Sunday Matinee #36 The Blues Brothers
This next post is gonna DYNAMITE! HUGE! You'll see!
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Quotes With Notes
Full Text: Matthew 18:21-35 (Revised Common Lectionary)
16th Sunday after Pentecost (September 17, 2023)
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Context: Picking up from last week’s text, Jesus follows up his advice on how to engage someone you are in a broken relationship with by responding to a disciple’s question about forgiveness.
21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if my brother or sister sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”
The Blues Brothers | 1980 Universal Pictures, Universal Studios | IMDB
Starring John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Cab Calloway, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles
Written by Dan Aykroyd and John Landis | Directed by John Landis
Context: Two brothers who can’t shake breaking the law put their old blues band together for a gig to raise the money they need to save the orphanage that took them when they were boys.
Willie “Too Big” Hall: “I say this trip is nowhere, man. I say we gotta quit.”
Murphy Dunn: “What?! Quit?! Well, I wish you guys would make up your mind. Otherwise, I’ve gotta call Mr. Ronzini at the Holiday Inn and get our old gig back.”
Steve “The Colonel” Cropper: (frowning) “Back at the Armada Room?”
Willie shrugs. The Blues Brothers approach the band.
“Joliet Jake” Blues: “Listen, they want us to pay for the beer we drank, so you guys had better split. The next gig is gonna be dynamite! Huge! You’ll see!”
The Blues Brothers walk away. The band give each other a look.
Willie “Too Big” Hall: “I say we give the Blues Brothers just one more chance.”
Donald “Duck” Dunn: “Why not? If the shit fits, wear it!”
Simon Peter heard what Jesus said about how to engage people we disagree with, as we explored last week, Dear Reader. He just witnessed Jesus essentially say we are to keep at it with others, which could go on for infinity. Which, last I checked, is a big number, one that should be reserved for the finer things in life, like how often you can listen to your favorite album or how many servings of made-from-scratch mashed potatoes you’ll take at Thanksgiving. “Keep ‘em coming, Grandma. I’m like a boa constrictor on winter break from college: I’ve got three days off to digest and I’ve got nowhere to go. My body is ready.”
Simon Peter notices this infinity loop and tries to find a loophole of his own with his math equation. “If someone sins against me, how often should I forgive?” A reasonable question which he hopes will receive a reasonable response. Simon Peter asks “as many as seven times?” To him, it’s such a ridiculously high number. There’s no way Jesus would say a number that high! Simon Peter can stop engaging someone at two times, easy, maybe three, before he denies somebody.
Now, I’m not down on Simon Peter. He often speaks out loud the question or idea in the hearts and minds of others around him or those of us reading the story. He’s taking the heat here for our attempts to find a loophole and avoid doing the work!
Jesus responds. Seven? That’s a lot. Let’s do seventy-seven, which is only a giant number if you’re actually keeping score. We don’t see Simon Peter’s response. Is he surprised? He can’t be that surprised? Jesus keeps forgiving him over and over for what he says and he does, never doubting him along the way. Jesus isn’t keeping score. Simon Peter isn’t up to 72 times forgiven.
Watch yourself, Simon Peter, only 5 times left!
Jesus doesn’t say, “Remember how it was only around 53 verses or so ago when you told me no way, I can’t die as part of my work, and I rebuked you by saying, ‘Get behind me, Satan!’? I forgave you that one.”
Jesus isn’t keeping track. 77 isn’t a precise number, but a symbol of forgiveness beyond measure.
I remember this scene in The Blues Brothers as the first time I heard a swear word in a movie and asked the adults around me what the heck he meant by that?! “If the shit fits wear it”?! Being a wee lad of around four years old, I didn’t know the phrase, “If the shirt fits wear it.” I knew even less why Donald “Duck” Dunn changed “shirt” to “shit.” I also don’t know if this script at Scribd is truly the original script, but that line is in there from the start, if it is. I did know it made everybody in the room laugh when we watched the movie, though. It’s one of my favorite movie quotes, ever!
The band wants to believe Jake. They want these gigs to work. They want something better than what they’ve had. Jake and Elwood have to deliver. It’s not easy trying to please 8 band members who had their big dreams crushed by the Blues Brothers’ criminal tendencies.
For his part, Jake could do a lot better in the truth department. He promises the band the next gig will be huge, but he doesn’t have a gig lined up yet. He also hasn’t, as far as we know, told them about his and Elwood’s plan to save the orphanage where they grew up (a deleted scene addresses this, but it’s clunky and I’m glad it’s not in the final film). As for the band, they aren’t following Jesus’s advice necessarily to come to him one on one. They end up talking amongst themselves on whether or not to give them one more chance.
The band says they’ll give the Blues Brothers just 1 more chance.
Luckily, Jesus gives us 77. Or a lot more!
In the game of needing forgiveness, we are all repeat players. How many times do you think you’ve been in a position of needing forgiveness? As many as 7 times? Could you even begin to count them? We do well to remember none of us are perfect. One of the keys to forgiving others is being big enough to ask for forgiveness for yourself. It can take a lot for someone to humble themselves before us and ask to be forgiven. Learning how to be that person offering an apology is what helps us accept that person’s apology.
A Word of Encouragement
Be kind to yourself and watch out for each other. May what you seek be found, and may what is found have an abundance of love at its center. And to today’s preachers, may the sermon you crafted and the prayers you lift reveal the everlasting presence of the Holy Spirit. God’s peace and good movies to you!
And remember, in the immortal words of Donald “Duck” Dunn:
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