Ethos Education

Murder on the Orient Express

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Assembly Objective:

  • Is there such a thing as right and wrong? This assembly explores issues of right and wrong, and presents a biblical answer to the question of how to make the right choices. It encourages students to look for help from other people, and from reliable sources.

Film:

  • Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox, 2017, cert 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible:

Supporting Values Education:

  • The value of the Rule of Law restricts the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws. These laws determine what is right and wrong. This assembly encourages students to consider whether the concept of right and wrong is absolutely true, and to reflect on how human beings can determine right and wrong in an unjust and imperfect world.

OPENING ACTIVITY

Right or Wrong (fun quiz)

Choose a volunteer to come to the front of the assembly and play a quickfire round of this quiz. Tell them they have to make the first choice that comes into their head when they hear the question of which choice they prefer?

  • Burger or pizza?
  • Coke or Pepsi?
  • YouTube or Instagram?
  • Staying in or going out?
  • Trainers or flip flops?
  • School or holidays?
  • Football or rugby?
  • Telling the truth or telling a lie?
  • Spending or saving?
  • Shouting or whispering?
  • Losing or cheating?
  • Tattoos or piercings?
  • Crisps or chocolate?

Thank the volunteer and explain that today’s assembly is going to focus on the choices we make. Some choices are simple and we don’t need to think about them (school versus holidays). Others are more difficult to decide (telling the truth versus telling a lie).


FILM CLIP

Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox, 2017, cert 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.

  • Start time: 00:03:00 (beginning of chapter 2)
  • End time: 00:08:10
  • Clip length: 5 minutes 10 seconds
  • The clip begins with Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) leaving his breakfast table and marching through the streets of Jerusalem to the Wailing Wall. He proceeds to address a crowd that has gathered at the wall about the matter of a priceless relic that has gone missing from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. A rabbi, a priest and an imam stand accused of having stolen it. Poirot demonstrates to the crowd that none of the religious figures could have stolen the relic and reveals that the guilty party is the chief inspector of police. The crowd bursts into uproar and, after a chase, the officer is captured. Later, as Poirot prepares to board his boat to Istanbul, an army captain asks how he knew it was the police inspector. Poirot says that he has the advantage of only being able to see the world as it should be, that its imperfections stand out to him. He says, ‘Whatever people say, there is right and there is wrong, there is nothing in between.’ He then asks the man to adjust his tie and departs.

TALK

Download the Murder on the Orient Express PowerPoint for use with this talk.

