Author Topic: The Overnighters  (Read 2607 times)

oldkid

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The Overnighters
« on: February 18, 2015, 01:55:51 AM »
My head is so full of thoughts about this film and I think I'm going to head into spoiler territory, so I'm just going to write down things in a disorganized fashion here and maybe they'll gel into a review or mediation or something.
 
-The Overnighters is the closest movie to my work that I've found.  Calvary feels more emotionally resonant and Wendy and Lucy best expresses the lives of the people I serve, but I can't deny the connection between myself and Pastor Jay Reinke.  Temperamentally, we couldn't be more different.  He's a people-pleaser and I get a rush from conflict.  He is concerned with what people think, and I'm more concerned with how people act.  As a pastor, I chose to begin my own congregation of the homeless rather than deal with the back and forth of middle class values. 

-Some of the scenes remind me of A Time for Burning, when we have the clear hypocrisy of a congregation (or part of a congregation) and the prejudice of a community.  They said that "the church" is "full of sinners", but what I have found is that every congregation has a number of hypocrites who talk about love until it inconveniences them.  Any church isn't a spiritual group, but a cultural one and when their cultural core is confronted, then you will find people leaving.  This usually means that the church's core was in the wrong place to begin with-- in a biased culture instead of a God of love and sacrifice who calls his people to the same. 

-(Clear spoilers here) The end of the film shocked me, but now I realize that it shouldn't have.  I've been involved with a similar ministry and similar stresses for 20 years and that led me to depression, anger, along with some bad choices.  I never cheated on my wife, but I have broken the covenant I have with my denomination at times.  My wife and I both expressed the regret of the pastor's wife, "What we are doing is important, but I'll be glad when it's over."  I have never betrayed my family or forsaken time with them.  But the stresses of such sacrificial service cut deep and a chunk of our own souls end up on the altar of such service.   I've said that Jesus' sacrifice was difficult, but he ministered for three and a half years, had a really tough couple days and it was over.  For those of us who have endured for decades, our very humanity is worn down to the bone, and I wonder if my flesh has paid all that it will pay. 

-The community right now is working on shutting us down.  I will be meeting with the city this Friday to discuss our "code violations" for having people stay on the property overnight.  Perhaps we will receive a thirty day notice, or we may be fined 6000 dollars a day.  But I will not go gently into that dark night, as Pastor Jay did, and as I've seen other pastors do.  If they fine us, I will take them to court and they will have to defend why they are fining a church who is doing what a church is supposed to do.  Because a church is supposed to meet the needs of their congregation.  A church is supposed to serve the poor.  A church is supposed to protect their community.  And that is simply what we do-- it's just that our community is homeless.  If they give us a thirty day notice then they will have to call the sheriff and he will have to lock the doors himself and arrest me and whoever is with me and take me to jail.  But I will not stop what I do because of some immoral law.  They have to make me stop. 
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Bondo

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Re: The Overnighters
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2015, 10:36:11 AM »
I felt the revelation of Reinke's (homosexual) affair felt very sudden. He maybe hints at it earlier when he talks with one of the guys and says they are more alike than different (though that also works as general "we are all sinners" empathy), but his explanation to his wife seems very abridged. He mentioned something about being blackmailed but not much is said beyond that. It seems like a big thing to just drop in at the end and leave. The homophobia I referenced in my review was the implication that the same-sex attractions themselves were a sinful burden, not just the infidelity. The part I felt seemed a bit too convenient narratively, though is certainly believable in a sense, was that he ends up seemingly homeless and looking for work in the oil fields. I'm not sure they were clear on whether he had to get divorced and leave his family or not.

The other scene that is a little odd to me is when he is approached by the reporter about sex offenders. His reaction is particularly poor considering it was something not entirely unanticipated. A simple, "I have no comment at this time" would have managed much better. That was a moment that I really sensed the presence of the documentarian/cameras...that and the scene where he is picking up the RV and the woman gets after him for trespassing or whatever.

oldkid

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Re: The Overnighters
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2015, 11:50:08 AM »
All of this, I believe, is a reflection of his basic nature as a people pleaser.  He understands that no matter what he says, it will be seen as negative, and his reputation is ruined.  In the end, his reputation is ruined because of his infidelity, and he has to face up to it.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Sandy

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Re: The Overnighters
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2015, 12:24:30 PM »
It's been good to read these posts, now that I've seen the documentary, because it all makes sense now.


Should a newspaper provide important information to its community, that may keep even one person safe? Is it right to look beyond a criminal record and find the man who is so much more than that part of him? Two emphatic yeses!

I have some qualms with this, especially as it relates to the individual it relates to in the film. My yes on the first half is certainly not emphatic.

I understand that response and maybe it would help to explain my statement. I thought a long time before writing the word "emphatic." If it's true that the man had become a sex offender as an 18 year old, by sleeping with his 16 year old girlfriend, then that is a whole other layer of discussion. I believe the pastor was onto something very, very important when he spoke of transparency.

Keeping stories and lives in the shadows, will never move us forward as a society. All the people knew about the man, was that he wasn't honest on his application and that the pastor had quietly kept him at his home, protecting him from what? And for how long? That's no way to live.

The man who was a helper at the church, who also wasn't honest about his record, could only keep the secret so long, and when it was found out, it spiraled him down into some very self destructive behaviors. That's no way to live either.

The pastor was speaking of things he himself wasn't being honest about. He may be out a job now, but he has no more secrets, no more hiding. Now he can move forward with only his true self to offer. For all the pain, there is liberation in that.

