Archive for December 3rd, 2009

Our family went to see The Blind Side during Thanksgiving week and enjoyed it immensely. I had read Michael Lewis’ book a couple of years ago and enjoyed that a great deal as well. If you haven’t yet seen the movie or read the book, the story is about Michael Oher — a huge young man who grew up in the projects in Memphis and ended up being adopted by a Christian family (Sean and Leigh Ann Touhy) who provide, love, and care for Michael as he struggles through high school and develops into a scholarship football player (eventually signing with Ole Miss after being recruited by nearly every major Division 1 school in the country).

It’s a great story about the power of Christian compassion and love. Is it sappy? Youbetcha! But not in an unreal, manipulative way. This really happened and there are witnesses to confirm it. I liked the movie and would encourage you to see it.

But I’ve heard that some of our “black leaders” (along with some black followers) have found the movie offensive and paternalistic. “So, Michael could never have made it if these rich white people hadn’t taken him in. Well, praise the Lawd, chile! Bless Gawd for all these nice, sensitive white people, savin our chillin from the ghetto and all those terrible influences in the black community.”

Ok. I get it. And yes, I do see how this could be used to make ignorant and uncaring white people feel good about their skin color while ignoring the real story.

But here’s the truth: Michael Oher was deserted by his father and mother. He had no place to go. If it hadn’t been for a Christian woman in Michael’s neighborhood who had compassion for him, and insisted that her son find a place for Michael in a Christian school, he would likely not have survived. And if it hadn’t been for the Touhys, Michael wouldn’t have survived in the Christian school.

Leigh Ann Touhy could have sought out “government assistance” and gotten Michael under the care of “Social Services” if all she had desired was good feelings. She could have written a check. She didn’t have to take Michael into her home or feed him or clothe him or really care about him. But she did. And so did Sean and so did their children. And Michael survived and grew and became fruitful, flourishing under their love, and today is thankful to God for giving him a real father and mother — even though they are rich, white Southerners.

If you want to call this sappy sentimentalism, have at it. If you want to view it as an effort to glorify Southern racist culture, knock yourself out. But if you do, know that you’re missing the point of the story.

The story is about the calling God has given His people. This is what we are called to do: care for the broken, the oppressed, the unloved — and by God’s grace be instruments in their healing, protection, and restoration. That’s what The Blind Side is all about. And when you think about it, it’s not really all that unusual after all. God’s people have been doing this sort of thing for over 2,000 years now.

This is who we are. This is what we do. Sean and Leigh Ann had the privilege of doing this for a young man who has become a very gifted professional athlete. The rest of us have the privilege of doing it for those who may remain quite unknown and undistinguished. But the glory is the same — this is how the world is changed.

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