themission_movie.jpg I was certain I had mentioned this a while back, as I recall hearing the story a year or so ago, but Justin Baeder mentioned it just recently and I couldn’t find where I might have mentioned it in my archives. Justin links to an NPR story about the discovery of baroque sheet music in Jesuit missions in the Bolivian jungle. Long-forgotten, some of the music dates to the 17th century, and is original to the people of the area. Apparently the original score of one of the pieces recovered is on the Soundtrack by Ennio Morricone with the London Symphony Orchestra. I’ve been listening to — and loving — that soundtrack on CD since 1986, and it’s probably time that I picked up the DVD and watched it again.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen The movie, but it is outstanding. It was released while I was in college, and it sparked a lot of reflection and discussion in my circles… imagine a non-denominational setting with a high percentage of Mennonite (read: pacifist) students in an area where there is a fairly high concentration of Mennonites. The movie tells the story of two priests in the South American jungle; one is a pacifist, the other a reformed mercenary. When the army marches against the Guarani Indian village where they serve, each responds out of his own background.

For those of us revolving around the Missions program in college, a lot of questions were raised about violence and nonviolence and about how one engages in and identifies with a host culture. As I recall, many of the questions remained unanswerable in any absolute way based on the portrayals in the film. I’m curious about anyone else’s reaction if they’ve seen the movie and pondered these questions from that context.

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