intervention into the life of Mr Potter? Come to think of it... why didn't Clarence, who knew where the missing $8000 was, just tell George Bailey?

(1) A movie about Mr. Potter being given the chance for redemption is just an adaptation of "A Christmas Carol". It's been done lots of times; it isn't what Capra chose to do. He chose to make a different movie.

(2) Mr. Potter and all of the secondary characters in the movie are quite thin, deliberately so, I think. This serves the purpose of sharpening the movie's focus on George Bailey. A lack of background detail is a useful technique when the artistic intent is to sharpen the focus on what's in the foreground. It could be argued that the secondary characters are thin because Capra and the writers didn't know how to make characters who weren't thin, but George Bailey is anything but thin, and his character serves as a refutation of that idea.

(3) George Bailey's happiness at the end of the movie is complete. Knowing that Mr. Potter had the $8000 would have added nothing to it. Worrying about what happened to (or should have happened) to Mr. Potter leads you down the path of the (very well done) SNL skit "The Lost Ending of It's a Wonderful Life" where George and his friends turn into an enraged mob and go to Mr. Potter's office and beat him to death. That skit showed very well why Capra did very well to end the movie where he did.

I agree with all three of your points. But, being a thin character, it only heightens the mystery behind an alternate scenario.

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I agree with all three of your points. But, being a thin character, it only heightens the mystery behind an alternate scenario.

Are you familiar with the Flashman books by George MacDonald Fraser? Fraser took the one-note villainous school bully, named Flashman, from Thomas Hughes' tirelessly didactic novel "Tom Brown's Schooldays" and constructed an entire life for him after he was kicked out of school. There are about a dozen Flashman books, in which Flashman appears in one after another major events of 19th century (usually Imperial British) history. The books are comic historical novels, as most of the other characters are real figures from history. The general plot is always the same: by a series of accidents Flashman is thrust into dangerous situations, where he behaves disgracefully, but owing to another series of accidents, is generally thought to have behaved heroically and so is honored and rises higher in his army career and in society.

If it can be done for Flashman, I suppose it could be done for Potter as well...

Edited by bowen

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Nezpop wrote:

: Scrooge chose redemption . . .

After no less than four spirits (counting Marley's) visited him.

: . . . Potter did not.

Because the only spirit in town visited his nemesis (the story's rough equivalent of Cratchit, if you will) instead.

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It stands to reason that Potter is the "Scrooge" for this Capraesque tale. Fine. But here's the clinker; Scrooge was redeemable. Why can't Potter be?
Where was "Joseph's" intervention into the life of Mr Potter? Come to think of it... why didn't Clarence, who knew where the missing $8000 was, just tell George Bailey?

In the first place, who says Potter can't be saved? The point is, this isn't his story. On this particular night in this particular film, the story is not all about the rich man. This happens to be the story of the crucial night in George Bailey's life. He's the one contemplating suicide tonight. He's the one the whole town is praying for.

Scrooge, as it happens, was saved through the spiritual influence of a late former business associate who learned the error of his ways the hard way. It helps to have powers and principalities pulling for you. Who may be pulling for Potter, when his crucial night may come (if it hasn't come already), and what (additional) opportunities for redemption may be offered to him may be all very interesting, but it's not this story.

FWIW, Scrooge was a miser and a miserable man; I don't know that he ever did anything quite so flagrantly heinous as what Potter did in stealing the $8K. Perhaps Potter received his visitation / offer of salvation when George came to him hat in hand, begging for help, even in the form of a loan of the money Potter himself had stolen. That's not to say that Potter can't be saved, but if we imagine a universe in which Scrooge is saved and Potter isn't, Potter has no complaint against the powers that be, and Scrooge can rightly condemn Potter for his own sins. Perhaps on some other night Joseph (why the scare quotes?) may orchestrate some intervention in Potter's life -- or perhaps not. What difference does it make to this story?

Why does the prodigal son get redemption, while the rich man goes to torment and can't even get a drop of water from Lazarus's finger for his tongue? Why does the shepherd go looking for the lost sheep, while the wicked servant finds his master coming at an unknown hour with punishment in his hand? Why are idlers standing around in the marketplace rewarded with a full day's wages while the foolish bridesmaids who waited all night are left outside because they didn't have enough oil? Grace is a funny thing. Stories are another funny thing. I'm not sure our understanding of either of the funny things in question is enhanced by questions like the ones above.

