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Blake I. Collier | The Dirty Deacon

Contributor for Mockingbird | Co-creator of Son of Byford | Contributor for Christ & Pop Culture
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Identity

a loyalty sworn #thrice

t7l:

A couple days ago, I met up with a friend at Starbucks. We’d each brought a pile of forms and papers to work on, but instead we ended up talking about… Life. 

Last week, I had my friend take the MBTI for the first time. I’d always suspected that we had a similar type; they tested as an INFJ. They’d read through their profile online and their mind was opened.

(Looking back, I realize it’d been foolish for me to expect us to work that day without addressing the test. How could we not talk about it?)

So they brought it up and we spent the next two hours talking extensively about our identities. They were learning that owning who you are is a crucial, if not the only, step towards forward movement. For so many years, they admitted that they’d been stuck in their minds and unable to accept themselves as they were. The world told them they were a failure and gave them a personalized list of definitions why.

My friend isn’t a church-goer. Religion has long since become a relic in their life, leaving only the faintest wisps of spirituality in their person. 

As they continued to talk, I recognized that this was a divine hour. The shift in atmosphere was palpable and I felt it at once. I was standing at the gateway of one of those moments when the Spirit opens doors. I heard the urging in my heart: Share. Share. Share. I will hold their ears open but you MUST share now.

When my friend finished their train of thought, confessing their loneliness, their frantic flailing in what seemed like a sea with no promise of land, I in turn shared where I found my identity. 

No mincing of words, no hesitance at stepping on toes. I credited where credit was due—the cross. Redemption. Love. Jesus. There is no other identity. If this is not my center, I have no other answer. 

I talked and as I talked, I was pulling my lifeblood from my heart into my words. I talked and as I talked my spirit prayed and prayed, prayed for them to see and to understand and to know.

When I finished, my friend was nodding. 

But no more than that. They detected that what I was saying held importance to me, but it was not a reality that they were willing to accept for now. “That’s good for you, but not for me.”

To be honest, I was a little confused. I’d been so certain, so sure that what I’d shared was meant to be spoken. I’d heard the Spirit. 

Gad, was I that out of tune? That caught up in my own delusions? Maybe this was just one of those links in a chain of His design… Sigh? 

My friend excused themselves not too long after that. I’d given them a lot to think about, they said, as they packed up their belongings. Are you going to stay here longer?

Yes, I said. I’m going to work on some things for a little while longer. 

We said goodbye, promised to meet again soon, and I watched them walk away. And as I watched them walk away, I continued to wonder, What just happened? Why did I speak if it wasn’t the right ‘time’? I swear it was the right time. 

“Excuse me.”

I turned to face the woman sitting at the table behind me. I’d seen her reading her book when I’d walked into the coffee shop. I realized that I’d forgotten she was sitting so close to us. Oops. Hopefully she hadn’t been disturbed by my conversation with my friend. 

“Yes? Gosh, sorry if we were too loud.” Please don’t tell me we were too loud please don’t tell me we were too loud damn it I should have been quieter.

The lady set her book down and looked me in the eyes. 

“I’ve never heard anyone talk about identity like that. That test you guys were talking about and knowing yourself. And you talking about Jesus giving you real identity.”

“Ah,” I replied warily. Was this lady going to start going off on me about religion? 

She laughed. “I know I was eavesdropping, but I couldn’t stop listening. I’ve been to church before, but I don’t go. It was just interesting to hear you talk about knowing who you are.”

She went on. I was smiling but inwardly screaming HOLY CRAP, IT’S YOU. YOU’RE the one I was speaking for!

It wasn’t an on-the-spot conversion or sudden confessions of sins or anything like that at all. But I spent another hour talking with this stranger about my certainty of God’s love for me. Hearts on the table. Love, recognized. Perhaps not quite understandable yet to her fully, but the realization that there is something more to be found at the foot of the cross that she hadn’t examined yet. 

Last night I listened in on a bible study which covered the topic of identity. One thing the speaker said was, “Until we know Christ and embrace our reality in him, our faces lie.” 

