One of my favorite songs is by Sting. It is called: “They Danced Alone.” It is a soulful song that was banned by the dictator Augusto Pinochet in Chile. The lyrics of the song talk about women in Chile who dance with photos of their missing husbands or brothers. The Government under Pinochet was arresting dissidents and killing them.
This song has been performed by a lot of artists. Peter Gabriel, Jackson Brown, Richie Havens, Joan Baez have all performed “They Danced Alone”.
More recently, the film “Unbroken” was released in theaters. It is a story of Louis Zamperini. He was an Olympic runner who was good enough to participate in the 1936 Olympics. While he was over shadowed by the performance of Jesse Owens, Zamperini was a young runner with a bright future. In 1936 Zamperini was only 17.
In World War II Louis Zamperini served in the Air Force. His plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean and after an incredible ordeal in a life boat for 47 days he was captured by the Japanese. During his captivity he was brutally beaten and tortured.
The movie leaves us with Zamperini facing down his Japanese captor, a victory of the human spirit over adversity. The book tells a much different story. In the book, Louis Zamperini returns to the United States a broken man. He cannot emotionally connect with his wife or his family. His life spins down into a cycle of drink and violent out-bursts. What saves Mr. Zamperini? His wife begs him to attend a tent revival by the Rev. Billy Graham in Los Angeles. At the revival, Mr. Zamperini has a religious conversion. When he is at the very bottom of his existence as a man, after he has survived a difficult childhood and an incredibly cruel incarceration by the Japanese, Mr. Zamperini makes the decision to accept Jesus Christ as his savior.
Louis Zamperini’s story is compelling. He was a national figure with a bright future when he was 17. He was an emotionally and physically broken man by the time he was 28. All of us know a story like this. Men and women in the prime of their lives are sometimes hit by a hard reality. Sometimes it is an experience in war. Other times, life is just harder than it should be. Those who are lost wonder where to turn.
In Cuba, the Ladies in White are a national legend. The wives and daughters of political dissidents dress in white garments and attend Mass together. Their presence is a protest against the Communist government and its totalitarian leadership. The Ladies in White have been beaten and imprisoned for their non-violent political action.
When I consider this, I wonder why Christianity isn’t more fashionable. Why doesn’t Sting or some other pop star write a song in support of a The Ladies in White? Why didn’t the director of Unbroken cast a light on what really turned Louis Zamperini’s life around; fundamental Christianity?
My favorite story about Jesus comes from the 21st chapter of John. Jesus is on the shore of the Sea of Galilea waiting for his friends. He has a charcoal fire going and fish on the grill. “Here”, says Christ, “have some breakfast”. Maybe this is just too un-fashionable for someone offering so much. Maybe the trend setters and artists among us cannot accept such a simple Savior.
Christians today are a persecuted bunch worldwide. They are being killed and kidnapped in Africa and moved out of their homes in the Middle East. In Cuba, the Ladies in White still attend Mass and suffer threats of violence from the Castro Government. Rock stars don’t write songs about their plight. Movie directors avoid mention of the source of spiritual strength and healing in a story.
And Christ, the Son of Man, quietly waits to change our lives by the Sea of Galilee. He even has some breakfast ready.