This weekend, Betty and I fled from the October heat and humidity by going to a "refrigerated" movie house. To both our surprise, the move we chose to cool ourselves in turned out to be one of the best we've seen in ages. "Wadjda" is the story of a 10-year-old Saudi girl's mental coming-of-age in a Salafi Sunni Muslim environment. Filmed by a Saudi director in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, with Saudi actors and actresses, the movie is a "must see" for non-Muslims attempting to puzzle through today's daily news.

In American, we attempt to separate church and state, and many American's can no longer understand a culture or nation where no such division exists. Unfortunately, the cut goes deeper. It seems wherever church and state are inseparable, women get the short end of the stick. It's hard for American's to imagine a nation where a girl can be shot for wanting to be educated, fined for driving a car, or denigrated for wanting a bike to ride. Yet much of the world is this way, where girls like Wadjda are afforded "protection" in a man's world only at the expense of personal liberty. I'm often reminded by my American students that the world is engaged in a "religious war;" but I don't personally buy into that thinking.

What I think we're engaged in is a "new dark age" in which the pursuit of money, especially incrementally increasing profit, and power, especially control of resources, including information, and violence are destabilizing the world. In the first dark age, people turned to the Church to provide protection, structure, stability and service. In this new dark age, with religions vying with nations for wealth and power, there is no universal Church. So where will people turn? I believe they have already begun the turn to corporations. Unfortunately, corporations, in their unrelenting thirst for incrementally increasing profit, invariably end up turning from human services  to the more profitable process of product provision. Especially expendable, non-renewable and/or non-sustainable products like, for example, weapons of war. The problem is that corporations often prove to be inhuman taskmasters.

The movie, "Wadjda," didn't officially go this extra mile, instead focusing on the more immediate problems people are facing in this new world that is no longer teetering on the cliff but is already plunging into the new dark age. In support, I quote the affable Captain Jack Sparrow: "take what you can; give nothing back." And then there's Conan the Barbarian's famous answer to the question, "What is best in life?" Conan's answer: "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women." I rest my case. The next time you feel hot, go to a refrigerated movie and enjoy "Wadjda."