- Religion and Philosophy
Movie Parables: The Thorn Birds
Driven to the Cross We Sing to the LORD a New Song
The Thorn Birds is the second most-watched miniseries in television history. This multi-Emmy award winning film epic was set in Drogheda, a sheep station located in the Australian outback between the years 1915 and 1969. At the heart of this sweeping love story is the ill-fated romance of beautiful Meggie Cleary and the handsome Roman Catholic priest, Father Ralph de Bricassart. Throughout this grand saga, Father Ralph is engaged in a constant struggle between his holy calling and his carnal desires. Forced to choose between his undying love for a woman and the church he is sworn to, his ambitions win. He stays with the church only to advance within the hierarchy and become a Cardinal in Rome. What Father Ralph fails to realize is that Meggie’s son Dane, who is likewise drawn to the priesthood, is his son. Meggie conceals the truth until after Dane’s tragic death.
In the heart-rending final scene, we find Father Ralph and Meggie in their old age, reunited at the funeral of her only son. After learning the truth of fathering the son of Meggie, Father Ralph is left stunned and stricken with grief. At the family cemetery, Father Ralph is seated and suffering from a weakened heart as Meggie is kneeling before him. Together they reflect back on the unforgettable tale of a mythical bird that searches for thorn trees from the day it is hatched. From birth, its entire life is committed to sing but one beautiful song.
Father Ralph tells Meggie, “Long ago I told you about a legend, about a bird that sings only when it dies.” Meggie replies, “The bird with a thorn on its breast. It pays with its life for one song and the whole world stills to listen and God in his heaven smiles.” Father Ralph continues, “Driven to the thorn with no knowledge of the dying to come but we press the thorn to our breasts. We know, we understand, and still we do it…still we do it.”
Throughout the scriptures, the desire to please God was often accompanied by great personal costs. Commitment doesn’t come without a costly price. When we choose for certain things we choose against others. In the film, Father Ralph and Meggie paid dearly for love by pressing themselves against the thorn of a doomed relationship.
In today’s climate of ease and self-gratification we find many who don’t have what it takes to work at a lasting alliance, to hang tough with a difficult marriage relationship for better or for worse, or to stick with a group and go this distance. There’s always another group, another person, another cause where the problems won’t be so draining and the cost so high.
Job suffered loss and pain but remained committed, Abraham gave up his country and family, Joseph gave up fleshly pleasures and personal revenge, Moses gave up a royal life and Egyptian ease, and Hannah, true to her vow, gave her son Samuel back to God’s service. Because of his devotion to God, David denied himself the pleasure of getting even with Saul. Paul experienced loss, beatings, being shipwrecked, poverty, and hunger. These men pressed ahead in their love for the LORD with no knowledge of the selfless dying to come. Without the complete understanding of God’s ways, their love for him compelled them to do it.
Wasn’t it Jesus who said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?” (Lk 9:23-25). When we carry our cross to follow Christ we pay dearly. We forsake all our worldly dreams and ambitions for the single purpose of dying to self and resurrecting into the newness of life made possible by the Savior. Driven to the cross we sing to the LORD a new song as the whole world stills to listen and God in his heaven smiles.
The Thorn Birds (David Wolper-Stan Margulies Productions, 1983) written by Lee Stanley (based on the novel by Colleen McCullough) directed by Daryl Duke.
© 2009, Gicky Soriano. All rights reserved.
More Movie Parables:
- Movie Parables: Apollo 13
My son and I, caught the Apollo 13 matinee feature in the mid-nineties. The movie was as intense and heart stopping as the critics said it would be. I believe I was just about my son’s age when this...
- Movie Parables: Blade Runner
Director Ridley Scott’s 1982 film adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s science fiction novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) failed to draw rave reviews from movie critics and audiences alike at its...
- Movie Parables: Chariots of Fire
The true story of two British track athletes who compete in the 1924 Paris Summer Olympics was captured in the historic film drama Chariots of Fire. Harold Abrahams, a determined Jewish student, ran for...
- Movie Parables: Gods and Generals
Jeffrey M. Shaara’s bestseller, Gods and Generals was made into an epic motion picture that charted the early years of the American Civil War as well as the rise and fall of legendary war hero “Stonewall...
- Movie Parables: Les Miserables
The 1998 film, Les Misérables, translated “the Wretched Poor,” is based on the famous 1862 novel by French author Victor Hugo. The story revolves around an escaped prisoner by the name of Jean Valjean...
- Movie Parables: Major League
I’m thinking about Jake Taylor, a baseball catcher playing for the Cleveland Indians in the 1989 film Major League. There was a time when he was one of the best in the game until his knees were shot-out. ...
- Movie Parables: The Matrix
In the science-fiction film The Matrix, the real world has been taken over and controlled by the machines. The humans are prevented from knowing the unseen reality of their world. The machines use the minds...
- Movie Parables: The Right Stuff
Has your world ever gotten rocked in the worst way? You wake up early one sunny morning, brew your best blend of coffee, and ease into your favorite recliner to read your Bible, the newspaper or a...
More than a study of the atonement, this book brings Scripture into living dialogue with Christian theology and the twentieth century. What emerges is a pattern for Christian life and worship, hope and mission. Destined to be a classic study of the center of our faith, Stott's work is the product of a uniquely gifted pastor, scholar and Christian statesman. His penetrating insight, charitable scholarship and pastoral warmth are guaranteed to feed both heart and mind.
At the core of Spurgeon's preaching was the work of Jesus Christ in His life, death, and resurrection. Spurgeon was thoroughly convinced that "the doctrine of the precious blood, when it gets into the heart, drives error out of it and sets up the throne of truth." His messages on the cross of Christ resonate with the amazing wonder of our reconciliation to God as well as the reason why a believer should put away sin from his life.
A spiritual classic ... The truth he handles fires the heart. -- John Stott Dr Packer's volume says it simply, says it best. -- Joni Eareckson Tada Has the rare ability to deal with profound and basic spiritual truths in a practical and highly readable way. -- Billy Graham This book is strong meat. To read and digest it is an experience no discerning reader is likely to forget.
A poignant love story, a powerful epic of struggle and sacrifice, a celebration of individuality and spirit, Colleen McCullough's acclaimed masterwork remains a monumental literary achievement—a landmark novel to be cherished and read again and again.