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"BROTHER SUN"

-- A commentary from David Brandt Berg of the film "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" by Franco Zeffirelli -- written April 1973
Definitions:
System - the biblical concept of "the world" as in 1 John 2:15-17)
Systemite - a person who is yet a slave of the system; a member of the Establishment.
brothersun (15K)

A WORLD-FAMOUS DROP-OUT NAMED JESUS, WHILE EXHORTING HIS DISCIPLES TO DROP OUT WITH HIM, warned them that they would be as sheep in the midst of wolves. "If ye were of the System," He said, "the System would love its own. But ye are not of the System therefore the System hateth you." Dare to be different, He was saying, venture to vary from the norm which the systematic System addicts have established to conform to their own Establishment behaviour, what they claim to be the generally accepted rule of your rulers, and they will hate you for daring to challenge their authority to tell you what they themselves have decided is right and wrong.

JUST YOU DARE TO BE SO BOLD AS TO THINK, ACT, LIVE OR TEACH DIFFERENTLY from the vast robotic, narcotic conventional, pretentional, conformist, performist, zombie bombie so-called silent majority of the supposedly average and normal Systemites, and you will soon see them not so silent and you will hear them too, for it is the hit dogs that howl, and if you learn to run with these wolves, you will learn to howl too, when someone dares to say and prove that your way of life is not the only way!

ALTHOUGH HISTORY HAS PROVEN TIME AND AGAIN IN EVERY AGE THAT THE MAJORITY ARE USUALLY WRONG, and that, as Jesus said, "Broad is the way and wide is the gate that leadeth unto destruction and many there be that go in there at: but narrow is the way and strait is the gate that leadeth unto life eternal, and few there be that find it!" (Matt. 7:13-14) But it seems, as Toynbee said, that about the only thing we ever learn from history is that we never learn from history, therefore these sordid chapters of the horrors of history continue to repeat themselves!

WHEN ANY COURAGEOUS ICONOCLAST BECOMES SO PRESUMPTUOUS AS TO DARE TO SMASH THE IDOLS OF THE GENERALLY ACCEPTED and practiced and so-called normal psychological behaviour of this vast and wrongful majority who justify themselves by comparing themselves with themselves--if some brave pioneer of the spirit or of the flesh or of science is so foolhardy as to even suggest that this vast and unsilent majority of accepted society could possibly be wrong on some things, he is immediately hooted down as a maniac, denounced as demented, persecuted as a departurist, and even often condemned as a criminal, hanged as a heretic, or crucified as a menace to society!

BECAUSE DARKNESS CANNOT STAND THE LIGHT and wrong cannot bear the right, and the big lie cannot tolerate the truth, and them that are bound bitterly resent the freedom of the free; because by all of these the wrongful majority are exposed for their sins of darkness, evil, deception, greed and the enslavement of the exploited, they must, therefore, furiously endeavor to smother the light, say that wrong is right, attempt to shout down and drown out the voice of truth, frustrate and bind the free, and exterminate them that would terminate and expose the System's own hypocrisy. As the lawyer said to the hippie in "Easy Rider," they have to kill you because you're free, and it proves they're not, and they can't stand being reminded that they're slaves of the chains of conformity forged by their own hands!

WHEN NOAH BUILT A BOAT ON DRY LAND AND said there was going to be a flood while it had never even rained before, he was laughed at by the vast unsilent majority who were later to drown in that very same flood while he and his own family had the last laugh! When childless Abraham, at the age of 100, claimed he was going to become the father of many nations and his seed as the sands of the sea, his own wife laughed him to scorn; but he was soon to laugh last, also, because she herself, in her nineties, bore him Isaac, the forefather of the world's millions of Jews and her handmaiden, Hagar, bore him Ishmael, forefather of the world's millions of Arabs--twelve tribes of Israel and twelve nations of Arabs remaining to this day!

WHEN A LOWLY SHEPHERD FROM LONELY SINAI CLAIMED HE WAS GOING TO DELIVER SIX MILLION JEWISH SLAVES single-handed from the greedy clutches of their all-powerful Egyptian captors, Moses' own people made fun of him. But it was he who later had the fun as he led them miraculously through the Red Sea on dry ground! The people of Jericho jeered when Joshua jogged his Jews seven times around their impregnable walls, but it was really a blast on those tiny trumpets when those walls came tumblin' down. The Midianite army of thousands must have really cracked up when most of Gideon's army split and he was only left with three hundred men, but it was the Midianites turn to split when his paltry party pelted them with pottery in the middle of the night!

