Fried Green Tomatoes

If anyone who is reading this hasn’t seen the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, I would suggest seeing it ASAP if you are a person who cares deeply about the spiritual life. Since I am spending all my time at home with my wife helping out with our new baby, we end up sitting and watching movies. We just watched it, and when I watch a good movie, I’m up half the night thinking about it.

Two things about this movie made a big impression on me. The first one was who the real heroes in a society really are. I’ve written about the concept of the hero in society before – but this movie is the embodiment of what I think one looks like.

Here’s a quick overview: The two main characters, Iggy and Ruth – have a rocky start in life. Iggy’s big brother who really likes her and takes care of her dies in a terrible train accident, and her next 10 years are filled with pain trying to recover from that. Ruth was Iggy’s big brother’s crush. Fast forward 10 years later, and the two have grown up and are beginning their adult lives. Ruth decides to stay at Iggy’s parents house for the summer in hopes that she can reach out to Iggy one last time. The two get along wonderfully, and their friendship blossoms. They decided to start a restaurant together in town next to the train station, and their passion for life and a love of people pump life into their small town and makes it thrive. But tragedy is a part of these women’s lives – which seems to be the case for the greatest men and women. I won’t ruin more of the story if you haven’t seen it.

The true heroes, the one that make our communities, our society, our country, truly great, are the one that are not thought of as heroes at all. They are full of live, deeply moral, passionately alive, involved in the world around them, and have a love for people. When they are gone, the vitality of people, towns, and communities die with them. When we have enough of these people living among us, our country and society will flourish. When we can’t find them, when people like Iggy and Ruth exist just in stories and movies, we all ache for them to rise again – to restore our communities again with life and love.

Here’s the other thing that got me. It was a theme similar to the play “Our Town.” Every moment of our lives is precious – everything we do, no matter who we are and how unimportant we may feel compared to the spiritual or intellectual giants we look up to, is so important. Iggy and Ruth showed kindness towards black folks (the setting was the south before the civil rights movement) by serving them in the restaurant. They also fed a washed-up alcoholic man every day and took care of him. The lives of everyone they touched in the smallest of ways were forever changed because of them. To me this was a picture of what God would look like if he came down into a small town in the south and lived their for a while. Iggy was like God to me – beauty and profanity and all.

This truth just doesn’t cease to amaze me – the real movers and shakers in the lives of people are not the famous, but everyday people like you and me, choosing, every day to live differently, to live morally. I’m not talking about those morally self-righteous people that just make you feel guilty to be around, I’m talking about the ones that infuse you with life, and no matter who you are, you just love being around them. So many moments of my life with my father that have defined who I am today he doesn’t even remember. So many things he said that really affected me he never recalls saying. So many of the things he said and did have forever left their mark on me, but he never realized their effect. What little things have I said or done that have left their mark on others? Life happens so fast, and the greatest things we do often happen without us even realizing that we did anything important at all. Good lord, how am I to live knowing this?

    2 Responses to “Fried Green Tomatoes”

    1. Kate Krull

      Iggy and Ruth are in love and from that love comes the ability to love others for who and what they really are. There is no pretense, just patient kind, old familiar love. We have lost this in our material world. WE all yearn for it, and it comes in to surprise us in difficult times. IT lives in LA in the Barrio, IT lives in the small towns of the Northwest and IT lives in the tiny New Enlgand communites that surround our lives. Love passion friendship shows itself in many ways.

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    2. Jonathan
      Author Comment

      You’ve got some good points – the ability to love others comes from being loved already. When I am close to God, I find myself much more able to love others because of that relationship – I am empowered to live more greatly because of it. Knowing my wife loves me and returning that love is another way that energizes my relationship with my children. These love relationships in turn should reach out into the community. I would love to have the impact that Iggy and Ruth had on their community, but sadly, I will never know this side of life. But that is the dream that haunts me. Maybe this website is another way I can bring joy and life to others… I just don’t know.

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