Fire in the Blood: not just a documentary but an Easter challenge.

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I haven’t found myself left open-mouthed by cinema much recently. I also haven’t found myslef angered much by cinema lately either. Fire In The Blood however achieved both.

Fire In The Blood tells the story of how Western pharmaceutical companies and governments aggressively blocked access to low-cost AIDS drugs for the countries of Africa and the global south in the years after 1996 – causing ten million or more unnecessary deaths –  and the improbable group of people who decided to fight back.

The director Dylan Mohan Gray was led to tell this staggeringly true story and recent interviews has said that this story needed to be told in reaction to “shock and disgust that so many millions of lives could be so callously and I would say brutally set aside, with very little attention paid to the fact and no one called to account”.

This documentary is shocking, compelling and heart wrenching as you watch the lives of millions in the hands of not only governments but also the drug companies and their profit first attitudes.

On coming out of the screening conversations started to begin around how fortunate we are in comparison.

Growing up in Belfast has often struck me as a privilege .  I have never wanted for anything. My health has always (to date) been decent. If I did need health care it is available via the NHS at no cost to me.

We complain at our money disappearing via direct debits to cover our monthly living costs but I should stop and remember that I am blessed a) I HAVE A JOB (despite my grumblings about how I want a better one) & b) I AM WELL PAID.

I shouldn’t complain about paying out so much each month when after essentials are covered I use parts of my monthly income to entertain myself. For example my satellite tv subscription and my reluctance to give up the extortionate sports package costs added through choice and desire to keep them to watch my team play football.

This Easter weekend again I look to the Cross and think of the sacrifice made for me.

Fire in the Blood challenged me and made me contemplate how this ultimate sacrifice is being reflected in my own life. How do I use the privilege I have afforded to me? What am I sacrificing to help those in need?

The first step (regardless of how insignificant I may feel it is) is to whole heartedly recommend Fire In the Blood and point you towards their website: http://fireintheblood.com/ .

Please have a look at the site, watch the documentary and please get involved in making a difference.

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The Pope, Terence Malick & a sleeping God

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POPE Benedict XVI admitted it sometimes felt as if ‘God was asleep’ during the troubled days of his papacy as he gave an emotional farewell in St Peter’s Square before tens of thousands of pilgrims on the eve of his momentous resignation.

I loved the brutal honesty of that statement. It’s something we rarely talk about those difficult moments when it feels like God just isn’t there.

Shortly after this statement I had the opportunity to see Terence Malick’s latest film ‘To The Wonder’ which among other things depicts the absence of love and for one character in particular the absence of God.  

Javier Bardem’s character Father Quintana is so desperate in his search for God that he spends time in some of the poorest areas of his time desperately seeking for glimpses of God at work. Quintana no longer feels the ardor he knew in the first days of his faith, and wonders if he ever will again.

I can relate to this. I have often wondered about the sleeping God, the God who feels absent.

When I have lost loved ones (long before I feel I should) I have wondered.

When I watch footage of Belfast streets engulfed in riot I have wondered.

When I see footage of starving and sick from around the world I have wondered.

When I hear horror stories of abuse I have wondered.

I understand what Pope Benedict means. I have been there myself. Deep down I know that God often speaks in the calm, still, small voice and not the authoritative storm calming cry.

My faith has been shaken but never waivered, even in its darkest moments. I appreciated Pope Benedict’s honesty and think that more need to be this honest in their leadership of churches. 

God is not asleep and never is, always present is what we have been taught. What we need to be taught is what to do when it feels like he is asleep.