Source of Love, The
Hong Kong 2003
Directed by Stephen Shin.


Shoddy Christian evangelism at its most desperate. A young man who stutters and is looked down on by his father redeems his family and teaches them the love of Jesus Christ. Others in his family yell hilarious comments like, "Quit worshipping that foreign God," or "sometimes I think you love Jesus more than your own father!," setting us up for the powerful conversion, when the foolish, incense burning elders learn the error of their ways. Conversion in this movie is mainly a matter of clever manipulation of words, observation of which, far from converting me, prompted me to do some testing of my own.

When the old Chinese teacher refuses Christianity, and the young triad punk refuses it as well, the character for "Righteous" is demonstrated to be a combination of a lamb, and the character for "me." So one becomes righteous, the logic goes, by adding the lamb, or Jesus Christ our saviour, to ourselves. Me + Jesus = Righteous. There is a whole website, demonstrated in the movie, that you can visit to learn of this Christian righteousness yourself, if you read Chinese, at The Source of Love.

But I don't read Chinese, so my attention was drawn instead to another parlor trick the young missionary performed in the film to convert one of his friends to Jesus Christ. It involved folding a piece of paper just so, then cutting it in three strips. Unfolding it revealed a cross, and a number of additional straight and L-shaped pieces. Our hero in Christ rearranges these pieces, and finds, if the cross is removed, they can be made to spell out the Chinese characters for "Death." Adding the cross back in, and you have enough pieces to form the characters for "Eternal Life." Fine. But then he says, "The most amazing thing is that...it says the same thing in English!" Then he shows his friend, who is beginning to accept Christ as his personal saviour, that without the cross, the pieces of paper form the word "Hell." But if you replace the cross, you can spell "light." ("As in glory, hope, symbolizing eternal life," our fresh-faced young fanatic explains, helpfully). The message is clear -- without the cross -- aka Christ -- in your life, you are cursed to Hell and death. With Jesus, you get eternal life.

The movie is very careful to show the audience precisely how the paper is folded and cut, perhaps to encourage you to go home and try it yourself, then head down to the local church for your baptism in the face of this irrefutable evidence of Jesus' glory.

So, not one to back down when grace is imminent, I accepted the movie's challenge, and carefully followed the cutting instructions. Thank goodness for DVDs and the crystal clarity of the pause button. Also what a relief that the film shows the cut and arrangement of letters not once, but twice, so powerful a message they thought it was. When I was finished, I had a piece of paper shaped like a cross, two L-shaped pieces, two short L-shaped pieces, two long straight pieces, and two short straight pieces, exactly as they show in the movie: nine pieces total. Then, I took the cross out, and spelled a word in English. Imagine my surprise, then, when the word turned out to be:

Hmmm. So then I put the cross in, and rearranged the other pieces of paper. Almost without effort, the following word appeared:

So you see, the message is simple. Without Christ you can be filled with Love for your fellow man. With Christ, you are filled with Hate for every homosexual, abortion rights activist, athiest, muslim, and Catholic (or, if Catholic, Protestant) on the planet. So I believe that Christ surely wormed his way into my heart, then, because I really, really, really, hated this movie.

Rating: Not Recommended (Not Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on May 20, 2004.


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