My favorite lines from movie “The Overnighters”. Some disclosures.

“I will not give in to despair because hopeless should never win and hopeless is a lie.”

Former pastor Jay Reinke, as the Overnighters program shuts down.

I agree. Hopeless is a lie. Despair is a lie.

“The problem is we’re working with sinners and some people are fearful.”

Andrea Reinke, as the family discusses complications of helping someone who is a registered sex offender.

Those are two of my favorite lines from the movie “The Overnighters”, which I watched for the second time last night.

Feet of clay

As Mrs. Reinke pointed out, everyone you will ever deal with is a sinner.

That concept has lots of implications. The movie does a superb job illustrating that concept. Consider:

  • People you have helped, comforted, and nurtured can turn on you, deliberating causing terrible pain.
  • Otherwise nice people (bible-believing born-again Christians, city council members, newspapers, neighbors, kindly old men, sweet people in stores who call you oil trash as you hold the door open for them) can be nasty and cruel.
  • People you trust can repeatedly tell you bald-faced lies to your face (too many examples in the movie to list and not enough storage capacity on my computer for a complete list of public examples).
  • Leaders you respect and admire can have feet of clay. Hope to write more on that later. At the moment, please know that the leader of your department, business, ministry, church, synagogue, political party, or government agency is quite capable of betraying your trust.  Sometimes quite spectacularly.

“You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.” – Daniel 2:31-33, NIV translation

If you do not recognize that every person alive has feet of clay, you will be shocked when you learn a leader’s clay feet washed away in a storm and the leader collapsed.


Time for a full disclosure discussion:

  • When our son moved to North Dakota, he slept in the church’s building and parking lot for some time before he found a new job that offered housing. I knew of the Overnighters program a long time before I heard of this movie.
  • Our son joined Concordia Lutheran Church and was a member during the time frame of the movie.
  • My wife and I are long time members of a church that is part of the same denomination as Concordia Lutheran Church in Williston.
  • I have been writing about the energy boom in North Dakota for a long time. Glance at any half-dozen sequential or random posts on my blog and you will know I have strong opinions on the shale revolution.

As you can see, I have a dog in this race. Filter my comments as you wish.

I heartily recommend this movie. It is available at Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, and other places. If you re interested enough to have previously read more than a few articles on my blog, you will enjoy it. I have no financial interest in the movie.

A few other thoughts for future discussion

Disclosed information in the movie asserts the criminal past for a key player is related to the issue of an 18-year-old man sleeping with his 16-year-old girlfriend. I’ll get back to that comment later.

What are the rules of professional journalism regarding how many blocks a reporter can chase someone down the street when the target of your reporting refuses to answer questions?

Does anything beyond line-of-sight of a camera exist? That is a huge question. Based on the Q&A session I was able to attend and on-line interviews I’ve read, Mr. Jesse Moss struggled mightily with that question during filming, production, and post-production. On the other hand, reviewers of this movie have unanimously assumed the answer to that question is “no.”

Forget the issue of whether it makes a sound – does a tree falling in the forest even exist if a camera didn’t record the fall?  Does the forest even exist?

Update:  Keep in mind there are probably, oh, a thousand guys who have moved to Williston, succeeded, and are making a good living for every one you saw in “The Overnighters”. For starters, just ponder that the close of the movie said there were over 1,000 people who slept at the church during the program.

Yet the focus of the movie is on maybe half a dozen who didn’t thrive. That’s fine, because the focus of the movie is intentionally on the underside of the boom, as has been mentioned by Mr. Moss during several interviews. The world isn’t limited to the 100+/- minutes of the movie.

To prove my rhetorical question whether outside the range of a camera exists, consider this tweet on 2/6 from a quite judgmental person who can not imagine that a world exists beyond what he can see on the screen at the moment:

“Last night’s film was the excellent #TheOvernights – this doc will save you the trip out to North Dakota to not get rich off the boom.”

With a population that has roughly doubled, that means there is somewhere around 13,000 or 15,000 people in just the city of Williston alone who are thriving. They may not be getting rich, but they are working and living. Sounds like it is worth the trip, if you line up housing before you arrive.

There is a huge, wide world out beyond the range of the camera.

Update 2: Above update moved to separate post.

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