Woody, death and 'just in case'

I remembered the movie when it came on my movie channel today, but didn't remember all of it. "Cafe Society" is another Woody Allen movie with big star power and plenty of references to New York City vs Los Angeles, jazz music, a Jewish hit-man and issues of true love. Nothing new there.

The movie was released in 2016, and carries a conclusion by Ben, played by Corey Stoll, a veteran Woody Allen cast member, who is busted for his murdering the neighbor and extortion and countless other crimes. He receives the death sentence and as you would expect from Woody Allen, at the end he searches for the meaning of life (especially in death.) He wants assurance that there is something more, and welcomes Father Brolian in his last week of life. Ben Dorfman, a Jew, is seeking solace and the comfort that Christians seem to have as they finish this life. 

Bobby, the nephew of Ben, played by Jesse Eisenberg, is scandalized. Mind you, if someone else wrote other chunks of this screenplay, this section was handwritten by Woody himself. His concern with death and meaning has been apparent throughout his career. I remember a 1985 movie "Hannah and her sisters" where the Jewish main character (then played by Woody) goes on a search-for-meaning which includes a stint at a Christian bookshop in NYC (which was actually my old barber shop. More on that later)

BEN: You know, we didn't have time for this, but when the end's near, you need somethin'.
BOBBY: Yeah! And you don't wanna be buried as a Jew in a Jewish cemetery?
BEN: The Jewish religion doesn't believe in an afterlife.
BOBBY: Right. I guess, but I can't believe what I am hearing from you.
BEN: I have to know that all this just doesn't end. You know what do I mean? I have to believe that a part of me keeps goin'.  We all got a soul, right Father?

[For your further study, this whole section of the script is as the bottom here.]

Even though theology is not Woody's strong suit, and even though Judaism does have official reference to the afterlife, most Jewish people would agree with Woody's character's conclusions. So the problem does exist. 

The assurance of something more, that this life doesn't just end-- I believe this is inbuilt, hardwired into humanity. We ache to go on, to last, to dwell well and to dwell long. The Bible even says, "He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end." (Ecclesiastes 3.11)

So how do we go on? How do we make it to the other side, as Ben longed, and I believe, as Woody longs?  Maybe this YouTube I made will help unpack some of my thoughts. See the YouTube here. 
I'm pretty sure that the only pictures which we readily recognize, the angels in all white, on a white cumulus cloud, plucking a harp on one side, and a devil with red pitchfork and anger on the other-- I don't think that's what heaven and hell are really about.

But getting to heaven-- that's hardwired into us. And then there's the issue of the 'just in case.' What would it kill you if you don't believe, to go ahead and believe? Some use the phrase "Pascal's Wager" to describe this gamble.

Whether you agree with the authors' conclusions here about Pascal's Wager, the thinking is worth reading and considering. Here's a long article with philosophical thoughts. Here's the link. 

Just in case there's a heaven, Pascal argued, why not believe it?  I'm not sure that this would be enough, and certainly falls short of the biblical definition of faith, BUT it's way better than knocking religion altogether. So said Pascal.

What do you say?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

THE SCRIPT SECTION:
Despite the efforts of two high-priced lawyers, he was sentenced to die in the electric chair at Sing Sing.

BEN: This is Father Brolian. He's guiding me down the stand to Christianity. Today, we discussed the sixth Psalm. "O Lord! Do not punish me in anger. Do not chastise me in fury, right Father?"
BOBBY: Ben, Ben, I'm flabbergasted!
BEN: You know, we didn't have time for this bullshit, but when the end's near, you need somethin'.
BOBBY: Yeah! And you don't wanna be buried as a Jew in a Jewish cemetery?
BEN: The Jewish religion doesn't believe in an afterlife.
BOBBY: Right. I guess, but I can't believe what I am hearing from you.
BEN: I have to know that all this just doesn't end. You know what do I mean? I have to believe that a part of me keeps goin'. We all got a soul. Right, Father?


NEXT SCENE: Back at Ben's sister's house. The speakers are all Jews. Which line is given by which person is inconsequential.

First a murderer, then he becomes a Christian. What did I do to deserve this? Which is worse? He explained it to you.
The Jews don't have an afterlife.
We are all afraid of dying, Marty!
But we don't give up the religion we are born into.
I'm not afraid of dying.
You're too stupid to appreciate the implications.
I didn't say I like the idea. and I will resist death with everything I have. But when the Angel of Death
comes down to cut me down, I'll go. I'll protest. I'll curse. You hear me? I will go under protest.
Protest to who? What the hell are you gonna do?? Write a letter to the Times?
I will protest in silence. Because my whole life, I pray and I pray and there's never an answer!
What are you saying?
No answer, is also an answer.
Too bad the Jewish religion doesn't have an afterlife. They would get a lot more customers.

