John Mann at Preaching Peace writes about the non-anxious presence of Humphrey Bogart’s character, Rick Blaine, in Casablanca. When Captain Renault (Claude Raines) challenges Rick’s stated reason for coming to Casablanca (“I came to Casablanca for the waters”) with “The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert,” Rick replies, “I was misinformed.”
“The line echoes from time to time when I encounter elements of church life that do not live up to the promise. In the beginning those encounters were somewhat startling. After awhile they became the norm. ‘So I was misinformed,’ was a little humorous internal mantra that helped to provide a healthy perspective.
“What impressed me about Rick, the character Humphrey Bogart portrayed in Casablanca, was his sense of autonomy. Deep down he cared, but he didn’t care in the accepted manner of the more anxious characters in the movie. He was the definitive non-anxious presence in a cauldron of anxiety.”
Mann goes on to compare church life to restaurant life (neither is good when rushed):
“There was often a Chicken Little motif to church life where the sky was going to fall down if we didn’t do something in a hurry. Get more members! Get more money! Do! More! When the person bearing the tray declines to join the anxious rush, sometimes it has a calming influence. Sometimes though, it produces the opposite effect of increasing the anxiety of the anxious crowd because they cry, ‘You need to care more!!!’
“Talk about a loaded proposition. Like the loaded question it assumes agreement with the premise. So what’s the rush? You need more people around this joint? Do something about the quality of your Christian community that will attract people to its authenticity and integrity. You need more dough? Then hand it over yourselves. Don’t rely on other people to provide what you’re responsible for. …
“Be more like Rick. Open the joint, provide the right atmosphere, serve up a decent menu, and let business take care of itself. “