Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Benchwarmers

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." Matt. 5:5

We know them well. Nerds. Geeks. Whatever they are called, we know them. These are the people who are bullied, humiliated, and segregated by others because of their looks, their popularity, their athletic ability, and their intelligence, among other reasons.

They are the "meek" of our day. The "meek" that will inherit the earth, as Jesus says in the beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew.

The Benchwarmers is a film about these bullied individuals, and their quest to inherit the earth (or at the very least, a place on the baseball diamond). It follows three grown-up friends (Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Jon Heder) who take a stand for the little kids who are regularly humiliated and picked on by the popular kids. They take their stand to the baseball field.

Motivated and funded by billionare nerd Mel (Jon Lovitz), the three of them take on little league teams in a tournament where the winner gets a brand new stadium for the kids.

In the film, children around the country tune into podcasts and web sites to watch this tournament. They are inspired and moved by these three "heroes" as they defeat the popular kids' little league teams one after another. Right in front of them, they see the meek inheriting the earth, the dream of those who are humiliated, isolated, and disregarded.

When the beatitudes were first offered in the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus, I imagine there must have been a few laughs thrown at him. Widows joyful? The persecuted happy? The poor become powerful? Who would think of such silly, impossible things? But the beatitudes were signs of hope for people who had none. In Jesus' day, the meek were the lepers, the beggers, the outcasts and unclean, and those who lived in fear of almost everyone else. The Benchwarmers offers a similar hope for those who feel hopeless in our day.

"If you build it," Jon Lovitz's character says with a nod to Field of Dreams, "...nerds will come." And come they do, inheriting a stadium that was never theirs before.

Jesus offers us hope in a world where hopelessness is the norm. Advertising and marketing play on our hopelessness these days. They tell us we are nothing, we are hopeless people... unless we buy their products and find an empty hope there. But God gives us hope even in the most impossible, improbable, and unattainable ways. Because with God, we know that all things truly are possible.

No comments: