The Gospel According to Toulouse

Watching, and re-watching, a movie about a French nightclub makes me a better preacher.

In my last blog posting, I distinguished between two types of movie lists: the best I've seen and my favorites. A film that belongs on the list of favorites is Moulin Rouge. I've already written a little about Moulin Rouge in the post, "My Top 10 Love Songs." But Moulin Rouge is more than a story about the love between a writer named Christian and a courtesan named Satine.  It is a story about speaking, and singing, the truth.

Toulouse is one of the first people Christian meets upon arriving in Paris. Like his fellow Bohemians, Toulouse is an idealist. He believes in "truth, beauty, freedom, and above all things, love." And he will go to any extreme to live out those ideals--while also helping his friends like Christian and Satine succeed.

In the film's grand finale, it is opening night of "Spectacular! Spectacular!" Christian is the writer, Satine is the star, and Toulouse is the magical sitar that can only speak the truth. However, there is trouble on stage. Satine, in order to save Christian's life, has claimed that she never loved him. Christian is heartbroken, and the musical seems to fall apart as the drama unfolds onstage. All the while, Toulouse is backstage in a panic because he has forgotten his most important line. As Satine weeps and Christian walks away from her, Toulouse remembers and cries out:

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return.
— The Magical, Truth-Telling Sitar of Moulin Rouge

The room's atmosphere changes. Satine begins singing a "secret song" that reveals the truth: she really does love Christian. Christian then has the courage to sing the same song to her. All the while, Toulouse remains unseen. But the message of his words reveal love among those who listen and respond.

Toulouse is a truth-telling sitar both on and off stage. He does not worry about what people think of him but of rather how the message he declares will save his friends. His humility is something that would make better preachers--and disciples--of us all.

Toulouse's words were not his own but those entrusted to him by Christian. So it is with the Word that God has given to the body of Christ. We declare truths of Scripture not only with our lips but with our lives.

How might we speak with the abandon of Toulouse from the rafters?

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian