“A Meeting in Munich” Review

By Elise Emmert

I went to “Meeting in Munich” by Paul Patton knowing only that it was a discussion between church members about whether or not they should listen to the Fuhrer and reform their youth groups to Hitler Youth. But it was so much more than that.

Elizabeth Pence and Logan Thorne. Photo by Alexis Hall.

There was more at stake in the church in Munich than the fate of their youth group. It’s a boiling point where congregants on both sides of the issue come together and clash, fighting each other on which outlook, which way of living, is objectively right.


I watched friends in period clothing, some pleading with others for the right to raise their children in the church without the state as their watchdog, and others in SS uniforms with swastika bands around their arms raising their hands to perform the Hitler salute and commending the Fuhrer for his dedication to building Germany up on the church.

These actors sat among the audience members, and it made the conflict and history feel so much more present than it does when reading a textbook about what led to the second world war and the horrors that happened in Germany. The actors walked beside my chair and cried out their beliefs at each other, dealing with core values that would make or break Germany’s future in WWII. They have no idea what’s coming.

And it made me sob.

old lady and austin
Faith Dever and Austin Slater. Photo by Alexis Hall.

I cried for the fact that this happened – that anti-Semitic sentiments were rationalized, that a country was so torn and desperate that something like Nazism could rear its ugly head, that so many people lost their lives in such horrible ways because of hate and the belief that Hitler had the plan to make everything right again, to bring the country back to its former glory.

It’s difficult to identify the most heart-wrenching moment in the play, but one in particular rises above the many: when Margaret Lubosch (played by Erin Couch) says the hate being spread will put rocks in the hands of the children. In response to the Hitler supporters’ laughter, she asks her young daughter, Eva (played by Emma Brugger), to tell the congregation what has been happening at school. And Eva, in a trembling voice, rattles off the names of children in the class who aren’t allowed to talk to the others, who are pulled to the front of class and ridiculed for their mistakes, and who are afraid to go to recess because they are being spit on.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Confederate flag posters with cotton buds were posted around the American University campus last week. The “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, which many state leaders condemned as a “white supremacist” meeting, ended with one civilian killed and many others injured. An improvised explosive device was set off at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Minnesota.

tearful goodbye
A tearful goodbye. Photo by Alexis Hall.

Hate is festering, and people are acting on it. It could lead us down a very dangerous path if we choose to forget how situations can escalate from a small spark to an engulfing blaze if they are not stopped before they run beyond control.


It’s easy for us to look back on history and say we would have been on the right side; we would have stood for justice even in the face of death. But history is not simply the past. It is our present. Every second that passes becomes the history that our children and grandchildren will read about. If we do not do something about this hate, future generations may have the opportunity to ask of us: Why didn’t they do something? Didn’t they know that was wrong?

I have heard it said that theater is not done to make us forget or escape the world outside, but to help us remember it. In “Meeting in Munich,” we remember the past – we remember the hatred and divisiveness that tore apart this church and its country – but we also remember the present. And I weep for both.

Hacksaw Ridge: a flimsy perspective of pacifism and Christianity

By Baylor Smith
Perhaps the most telling line of “Hacksaw Ridge” is found in a clip from an interview with Hal Doss, (the brother of the main character Desmond Doss), “You are your convictions.”

Perhaps the most telling line of “Hacksaw Ridge” is found in a clip from an interview with Hal Doss, (the brother of the main character Desmond Doss), “You are your convictions.”

“Hacksaw Ridge” follows the real life story of World War II soldier, Desmond Doss, who was the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor, doing so while refusing to carry a gun because of religious justifications. Rather than serving as an infantry soldier, Doss choses to run into the field of battle without a gun and attempt to save his fellow soldier’s lives as a medic.

“Hacksaw Ridge” presents pacifism and to a larger extent, Christianity in accordance with Hal’s statement, that one must be their convictions. Such a statement not only misrepresents the life and message of Christ, but it is the foundation of fundamentalism and in some cases, bigotry.

Director Mel Gibson rewards service to a conviction far and above a more robust understanding of the Christian life, particularly the importance of recognizing the personhood of the other. This can be seen through his depiction of the Japanese, who are horribly manipulated as a fear mechanism throughout the entire film. We hardly ever see their faces, let alone hear them talk or interact with another human being. The one moment given to an individual Japanese soldier simply serves to further glorify Doss’ character as holding his conviction. After Doss has attended to the wounds of an injured Japanese soldier, an American back at base camp says in reference to Doss, “He even saved a couple of Japs, but they didn’t make it. Anyway, gotta go back to see Doss save more people!” Ok, maybe the latter sentence is a little exaggerated but you get the point.  