Clarence's mission wasn't to patch George's life back together. That happened through purely human agency. Clarence's mission was to persuade George not to throw his life away, even in his heart, by wishing he had never been born. Revealing what had happened to the $8K would have either been a trivial, morally irrelevant intervention (if George could have done anything about it) or beside the point (if he couldn't).

: Scrooge chose redemption . . .

After no less than four spirits (counting Marley's) visited him.

: . . . Potter did not.

Because the only spirit in town visited his nemesis (the story's rough equivalent of Cratchit, if you will) instead.

See comments above. Incidentally, have you seen the movie yet?

Are you familiar with the Flashman books by George MacDonald Fraser? Fraser took the one-note villainous school bully, named Flashman, from Thomas Hughes' tirelessly didactic novel "Tom Brown's Schooldays" and constructed an entire life for him after he was kicked out of school. There are about a dozen Flashman books, in which Flashman appears in one after another major events of 19th century (usually Imperial British) history. The books are comic historical novels, as most of the other characters are real figures from history. The general plot is always the same: by a series of accidents Flashman is thrust into dangerous situations, where he behaves disgracefully, but owing to another series of accidents, is generally thought to have behaved heroically and so is honored and rises higher in his army career and in society.

If it can be done for Flashman, I suppose it could be done for Potter as well...

Ditto the Wicked Witch of the West, the Ugly Stepsisters and even Grendel. Stories like this may have value of some sort, but I distrust them as critical commentaries on the original work.

Edited by SDG

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SDG wrote:

: Why does the shepherd go looking for the lost sheep . . .

... and in doing so, abandon the other 99. Yeah, definitely an interesting portrait of the upside-down-ness of grace, there.

: Why are idlers standing around in the marketplace rewarded with a full day's wages . . .

Um, just because they haven't been able to find work, that doesn't mean they are lazy, no matter what the quasi-stingy landowner who hires them at the end of the day might say. But again, yes, this is another sign that grace can come from unexpected places. (I say "quasi-stingy" because, obviously, the landowner could have hired everyone he needed at the outset, instead of waiting to see if he would need even MORE workers later in the day. On the other hand, he would have needed less people in total if all of his day labourers had been working all day, so by choosing a course of action that required him to hire MORE people, and then choosing to pay ALL of them a full day's wages, he ended up spending more money altogether. Definitely an eccentric, this landowner. And not only that, but he deliberately overpays the last-hired people BEFORE he goes on to pay the first-hired people -- almost deliberately raising their expectations of higher pay and then dashing those expectations. Definitely something of a mind-f---, this landowner. And yes, all of these things just make the upside-down-ness of the grace portrayed in that parable even stranger.)

: Incidentally, have you seen the movie yet?

Again, you mean? No, no time, I'm afraid. I'm still trying to make time to watch screeners before I have to vote on the year's best films this Saturday. But with the holidays, and the snow shutting my city down, and the wife going back to work a few days ago, and me reverting to full-time stay-at-home daddyhood, and the vast bulk of these films being presumably inappropriate for kids, etc., I've had a hard-enough time staying awake long enough in the wee hours of the night to make even a dent in THAT bit of obligatory viewing.

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It stands to reason that Potter is the "Scrooge" for this Capraesque tale. Fine. But here's the clinker; Scrooge was redeemable. Why can't Potter be?
Where was "Joseph's" intervention into the life of Mr Potter? Come to think of it... why didn't Clarence, who knew where the missing $8000 was, just tell George Bailey?

In the first place, who says Potter can't be saved? The point is, this isn't his story.

That's kind of the odd thing that has stuck out to me in this line of thinking. It strikes me as asking "Why wasn't Raiders of the Lost Ark about Belloq?" or "Why wasn't the Dark Knight about William Fichtner's Bank Manager?" or "Why wasn't the Transformers about people's lives instead of giant robots and explosions?"

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In the first place, who says Potter can't be saved? The point is, this isn't his story.

That's kind of the odd thing that has stuck out to me in this line of thinking. It strikes me as asking "Why wasn't Raiders of the Lost Ark about Belloq?" or "Why wasn't the Dark Knight about William Fichtner's Bank Manager?" or "Why wasn't the Transformers about people's lives instead of giant robots and explosions?"

