Tuesday, September 05, 2006

You Don't Know Jack or Why I Like Clive Owen as Arturius

I have to admit it. I do like the 2004 demystified movie version of King Arthur with Clive Owen. Of course, it helps that there were actual Celtified type people in the movie like Ioan Grufudd.

My real reasons for liking the movie are more serious than actors, or my celtophile leanings (unfortunately it was filmed in Ireland, rather than North Wales, or in Scotland near Hadrian's Wall).

I like this movie because it carried a theme of freedom, and because Arturius was a follower of Pelagius. I have felt for quite some time that Pelagius got a bad rap. He was treated as a heretic in the 4th and 5th centuries by such notables as Augustine (certainly not a favorite church father of mine!) He was exonerated and then later treated as an heretic again. Gee, I know how that feels.

The gracious teaching of the freedom of human will which was taught by Pelagius, was presented as something which King Arthur believed in the movie. Arthur is portrayed as a follower of Pelagius, not knowing that Pelagius was already killed in Rome for being a heretic. (The time and manner of Pelagius' death is not actually known, though some surmise that he was killed by his detractors in the catholic church.) The idea that we are all born free is Pelagian doctrine. It is not Augustinian doctrine. In this issue I side with Arturius.

The reference to the round table, and fact that it was designed round to put all men in equal position is a beautiful concept, and another reason for my appreciation of the movie.

Having babbled a bit about a movie, I now progress to my point.

We sure could use a Pelagius, or a King Arthur in the church today - someone who stands up for equality among the brethren - someone who sits at a round table, and asserts no special position by sitting at the head of the table. Authority in many church circles today is as grossly managed as it was in Pelagius' day. He was maligned probably because Augustine didn't like him, and Augustine was the big boy in the theological neighborhood. If Augustine didn't like you, or know you, you might have a hard time getting a fair shake.

There are no Augustine's today. They have other names - like Charles or Jack. So, if you don't know Jack, you just might be in a heap of trouble in the church, if some self-serving religious authority gets his underwear all bunched up over something you've done. Like it may have been with Pelagius, you just might get a bad rap too.

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