John Donne, Hugh Grant, Bruce Milne, and the Church

“No man is an Island.” At least, that’s what John Donne said. And somehow, by some ironic twist of fate, this statement has forever formed a connection for me between a christian book and a secular movie. The book is We Belong Together by Bruce Milne which deals with what it means for the church to have true fellowship together. The other is a movie entitled About a Boy (trailer) starring Hugh Grant. Both the book and the movie begin with Donne’s words (the movie returns to it again in the end). And now, you have a sure fire way to win the Seven degrees of Kevin Bacon with the author of a book—winning.

Milne’s work has greatly influenced me these past couple of weeks as I read through it for my internship. What I want to do in this blog post is discuss the movie a bit. So if you haven’t seen it, please watch. If you do plan on seeing it you may not want to read past this point. If you don’t plan on watching it just take my word for it or watch the trailer above.

Why do I want to discuss the movie? Because I think the movie portrays a community (or fellowship) more closely related to biblical fellowship. The movie begins by unfolding the habits of Will Freeman (played by Grant), which lead the viewer to see him as a self-centered philanderer who doesn’t want to care for anyone at all. And, on top of that, he doesn’t really care that no one cares for him. He likes it that way.

But like any other movie, a transformation of the protagonist takes place. Through the course of events he meets a young boy whose mom is completely messed up. She’s depressed, crazy, and even attempts suicide after she meets Freeman. The boy keeps showing up at his door asking him for help. All the while Freeman is sucked into a community without realizing it– a community which accepts, and challenges, him and his self-centeredness. And, in turn, he accepts the crazy depression and seeks to transform the mom’s world too. By the end of the movie, he’s in a community of love which ends up being hard but worth it.

This type of fellowship, I would contend, is like the fellowship that the church should have. A body of messed up people, saved by Christ, changed by his love, and seeking to love everyone into a fuller understanding of his grace. We are just a whole bunch of messed up, sinful people. Life together is hard, and far too often we abandon it for an “easy” Christian life where we are separated by great thick walls; not willing to realize what Freeman realizes in the movie….that messed up community is better than none. And quite frankly, it is what God has set up to protect and nurture our souls.

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