Capra had the right to make whatever story he wants, and in this particular case, he focused so intensely on George Bailey's dilemna that he chose to spice it up by introducing a bad guy, who seemingly lacked all redeemable qualities. No doubt, it's his right, and the movie is all the more stronger for it. But just because it is a stronger story does not mean that he was entirely fair to the character of Potter, in which nearly every single scene he snarled, barked, and snarked. And in doing so, the audience is set up with a false dichotomy--that Potter's approach to doing business (clearly articulated in his opening scenes with Pa Bailey and the banking committee), while sound from a business perspective, leads to only creating broken down shacks as living quarters, and grungy, non-family-friendly "dancing girls" establishments in the center of town. At root, I think this betrays the viewer, and potentially undercuts the power of his story. Having sound business practices doesn't have to be at the expense of personal relationships, cutting corners in architecture design/implementation, and choosing to direct a town's economic impetus upon morally reprehensible establishments, any more than having a solid, moral character who continually sacrifices his dreams for the benefit of others does not necessarily mean that his business venture should automatically be sound. I think there is a moral, ethical, sacrificial, heroic and .... economically sound middle ground that exists, and IAWL discourages such a view.

At least Belloq was a three-dimensional character in Raiders. Here was a bad guy who was very much like Indiana Jones, save for his lack of principals when choosing alliances. And I disagree with you about Transformers--Shia LeBeuf's performance grounded that popcorn flick, representing the everyman.

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That's kind of the odd thing that has stuck out to me in this line of thinking. It strikes me as asking "Why wasn't Raiders of the Lost Ark about Belloq?" or "Why wasn't the Dark Knight about William Fichtner's Bank Manager?" or "Why wasn't the Transformers about people's lives instead of giant robots and explosions?"

Thanks. Much better than other examples I was contemplating.

Capra had the right to make whatever story he wants, and in this particular case, he focused so intensely on George Bailey's dilemna that he chose to spice it up by introducing a bad guy, who seemingly lacked all redeemable qualities. No doubt, it's his right, and the movie is all the more stronger for it. But just because it is a stronger story does not mean that he was entirely fair to the character of Potter, in which nearly every single scene he snarled, barked, and snarked.

And that's ... bad? Because in real life nobody goes through life snarling, barking and snarking?

Do you feel that other thoroughly unredeemed villains always diminish their stories? Hans Gruber? Norman Bates? The Dark Knight's Joker? Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter? Barbara Stanwick in Double Indemnity? Jack Palance in Shane? Nurse Ratched? Darth Vader (in Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back)? The Wicked Witch of the West? Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man? Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate? Or, if you'll permit me a non-movie example, the mulatto in Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory?

At least Belloq was a three-dimensional character in Raiders. Here was a bad guy who was very much like Indiana Jones, save for his lack of principals when choosing alliances. And I disagree with you about Transformers--Shia LeBeuf's performance grounded that popcorn flick, representing the everyman.

Raiders is a great movie, but there are no three-dimensional characters in it, including Indy. Character-wise, the entire movie is 2-D. Also, FWIW, dimensionality is different from redeemability -- and, FWIW, Belloq has neither. He's both totally unredeemed, and quite two-dimensional.

On Transformers, I have nothing to add.

... and in doing so, abandon the other 99. Yeah, definitely an interesting portrait of the upside-down-ness of grace, there.

Maybe si, maybe no. Finding the line between parabolic naturalness and counter-intuitiveness is notoriously difficult. AFAIK, it's not clear that a shepherd would not be quite sensible to leave his flock (which tend to stick together in their familiar haunts) in search of a missing lamb.

Um, just because they haven't been able to find work, that doesn't mean they are lazy, no matter what the quasi-stingy landowner who hires them at the end of the day might say.

By "idlers" I simply meant that they were in fact standing around idle (a striking picture of the non-value of pursuits outside the master's fields).

The obvious weak point in your interpretation is the assumption that the landowner hired the additional help because he saw as the day was waning that the work wasn't going to be done. The parable doesn't indicate this. On the contrary, unless the question "Why do you stand here idle all day?" is simply idle curiosity -- not very likely in a parable -- it seems plausible that he hired them not because he particularly needed the help, but precisely to prevent them from idling to the end of the day and to lavish his generosity on them. Of course, this probably isn't the best thread for an extended discussion about parables.

