'Atonement' was released in 2011 and having viewed it first at the cinema and then with family members on DVD, this movie has an invaluable lesson. In my view, having now seen it again, its message is particularly pertinent to those who have public, corporate or community responsibility, which includes professional sportsmen and women and the Clergy.
The storyline follows the horrific consequences of the effects of a simple lie. The essence of the theme is the nature of “irrecoverablility” (irreversible).
These two interlocking situations are seen concurrently in real life when such a lie is purported to be the truth.
When a lie is told which gains credibility, the injustice is that the victim suffers a real loss, and as in the film, a change in personal circumstance that can never be reversed, no matter how hard someone may subsequently try to make amends (or 'atonement').
We see this happen in all walks of life, and can think of parallel situations in the corporate world, in the professions, the trades, in sport and in family relationships.
In my view it is particularly important for professionals to consider the possible aftermath of any lies or partial truths they perpetuate. Although individual humans will always be fallible, in our society, we look to those people in various public offices to show us the way in considering how to avoid such situations occurring.
The Scriptural notion - 'lies of omission' - are as damaging in their effect as the - 'sins of commission' - apply equally to those in leadership roles as it does to international athletes, as it does to any other aspect of human relationships.
The prevention of sin is at the heart of Christian ministry. Consequently, members of the Clergy should be highlighting this tenet, and should avoid becoming part of the problem.
There are known situations realised at the Child Abuse Royal Commission (just to give one example) where members of the clergy have sadly failed in this area themselves, leaving behind them the most alarming trauma.
We have seen how many perpetrators avoided accountability for their actions. The Apostle Paul expressed horror that 'Grace' should be an excuse for such wicked (bad) behaviour.
Atonement the movie
This motion picture 'Atonement', allows the viewer to see first hand the nature of sin, and highlights the permanent, irreversible changes that can occur to people's lives as a consequence of particular actions. In WWII in England a young girl falsely accused a young man (when she knew it was another young man) of sexual misconduct toward another young girl and was believed all the way through to the Court and beyond.
The 'irrecoverable' haunts the human soul.
In my view, as an optimist, I'd like to think that every person who has seen 'Atonement' might reflect somewhat as tempted to act in such a manner.
There is a term which is recognised today, especially in Christian ministry heartache, as being aggrieved. It often reveals itself in being debilitated for ministry as a lie has been told and that lie grew legs about the Minister. Attempts at trying to right the wrong becomes improbable. Aggrievement is a horrible indictment.
Calling it out is becoming paramount – imagine the damage calling it out would do in a small congregation where families get pitted against other families in the congregation. It is no-win. The minister or mission person is beside themselves. Those who make such claims simply ‘walk away’. Little wonder aggrievement today is a blight upon our society.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html