I was listening to the soaring soundtrack of The Mission today, and it made me think of you. The film tells the story of a church-state conflict that arises in the 1750s and ultimately crushes a tiny Jesuit mission and the people who built it, members of the Guarani, indigenous peoples who inhabited tribal lands deep in the rain forests of central South America.
In the film, a tiny slice of the larger political fight for power over the Guarani takes place among Spain, Portugal, and the Vatican. The losers are the Guarani believers who took refuge in the mission – one of many that had been established by the Jesuits – in the hope not just of eternal salvation, but of earthly deliverance from the hands of the slave-trading countries that had invaded their lands. The natives’ hope is destroyed as Catholic European soldiers murder the natives as they attend Mass.
At this point, Dear Ohio, you’re probably wondering why the music from this film makes me think of you. As you well know from my previous correspondence, I write to you because you are the bellwether election state. And it seems of late that religion and politics have become welded together in a way that is galvanizing the electorate in Ohio and all other states in the Union. (How ironic to have this happen in a country where it is common to hear people say, “Never talk about politics or religion,” and where we celebrate a history of government and church being separate in order to promote freedom among all believers and non-believers.) [Read more…]