An Inspector Calls
AN INSPECTOR CALLS IS A BBC MOVIE based on J.B. Priestley’s 1945 story about the corrosive nature of class privilege and the call for compassion for the one in need.
For a brief description of the plot, Louisa Mellor (www.denofgeek.com) writes, “Set in 1912, the story tells of the collective role members of a wealthy family played in the suicide of a young working-class woman. With its dead body, manner house, dinner party, visiting inspector and would-be aristocratic suspects, it first assumes the shape of a detective drama but quickly reveals itself to be an entirely different beast; less whodunit, more socialistic polemic against hypocrisy and privilege.”
There were many things about this film that were worthy of discussion. For example, it was fascinating to watch the different ways people process guilt. Some of the characters genuinely felt guilty for what they had done. Others, quickly dismissed their guilt when they thought they were off the hook. It makes you think about the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow.
I also found “The Inspector” to be a god-like character. He was a mysterious figure and he seemed to know everything about each person in this aristocratic family. It was a reminder to me that I live my life in full view of God, who knows all and who inspects all. Consequently, it first causes me to cry out, “God have mercy on me a sinner” and to run to the grace we have in Jesus. And then it also encourages me to purify myself as he is pure.
But most of all, this movie caused me to consider the many ways my life connects with the lives of others. And furthermore, it causes me to ask: “What is my responsibility for the poor and for the foreigner and the refugee?” Does the fact that my needs are well met, cause me to forget the needs that are around me every day?
The punchline of the of the movie is given by the Inspector when he says, “We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish.” That is a fascinating statement given that this was written at the end of World War II.
While this is not a Christian movie, in it I can see a Christian worldview that calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. My mind was drawn to Leviticus 19:18 and the command “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And what does it mean to love your neighbor? Leviticus 19:9-18 includes things like: providing for the poor and the immigrant, keeping the commandments, treating workers well, not slandering others and not being partial.
It is somewhat reminiscent of what Jesus was saying when he told the parable of the Good Samaritan. Who is my neighbor? It is the person in need.
Watch the movie and “inspect” your own life. Or better yet, ask the Spirit of God to do the inspecting!
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