Brokeback Mountain - the Sin
10 Feb 2006 - City wide screening of the film Brokeback Mountain begins in Singapore today. The Cowboy film which has resonated with both straight and gay viewers worldwide was named film of the year at the 26th London Film Critics' Circle Awards. Directed By Ang Lee, the film has already won four Golden Globes and secured eight Oscar nominations. Brokeback Mountain is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning story by Annie Proulx. The New Yorker published it in 1997, and it went on to win an O. Henry prize and a National Magazine Award.
An epic gay love story, set against the sweeping landscapes of Wyoming, Texas, and Canada that tells the story of two young men--a ranch-hand and a rodeo cowboy--who meet in the summer of 1963 while driving cattle on a mountain range. They unexpectedly forge a lifelong connection, one whose complications, joys and tragedies provide a testament to the endurance and power of love. It is the story of a time and place where two men are forced to deny the only great passion either one will ever feel. Their tragedy is universal. It could be about two women, or lovers from different religious or ethnic groups -- any "forbidden" love.
But moviegoers in much of Asia and the Middle East won't be seeing the gay love story.The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday banned "Brokeback Mountain". China's censor's banned it last month. In Malaysia the country's largest distributor has said it would not even ask for approval to release the film in the mostly Muslim country. However, in Singapore, the movie was passed uncut by the Singapore Media Development Authority but was given the highest rating of R21.
Brokeback Mountain contains a scene where a Gay couple was killed in a Wyoming gay-bashing almost exactly one year before the real-life murder of gay Wyoming man Matthew Shepard. Perhaps the tip of a cover up where thousands of Gays are killed in rural America, their blood continues to cry out to God, the cry of innocent blood spilled by those who has misused the name of Christ. It is no coincidence as Matthew Shepard's life ebbed away as blood flowed into the ground of Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming, that this become sacred ground to bring into focus all the injustice carried out in the name of God against Gay people. In the Gospels, in Mark 3:22-30, Apostle Mark was so infuriated when the religious authorities reckoned that the Holy Spirit in Christ is demonic! that he called their sin unforgivable. Likewise, the same religious zealots in the Christian Right calling homosexuality a sin distorting the truth for a lie have committed great sin against God because He has created Gays as who they are. When we condemn Gays and keep doing so as a lifestyle and a calling, is our sin forgivable? for we have dwelt and enjoyed our self righteousness, soaked in the blood of innocent, and placed ourselves higher than God for even when Jesus came, never did He condemned Gays. The crusade by the "Christians" against gays will result in the 'death' of the church as we know it. Prophetically, according to the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, this is a life and death issue for the church, not realising that the burden of sin is upon the church. The more we come against Gays and wipped up community homophobia against them, the sooner the end will come.
The Brokeback Mountain was filmed at the scenic mountain tops of Canada. There the natural beauty is at its finest, pure magnificent grandeur untouched and uncorrupted by mankind. There, we have two men at last free from the control and cultural norms of society and religion, came out of the closets into their true nature as Gays. The purity and beauty of the background speaks of Gay relationships as being normal and natural when left to its normal course and not subject to religion's homophobia in the lowlands of society. Coming down from the mountain, they were forced to adapt to the cultural and religious expectations and prejudice. As if the script was written by "Exodus", "Liberty League" or Ex-Gay Christian Groups, Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar were soon "converted" or "cured"to heterosexuality. They were soon married and had kids. But it was not a "happy ever ending" as ascribed by these "Christian" ex-gay groups. Try as they may, they could not love their wives. For Gays, heterosexual love is unnatural as much as homosexual love is to straight couples. Much effort has to be put in and maintained to continue this false relationship. At the end, it was the women and families that suffered. Their wives sought intimate love but only found a love that is detached and without feeling as if unnatural and an act to conform to religion. This went on for years until Sooner or later, the attraction of Brokeback mountain became too strong, a call to return to their natural sexual orientation. Jack and Ennis spent their happiest moments together to the jealousy of their wives and families who would have known and despaired into divorce. They did not know how to "quit" each other. The lesson learned at Brokeback mountain is to accept the sexuality that God has given us naturally be-it Gay or Straight. The greatest challenge to marriage causing divorce is the opposition by "Christian" churches against Gay marriages. The Christian Right is substantially responsible for the pain and suffering caused by the family breakdowns when they demanded that Gays come into heterosexual relationships. It would be better for all marrying off gays to each other rather than forcing them to live an ex-gay lie which ultimately hurts the family.