FINAL section I'm referencing in this blog:
In late July, Ben was executed at Sing Sing.
He died a Christian and stated he wanted to be cremated. Ben had requested his ashes be scattered in Manhattan. And Bobby scattered them outside an establishment that had given Ben many evenings of pleasure.

Read the whole script at: https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/movie_script.php?movie=cafe-society
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
The whole of Psalm 6:
Psa. 6.1 ¶ O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger, 
Nor chasten me in Your wrath. 
Psa. 6.2 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away; 
Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are dismayed. 
Psa. 6.3 And my soul is greatly dismayed; 
But You, O Lord — how long? 
Psa. 6.4 ¶ Return, O Lord, rescue my soul; 
Save me because of Your lovingkindness. 
Psa. 6.5 For there is no mention of You in death; 
In Sheol who will give You thanks? 
Psa. 6.6 ¶ I am weary with my sighing; 
Every night I make my bed swim, 
I dissolve my couch with my tears. 
Psa. 6.7 My eye has wasted away with grief; 
It has become old because of all my adversaries. 
Psa. 6.8 ¶ Depart from me, all you who do iniquity, 
For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. 
Psa. 6.9 The Lord has heard my supplication, 
The Lord receives my prayer. 
Psa. 6.10 All my enemies will be ashamed and greatly dismayed; 

They shall turn back, they will suddenly be ashamed. 
Despite the efforts of
two high-priced lawyers,
he was sentenced to die
in the electric chair at Sing Sing.
This is father Brolian.
He's guiding me down the stand to Christianity.
Today, we discussed the six Psalm.
O Lord! Do not punish me in anger.
Do not chastise me in anger, right father?
Ben, Ben, I'm flabbergasted!
You know, we didn't have time for this bullshit,
but when the ends near, you need somethin'.
Yeah! And you don't wanna be buried
as a Jew in a Jewish cemetery?
The Jewish religion doesn't
believe in an afterlife.
Right. I guess but I don't believe
what I am hearing from you.
I just have to know that all this just doesn't end.
You know what do I mean?
I need to believe that a part
of me keeps goin'.
We all gotta soul.
Right, Father?
First a murderer,
then he becomes a Christian.
What did I do to deserve this?
Which is worse?
He explained it to you.
The Jews don't have an afterlife.
We are all afraid of dying, Marty!
But we don't give up the
religion we are born into.
I'm not afraid to die.
You're too stupid to appreciate the implications.
I didn't say I like the idea.
And I will resist death
with everything I have.
But when the Angel of Death
comes down to cut me down,
I'll go.
I'll protest.
I'll curse.
You hear me?
I will go under protest.
Protest to who?
What the hell are you gonna do??
Write a letter to the Times?
I will protest in silence.
Because my whole life,
I pray and I pray
and there's never an answer!
What are you saying?
No answer, is also an answer.
Too bad the Jewish religion
doesn't have an afterlife.
They get a lot more customers.
In late July, Ben was executed at Sing Sing.
He died a Christian and
he wanted to be cremated.
Ben had requested his ashes
be scattered in Manhattan.
And Bobby scattered them
outside an establishment
that had give Ben many evenings of pleasure.

Read more: https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/movie_script.php?movie=cafe-society
Despite the efforts of
two high-priced lawyers,
he was sentenced to die
in the electric chair at Sing Sing.
This is father Brolian.
He's guiding me down the stand to Christianity.
Today, we discussed the six Psalm.
O Lord! Do not punish me in anger.
Do not chastise me in anger, right father?
Ben, Ben, I'm flabbergasted!
You know, we didn't have time for this bullshit,
but when the ends near, you need somethin'.
Yeah! And you don't wanna be buried
as a Jew in a Jewish cemetery?
The Jewish religion doesn't
believe in an afterlife.
Right. I guess but I don't believe
what I am hearing from you.
I just have to know that all this just doesn't end.
You know what do I mean?
I need to believe that a part
of me keeps goin'.
We all gotta soul.
Right, Father?
First a murderer,
then he becomes a Christian.
What did I do to deserve this?
Which is worse?
He explained it to you.
The Jews don't have an afterlife.
We are all afraid of dying, Marty!
But we don't give up the
religion we are born into.
I'm not afraid to die.
You're too stupid to appreciate the implications.
I didn't say I like the idea.
And I will resist death
with everything I have.
But when the Angel of Death
comes down to cut me down,
I'll go.
I'll protest.
I'll curse.
You hear me?
I will go under protest.
Protest to who?
What the hell are you gonna do??
Write a letter to the Times?
I will protest in silence.
Because my whole life,
I pray and I pray
and there's never an answer!
What are you saying?
No answer, is also an answer.
Too bad the Jewish religion
doesn't have an afterlife.
They get a lot more customers.
In late July, Ben was executed at Sing Sing.
He died a Christian and
he wanted to be cremated.
Ben had requested his ashes
be scattered in Manhattan.
And Bobby scattered them
outside an establishment
that had give Ben many evenings of pleasure.

Read more: https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/movie_script.php?movie=cafe-society

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