THE MIGHTY LORDS OF THE CONQUERING PHILISTINES SNEERED when the proverbial Jewish strong man stood blind before them as their captive, but when he pushed the pillars of their temple apart, it was his turn to snicker as he slew more of his enemies with his death than his life! The giant Goliath ridiculed the little lad with the slingshot, but when David cut loose with just one honest bit of rock, the Philistine phoney fell flat his face and the Children of God danced for joy! The prophets who predicted the dooms of their dominant dominions of old were derided as daft and demented, but when each fell in its time according to their rhyme, they were no longer found fanatically funny!

WHEN JESUS FORETOLD THE PHARISEES OF HIS FOES that their proud Temple would be pulled down, they denounced Him in derision. But forty years later when the Romans burned in to the ground, cremating the thousands of Jews within, and pulled it stone from stone to get at the melted gold in the cracks, it wasn't so funny any more. When the Apostles prophesied the appalling fall of the Roman Empire, Nero exiled, beheaded, crucified, burned and fed them to the lions, but he himself died a perverted, raving maniac, and Rome burned and her Empire eventually departed and her remains joyously taken over by the Christians themselves!

THE MARTYRS WERE VILIFIED, PILLORIED, TORTURED, TORN APART AND SAWN ASUNDER by the pagans who attempted to stamp out their pitiful tiny minority, but soon the heathen themselves were conquered by the truth, love and peace of these berated bands of beautiful people. Then when Christendom itself became the next powerful System, Churchianity tried to suffocate the findings of men of science and stifle the voices of freedom, but rang the churches' own death kneel as they extolled their victories over the new enlightenment and the dawn of the Renaissance of learning!

WHEN THE DISILLUSIONED IDEALISTIC YOUNG SON OF A WEALTHY FLORENTINE MERCHANT DECIDED TO FORSAKE ALL, evade the draft, leave home and family and live communally in an old deserted chapel in poverty as beggars with his despised fellow flower followers, he was cursed and beaten by his father, wept over by his mother, rebuked by his friends and condemned by his own church, despised by the despicable, disdained by the vain and spurned by society. But his humble love, truth and honesty and passion for peace, poverty and the poor soon won his pitiful people the approval of the Pope and the permanent antipathy of the pompous, yet this flower unfolded the far-flung Franciscan Fathers of the future!

BROTHER SUN AND SISTER MOON'S COUNTERPARTS OF POSTERITY in the hippie counter-culture of their contemporaries of The Children of God of the Jesus Movement cannot help but recall some of their own like commitments and see their own likenesses reflected in the frail forms of St. Francis and St. Clare. These modern Jesus Revolutionaries of the Spirit have also experienced some of the same bitter criticism and even suffered some of the same violent and retaliatory reaction and persecution, denunciation and condemnation that was suffered by their Franciscan predecessors, yet their truth and sample, too, cannot be quenched by tyranny!

SO IT IS QUITE UNDERSTANDABLE THAT GOD'S FLOWER CHILDREN OF BOTH TODAY AND YESTERDAY ARE QUITE INCOMPREHENSIBLE TO THEIR BIGOTRY-BLINDED COMMON ENEMIES OF BOTH AGES, the Systems of their days. The co-identification are so obvious that they cannot help but be seen by their counterparts of today. God's kids of today can sympathise with God's children of yesterday, and their enemies also can sympathise with each other, but with little comfort to console them in the Flower Children's eventual victory!

A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF THIS PERPETUAL GENERATION GAP is clearly seen not only in the courageous Zeffirelli's brave new world of "Brother Sun, Sister Moon," but also in the repeated howling of the hit wolves of today's System in its bitter, critical reviews of this masterful film! It hits them where it hurts, and where they're still hurting today under the renewed challenge of the Children of God and their Revolution for Jesus! The parallels are quite recognisable, and our age-old, older-aged enemies cannot help but see the identically same comparisons between the two!

THE ENRAGED SYSTEM-ADDICT MOVIE REVIEWERS of today's older generation of vipers shout, "Dropouts! ... Flower Children! ... Too sweet! ... Picturesque but superficial! ... Too unquestioning! ... Too much reverential deference to the hippie lifestyle!" They denounce Donovan's endearing ditties as villainous "flowers in the meadow and rabbits in the orchard!" Unthinkable is this phenomenal change in the teenage children of warmongering fathers and moneymongering mothers into compassionate pacifists and hippie-like drop-outs living together in communes with members of the opposite sex--sex with a capital Sinister, as though it were something their parents never indulged in!