Again, you mean? No, no time, I'm afraid.

Ah. Because I remember how last year you felt that not having seen the film in two decades you "must stay on the sidelines and merely observe."

Edited by SDG

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SDG wrote:

: FWIW, dimensionality is different from redeemability -- and, FWIW, Belloq has neither. He's both totally unredeemed, and quite two-dimensional.

Compared to the actual Nazis, Belloq is VERY dimensional. :)

: : ... and in doing so, abandon the other 99. Yeah, definitely an interesting portrait of the upside-down-ness of grace, there.

:

: Maybe si, maybe no. Finding the line between parabolic naturalness and counter-intuitiveness is notoriously difficult. AFAIK, it's not clear that a shepherd would not be quite sensible to leave his flock (which tend to stick together in their familiar haunts) in search of a missing lamb.

More research is required here. It was Philip Yancey who first drew my attention to the significance of the shepherd leaving the 99 sheep in the wilderness, and I have never forgotten it, though I have never gone and interviewed any shepherds to see how safe the wilderness was in first-century Palestine.

: : Um, just because they haven't been able to find work, that doesn't mean they are lazy, no matter what the quasi-stingy landowner who hires them at the end of the day might say.

:

: By "idlers" I simply meant that they were in fact standing around idle (a striking picture of the non-value of pursuits outside the master's fields).

True, there probably weren't many places where a guy could look for work in those days, especially if he had no land of his own to till. (Incidentally, I would avoid the term "master" here, because the landowner is only hiring them for the day. These are freelance labourers, not salaried workers with a long-term "boss" or anything like that. If anything, the landowner is their client, not their boss -- except that this is a buyer's market, not a seller's market.)

: The obvious weak point in your interpretation is the assumption that the landowner hired the additional help because he saw as the day was waning that the work wasn't going to be done. The parable doesn't indicate this.

Not explicitly, no.

: On the contrary, unless the question "Why do you stand here idle all day?" is simply idle curiosity -- not very likely in a parable -- it seems plausible that he hired them not because he particularly needed the help, but precisely to prevent them from idling to the end of the day and to lavish his generosity on them.

Well gosh, if he wanted to be lavish with his generosity, why didn't he just hire all those guys in the morning? The answer to his question, remember, is: "Because no one has hired us." Which is just another way of saying, "Because YOU haven't hired us."

So again, if the landowner was planning on hiring EVERYBODY and paying EVERYONE a full's day wages from the get-go, then the fact that he put off hiring some of them until later in the day makes it seem as though he was really more interested in flaunting his economic power over all the labourers than anything else (just as he did when he raised the expectations of the earlier labourers, then dashed them, and then proclaimed himself "generous").

: Of course, this probably isn't the best thread for an extended discussion about parables.

Have we got one? I know these issues tend to come up every now and then, whenever we discuss the nature of storytelling and the parables are invoked as examples of said stories.

: Ah. Because I remember how last year you felt that not having seen the film in two decades you "must stay on the sidelines and merely observe."

When faced with two wonderfully constructed but mutually opposed arguments brimming with detail, yes. For some reason this latest exchange hasn't quite felt like that. But good catch!

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Compared to the actual Nazis, Belloq is VERY dimensional. :)

I assume you mean the fictional "actual Nazis" in the movie, not the actual "actual Nazis" in the real world. :) In which case, yeah, compared to one-dimensional, two-dimensional is "VERY dimensional.' :)

More research is required here. It was Philip Yancey who first drew my attention to the significance of the shepherd leaving the 99 sheep in the wilderness, and I have never forgotten it, though I have never gone and interviewed any shepherds to see how safe the wilderness was in first-century Palestine.

IIRC, this is a recurring problem in parable interpretation. Is the imagery meant to be taken at face value, or does it pose a challenge even at the level of imagery? Are the pearl merchant's actions meant to seem judicious and reasonable, or bizarre and obsessive? (Presumably no such difficulty presents itself in the parable of the hidden treasure.) Is the parable of the mustard seed meant to describe natural phenomena in a general fashion, or are we meant to get tripped up by the fact that mustard plants don't actually grow to large proportions and that birds apparently don't nest in their branches? Does Jesus mean us to reflect that salt doesn't actually lose saltiness, or is that taking imagery further than intended? Are we meant to ponder the actual likelihood of a woman calling together friends and family to celebrate finding one of ten lost coins? How are we meant to understand the father's behavior in the parable of the prodigal son? Etc.

