Nurse Ratched

I am currently teaching “Theological Themes in Movies” and have shown to date, “The Mission”, “The Shawshank Redemption”, and “Gran Torino”. I challenged the class to come up with a list of their own favorites, some of which I have never seen. One of those was “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest” which I watched today to prepare for Sunday’s class.

I am probably the last person to see it of anyone who reads my blog, but in case you haven’t, be forewarned that the language is quite – colorful. Beyond that, it is adult fare dealing with serious the serious topics of mental health, how we treat those who are diagnosed mentally ill, suicide, and mercy killing. But it is also funny, unusual, and thought provoking. And the acting is top-notch.

The most compelling storyline (at least to me) is the abuse of power portrayed by the incredible villain of the movie, Nurse Ratched. I doubt anyone would initially see themselves in this character. We all would more want to be diagnosed as a “cuckoo” than be a person like her. But, just like reading one of Jesus’ parables, if we can’t see ourselves in the roles of the villains as well as the heroes, we lose the real power of the story.

There is a part of human nature, a part that is within every healthy adult, that wants to control and organize what is chaotic. And this is a good tendency. Human beings could not live and work together if we let chaos reign. But we also can start labeling everything that is different as chaotic. We can begin to see ourselves as the only thing that is “right.” And we can want to turn everyone into us. We want them to have our values. We want them to see the world the way we do. We want them to vote the way we do. And we can want want to stifle individuality if we see any trait that would lead someone down a path that we ourselves wouldn’t go on. If we let this way of thinking win within us, and we have a little power, we become a Nurse Ratched. Couple it will the power of the state and we get Hitler and Stalin.

The balance is not to endorse everything. There are insane and evil people in this world. But it is not evil or insane not to be just like us.

Interested in talking more about the movie? Come on Sunday morning at 9:15 to Parkway and we will dig in further to the many topics opened in the film. Beyond that, let us all guard against the ‘Nurse Ratched’ that lurks in the human psyche.

Until next time,



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