As for the newspaper, I believe first and foremost that we are to protect the most vulnerable of our society and that is children. Having clear knowledge of who may be a threat, should be the responsibility of a community. That's the first step. But what good is knowledge, unless, there are many more steps?

I have a sex offender in my neighborhood, who I'm on good terms with. He has a family and is openly serving in his community. Am I cautious? Yes. Should I be? Yes. Should he be living in the shadows? no.  I have a cousin in Idaho, who chose to marry a sex offender. Everything is out in the open, he is carefully monitored through his parole requirements and has a large support network that helps him also be a contributing member of society.

I'm emphatic, that keeping things hidden, can only make matters worse.

Thanks for your statement, Bondo, so I could further explore my thoughts about this very complicated subject.

Bondo

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Re: The Overnighters
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2015, 01:40:46 PM »
In all of the cases you mention from the film, it is an example of the tragedy of the closet. Being able to live transparently is an ideal...but it only works if being transparent doesn't come with crippling consequences (social isolation, homelessness, unemployment, etc.). So I think we are both emphatic about closets being bad. It's possible the difference in approach would be whether the transparency or the removal of consequences needs to come first. It's a really difficult balance to strike. Gay rights have made a lot of progress because people came out and those close to them had to choose between loved ones and their existing prejudice. And yet even to this day, in over half the states, you can be fired (or not hired) for being gay so even with the massive increase in support and acceptance it is risky.

I remember when I was applying for jobs in 2010-2012, post "involuntary resignation," if an application asked about if you'd ever been fired or left work involuntarily, I had to battle it out what to say, because in my mind checking that box was as good as throwing my application in the trash can because you aren't a person to them, you are a piece of paper and they aren't going to take the risk. Lying, getting hired, and living in the risk that the truth comes out and you get fired later seems like the better alternative. But if everyone is doing that, it defeats the purpose of the question.

I think also about donating blood. The FDA discriminates against gay men, saying that if you've ever had sex with a man in the last year (used to be ever), you can't donate. This was to protect people from getting HIV through transfusion. But this doesn't mean gay men don't donate blood, it means they lie. In both these cases I see the main problem as being a context that forces deceit but you might point to the deceit as the primary problem. It's a delicate line, and ultimately a catch-22. Transparency would help shift the culture and shifting the culture would help allow transparency.

I should say the only real problem I have with this:
Quote
As for the newspaper, I believe first and foremost that we are to protect the most vulnerable of our society and that is children. Having clear knowledge of who may be a threat, should be the responsibility of a community. That's the first step. But what good is knowledge, unless, there are many more steps?
is that it is kind of misleading of where the threat lies. I'm not saying a certain caution toward a sex offender isn't reasonable, but the bulk of offenses against children are not done by registered sex offenders, and are generally committed by friends/family or another trusted authority figure. It's almost impossible to assess threat. In some respects, that registered sex offender might be the most trustworthy person because they know they face scrutiny, which of course proves your point about transparency. I give up. 8)

oldkid

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Re: The Overnighters
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2015, 02:59:54 PM »
The problem with transparency is that most people believe their stereotypes, not the reality.  I have a friend who would get drunk and slap women's bottoms.  He is clean and sober now, but with a sex tag, which will last for the rest of his life although there is no indication that he will ever do that behavior again.  But a sex tag means that people feel they need to be careful about their children, although that is completely unnecessary.  He has lost opportunity after opportunity, although he is honest, because of the assumptions that come with the tag, not the least of which is, "You aren't telling me the whole story."

The problem with the newspaper in the movie is that they weren't interested in telling the whole story.  They wanted to know if the pastor had a sex offender in his house, not what the tag was for.  What would the headline be?  Would it be used to inflame a difficult situation, or to bring light to a good situation? 

Of course, my major concern is the fear of the pastor himself.  He exuded anxiety.   He isn't the sort of man who should be heading a controversial church program like this.  I have seen many people with compassion, but not much wisdom or with too little self control to be able to deal with the burden of community objections or the pain of rejection.  He needed more support, or he needed to get out of what he was doing.
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Sandy

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Re: The Overnighters
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2015, 10:47:22 PM »
When the bus came into the station and the pastor said, "Please God, don't let any of them call me." I knew he had set himself up for something that was way beyond his abilities and, now I see from what you said, his personality.

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Re: The Overnighters
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2015, 02:46:45 PM »
Firstly, I'm glad that the fight you were putting up when you first posted in this thread has turned for the better given your recent comments, oldkid. Nice to see something good happening.

Ok, so Jay didn't handle most of this situation in the best way, right? Probably could have been more picky about the people he let into the church and his house and probably could have handled it better than just running away from the (admittedly annoying) press guy. On the other hand, I see people get bent out of shape about things when it comes to their kids way too easily. While I understand that a bunch of unknown guys coming into your town without forming any kind of connection there is inherently scary and all that jazz, I really don't like how quickly we dismiss people who have a label attached to them. As bondo points out, most sex offences, especially when it comes to kids, are done by people who are known to the child. It's ok and right to prepare for the worst, but don't act as if the worst has already happened because it'll practically ensure a lack of connection between different elements of society.

As far as Jay's deeds go, I think oldkid probably has it right there. The guy is constantly putting everybody else in front of his own happiness and wellbeing. He's like physically unable to say no. He can't even say "no comment" to the newspaper guy. I wouldn't be surprised if one of the people he was helping offered some kind of sexual recompense and he just couldn't say no to it. A character trait like that matched with the inordinate stress he was under would lead to some pretty crazy stuff much easier than in a normal life. I guess I feel bad for him, so the empathetic nature of the documentary worked.
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