Gibson, true to his previous films, aestheticizes violence as the backdrop to a painting of his main character. Using severed bodies, slow motion shots of flamethrowers and cries of men shooting guns as a means of a gloried spectacle. The hypocrisy of it all is that in his films, Gibson’s characters are supposed to stand for peace, nonviolence and compassion (see, Jesus Christ in “The Passion of The Christ”) not military victory or individual heroics.

Now, the true story of Desmond Doss is compelling and certainly should not be scoffed at, it involves immense bravery and physical sacrifice. However, Gibson’s film adaptation purports to be a powerful message of Christianity while it ultimately diverts from the message of Christ. One ought not be simply satisfied with little nods to Bible stories (and believe me, there is no shortage of those in the film). If a director wants to handle Christian theology in a film, it ought to be done with closer attention and care. 

Andrew Garfield stars as Desmond Doss in “Hacksaw Ridge”

(It’s gonna get a little preachy right now, so brace yourself)

For those who claim the title Christian it is ever pressing to understand that Christ’s message was not about being a conviction, but rather by consistently viewing people who are different than you as a person-holding the image of the divine, so that “to the extent to which Christ became human, humans may participate in becoming divine.” (That’s a little quote from my boy G-Naz, otherwise known as Gregory of Nazianzus, first century Church father… I certainly am not enlightened enough to formulate that myself.)

Being a conviction can hinder a human’s ability to pursue humility, suffering and the empathy necessary to recognize another human being’s personhood. Desmond Doss (as directed by Mel Gibson) was nonviolent for the sake of being nonviolent, forever focused on his service to his own conviction rather than his service to the other human beings as holding the personhood of Christ Jesus.

If you do go to see “Hacksaw Ridge,” which I would not necessarily recommend, at least examine Doss’ exercise of religious conviction in tandem with your own. Are you holding a belief for the sake holding it? Or does it allow you to embrace another human being, especially one who is different than you?

“Stranger Things” Review

By Michelle Bennett
Netflix just got a little bit stranger with its new original hit, “Stranger Things.”

Netflix just got a little bit stranger with its new original hit, “Stranger Things.” If there is one thing Netflix knows how to do, it’s originals. With each new release comes the thrill of another well-casted, well-directed, intriguing and entertaining story. It came as no surprise that the company that produced “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black” and “Daredevil” released another binge-worthy show to latch onto.


The story centers on the disappearance of a local boy, Will Byers, from the small town of Hawkins, Ind., in 1983. After Will vanished without a trace, his three best friends Mike, Lucas and Dustin are left behind to piece together a puzzle. They find the first piece of the puzzle with the girl called Eleven. Eleven’s past and abilities are the key to Will’s disappearance. While the trio does their best to figure out how Eleven fits in, they lack pieces of the puzzle. Some of these pieces are found with Jonathan, Will’s older brother, and Nancy, Mike’s older sister. This intermingling storyline begins when Nancy’s best friend, Barb, goes missing after a party with Nancy’s boyfriend, Steve. Nancy and Jonathan team up to try to find out what took Will and Barb and how to stop it. The remaining pieces of this puzzle fall to Will’s mom, Joyce, and the town Sheriff, Chief Hopper. They do their best to figure out how the government plays into the disappearance of Joyce’s son and how much harm or good they can do in their search for Will.

While the Duffer brothers, Matt and Ross, are relatively new to the directing world and the Hollywood spotlight, their inexperience is hardly noticeable. The Duffer brothers, with the help of their cinematographers, Tim Ives and Tod Campbell, created the familiarity of a small town with the constant use of bikes as the main form of transportation. The wildfire-like spread of gossip aided in creating this small town where everyone knew everyone and their drama. In an ironic contrast the majority of the main characters are able to keep secrets from each other. This is exactly what made the show so delightfully paradoxical. Despite the compact town and the closeness of the characters, they managed to keep their secrets and plans to themselves.
The acting brought the story to life with formidable talent such as Winona Ryder, who played the panicked and jumpy yet determined Joyce. David Harbour played the uninterested and tragic Chief Hopper whose sense of reason was found in his search for Will and the resolution of the mystery surrounding his disappearance. Young, new talent was found in Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven, who performed with such honesty and passion for her character that the role seemed only natural for her. She played the perfect scared and detached little science experiment that evolved into a little girl who longs for solid friendship and home.
The music lent itself to the nostalgia created by this show. With hits from popular eighties artists like the Clash, Peter Gabriel and Corey Hart, immersion in the world of the eighties
was an easy task.
The setting, plotline, cinematography, music and scene direction mixed to create a combination of X-Files, the Goonies and E.T. The mystery is what grabs audiences but the nostalgia, character development, plotline and constant cliffhangers are what keep fans returning. Audiences are so swept up in whether this boy will be found and with the past of characters like Chief Hopper and Eleven that the ending will come all too quickly. The eerie and ominous conclusion will leave fans waiting for season two due to be released in 2017.