Brokeback makes a statement against religion and mainstream christianity as we know it. Jack remarked about his mama believing in Pentecost although both himself and Ennis had no understanding of what it meant despite from a religious and Methodist background. Jack thought that it was the end of the world and brimstone and fire of hell. Ennis quickly reverted that he was still a virgin, hence was not a sinner. America has become a society which claim to be religious yet not knowing the basis of their Christian faith. Preaching is based on fire and brimstone and condemnation of the sinner going to hell. Is having Gay sex a sin or that of a fallen nature? Unless you call all sex whether gay or straight as sin, and be a virgin, one cannot be consistent and argue that it is. However, Christianity is about the Christ our redemption and not a thesis on sin. Ennis is a sinner whether he was born Gay or Straight, whether he had sex or was still a virgin " (Rom 3:23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus". We have made Christianity a dysfunctional religion where we have replaced Christ with an overemphasis on sin and morality.
What is Pentecost whom Jack's mama believed in? The Day of Pentecost is the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples ten days after the resurrection. The name "Pentecost" comes from the Greek word Pentékosté, meaning "fiftieth" (day), and originally referred to the Jewish Shavuot celebrating the fiftieth day after Passover. The Hebrew festival was originally connected with celebrating the first-fruits of the spring grain harvest. Ultimately, Pentecost is about freedom to realise one's inheritance. Before the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples, they had no boldness or strength to go forth and declare the gospel despite Jesus death and resurrection for them. Without the blessing of the Holy Spirit, they would not have realized their potential as new creation redeemed by the blood of Christ and empowered wihtin by the presence of Christ seemingly in their midst to be with them. In other words, through the Holy Spirit, Christians came out of the closets out of the upper room no more ashamed to be different to go against the religious faith and structure for the last 2000 years. Brokeback mountain was a moment of Pentecost for Jack and Ennis, they were free at last to come out of their closets against all the normal rules of society and their religion.
The half yearly/ quarterly excursions by Jack and Ennis ended abruptly with the death of Jack at the age of 39. They had planned to ride at Brokeback till they were physically retired. But Jack's life was cut short to half of the expected lifespan. Jack's death was no accident, at least in Ennis' mind but another gay bashing. Was it planned by Jack's father in law? Lureen, Jack's wife did not display much emotion as if the relationship died years ago and she knew what was happening. Ennis visited Jack's parents in the hope to receive the ashes for burial at Brokeback mountain. They apparently had a good idea of the relationship their son had with Ennis. Mr Twist was hostile. Mrs Twist was far more sympathetic than her husband and offers to let Ennis see the room Jack grew up with. There, he discovered Jack's shirt in behind the closet, bloodstains and all, with his shirt inside, "the pair like two skins, one inside the other, two in one." In one of their roughhouses, Jack gave Ennis a bloody nose, and then stanched the bleeding with his own shirt; Ennis' shirt, of course, was bloody as well. Later, as they were packing to leave, Ennis made a remark, that he can't believe he left that shirt behind on the mountain. When Ennis emerges from the room with the shirt, she puts it in a bag for him without a word as if as a true Christian she accepted their close relationship without judgment. The final scene, in Ennis' trailer, reveals the shirts on a hanger inside the closet door, next to a postcard of Brokeback Mountain, Ennis' shirt now on the outside, holding Jack's shirt safe. Then we see Ennis' face, an almost silent cry from deep in a well of infinite loss, "Jack I swear...". Ennis who was so hesitant to break off the marriage with his wife, and then even after his divorce feared to stay with Jack in view of societies homophobia promised at last to stay with Jack. The two has finally become one in death. It was almost "I swear if we could do it all over again, I would have went off with you". It took us twenty years back, when Ennis should have left with Jack and we would have "a happy ever ending".
Brokeback represents true life stories of the struggles of Gays and Societies homophobia and prejudice against them. The pastoral ramifications are staggeringly complex. How do we minister to Gays living in a closet life or is constantly filled with pain and depression having to deny themselves and whom they loved most. How do we reconciled relationships outside marriage when many gays lived unhappily in "heterosexual" relationships. How do we managed our urge and passion as single gays the need for both companionship and sex?.
Gay marriage and monogamous relationships should be encouraged. To deny would result in:-
The main theme of Brokeback is that sex between two men is not a sin but a natural force of nature. What we called "Christian" by our condemnation and forcing them to live unnatural lives and struggled in pain, conflicts and unhappiness is a sin against the God of Pentecost who has created them as Gays and has called them to live outside this closet. Brokeback mountain is a call for the church to return to its roots of simplicity and focus, to rid itself from the evils of prejudice against the innocent minorities. It will change the church. It has to, even if it meant the death of the current mainstream churches as we know it, for a new church will arise one that is fit without blemish for the second coming of Christ.