“Surely Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me”

by James M. Wall

Paddington 2 is just the right film to share this Mother’s Day. To understand why, reflect back to the original 2015 Paddington film, a creative tale drawn from a British literary series. 

In the series and in two films, Paddington is a very realistic animated bear who travels to London from his native Peru.

Paddington’s Peruvian family had been persuaded by a British explorer, that London would be a welcoming location for bear visitors. In the original Paddington film, our trusting, very realistic, animated young bear travels to London by boat and train.

Arriving at London’s Paddington Station, he looks for friendly faces. He finds some in the station, a human London family, the Browns. The mother of the family is Mary Brown, played in her usual welcoming manner, by Sally Hawkins. She insists on taking Paddington home with the family.

Henry Brown, the father of the family, is played by Hugh Bonneville, who agrees, reluctantly, to welcome Paddington for what he presumes will be a brief, but helpful visit.

The family, which also includes two children, agrees that their visitor should be named Paddington, his London arrival-point.

Paddington 2, is a 2017 film sequel, following the original 2015 release. It provides further background to Paddington’s origin story. He was rescued as a young cub from near-drowning by two adult bears. 

Paddington was raised by a mama bear he calls Aunt Lucy. She teaches him the importance of “generosity of spirit and unshakable faith in the value of good manners”, according to a Guardian review.

In Paddington, the original film, young Paddington settles permanently into the welcoming Brown home. Infused with the goodness embedded in him by his Creator, then sustained, initially. by the Creator’s helpmate, Aunt Lucy, Paddington’s goodness encounters evil in the form of someone who wants to exploit him.

He preserves against that evil attacker and lives to visit us again in Paddington 2. I encountered the young traveling bear, now Londoner, while in search of a Mother’s Day film to show to a group of retirees on Movie Night, an occasion when we honor mothers.  

My apologies for getting word of Paddington 2 to readers so late in the week, but I have been distracted by a series of world events in which evil appears to be dominating.

I decided it was time for a break from those events and a good time to remember what the mothers I have known and loved over the years, taught me about the “generosity of spirit and unshakable faith in the value of good manners”. 

But no worries, there is still time to secure a copy of Paddington 2 to show to your friends and loved ones. If not this weekend, there are others ahead.

Here is all you need to know before seeing this delightful and wise film:

Paddington misses Aunt Lucy. Her birthday looms. He looks for the perfect gift to give her.  He finds it in a very special book store. Of course, life is never smooth for any of us, including in the life of our young bear from Peru. Evil arrives to lay claim to the book Paddington wants to give Aunt Lucy.

Phoenix Buchanan is a once-famous showman, now down on his luck. He is played by an insouciant, greedy Hugh Grant, who steals the book. He views the book as his map to riches. 

Paddington and his family go in search of the book, and along the way, Paddington is tossed in jail where his goodness continues to help others, including a chef who learns that goodness can be experienced and taught.

The film is enriched by the presence of Sally Hawkins, who also played a mother, a folk artist, in Maudie, a 2016 film, and Hugh Bonneville, who played Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, in the long-running PBS television series, Downton Abbey.

Atlantic critic David Sims concludes his review of Paddington 2:

“This is a film of such open-hearted joy and grace, which feels rare in an industry that often embraces cynicism and sarcasm. Paddington 2 is gorgeous to look at, smartly written, and gleefully funny.”

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall writings.me, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years.
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6 Responses to “Surely Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me”

  1. Patricia says:

    We all need a breather from the evil. Thanks for the suggested respite.

  2. Ed McNulty says:

    Thanks, Jim, for spreading the word about such a delightful movie. You are so right in promoting it for a Mother’s Day showing. You connect it to Psalm 23, and in my review of it, I thought of Ecclesiastes 11:1. (My review is at Ecclesiastes 11:1. (My Visual Parables review is at https://www.readthespirit.com/visual-parables/paddington-2-2017/. Be sure to see the new Fred Rogers documentary, WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? when it comes out in June. I think you’ll love it. Thanks again for your Wall Writings, both the heavier pieces and the lighter ones like this one.

  3. Samia Khoury says:

    Thanks Jim what a lovely break from the atrocities of evil, and thanks Ed for including that link. .

  4. Good post, Jim. I finished a 13-session video-oriented griefshare today for recent widowers like me and others suffering from losses of loved ones. I’m not really sure of the denominational status of the hosting church, but, at the final potluck luncheon, Trump was a natural “menu” feature. Most seemed mystified and worried by his behavior and what it portends for America and the world, but one member of the church opined, with what I took as seriousness, that Trump’s ascension was/is ordained by God to “test” us. I’m sorry: I don’t think so–especially not in this 21st Century that shows all signs of spinning off into truly scary territory driven by the chaos that seems to fuel T’s moods, psyche, bullying, immorality, narcissism….

    Will “goodness and mercy” accompany and then continue post-Trump? To me, he sure doesn’t fit the image of Paddington you so enticingly present. Stay tuned, and, in the meantime (unlike the dour outlook I seem to be afflicted with), enjoy the lighter “Paddington” moments and interludes.

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  5. Rev. Bob Hannumk says:

    O my,Jim! One of our favorite characters, My favorite scene in one of the Paddington books is when Paddington bought 6 tickets for the family at 6 pounds each, to go to the symphony. Remember, his mantra is “good value!” When he notices on the program that .one of the musical pieces is Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, he rushes back to the back of the stage, insisting on seeing “Mr. Schubert.” I want him to finish the symphony. We paid 6 pounds for these tickets, and something unfinished is not good value. (Aunt Lucy taught him this also!)

    Bob Hannum

  6. wallwritings says:

    That sounds like something Paddington would do. Thanks for the additional insight. Jim

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