This movie is set in the 60’s in Virginia. It’s about Nasa’s first and second mission into space. Some might watch it and focus on accomplishments of Nasa, and they wouldn’t be wrong, because of the historical characters in the movie also celebrated the accomplishments of Nasa and the journey into space that they were a part of. But this movie is about so much more than that.
Three woman: Mary, Dorothy, and Katherine. They all worked in the computing department of Nasa. That might confuse some of you. It wasn’t the IT department…they were the computers…doing math and figuring out equations…all for the purpose of getting spaceships into orbit. This was common in Nasa, but also earlier in places like Harvard and companies that served the purpose of WW2.
These woman are real people who served their country and communities in a season of the worst segregation we’ve seen.
Each woman had their forte:
- Dorthy was mechanically inclined and good with early computer programming
- Mary had an engineering mind
- Katherine was the true math wizard
They were all trailblazers of sorts…and all played such amazing roles in this story.
Dorthy worked her way into a supervisor role and became the first African American to become a supervisor at Nasa. Mary worked around a broken system to get her credentials to finally become an engineer. It didn’t come without hard work and lots of courage. Katherine was the only woman (and African American) in the launch team math room, and became the most important person in that team.
Each woman makes a difference. Each woman breaks boundaries. Each woman doesn’t let circumstances hold her back. Each woman doesn’t accept the limits society unjustly puts on her, instead push through to leave their mark and make their dent on society. (TRAILER)
What are the themes that really stood out to me? What parts of the story speak to truth?
One huge take home for me is right in the title. Hidden figures…those within the cracks…the un-usual suspects contribute as much to the story as those who are in the spot light.
In the public, who got all the attention and credit? The Astronaut. No one is knocking him for that either.
There’s an amazing scene where the Astronaut will not board the spacecraft unless he knows that the numbers, the math, the equations that assured launch and landing, was confirmed by Katherine. She’s a computer…in a math room…using chalk to draw and write…BUT he won’t board, with out her.
Something we can take from the narrative of scripture is this truth: You don’t have to be the leader, the point person, the singer, the speaker, in the lime light, on the stage, or in front to make a difference – YOU can be hidden and still change the world. You can be HIDDEN and still change your and others circumstances. This doesn’t excuse the injustice of those who think of themselves as better, but it does help those who may feel hidden or slighted to move forward anyways, with confidence.
So many come characters come to mind, but for this movie, I think Ruth may fit best.
The OT book of Ruth:
- it’s about a mother, Naomi, who lost her husband and sons to death.
- She’s left with two daughter in laws
- One of them, Ruth, insists on staying with her, even though Naomi wants her to return to her people.
- Ruth was not an Israelite. She was from Moab.
- Ruth worked hard in a Boaz’s field. She proved herself and was known as a woman of noble character.
- Boaz takes Ruth to be his wife. They have a son. Obed. Who who father’s a boy named Jesse, who father’s a boy named David, King David.
Fast forward to Matthew’s gospel. Ruth is found in the genealogy of Jesus. Another woman is found there – Rahab. Unlike Ruth, Rahab was a prostitute, like Ruth, she chose well and helped God’s people. Both of them are included as figures who become part of the grand story of salvation. Both could’ve easily been hidden from the records, one for being a Moabite, the other for being a prostitute. In the story of Jesus, even the hidden figures are recognized for their contribution.
Which leads us to our next take home…We all Play a Part…we all contribute…at least we all should.
Every single person in Nasa played a part in getting the first Astronaut into space – The Math team, the computers, the secretaries, everybody.
Why is it that in 2017 we still can’t figure out that every gift and skill we offer the world is a contribution to the greater whole?
If there’s any place that should understand this better, it’s the church. (Body theology / Body of Christ / Spiritual Gifts / We all play a part)
I’ve saved this for last. What an unfortunate reminder that our past, and our present is filled with discrimination, segregation, racism, injustice, etc. That said, this movie is also a beautiful reminder that we, as humans, are all the same. That we should love our neighbour as our self. That we must know deep in our hearts, that every one we meet eyes with matters to God, and therefore, matters to us.
(Watch these scenes: THIS & THIS)
This is of course the biggest take away from this film, that our past is stained by how people have been treated by other people. That we can’t seem to get past even the simplest of differences. That we can’t appreciate others for who they are and what they contribute to the world we live in. And finally, and thankfully, that there are courageous men and women who have stepped up to make a difference.
Two of my favourite parts of the movie are when Mr. Harrison (Kevin Costner) walks over to the small coffee pot and removes the label (coloured) on it, and then when he breaks down the sign to the coloured washroom and says, “at Nasa we all pee the same colour”.
Jesus came to remove the label(s)…
- the label of sin
- the label of doubt
- the label of fear
- the label that others put on us
God’s label for us is – CHILD & FRIEND
Jesus’ label for us is – ONE (we are community in him)
When are we going to stop putting labels on people? That’s not our job. Only God has that job. He does it well. Let him do it. If you’re going do it, then borrow from his practice and offer labels that encourage, and inspire and build up, not diminish, hurt or tear down.
If anyone should get this…it has to be the church. Our communion table levels the playing field…we are ONE in Jesus.
We are so thankful to woman like these who showed courage and dignity and brought us closer to a better understanding of what it means to be a human being who bears God’s image. In the same light, forgive those (perhaps us) who have been too stubborn and ignorant (and sinful) to see or live out the values of God’s kingdom by loving our neighbour as our self.
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There is so much more to say, but this post will not allow it. Hopefully we’ve spurred on some dialogue and questions for you to work through. Below are some other scriptures to read and work through.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Romans 2:11 For God does not show favoritism.
Galatians 2:6 As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism…
Ephesians 6:9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
James 2:1-9 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.