Of Gods and Men
“I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.”
This week’s pick is a foreign film that’s more appropriate for older viewers. Based on real-life events that took place in 1996, Of Gods and Men takes us to a monastery in Algeria where a small group of Trappist monks provide medical and spiritual assistance to the local community. Things become difficult when violence from the Algerian Civil War begins to plague the community, and danger quite literally shows up on their doorstep when an armed group of Islamist fundamentalists arrive seeking medical assistance and supplies.
Stunned and shaken by the sudden rise in violence, the monks are encouraged to leave the country, or at least accept the protection of the civil authority (who are not so trustworthy themselves). Knowing that staying may be a death sentence, the monks must now decide whether to leave for the sake of their own security, or to remain anyway so as to continue to provide for the locals who have no choice but to stay.
While some of our previous film recommendations (The Mission, A Hidden Life, and A Man for All Seasons) also feature individuals who are forced to make life or death decisions for the sake of their faith, it can be easy to feel a bit distant from them because they took place long ago. That this story took place only in 1996 may serve as a reminder that having to make such profound decisions continues even to this day.