Zachary Lee is a freelance writer and campus minister in Ithaca, N.Y. You can find him on Letterboxd @zlee729

Posts By This Author

Why Watching ‘Elvis’ Made Me Think of Megachurch Pastors

by Zachary Lee 07-07-2022

Austin Butler as Elvis Presley in 'Elvis.' Warner Bros. Pictures

Above all else, Luhrmann displays Elvis as a man-turned-god who was exhausted trying to make peace with his paradoxes.

In ‘Fear,’ the Hosts — Not the Refugees — Are the Real Threat

by Zachary Lee 03-30-2022

Svetlana Yancheva and Michael Fleming in 'Fear'

The Bulgarian town where director Ivaylo Hristov’s latest film takes place is never named, but the movie’s title offers a suitable stand-in: Fear. This coastal village on Turkey’s border reeks of terror, but not the kind one might expect.

The Truth Will Set You Free. Are We Ready for That?

by Zachary Lee 03-01-2022
'The Green Knight' puts a magnifying glass to our natural responses to truth, while 'The Power of the Dog' articulates our tendencies to flee from the truths that will expose us.
A robed figure stairs through a bright opening in the trees of a dark forest

From The Green Knight

WHEN I FIRST read Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “truth” early last year, I did a double take to make sure it wasn’t written in 2021. The 1987 poem personifies its titular subject as a living being that can knock its “firm knuckles / Hard on the door,” whose arrival brings an equal mix of anticipation and apprehension. Brooks describes multiple responses one can have to the arrival of truth. For those who have made peace with lies, the truth can be threatening: “Shall we not dread him, / Shall we not fear him / After so lengthy a / Session with shade?” Even for those who have longed for truth’s arrival, blissful or willful ignorance seems to be a better alternative than the terror of having to engage truth head on: “Shall we not shudder?— / Shall we not flee / Into the shelter, the dear thick shelter / Of the familiar / Propitious haze?” Regardless, Brooks makes one thing clear: The question is not a matter of if truth will come, but when. The most important question of our lives then becomes, how are we to greet it?

In the poem, Brooks doesn’t name the truth that haunts her—although since she first published it in 1949, as the stage for the civil rights movement was being set, one possibility might be the systemic mistreatment of Black people and white people’s willful obliviousness to it. I found the poem to be a peculiar comfort in this time as we try to adjust to an ever-shifting landscape of new realities and reckon with truths about ourselves we might otherwise prefer remain hidden.

Similarly, several films offer insight into how people receive truth’s advent.