Cuba Gooding Jr. stars in Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, a true story about a young african-american boy who dreams of being a doctor. As a young boy, Ben lives with his older brother and single mother and struggles as the only black student in an all-white class. His grades are horrible and as the other kids tease him he develops a raging temper and starts to act out. It is his faith in God and the constant motivation of his mother that gets him to finally step up—as well as some reading glasses.
Immersed in the Culture
Having his eyes opened—in more ways than one—Ben begins to excel in school after his mother challenges him and his brother to read two books a month and turn in book reports to her. Of course, he obeys his mother and starts to read. And as he begins to immerse himself in literature, music, and the arts his grades improve and so does his personality.
As Catholics this is something that we can—or should—relate to. The Catholic Church has always been a major proponent of culture, inspiring some of the best art, music, and books of all time. This is evident in the grandiose cathedrals, marble statues, and medieval paintings. Think of the Sistine Chapel. It is heard in Bach’s Mattheus Passion and the Ave Maria. While many people think that religion, especially the Catholic faith, binds people by a bunch of rules and keeps them from doing what they want to do. Our culture is important and the Church calls us not to hide from it, but rather to immerse ourselves in it, enjoy it, and evangelize it.
Another of the positive themes portrayed in the film is importance of good parenting. Ben’s mother struggles with a deep depression—or “darkness” as she calls it—but she never gives up on her boys. She fights for them, working hard, pushing them to be the best that they can be. And it pays off.
A Doctor Who Prays
Ben eventually becomes a doctor, more specifically, a brain surgeon. The greatest challenge that Ben faces as a doctor is to be able to separate a set of siamese twins who are joined at the head. Throughout the film he battles with ideas searching for a way to perform this dangerous surgery that puts the lives of the two infants in serious danger.
There is a scene in the film—which is probably one of my favorite—when Ben is consulting with the parents of the twins and he casually mentions that he is going to pray that everything goes well in the surgery. The mother turns to him with a surprised look on her face and asks him, “you pray?” He confirms with a simple response, “every day.”
In our culture, doctors have taken on a negative stereotype of being cold, heartless, and anti-faith. You are either for science or for religion. But in Ben’s case, he proves the ultimate truth which the Catholic Church has taught for centuries, that faith and science are not enemies.
“Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.”
In fact, Ben acknowledges that it is his faith that allows him to be successful at what he does. He admits that the human brain is an amazing creation that we will never be able to fully understand.
Entertaining, Inspirational, and True to Life
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story is a feel-good movie that you can watch with the family. There are many positive themes touched on in the film that you can share with your children and even benefit from yourself. All in all, it’s an inspirational true story that shows that any obstacle can be overcome with hard work and dedication. Cuba Gooding Jr.‘s performance is amazing as well as co-star Kimberly Elise who plays Ben’s mother.
I watched “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story” on Netflix, but it’s also available on DVD from Amazon.com