There is so much we try to hide and so much we lose in the act of doing so. Enough. 

Face to face, we approach each other.

Heart to heart, we speak.

Life to life, we love. 

There is no other way.

The Cusack Chronicles: Identity (2003)
As I was going up the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. I wish, I wish he’d go away. 
These are the first lines of the movie and after you have watched the film, the audience realizes how close this phrase comes to giving away the plot of the whole film.  James Mangold, though not a director that you will find on the Oscar bill very often, does excellent work on what films he picks to do.  This one is no exception.  Though panned by some critics to be too much of a “flash-in-the-pan” thriller (in the same vein as Shyamalan), this movie has more to it than just a twist ending.  Yes, there is one, but it is not there just as a plot device but as a means of shifting the whole landscape of the story for the rest of the film.  This movie plays out like an Alfred Hitchcock film.  Nothing is as it seems.  Mangold, also, cleverly tossed in every cliche that is usually in these kinds of supernatural who-dun-it films only to show how absurd those actually are (including a brilliant jab at Spielberg’s massacre of the Tobe Hooper-helmed Poltergeist with the suggestion of the Indian burial ground).  Once the audience gets past the “trick” of the film, they are not just left with a clever ending, but a challenge as to the nature of identity in general.  What constitutes identity and how does it manifest itself in the average person.  Nonetheless, there is a lot that is good and intelligent about this movie, including an ensemble casting of mainly character actors to fill out the film. 
The one thing to notice about Cusack in the 2000s is his willingness to star in thrillers and how he transforms his eccentricities into the real strengths of those characters he plays.  This is the first film that the audience really sees the beauty of having an eccentric actor in a leading role.  He is able to tell more about his character and endow the script with his mannerisms and facial expressions.  I think, as far as acting goes, we will see that the 2000s is Cusack’s most important decade as an actor.  Not every film is great, but his acting is stellar and he is able to figure out how to best use his eccentricities to his advantage in acting instead of just allowing them to bring a certain odd, but enjoyable awkwardness to the film.  Identity is my first case in point for this argument.  Watch it several times and you will be surprised at how many layers you will find in the film.

The Cusack Chronicles: Identity (2003)

As I was going up the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. I wish, I wish he’d go away. 

These are the first lines of the movie and after you have watched the film, the audience realizes how close this phrase comes to giving away the plot of the whole film.  James Mangold, though not a director that you will find on the Oscar bill very often, does excellent work on what films he picks to do.  This one is no exception.  Though panned by some critics to be too much of a “flash-in-the-pan” thriller (in the same vein as Shyamalan), this movie has more to it than just a twist ending.  Yes, there is one, but it is not there just as a plot device but as a means of shifting the whole landscape of the story for the rest of the film.  This movie plays out like an Alfred Hitchcock film.  Nothing is as it seems.  Mangold, also, cleverly tossed in every cliche that is usually in these kinds of supernatural who-dun-it films only to show how absurd those actually are (including a brilliant jab at Spielberg’s massacre of the Tobe Hooper-helmed Poltergeist with the suggestion of the Indian burial ground).  Once the audience gets past the “trick” of the film, they are not just left with a clever ending, but a challenge as to the nature of identity in general.  What constitutes identity and how does it manifest itself in the average person.  Nonetheless, there is a lot that is good and intelligent about this movie, including an ensemble casting of mainly character actors to fill out the film. 

The one thing to notice about Cusack in the 2000s is his willingness to star in thrillers and how he transforms his eccentricities into the real strengths of those characters he plays.  This is the first film that the audience really sees the beauty of having an eccentric actor in a leading role.  He is able to tell more about his character and endow the script with his mannerisms and facial expressions.  I think, as far as acting goes, we will see that the 2000s is Cusack’s most important decade as an actor.  Not every film is great, but his acting is stellar and he is able to figure out how to best use his eccentricities to his advantage in acting instead of just allowing them to bring a certain odd, but enjoyable awkwardness to the film.  Identity is my first case in point for this argument.  Watch it several times and you will be surprised at how many layers you will find in the film.