Tony Rossi, Director of Communications, The Christophers
God is in the Recycling Business
On the surface, the movie “Same Kind of Different As Me” (now on DVD and home video)
seems like standard inspirational fare, sharing the true story of an affluent couple, Ron and
Debbie Hall (Greg Kinnear and Renee Zellweger), befriending a homeless man named
Denver Moore (Djimon Hounsou) and changing his life. But when you look closer, the movie
is actually a love story, both in terms of the renewed commitment inside a troubled marriage,
scarred by Ron’s infidelity – and the ways in which we as human beings can live out the divine love which God bestows upon all of us.
For instance, when Debbie confronts Ron about his infidelity, Zellweger plays the moment beautifully, conveying anger, woundedness, and confusion. Ron notes they haven’t been intimate in two years. Debbie cries, “We haven’t slept together in two years. We haven’t been intimate in 10 years.” In a culture that automatically equates sex with intimacy, that line is a wake-up call.
Instead of seeking revenge against Ron and his mistress, Debbie chooses a humble strength to fight for her marriage. With Ron present, Debbie calls his mistress, says she forgives her and that she hopes she finds someone to love. Ron is humbled by Debbie’s grace and tells her, “I choose you.”
Debbie’s willingness to see the good in Ron is also what leads the two of them to volunteer at the local Mission for the homeless. It’s in a bad part of town and not the cleanest facility, so Ron wants no part of it. “Are there any infectious diseases floating around this place,” he asks Jimmy, the manager. Jimmy answers, “Absolutely. We try to infect them all with love.”
That sure reflects Debbie’s approach as she’s serving food to the patrons. She introduces herself to each of them by name, and asks their names in return. Instead of looking through them, she looks at them with a tenderness that affirms their inherent dignity.
Ron slowly discovers how easily an unlucky turn in life or a couple of bad decisions can spiral into homelessness. But that still doesn’t prepare him for when he meets an angry, violent man who calls himself Suicide. His real name is Denver, and despite his rage, Debbie isn’t scared of him. She senses that there is pain behind his anger, so she repeatedly pushes Ron to get to know him. These scenes demonstrate the depths of Ron’s repentance because most men would have seen Denver and run the other way. But out of love for Debbie, Ron reaches out – and finally has his kindness returned by Denver, who opens up about his past growing up on a plantation, being beaten by the KKK, getting baptized in his youth, and more.
Denver commends Ron’s efforts at the Mission, telling him that when he gives a homeless person a plate of food, he’s saying, “You ain’t invisible. I see you.” But once again, this all stems from Debbie. Denver comments, “God is in the recycling business of turning trash into treasure. I believe Miss Debbie must be his best employee.”
While Denver means this to refer to himself and the other patrons of the Mission, it also applies to Ron, who has been turned from trash to treasure by Debbie’s love, which is grounded in God’s love.
In the end, “Same Kind of Different As Me” presents a meaningful story about how individuals can improve their communities and personal lives by practicing the life-changing power of love.
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