Erin Brockovich

August 10, 2003

[Erin Brockovich]Watched Erin Brockovich on Friday night.

Jon’s take: Erin was successful because she understood the people business. In contrast to the trained lawyer, she was willing to go to the people, to walk in their cow poop, to listen to their stories. It made me think of David Ruis’s story in the lastest issue of Cutting Edge about reaching out in the inner city: “Instead of bringing them to where we were, we went to where they were, and held our meetings where they lived. We drank coffee out of their coffee cups and sat on their couch instead of ours.” In the movie, Erin took her boss on his first visit to the clients she knew so well. They offer to serve coffee, but he declines. Erin leans in close and whispers, “Have a fucking cup of coffee, Ed.”

In the end, the guy with the “smoking gun” approaches Erin after observing her for a long time and concluding that she was there for them and not for herself. Here’s Ruis again: “About two or three years into planting the Winnepeg Vineyard, an associate and I were having coffee in one of the neighborhood coffee shops, and a disheveled guy came in and plopped himself down across from us and said, ‘We’ve been watching you for quite a while, now. And, you know, we are beginning to believe that you are here for us, and not for yourselves.'”

The people business is our business. It’s God’s business.

Kay’s take: Erin was a failure because she sacrificed her children for her job. It’s like too many people in ministry — putting the church before their own family.

…OK, that was way too short on Kay’s take. I’m handing the keyboard over so she can rant away:

Kay adds in her own words: It seems to me that if someone has a child then their first obligation should always be to that child. Erin says ” I’m doing so much more for my children now” Really? Is Not being there for them when they speak their first words giving them more? What about telling her son that she was there last night so get over it when he is so upset about her missing dinner with him that he can’t get to sleep? Is putting an eight year old in a position of putting the only childhood he will ever have on hold because Mom is too busy to take him to roller hockey giving him More? She didn’t say it was a financial decision, she said it was because she didn’t want to put her job in second place to her kids. What’s the message conveyed to these kids? Do we want a whole generation to grow up beleiving that family is fine but work comes first? . What if what you do is pastoring or charity, or missionary work? What if it’s “Gods Work”? I beleive that there are many parents who beleive that family will be there when they get past that next dead line or ministry trip. Guess what folks, you have a deadline with your kids and your spouse. If you miss it there are no extensions. There are no second chances with childhood or marriage. If you miss it you will spend the rest of your life trying to undo the damage and even then, you will never be able to make it as right as if the damage was never done. Ifelt awful for the families that suffered under the injustice. Bet would taking it a little slower so Erin could be a good mom really have made a difference in the out come? The movie ends with Erin receiving a well paying job and large check. The implication being now she will have the money to take care of her life and her kids. I see a different implication. Now her temporary negligence of her family has turned into a permanent condition. Now she is expected to put her children in daycare so she can go work on the next case. Do you think those kids ever really got their Mom back? The assumption made by the world is the same whether you are in ministry or the work force. If you put in the extra time and energy now to get through a job than you will be expected to do the same next time. It is YOUR responsability not the worlds to say “enough, No More”. This may end up making room for a new leader to rise up in your ministry that wouldn’t have had that oppertunity unless there was an unmet need. Or it may show your co-workers that there are more important things than work. We are called to stand up against the status quo not sit there and wring our hands about it. I think the Erin at the beginning of the movie was a far more loving mom than the Erin at the end of the movie. I am saddened that this was touted as a girl power movie. She made a choice to become powerful. At one time she says “People respect me now. They listen to me. I’ve never had that before.” Well, her kids have always listened to her. They hear everything she says. As beleivers our first priority is not getting the respect of other people. We are called to raise up a nation of godly men and women. I can’t think of a better way to do that than in my own children. rant..rant..rant…

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

3 responses to Erin Brockovich

  1. Preach it, sister! 🙂
    I recently read a book called “Days of Glory Seasons of Night” by Marilee Pierce Dunker, the daughter of Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision. This was a man who truly believed, and really meant well – but he neglected his family, being gone for months to do the ministry and build this great organization. He made this statement: “I’ve made an agreement with God that I’ll take care of His helpless little lambs overseas if He’ll take care of mine at home.” I don’t think God ever made that agreement. Yes, he ended up building this great thing, but in the process lost one daughter to suicide, lost his marriage, missed his other daughters’ childhood, youth, and early adulthood, and died alone. This book was not a bitter ” tell-all” by the way – it is written in a loving, honoring way, yet very honest. But the impact that these man’s choices had on his family made me cry.
    Family has priority.

  2. I think both takes are valid ones actually. For me, serves as a very HUMAN figure, being both a success and a failure. So, it’s a “both and” rather than an “either or” thing. It’s been a while since I watched that movie….but remember really enjoying it. I thought it was great that she was able to defend the rights of the afflicted community and raise the quality of life for her family in the long run. Or was it truly an elevation in the quality of life? Hmmmmmmmmmm…

  3. I hear ya Kay… but Erin isn’t a Christian for one. To me, it was an insight into a culture that surrounds me but I can’t seem to break into. Erin has enough “spiritual problems” with her kids. Its been a while since I’ve seen it, but doesn’t she have the neighbor biker watch her kids!
    My take is Erin felt almost totally valueless except for her cleavage. Her boss, after some prodding, nodded some value her way. If the church would have done it first, she might have stayed home with her kids… or at least found better daycare.