AND THE BATHING OF THE BAD IN THE BABBLING BROOK of Donovan's lyrics is as infuriating to these parental critics as their daring audacity to proclaim the truths of the Bible to the leaders of religion! The critics are so incensed by the insanity of the Pope's own endorsement of this new brand of soul food by soul brothers and sisters that they almost forget that they're only supposed to be criticizing the movie and not the Pope himself!

IT IS APPARENT THAT ZEFFIRELLI'S UPDATED ST. FRANCIS, LIKE TODAY'S CHILD OF GOD, IS GETTING THOUGH TO ITS CRITICS and under their skin where it stings, when, being unable to call it a bad film, they go to the opposite extreme and call it too good, "an over-dressed spectacle." "Too beautiful all the time." "An art gallery masterpiece of suffocating chicness." "Opportunist." "Evasive." "Glib!" And they deplore the exposure of the established religion's false piety, pomp and circumstance in the midst of the truly deplorable poverty of the poor who are always with us!

IN ONE FINAL HOWL OF THE HIT, Zeffirelli's critics ludicrously blame him for blandness in his actually valorous film defiance of the Establishments of all Ages, and contradictorily claim that it will only please those whose religion is softer than butter, who it is truly most certain to displease, for neither the Franciscans nor the Children of God have ever thus been accused of promoting an easy religion! The ridiculous lengths to which the Systemites will go to defend themselves and attack their exposers and any who dare sympathise with the poor victims of their Systems is epitomised by a final false jibe that the Pope-kissed toe was "tastefully made up," which couldn't have been further from the truth! In the actual shot of this scene, St. Francis' foot was as dirty as most of the bare feet of today's hippies! To what will the System stoop next to belie the truth of God's Children and their different way of living! God bless Zeffirelli! He gets a capital G for Guts! The beauty and honesty of his film is unequalled by the ugliness and dishonesty of his critics! Their skeptical pessimistic cynicism is surpassed only by the hopeful, idealistic optimism of Zeffirelli, St. Francis and The Children!

THIS PICTURE MAY NOT PACK IN THE SYSTEMITES, BUT IT WILL CERTAINLY APPEAL TO THEIR CHILDREN! Whatever interest may not have been as much as hoped for at its premieres amongst the rich and the royal will surely be made up for by packed houses of sympathetic teenagers. The Systemites may neither understand it nor approve of it, but it's sure that the kids will, and it should be a sure-fire hit with them as soon as the word gets around that it's their picture and about them, of them, for them and by them!

ZEFFIRELLI MUST BE VERY NEAR THE KINGDOM, FOR NO ONE BUT A CHILD OF GOD COULD HAVE SUCH INSIGHT INTO THE SITUATION which exists today between misunderstanding and antagonistic parents and their misunderstood and victimised children! His authentic portrayal of so many of the typical scenes between parents and children, Systemites and hippies, churches and communes, the anti-Children and the pro-Children and the almost invariable and identical reactions of each type in their relationship to them, from the parents to the priests, merchant to militarist, both friend and foe--these could only have been inspired by one who has been there, knows it, has gone through it, suffered it and come back to tell the world about it!

WHEN POOR FRANCIS IS DENOUNCED BY HIS OWN FATHER before the officials of the Establishment, he says, "You are no longer my father and I am no longer your son!--For that which is born of the flesh is flesh but that which is born of the Spirit is spirit!"--And to me the Lord added: "And that which is born of the Spirit is a new spirit and has a new Father!"

EVENTUALLY, CONVICTED BY THE FRANCISCANS' HUMILITY AND POVERTY, THE POPE KNEELS TO KISS ST. FRANCIS' FOOT and his pompous papal dignitaries groan with disapproval. But one crafty Cardinal whispers to his fellows, "Don't worry, the Pope knows what he's doing: This is the man who will speak to the poor and brings them back into the fold!" No doubt some of them think the same of us, and it could be true. They are kings to us, and kings are not always entirely sacrificial in their motives; but when they receive and bless us, God blesses their Kingdom for our sakes, and they will receive the crowns of those who have rejected us! Long live the truth of "Brother Sun"!

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family International


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James Arendt
James Arendt

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