26 01 2009

I have to tell you it is a surreal experience to stumble around the Internet and discover thoughtful words of kindness or abrupt words of anger describing the creative work that has consumed my last four years. Of course, I enjoy and much prefer the kind words of understanding, agreement and considerate challenge. The journey of Lord, Save Us From Your Followers became much more than the creation of a film project or the writing of a book. The road became one where many of my beliefs were challenged or more accurately, my own lack of concrete belief in, well, uh, my beliefs was exposed. Now expressing that to the world wasn’t as hard as I thought – there is a simplicity to forging ahead, telling the truth, admitting you don’t know everything and trusting in this Grace and Truth I say I follow. The freedom that comes from surrender is, in fact, exhilarating.
As you can probably imagine, the writing of a book and the editing of a film is a fairly solitary endeavor. The publisher and book editor may have or thought or two, and the editing of the film is pretty much two guys in a dark room staring at the flickering screen. The point is I really wasn’t sure what kind of a reception Lord, Save Us From Your Followers would have. The former Clash t-shirt wearing punk rock fan in me is very comfortable with provoking thought. But the big hearted Jesus lover in me wanted the byproduct of that provocation to be positive. I’m so tired of all the bomb throwers trying to be right all the time that I just want to curl up on the sidewalk. In this case, my version of curling up on the sidewalk meant directing a feature documentary film and writing a book, but you understand the sentiment.
As an analog based creative person who still swears that his Exile on Main Street sounds better on vinyl than it does on his iPod, I’ve been fascinated by the interconnection of commentators and pundits on the web. The random comments and reviews have been a cyber affirmation of the reactions that I’ve been finding as I travel around the country screening Lord, Save Us From Your Followers at churches, colleges and in theaters. Of course, on the web I can’t see the tears in the eyes of people who have been deeply moved by the film, but the Internet commentators are adept at sharing in their own way. I’ve also been surprised that despite the cloak of anonymity the ratio of positive to negative comments is just about the same as it is at any venue I’ve screen the film – which seems to be about 85%-15% positive. Most people seem to appreciate the opportunity to consider why they believe what they believe and most people, after having seen the film or read the book, clearly understand where we’re coming from. Hah. But I suppose you’d have to be me to truly appreciate what the understanding and affirmation of our effort means. There were times when I was up alone late at night typing or when Jim and I were crafting a scene in the edit bay where I wondered if I was the only person who felt this way. Was I only the one asking these questions? Was I the only one who thought maybe, just maybe, we could step it up a notch so that when people thought of Christians they’d also think of Jesus? Turns out, I’m not the only one. Duh. I know, but I truly didn’t expect to feel like the persona Sting adopts in The Police classic “Message In A Bottle”. Remember, he throws his desperate S.O.S. out to sea and “a hundred million bottles” wash up on the beach on his lonely island. Corny? Yeah, but it feels good.
In recent days, these two random posts gave me great encouragement: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/recommendation-and-review-lord-save-us-from-your-followers which devoted 800 or so thoughtful words to examining the movie and http://corrienteministries.org/blog/2008/06/27/movie-review-lord-save-us-from-your-followers/ which commented on both the book and movie, apparently last summer sometime. I was encouraged by the twenty or so follow up comments on the Internet Monk post because I could read for myself the positive conversation the mere discussion of Lord, Save Us… had provoked. In making this film the goal wasn’t to create the greatest documentary in the history of cinema (happy coincidence I guess – THAT’S A JOKE!), it was to spark a healthy, robust conversation that leads to action and change outside the church, inside the church, inside my heart, heck, anywhere that needs changing.
So thanks to all for contributing to the conversation and I’ll look forward continuing to expand this conversation in our own little way as Lord, Save Us From Your Followers finally gets a wider release this Spring and Summer.