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 A MAN NAMED PEARL 

Theme:   A Simple True Story

God took a man and a woman who were at the very bottom in the world's eyes (a black sharecropper's son, unskilled, no experience, etc.) and planted them in the poorest county of a poor state on an old lover's lane which was a worn out pasture and there..... He worked a miracle.

He gave the man a special gift, filled him with passion and hope, and  turned him loose on three acres of land with plants the world deemed hopeless pieces of junk worthy of the scrap pile.

What emerged over time was an incredible work of art that gave new life to the neighbors, transformed the town, impacted the state and brought the world to Pearl Fryar's garden.
 

The Moral of the Story

A man or woman in union with God can do awesome things.1

Insights:
                                                                      
The Garden

"Throughout the Bible, the garden as a well watered space set apart for the intense cultivation of plants, is an image of both nature and sacred space".2  The garden is an image that frames the scriptures beginning in Genesis 2 with the Garden of God and ending in Revelation 21 & 22 with the Celestial Paradise.

Consider the similarities between Fryar's garden and the descriptions of Eden and Paradise below:

Reminiscent of Eden:  
bullet Secluded protection  
bullet Beautiful
bullet Lush with vegetation
bullet Place of human labor and industry
bullet Suffused with tranquility
bullet Ongoing human upkeep
bullet Not only a place, but a way of life
bullet Tree of life
bullet Simplicity
bullet Harmony
bullet Well watered
bullet Open Communion with God
bullet Abundant
bullet Fountain in the midst

Looking Forward to Paradise:
bullet Tree of life yielding fruit for the nations
bullet Original paradise had been largely a secluded world inhabited by just two people;
the celestial paradise is more open.
bullet

Resplendent jewel gates that are perpetually open (Pearls)

bullet A redeemed earth will be in perpetual commerce with the garden-city for the traffic through the gates
will involve "the glory and honor of the nations".
3


The World

There is a contrast in the documentary between the lush green vegetation of Fryar's garden and the decaying brick and mortar of downtown Bishopville.  This contrast goes beyond the physical garden and buildings into the spiritual realm and is ultimately a contrast between the Kingdom of God and the systems of the world.

God's Kingdom World System
Every plant has unique glory Throw away those unfit for market
Every person has a unique glory -
   (Pearl's "find your passion philosophy")
City Nursery is in the shadow of the SC State Prison
Time is an ally; it is needed for growing Time is an enemy; no time for anything
The slow, quiet pace of the mower Constant noise of traffic passing through
Integrated and welcoming Segregated and exclusive
Beautiful Ugly
Alive and growing Declining and decaying
Men use machines Machines replace men
Cooperation Competition4
Innovation Tradition
Creativity Standardized Monotony
Spacious Congested



The Church

One of the most fascinating ways to view the documentary is to see the Gardner and the garden as a metaphor for Christ and His Church.  Fryar becomes a Christ figure who goes out looking for those left in the scrap piles of the world.  Taking them to himself he plants them in the soil of his unconditional love.  Immersed in him, they are provided for, trained and shaped into the unique creations he visualized them to be long before they grew to maturity (Ephesians 1:4).  There is a beauty to each plant, but it is in the corporate setting of the garden that they give the most glory to the Gardner. 

What about the literal church in the film?  Although there are wonderful and touching scenes of Mr. Fryar's home church, there is the sad commentary by his Reverend that the churches in Bishopville for the most part tend to be traditionally segregated much more like the world system than Mr. Fryar's garden. In his garden Northern Fraser Fir can grow easily along side the Southern Dogwood.

The Gospel

Woven through the film in picture, song, word and metaphor is God's glorious story of redemption.  From the singing of "Christ in the Jubilee" to the pictures of the communion plate and the cross to the words Love, Peace and Goodwill written in the garden, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the overriding theme and message of this documentary.5

A Man Named Pearl is a 78 minute Hallelujah song filled with grace, hope, joy, heart, and the miraculous.  For people not to connect this with the One Who is behind every minute would be a travesty.

As for Pearl Fryar ......
                   He has told you, O man, what is good.
                   And what does the Lord require of you?
                  But to do justice, to love kindness
                  And to walk humbly with your God.    
                                                                
Micah 6:8
Pearl Fryar is a living epistle, a love letter written not by ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on the tablet of a human heart. (2 Corinthians 3:3)

Notes:
1.  For a great description of God's original purpose for man, see The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard
    (especially Chapter 4).
2.  The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, page 315.
3.  Words italicized stress the similarity to Fryar's garden.  The lists of Eden and Paradise are paraphrased from
     the above dictionary.
4.  Pearl helping neighbor's garden vs. the Garden Club Yard of the Month.
5.  For the best overall description of Christianity and why it makes sense, see Simply Christian by N. T. Wright

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Documentary by
Scott Galloway and Brent Pierson

 

Connecting spiritual insights and gospel themes to the movies that touch your heart.
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