Lunchbox Recommends... Lord, Save Us From Your Followers

I remember being in the tenth grade of the Christian school I attended, and being given an hour's reprieve from our regularly scheduled algebra class to listen to a week's worth of lectures on the evils of rock and roll music. I'm sure it's not much of a shock to hear of a such a school (especially one associated with the Bob Jones University curriculum) to teach and preach against rock music, dancing, movies and anything else deemed "un-Christian." The issue, however, wasn't so much a matter of teaching impressionable minds an understanding of the dangers in morally ambiguous lyrics as it was the fact the five hours were to be spent learning how to convince "sinful" listeners of secular music how wrong they were and why they would spend an eternity in hell because of it unless they repented right there and then.

This was the memory I recalled as I watched the documentary Lord, Save Us From Your Followers last week at a screening held at Ecclesia where Ashley and I attend. In the movie, director Dan Merchant attempts to demonstrate the reality of where faith and culture stand on the matter of what it means to be a Christian in today's society.

Merchant employs several disarming tactics in drawing out the everyday person's opinions like covering himself in bumper stickers filled with religious slogans that reduce faith to clever marketing, and then using their messages as a jumping off point to spur discussion with those he interviews. Of course there is a wide range of opinion on what being a Christian symbolizes ranging from a conservative quasi-political faction to those that do unto others and everything in between, but there is one common thread that is sadly not recognize consistently. Very few people see Christians as accepting and loving in the same vein as what Christ intended the church to be.

The film fills the gaps between “Bumpersticker Man's” street conversations with blurbs by the talking heads representing the various points of view in mainstream media, Rick Warren, Al Franken, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Pat Robertson, Rick Santorum, and the list goes on as it demonstrates how those commonly associated with the secular contingent actually have a better understanding of the tolerance and connection needed dealing with the issues of our day.

Merchant takes this point a step further by conducting a mock game show pitting liberals against conservatives in their knowledge of moral and social issues affecting us such as abortion, and homosexuality. The results weren't just predictable, they were shocking as the conservative groups were whipped soundly in two iterations looking borderline ignorant in the level of understanding.

However, what occurred in the aftermath also demonstrated a solution of sorts to the rift created by the popular image of judgmental, hypocritical followers of Jesus. Following the rounds the liberals and conservatives sat down and... well, they talked. Pure and simple, they got together and learned who the other was, which becomes one of the premises of the film encouraging a dialogue instead of the divisions separating us today.

Particularly touching for me was the story of a transvestite Catholic nun known as Sister Timothy. Sister Timothy is first introduced during a protest against a Christian youth movement being held in San Francisco. Dressed in an extravagant nun outfit and with a painted white face, Sister Timothy appears like an over-the-top freak shouting in fervent opposition at a group of Christians gathered on the steps of City Hall. Later I learned the fuller and tragic background of Sister Timothy, who I laughed at earlier in the movie. I choked up while feeling the guilt of condemning someone without even considering his need for the compassion of Christ - a compassion that should be demonstrated by my actions and the actions of a Christian.

My tenth-grade training sessions on combating the listeners of rock and roll was not an isolated incident. I spent most of my teen life in a Christian sub-culture that surrounded itself with safety and familiarity while fixating on petty issues and bludgeoning others into a conversion experience from behind a wall of insecurity. An approach resulting in a two-fold recipe for disaster as it alienated those in need from the Christ's love through us while at the same time disillusioning those many of us trained to argue and convert because all those bible verses and arguments held little weight when dealing with the real world. Sadly, I remember a former school teacher lamenting to me how for an institution dedicated to producing the next generation of preachers, missionaries and school teachers, the actual results were depressing with only a handful of graduates heading in that direction (many of whom later changed their minds), while the larger majority seemed to be having trouble using anything they were taught if they were even a practicing Christian at all.

I didn't know the answer at the time, but what had been missing was love. Not once do I recall ever learning what it meant to show compassion to someone in need. I knew how to argue it and all the places where Jesus mentioned it, but I didn't have the first clue how to put it in action. In a sense my experience underscores what Merchant brings to the screen in that I was part of the very movement synonymous with the poor representation Christianity has earned today. As I put it in an email exchange with Mr. Merchant I'd been there, done that and have all the church camp t-shirts to prove it. Now it's taken nearly seventeen years away from organized religion so I could get to the point where I recognize how much I've hindered the Kingdom by laughing at Sister Timothy instead of showing love to him and to others even when I don't want to.

Lord, Save Us From Your Followers encapsulated my experience immersed in a Christian culture isolated in it's handicapped beliefs, but it also shows the power in shedding that image choosing instead to put Christ's love into action, and demonstrating the true meaning of what it means to be Christ-like as a Christian.

PS. Right now Dan Merchant is looking to demonstrate to Hollywood that people would go see this movie in theatres and as such, is conducting as many screenings as possible. In conjunction with his efforts he's hoping to get the word out through other outlets such as Facebook, Myspace, etc. If you can, pass this review on, tell someone else, look to set up a showing at your church or even purchase copies of the movie and hold screening of your own with family and friends. To learn more check out the official web page.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Ads Section

Ads Section

  © Blogger templates Newspaper by 2008

Back to TOP