Meet Joe Black and Family Meal Time

Posted: September 15, 2014 by jperritt in Drama, Romance
Tags: , , , , ,

meet_joe_black_ver1Before you laugh or begin to judge my taste in movies, just bear with me.

My family and I recently had a STAY-cation and we were trying to maximize some free fun.  One thing we did was rent some movies from our local library.  While perusing the available films, we stumbled across Meet Joe Black – a movie I hadn’t seen in quite some time.

[SPOILERS AHEAD]  Meet Joe Black follows the story of an older man named William Parrish [Anthony Hopkins].  William is visited by Joe Black [Brad Pitt] and told that he is going to die.  How does Joe know of William’s death?  Because Joe is Death.  Things become really interesting as William’s daughter, Sarah [Claire Forlani], falls in love with Joe a.k.a. Death.

As I began to watch this movie, I had forgotten about some of the cheesy banter between Brad Pitt [his character isn’t called Joe until later in the film] and Sarah at the coffee shop.  Even though this film does contain elements found in your typical romance story, there are some that go against the formulaic nature of most in the genre.  For starters, right after the playful coffee shop talk, the male love interest is ping-ponged between cars while crossing the street…didn’t see that one coming.

Themes of life and death offer up some interesting discussion, but something I wanted to zoom in on is supper.  William is a highly successful man.  He had riches most of us have never dreamed of, respect many long for, and a legacy in the business world that is often pursued.  However, the movie helps us to see what is really important.  It’s not the fame, respect, or money that is often focused on, but family.  MJB helps us answer the often posed question, What would you do if you knew you only had one day left on this earth?  What did William Parrish want?  Dinner with his family.

Scripture affirms, in many times and in many different ways, that mealtime fellowship is significant.  One place in particular is seen through the story of a wee little man, Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus was a man that was hated by all.  Why?  Because he cheated others for his own financial gain.  Jesus, however, being rich in mercy and grace told Zacchaeus he was coming to eat at his house.  Much of the significance of an act like this is seen through the response of the crowd, “And when they saw it, they all grumbled…” [Luke 19:7]  Sharing a meal with someone is an intimate thing.  It’s a time you typically share with those closest to you.  Jesus was showing love to a man who was unloved.  This action brought salvation to the house of Zacchaeus but grumbling from the on-lookers.

As death grew near, it’s interesting to me that a man like William – a man who had it all by worldly standards –  simply wanted a meal with his family.  Every time he found out that death wasn’t going to take him, he knew he wanted dinner with his loved-ones.  He didn’t want to fly around the world.  He didn’t want to buy a fancy car.  He wanted the intimacy offered by a dinner table with those closest to him.

Part of the reason this struck me was because of the significance our current culture has made of the family mealtime.  Sadly, the significance comes from its rarity.  Families are often split in a thousand different directions – meals together aren’t something time allows.  Even when some families are sharing meals together, they’re often too busy “sharing” it with everyone else through social media and miss those at the table.

Towards the end of our lives, I doubt too many of us will think, I wish I would have checked Facebook more.  I should have tweeted pithier comments.  I wish I worked more hours in the office.  Sadly, I think many more will wish they would have simply shared in mealtime fellowship with those living under the same roof.  While we don’t have the ability to know when death comes knocking at our door, let’s ensure the dinner table is a place our families frequent.  Breakfast is good, too.


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