The Mission | Movie Overview


On November 15, 2018, John Chau penetrated the sanctuary of North Sentinel Island within the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of India. He approached in a kayak, carrying fish, a primary help package, numerous provides, and his Bible. Near the seashore, he met some North Sentinelese. He disembarked (“to indicate them that I too have two legs”) and preached briefly, holding up a Bible. A North Sentinelese youngster shot an arrow straight via to the ebook of Isaiah. Then some others stole his kayak.

Chau swam again to the Indian boat that had illegally motored him to the protected islands, regrouped, and prayed. Earlier than sleep, he wrote in his journal, “LORD is that this island Devil’s final stronghold the place none have even had an opportunity to listen to Your Identify?” The subsequent day, he returned to the island and was killed.

These phrases from Chau’s journal and so many different expressions of evangelical fervor, certainty, and superiority echo all through Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine’s movie The Mission, which makes use of Chau’s life to discover the codependent relationship between western colonialism and Christian evangelicalism.

Moss and McBaine seize many views on Chau’s private religion life, however additionally they inform a much bigger and extra confessional story (appropriately, provided that it is a Nationwide Geographic manufacturing!): the traditionally devastating entanglement of The Nice Fee (to unfold the gospel to each nation) with boys’ journey tales rooted in colonial narratives of supremacy. To inform this double-layered story, they embody interviews with different missionaries, adventurers, and journey writers; evangelical leaders; and Chau’s lecturers (at Oral Roberts College), mates, and father.

The views on Chau’s private faith-life vary from “mad” to “misguided” to “martyr.” Views on the important colonialism of utmost evangelism are correspondingly assorted: for some, the will to succeed in the “untouched” is the final word act of pure love and devotion; for others, it’s admirable however unimaginable resulting from cultural variations; for nonetheless others, it’s “idealism masquerading as God’s calling” and supremacist violence by one other identify.

As a 20-year exvangelical myself, a few of the views given had been bodily uncomfortable to hearken to, like sitting at a vacation dinner as somebody associated to you says ignorant and subtly hateful issues. Because the movie started, I bristled at what number of instances Chau and others used the phrase “unknown” to explain the North Sentinelese tradition, language, and beliefs. That phrase has a complete argument constructed into it that isn’t all the time acknowledged: the unknown is an affront, an agitation, an itch; the unknown should grow to be identified.

However within the religious life, “unknown” shouldn’t be a taunt; it’s an invite. The argument turns into a query — “unknown to whom?” — and might then be launched from an essentialist (and violent) that means to the sector of productive ambiguity. In that discipline, the phrase “unknown” can, and will, be each celebrated and deconstructed.

We will, and will, rejoice the North Sentinelese and different peoples as skilled resisters of a tradition that isn’t for them. We’d rejoice their perception in figuring out that those that intrude uninvited have no idea the that means of hospitality and due to this fact can’t be company.

After which we’d deconstruct “unknown” totally. Moss and McBaine do that, albeit not explicitly, by documenting many different makes an attempt to contact the North Sentinelese. Folks, particularly Chau, knew issues about them already; there was a historical past of contact, and not one of the cases went effectively, for the invader or for the North Sentinelese.

There was proof of the North Sentinelese worldview; it was clear, and it was identified: We don’t need you right here.

And so “unknown” and “untouched” really imply “unconvinced,” “unconverted,” and maybe, “self-respecting.”

The Mission helps us to tug aside the relationships between these phrases and their associations, in an effort to reveal realities of violence and superiority which can be inconsistent with love and devotion to any god, however actually inconsistent with the banner verse for evangelicals: “For God so beloved the world…”

Extra broadly, the movie helps reveal the methods wherein extremists thrive by turning “understanding” into an act of religion, and certainty right into a marker of deep religion. Of all of the associations that should be decoupled, “certainty” and “religion” should be on the prime. We’d begin by watching The Mission and proceed by working towards X-The Thriller and embracing uncertainty, doubt, humility, and hospitality.


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