To Save a Life

Last night our family watched To Save a Life, an indie Christian movie aimed towards high school students.  When we watched Soul Surfer back in Hawaii, there was a preview for this movie, the kids begged to see it, and luckily Netflix offered it.

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Generally I don’t prefer “Christian” art.  Too often, it isn’t very good art–trite, simplistic, sentimental.  More concerning, I often don’t recognize the faith the art espouses or recognize the God it serves, even though I’ve been following Jesus most of my life.  (Just like I don’t recognize what the media calls “evangelicals,” even though that’s been the church stream I’ve swum in most of my life)

But all 5 of us loved to To Save a Life.

It begins with the funeral of a school shooter who took his own life.  Jake, his former best friend, dumped him to pursue popularity, a hot girlfriend, and acclaim as a sports star.  The movie follows Jake as he wrestles with his role in his friend’s suicide, the meaning of life in general, and how to respond to the pain of high school culture, his parents’ failing marriage, his girlfriend’s rejection, and the consequences of his own behavior.

Here’re some things I liked about the movie:

  1. The problems Jake and the kids wrestled with were real:  drinking, drugs, sex, peer pressure, broken families, cutting, rejection, isolation, a social caste system.
  2. The youth pastor who tries to help offered the love of the God I know.  He listened, he asked questions, he didn’t preach.  Hey, I’d hire the guy!!
  3. The church had serious flaws, including a head pastor who didn’t get it, and whose son was rebelling.  Unfortunately, I recognize that too well also.  
But what I liked most was how the movie gave us the chance to talk with our kids about values, how we treat people, and what it means to risk leading so that life and good come to your community.
Not to beat up on the high school swim team captains, but the fact that my kid, who, as a new kid, was excluded from the carpool, was an example of bad leadership.  As I said to her, “Good leadership always watches out FIRST for the marginalized, the new, the weak.  The older girls who are ‘in’ can always find a way to take care of themselves.”
Scott pointed out that the swim team captains acted like all high school students do.  Of course they took care of the popular, the in-crowd and their friends first.  
That may be the stream of high school culture, but I think we can ask more of high school leaders, even if their only in their teens.  
I felt vindicated when my friend told me her son’s baseball team, with 12 year old captains, have been trained by their coach to call around the night before every game to make sure everyone gets a good night sleep, has a ride, and is doing OK before the game.  Now that’s GOOD leadership.
So if you have kids old enough to think about these topics, I highly recommend watching To Save a Life as a family.  After all, if our kids can stand courageous on behalf of others, who knows what lives could be saved?

About Kathy Tuan-MacLean

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