Scripted Talk

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Here are a few arithmetic questions to check who is feeling alert today:
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • 7 +8 = ?
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • 7 +8 = 15
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • 9 x 6 = ?
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • 9 x 6 = 54
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • 110 ÷ 11= ?
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • 110 ÷ 11= 10
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • 3982 – 456 = ?
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • 3982 – 456 = 3526
  • It’s probably wise to stop before we all get too many answers wrong! In simple arithmetic like the sums we’ve just worked out, there is only one right answer. There are lots of possible wrong answers, but only one that is right. So, I could tell you that 7 + 8 = 14, but even if I argued well and made some of you believe me, the answer would still be wrong. In arithmetic, right and wrong are clear. Even when it comes to the harder sums that you have to spend more time thinking about, there is still a right answer and a wrong answer. The answer to 3982 – 456 is never going to be 5, or 1 million, because there is only one correct answer. When it comes to making decisions in life it can be harder to know what is right and what is wrong. Let’s try and work out one of those. [Note to assembly leader: Depending on how much time you have, and how responsive your group is, you may want to spend time in the next session, teasing out the rights and wrongs of the situation].
  • [PowerPoint slide 10]
    • A person kills a puppy. Is that a right or a wrong action? [Take a show of hands].
  • [PowerPoint slide 11]
    • A person kills a puppy by hitting the dog with their car. Is that a right or a wrong action? [Take a show of hands].
  • [PowerPoint slide 12]
    • A person kills a puppy by hitting the dog with their car when the puppy runs out into the road in front of them and they don’t see the dog until it’s too late. Is that a right or a wrong action? [Take a show of hands].
  • [PowerPoint slide 13]
    • A person kills a puppy by hitting the dog with their car when the puppy runs out into the road in front of them. The puppy is followed by a child and the only way the driver can avoid hitting the child is to swerve towards the puppy. Is that a right or a wrong action? [Take a show of hands].
    • Decisions about what is right and wrong are not as straightforward as arithmetic problems. It can be hard to know what is right and what is wrong. The decisions we make are affected by the circumstances we are in.
  • [PowerPoint slide 14]
    • In the film Murder on the Orient Express, the famous detective, Hercule Poirot, has to solve a case of murder where there are twelve suspects. At the beginning of the film, Poirot explains how he views right and wrong. Let’s watch a clip where he solves a crime and describes how it feels to be the world’s most famous detective.
    • Play the clip from Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox, 2017, cert 12)
      • Start time: 00:03:00 (beginning of chapter 2)
      • End time: 00:08:10
      • Clip length: 5 minutes 10 seconds
    • The clip begins with Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) leaving his breakfast table and marching through the streets of Jerusalem to the Wailing Wall. He proceeds to address a crowd that has gathered at the wall about the matter of a priceless relic that has gone missing from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. A rabbi, a priest and an imam stand accused of having stolen it. Poirot demonstrates to the crowd that none of the religious figures could have stolen the relic and reveals that the guilty party is the chief inspector of police. The crowd bursts into uproar and, after a chase, the officer is captured. Later, as Poirot prepares to board his boat to Istanbul, an army captain asks how he knew it was the police inspector. Poirot says that he has the advantage of only being able to see the world as it should be, that its imperfections stand out to him. He says, ‘Whatever people say, there is right and there is wrong, there is nothing in between.’ He then asks the man to adjust his tie and departs.
  • [PowerPoint slide 15]
    • Hercule Poirot believes strongly in right and wrong. Did you catch what he said to the officer? ‘Whatever people say, there is right and there is wrong, there is nothing in between.’ He also said that he only ever sees the world as it should be. Poirot sees the world in black and white. Right and wrong. For him there is no room for arguing about circumstances.
    • In a perfect world, a world where everything is as it should be, Poirot’s definition of right and wrong makes sense. There is a right way of living, and wrong way of living. Drivers would always drive carefully, owners would never let their puppies run out in front of cars, children would never be in the middle of the road. The problem is that we do not live in a world where everything is perfect. Bad things happen. People make mistakes. People make choices that hurt other people.
    • So, does that mean that right and wrong don’t matter? Here is a quote from Huckleberry Finn, a boy who is always getting into trouble, in a book by Mark Twain.
  • [PowerPoint slide 16]
    • ‘What’s the use you learning to do right when it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?’ Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
    • Huckleberry Finn thinks that you should just do what is easiest for you and not care about anyone else. Because he is always getting punished, even when he does the right thing, he has decided that he might as well do whatever is easier for him. But if we all lived like that then nobody could ever trust anybody else. It may be easier to not care about right and wrong, but it’s a fairly selfish way of living, and can lead to other people getting hurt.
    • Even if we choose to follow Huckleberry Finn’s advice and just do what we feel like, he still believes that right and wrong exist. He just chooses not to make the right choice.
    • So, we still haven’t worked out how to know what’s right and what’s wrong. Maybe the best thing to do is to follow what other people do. If all of us decide to make a certain choice then that must be the right choice. Do you agree?
    • The trouble with doing what other people do, is that they sometimes get things wrong too. So, if everyone in your class decided to go out and set fire to a building, would that make it right? Or if everyone in a country decided to treat people who were a different colour differently, would that be right?
    • Two other writers also have something to say about right and wrong. Leo Tolstoy, who wrote a book called War and Peace, said:
  • [PowerPoint slide 17]
    • ‘Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.’ Leo Tolstoy, A Confession.
    • And putting it another way, a Christian philosopher called St Augustine, born in 354 AD, said:
  • [PowerPoint slide 18]
    • ‘Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.’ Augustine of Hippo.
    • So if we agree with Hercule Poirot that there is a difference between right and wrong, and if we agree that living selfishly or following the crowd are not always the best way to live, we are left with the question, how do we know what is right and what is wrong?
    • It’s good to get advice from our families, our friends and people we trust. It’s also good to research advice from trustworthy sources. Christians believe that God helps people know right from wrong, and gives them the courage to make the right choice. In the Old Testament, in a poem called Psalm 119, it says:
  • [PowerPoint slide 19]
    • ‘Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are my constant guide. Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your laws. I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments. I have refused to walk on any evil path, so that I may remain obedient to your word. I haven’t turned away from your regulations, for you have taught me well. How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.  Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life.’ (Psalm 119:98-104 NLT)
    • Choosing between right and wrong is not easy. Life is not like a sum and the answer is not always obvious. In a perfect world, we would know exactly what to do at all times, we would be like Hercule Poirot, but the world is not perfect, and the Bible says that God helps people know what is right and what is wrong. Did you notice the verse about honey?
  • [PowerPoint slide 20]
    • ‘How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.’
    • Making choices can be hard work, but this verse is reminding anyone who reads it that when we find help and discover the right choice, we feel good and satisfied. We don’t live in a perfect world, but we can make good choices with help from other people, the Bible and God.
    • The question we are left with is whether or not we have the courage to really think for ourselves about what is right and what is wrong, and to act on it, even when it’s unpopular, or means things are not so comfortable for us.
  • [PowerPoint slide 21]
    • Do you have the courage to make the right choices?

