21Mar22: “Babette’s Feast”

Those who follow Andy’s doings realize he likes to block captions on international films. One of my all-time favorite movies, “Babette’s Feast”, was shown on TCM Channel yesterday. Even though I’ve seen this film seven, eight times, I never tire of it. Missing a few captions because of “cat’s body” probably wouldn’t be a problem by now, but I appreciated the fact that Andy stayed away till the end credits before he hopped up on the television stand. Good kitty!


Spoiler Alert! What follows is a bit of a sermon. The intent isn’t to proselytize, just to comment on a movie that has a Christian message familiar to people raised in that faith. Similar messages occur in all the world’s major religions.


“Babette’s Feast” is a movie that plays differently depending on one’s age when viewed. I saw it first in the 1990s, when it mostly was a film about gustatory pleasures and how staid Protestants warmed up to pleasures of the flesh though they promised each other before the meal not to taste or enjoy it because they feared to enjoy it was to give into the devil! (Protestantism tries to suck out all the joys of life. LOL!) This time around, I saw it as a film about lost opportunities that proved to work out in the end, not as one hoped they’d work out, but how they had to work out, a slight hint of Protestant predestinationism. You know, God’s will and that’s OK, too!

A deeper message was about spiritual grace, where the wrongs that were breaking up the little “congregation” finally are forgiven as the old friends realize the wrongs weren’t that bad after all, and sometimes were repaid in kind anyway. (In vino veritas. Lots of it with the feast!) This comment on spiritual grace seems a good characterization of that revealed in “Babette’s Feast” and a good Lenten sermon for those of us working through spiritual renewal for Easter: 

“Roy L. Smith says that the art of forgiving is a spiritual grace every Christian should develop. Because this is so difficult to put into practice, he offers the following suggestions:

1. Begin by assuring yourself that compared to Christ’s suffering you haven’t been seriously wronged at all.

2. Recall the many kind deeds that have been shown to you, perhaps even by the person who has harmed you.

3. List the benefits you have received from the Lord.

4. Thank Him for blessing you with His love and forgiveness each day.

5. Make an honest effort to pray for the one who has injured you.

6. Go even further by looking for an opportunity to help him.

7. If the offense is especially hard to forget, try to erase the memory by thinking gracious and generous thoughts.

8. Finally, before you fall asleep at night, repeat slowly and thoughtfully that phrase from the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.’

Some people try to punish themselves for their sins. They do not stand on the promises of forgiveness and Christ’ propitiation.”

Finally, what is God’s grace, as believed by Christians?

“In Christian theology, grace is the help given to one by God because God desires one to have it, not necessarily because of anything one has done to earn it. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to people – ‘generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved’ – that takes the form of divine favor, love, clemency, and a share in the divine life of God.”