Incidentally, I would avoid the term "master" here, because the landowner is only hiring them for the day.

Quite right, but in that parenthesis I was deliberately theologizing.

Well gosh, if he wanted to be lavish with his generosity, why didn't he just hire all those guys in the morning? The answer to his question, remember, is: "Because no one has hired us." Which is just another way of saying, "Because YOU haven't hired us."

Perhaps, if you take their word for it. OTOH, why does Jesus bother to tell us, on the landowner's successive trips to the market, that he "saw others standing idle in the marketplace" and "found others standing around"? Doesn't that sound as if he hadn't "seen/found" them before? As if every time he goes to the market there's more workers for him to hire.

Have we got one? I know these issues tend to come up every now and then, whenever we discuss the nature of storytelling and the parables are invoked as examples of said stories.

Not that I know of, but someone should start one.

: Ah. Because I remember how last year you felt that not having seen the film in two decades you "must stay on the sidelines and merely observe."

When faced with two wonderfully constructed but mutually opposed arguments brimming with detail, yes. For some reason this latest exchange hasn't quite felt like that.

Ah, so in the current imbalanced argument you felt obliged to pitch in on the weaker side?

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SDG wrote:

: FWIW, dimensionality is different from redeemability -- and, FWIW, Belloq has neither. He's both totally unredeemed, and quite two-dimensional.

Compared to the actual Nazis, Belloq is VERY dimensional. :)

Compared to the Nazi's in the film the monkey is very dimensional. :)

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SDG wrote:

: I assume you mean the fictional "actual Nazis" in the movie, not the actual "actual Nazis" in the real world. :)

Heh, yeah. Belloq's not a Nazi, he just works with them (not even "for" them, really; he's just using them to get "close to God").

: In which case, yeah, compared to one-dimensional, two-dimensional is "VERY dimensional.' :)

Heh.

: IIRC, this is a recurring problem in parable interpretation. Is the imagery meant to be taken at face value, or does it pose a challenge even at the level of imagery?

Yes, even if we prescind ;) from trying to untangle the evangelist's version of the parable from whatever story Jesus himself told to his audience, we still have to deal with the question of which details to ignore and which to take note of.

I find it remarkable, for example, that many people can acknowledge the significance of the pigs (and the fact that, according to Jewish law, they were ritually unclean) in the parable of the prodigal son, yet in the parable of the talents/minas, nearly everyone seems ready to ignore the fact that Jewish law prohibited the collection of interest (at least from one's fellow Jews). Perhaps it's because the parable of the prodigal son gives us an easy-to-digest God-figure, whereas the parable of the talents/minas gives us a master who is not entirely trustworthy (especially in Luke's version, which has a clearly Herodian subtext) and whose own servant critiques him as such; we need to make the parable of the talents/minas nice and simple, more cut-and-dried, and so we ignore the stuff that makes it more "complicated".

: Are we meant to ponder the actual likelihood of a woman calling together friends and family to celebrate finding one of ten lost coins?

Maybe she was a collector, and this was a rare edition. ;)

: : Incidentally, I would avoid the term "master" here, because the landowner is only hiring them for the day.

:

: Quite right, but in that parenthesis I was deliberately theologizing.

Ah, but in order to theologize the story, you have to have a certain understanding of the story ITSELF, and that is still up for debate here.

: : Well gosh, if he wanted to be lavish with his generosity, why didn't he just hire all those guys in the morning? The answer to his question, remember, is: "Because no one has hired us." Which is just another way of saying, "Because YOU haven't hired us."

:

: Perhaps, if you take their word for it.

The landowner's, too. Otherwise, how could he accuse them of "standing here all day long"? It does NOT sound as though they got there AFTER his previous visits to the marketplace.

: Ah, so in the current imbalanced argument you felt obliged to pitch in on the weaker side?

Heh, maybe. Also, some of the arguments here seemed less grounded in detail and more about the larger issues.

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