Thursday, January 31, 2008

MOVIE—Lord, Save Us From Your Followers

Our home community has talked recently about the role of risk-taking in Christian faith; appropriately, this documentary presents some major risks that American Christians often don't take. Loving those who offend us, for example. We like justice, we like things done right, and we like... winning. We risk losing those things by giving grace and love too liberally to (as in the film) skeptical Jews, queer "nuns," those bacchanalian Reedies, and so on. Inveterate fears of being rejected, betrayed, and hurt, also present themselves, as does the popularity factor—most folks don't love so radically. And this is precisely what the film suggests we do.

A corollary risk involves engaging opposing minds in open discussion, and actually listening to them. Sure, it's easy to clam up intellectually when you think you have the Truth. You're set! What else do you need to know? But the filmmakers noticed the clouds of hostility swarming around (and within) American religion; somehow the gospel isn't panning out like it should. The "Bumper-Sticker Man" gimmick was, I think, effective despite its theatrics: what if we actually conversed about important issues, rather than lobbing ideological barbs from an unsympathetic distance? I like it!

Third, Lord, Save Us From Your Followers encourages us to take a chance by identifying and examining our own faults. Obviously, this can be an uncomfortable process. It involves honesty, sensitivity, and humility. The movie is hopeful that doing this will enable us to better love threatening individuals, and to constructively interact with them.

I know this kind of message can easily fall into trite pleas (Why can't we be friends? All you need is love! Can't we all just get along?), but LSUFYF avoids this trap. It is asking us to consider how our beliefs translate to action, how the gospel affects our social and personal relations—and love is central to the gospel!

Other thoughts:

Jesus commanded, "love your enemies," not "make friends with everyone;" and I believe the film catches this distinction.

I wonder how the contestants for the game show were selected; I don't think it was rigged, but it almost seemed like they tried to find highly intelligent non-believers, but didn't exactly do so with the Christians (At least, that's the impression I got. Or maybe it's only me wanting to believe that Christians are not that dull). In any case, the game show drove home the point that perhaps we as the church could do a better job of relating to outsiders. Note that this does NOT necessarily mean steeping ourselves in secular culture—of course it's helpful to know where someone is coming from, but it disturbs me when Christians grow enamored with trying to experience "the real world." Too often it's just a convenient excuse to divorce faith from action.

Well, that's all I'll say about the film for now.

Go see it!! For free! Feb 5, Lewis & Clark College, 7:30pm. Coming to theaters "soon."


annie skroski said...

I agree whole heartedly, and I like the tie-in with risk taking. The movie kind of proves Christians in general aren't taking risk and instead sheltering themselves from the rest of the world. As seen by the game show, Christians know the truth the stand for and make it known to other people, but don't listen to any beliefs that aren't our own. It's like we're afraid to hear it because it may make a little sense.

The part I think the I appreciated the most from the movie makers, was during Q&A that Christians have hit so hard on the Truth part, it's time to swing the pendulum back to focus more on grace and love. Not compromising Truth by any means, but love has been absent in a lot of ways.

As for the Christian game show contestants being not as intelligent, Leisha knows most of them. She could probably answer that.

Leisha said...

I do in fact know most of them, having worked quite closely with two of them in a past profession. I can speak to them all being highly intelligent individuals, very passionate about Christianity and Republican politics. I would say that they are perfectly poised to represent the "Religious Right" and still be young enough to have a fighting chance of knowing the culture. Or not, as it turns out.

thatoneguy said...

I think the film takes issue less with Christians being sheltered than it does with their (our)unwillingness to seek common understandings(or even acknowledge common ground that already exists) with different people. The two approaches are similar, I guess, but not entirely the same.

Truth AND grace. Yes. Although, I'm not sure a pendulum is the best metaphor, since one doesn't necessarily come at the expense of the other. But the overall point is well taken.

Leisha, just to clarify, do you know most of the Christian game show contestants on the first team, or on both?

Leisha said...

the first team