GUEST BLOG – Thou Shalt Not with Gary Schoepfel

tencommandmentsThou Shalt Not…
The Decalogue

The Old Testament “thou-shalt-nots” are deeply dyed into the fabric of Western Culture. I may hesitate when it comes to obeying those prohibitions, but I rarely pause to consider just what they command and why. “Thou shalt not murder.” “Thou shalt not steal.” They seem so obvious, almost self-evident. They are not.

Since most of the time most of us use these dictates as a moral compass, prudence suggests that we understand what they demand.

A few questions are in order.
• Why are there 10 commandments? Why not 13 or 113?
• Is there a design behind the order of these ten?
• Is God’s jealousy the reason why we must not make or bow down to idols? What is God jealous of?
• Why is it so important to remember the Sabbath? Why must even the beasts have a day of rest?
• How do honouring and worshipping differ?
• Is God saying there are no other gods or that he is God number one?
• Why is stealing one of the Ten Commandments when there seems to be many more wicked sins like treason, rape, and genocide?
• Why must we not desire our neighbour’s stuff?
• I grew up thinking there was a commandment thou shalt not lie. Why isn’t there?
• What is so important about each of the listed transgressions that it warrants a place on the “top ten” list?

Krzysztof Kieslowski

Krzysztof Kieslowski

Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Decalogue is arguably the finest 20th century meditation on the Ten Commandments. Made in 1989 for Polish televisio, the series consists of ten one-hour films, loosely inspired by the Ten Commandments. Each short film explores one or several moral or ethical issues faced by characters living in modern Poland. The series is Kieślowski’s most acclaimed work, possibly “the best dramatic work ever done specifically for television” (Robert Fulford, The National Post, 2002) “Kieslowski’s Magnificent Decalogue”

decalogue_collageThe ten one-hour films that make up this masterpiece will be the focus of our July seminar at Toronto Pursuits. Each film uses one or more of the Ten Commandments as a thematic springboard to examine the complexities that arise when an ancient text presides over the modern life. Our seminar will screen and discuss the films as well as read and discuss Exodus 19 & 20 and Deuteronomy 5 & 6.

Recall your “salad days” when you spent your summers violating those commandments. It’s now time to spend a peaceful week in the wonderfully wicked Gomorrah that is Toronto thinking about why you might still feel guilty (or not).

Lest you “do the right thing for the wrong reason,” join me for Thou Shalt Not…

For further information and to register, please click here. FILM – Thou Shalt Not: The Decalogue by Krzysztof Kieslowski

Gary Schoepfel



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