The film Of Gods and Men is an intense experience of some Trappist monks’ interaction with violent Muslim extremists. My comments on the film are my latest article for The Imaginative Conservative website.
“What can man do against such reckless hate?” asks the trapped and helpless Theoden King in Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers. He speaks for us all when faced with the orcs of ISIS rising in the East. Another film struggles with the same question. In Of Gods and Men nine Trappist monks face the encroaching Islamic violence in their own fortress of Hornburg—a monastery in the Atlas mountains of Algeria.
The film centers on the true story of a French Trappist community in Tibhirine, where the monks lived in harmony with the largely Muslim population. They offered medical help and education to the poor villagers while keeping a nervous eye on the increasingly violent developments in the Algerian civil war. The film faithfully portrays their monastic life and their struggle to respond to “the reckless hate” in a way that is consistent with their faith and calling.
“What can man do against such reckless hate?” At first the monks favor flight. The authorities counsel armed guards which the monks refuse. Some of the monks argue that they should move to a safer monastery or return to France. “We did not come here to be killed. We came to live with, and serve the people.” They are plunged into the unsolvable intricacies of the conflict. What witness would it be if they abandoned their people in time of need? In many ways the monks sympathize with the rebels against the corrupt Algerian regime, but it is those very Muslim guerrillas who are likely to behead them in the name of their religion.
Go here to read the full article.