Defending Your Life by Julie Filby
After a full Saturday of kid-wrangling when my hubby was out of town one weekend, I took the opportunity to watch a movie I figured he wasn’t interested in—not necessarily a chick flick but there wasn’t a single car chase or battle scene.
Albert Brooks wrote, directed and starred in the 1991 film “Defending Your Life.” It tells the story that when you die you go to Judgment City. Here you go on trial to determine if you “move on” or return to Earth to take another shot at proving yourself. Every moment of your life has been recorded and can used as evidence. A defender and a prosecutor select moments from your life to make their case.
(By the way, children don’t have to defend themselves. When they die they automatically move on.)
Nine days of Brooks’ life are picked to show during his four-day trial. Can you imagine?! I’d like to think there are nine really great moments from my life that my defender would have to work with. But the prosecutor: Ouch, that could be brutal.
Two reflections I take away from this movie: First, what would we do (and have done) differently if we thought footage from our life would be flashed up on a big screen at our death? Secondly (on the bright side): We are fortunate to have a merciful God, with a shorter memory than our own when it comes to sin. He loves us unconditionally, forgives us time and time again, and instead of keeping footage of our missteps, he destroys the evidence. Once a sin is forgiven, it’s forgotten. No record.
Brooks proceeds through the trial, at one point lamenting that he’s “just tired of being judged.” Ultimately (spoiler alert) he has a happy ending with his Judgment City girlfriend and all-around good influence, Meryl Streep.
For more information on forgiveness and the power of saying “I’m sorry,” read The healing sacrament of confession in the Denver Catholic Register.
Copyright 2010 by Julie Filby