Headings and Bullets

Download the Murder on the Orient Express PowerPoint for use with this talk.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Arithmetic;
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • 7 +8 = ?
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • 7 +8 = 15
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • 9 x 6 = ?
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • 9 x 6 = 54
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • 110 ÷ 11= ?
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • 110 ÷ 11= 10
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • 3982 – 456 = ?
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • 3982 – 456 = 3526
    • One right answer;
    • There are lots of possible wrong answers, but only one that is right.
    • So, I could tell you that 7 + 8 = 14, but even if I argued well and made some of you believe me, the answer would still be wrong.
    • In arithmetic, right and wrong are clear.
    • Life decisions are harder;
    • Right and wrong are not straightforward.
    • Let’s try and work out one of those.
  • [PowerPoint slide 10]
    • A person kills a puppy. Is that a right or a wrong action? [Take a show of hands].
  • [PowerPoint slide 11]
    • A person kills a puppy by hitting the dog with their car. Is that a right or a wrong action? [Take a show of hands].
  • [PowerPoint slide 12]
    • A person kills a puppy by hitting the dog with their car when the puppy runs out into the road in front of them and they don’t see the dog until it’s too late. Is that a right or a wrong action? [Take a show of hands].
  • [PowerPoint slide 13]
    • A person kills a puppy by hitting the dog with their car when the puppy runs out into the road in front of them. The puppy is followed by a child and the only way the driver can avoid hitting the child is to swerve towards the puppy. Is that a right or a wrong action? [Take a show of hands].
    • Decisions about what is right and wrong are not as straightforward as arithmetic problems.
    • It can be hard to know what is right and what is wrong.
    • The decisions we make are affected by the circumstances we are in.
  • [PowerPoint slide 14]
    • The famous detective, Hercule Poirot, has to solve a case of murder where there are twelve suspects.
    • At the beginning of the film, Poirot explains how he views right and wrong.
    • Play the clip from Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox, 2017, cert 12).
  • [PowerPoint slide 15]
    • Hercule Poirot believes strongly in right and wrong.
    • ‘Whatever people say, there is right and there is wrong, there is nothing in between.’
    • He also said that he only ever sees the world as it should be.
    • For Poirot there is no room for arguing about circumstances.
    • The problem:
    • In a perfect world, a world where everything is as it should be, Poirot’s definition of right and wrong makes sense.
    • The problem is that we do not live in a world where everything is perfect.
    • Bad things happen.
    • People make mistakes.
    • People make choices that hurt other people.
    • So, does that mean that right and wrong don’t matter?
  • [PowerPoint slide 16]
    • ‘What’s the use you learning to do right when it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?’ Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
    • Huckleberry Finn:
    • You should just do what is easiest for you and not care about anyone else.
    • Because he is always getting punished, even when he does the right thing, he has decided that he might as well do whatever is easier for him.
    • If we all lived like that then nobody could ever trust anybody else.
    • It may be easier to not care about right and wrong, but it’s a fairly selfish way of living, and can lead to other people getting hurt.
    • Even Huckleberry Finn believes that right and wrong exist. He just chooses not to make the right choice.
    • Following other people:
    • We still haven’t worked out how to know what’s right and what’s wrong.
    • If all of us decide to make a certain choice then that must be the right choice.
    • Do you agree?
    • The trouble with doing what other people do, is that they sometimes get things wrong too.
    • Examples – vandalism, racism.
    • Two quotes:
  • [PowerPoint slide 17]
    • ‘Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.’ Leo Tolstoy, A Confession.
  • [PowerPoint slide 18]
    • ‘Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.’ Augustine of Hippo.
    • How do we know what’s right or wrong?
    • Get advice from our families, our friends and people we trust.
    • Research advice from trustworthy sources.
    • Christians believe that God helps people know right from wrong, and gives them the courage to make the right choice. Read Psalm 119:98-104:
  • [PowerPoint slide 19]
    • ‘Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are my constant guide. Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your laws. I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments. I have refused to walk on any evil path, so that I may remain obedient to your word. I haven’t turned away from your regulations, for you have taught me well. How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey. Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life.’
    • Words like honey;
  • [PowerPoint slide 20]
    • ‘How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.’ 
    • Choosing between right and wrong is not easy.
    • Life is not like a sum and the answer is not always obvious.
    • In a perfect world, we would know exactly what to do at all times.
    • The Bible says that God helps people know what is right and what is wrong.
    • When we find help and discover the right choice, we feel good and satisfied.
    • We don’t live in a perfect world, but we can make good choices with help from other people, the Bible and God.
    • One final question:
  • [PowerPoint slide 21]
    • Do you have the courage to make the right choices?

Photo copyright for Murder on the Orient Express PowerPoint: Slide 1 20th Century Fox / Slides 2-9 Pixabay.com / Slide 10 Juegos Olimpicos 2012 / Slide 11 Pixabay.com / Slide 12 Pixabay.com / Slide 13 Pixabay.com / Slide 14 20th Century Fox / Slide 15 20th Century Fox / Slide 16 Public domain  / Slide 17 Public domain / Slide 18 Public domain / Slide 19 Pixabay.com / Slide 20 Pixabay.com / Slide 21 20th Century Fox 


RESPOND

Prayer

  • Father God, help us to make good choices today. Teach us how to know right from wrong. Help us to listen to good advice and ignore the pressure that we face from other people and the media to do or think the wrong thing. Amen.

Reflection

  • [PowerPoint slide 21]
    • Ask the students to consider the question: do you have the courage to make the right choices?

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. A copy of Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox, 2017, cert 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. Murder on the Orient Express PowerPoint.

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