* * * * *
The faith movie we've all been waiting for!
Published on March 25, 2011, by Ben Brangwyn
If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have believed it - faith leaders speaking with one voice on the ecological and social crises of our time
In a world where conflict between faiths looms large in our history school books, this movie truly demonstrates that these disparate faiths have far more in common with each other than differences. And they demonstrate how all and any of these differences will be swept aside in their collective efforts to address the bewildering ecological and social crises engulfing both the developed and the developing worlds.
And all this at the very time that accelerating fossil fuel depletion threatens to dramatically reduce our collective and personal resilience levels.
What's remarkable about this movie is that it isn't in any way preachy. I'll repeat that: these religious leaders are not demonstrating any sanctimony or self-righteousness whatsoever. What also surprised me was the absence of oneupmanship - I was half-expecting to see some competition between the faiths as they touted their green and social justice credentials. But it didn't come across that way.
It helps that there's almost an equal number of women and men in the movie, but that's not the key to the complete absence of a "holier than thou" sentiment.
He described it as if it were a traumatic truth that he'd protected himself from. When all rational avenues for his denial had been disproved, he'd then reluctantly slogged through an irresistable and painful path through anger and grief all the way to acceptance and action. It was a narrative that surely will be played out by the millions if we're to align our efforts and work together.
It's clear that the audience for this movie is not just those of us in developed economies - to whom it issues an unequivocal challenge. It's also a warning to those nations heading in the same direction that we took. It asserts that the path of high consumption, the worship of money and status and all those extrinsic values espoused by those societies that are causing the greatest ecological impact is not a path to human fulfillment or wellbeing.
I'm not a conventionally religious man myself, and I have well-developed hypocrisy antennae that become super-sensitive around any kind of religious event or activity. That sensor was knocked right off course by one of the most unexpected moments in the movie - a person of no religious persuasion at all is given equal prominence to voice her views and aspirations on these critical matters.
Step for the first time across the threshold of a mosque and engage the imam in conversation, hand him the DVD and let him know if he shows it you'd like to bring your family.
Take a deep breath and step into the hushed spaces beneath the soaring arches of the church you recognise from your childhood, find the person who leads that congregation by example and convince her that this movie will give each person a sense of purpose and mission that will move mountains.
Better still, look the landlord of the local pub right in the eyes, smile and invite him to give his flock a thrill that no soccer fixture can equal - making sure, of course, you choose a day when there are no FA cup matches.
If we're going to be doing a bit of leading ourselves - and we'll have to - we all have to step out of our "comfort zone" and into our "learning zone". But let's go gently and not be too bold and step blithely in the "panic zone" - no one'll accompany you there, and you'll need people right by your side. We all do, especially now.
How to get hold of this movie
There is one other key point about this movie. It hasn't been made yet.
It hasn't been scripted, it hasn't been filmed. No sound technicians have struggled with the acoustics of a church or mosque. No one's doodled on a sketch pad to figure out the DVD cover. No carefully crafted letters have gone out to faith leaders. It doesn't have a name yet and it certainly doesn't have a budget.
Why not? Good question, and I don't know if there's a plausible or acceptable answer. There's just a HUGE vacuum that we need these men and women to fill, collectively, arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, in a unified message that holds out a welcoming hand to steady us as we stumble through very difficult territory.
Meanwhile, the shadow moves inexorably across the sundial . . .
This first breath is a call to our religious leaders, all of you, to step up to the challenge and breathe life into this little idea that could show us what authentic leadership is all about, empowering each of us to manifest just such leadership as we reshape our lives, our communities, our institutions and our world. Over to you.
* * * * *Many thanks to Ben for this post and for his inspiring idea - please pass it on to anyone who might be able to help make it a reality.
* * * * *
If you want to post a comment, and are having technical difficulties, you can email your comment to me at Good.Lives@woodbrooke.org.uk and I can post it for you.
If you are reader from outside the UK, please remember to post your comment in English - I won't post anything if I don't know what it says.