True Engagement Shouldn’t Be A Happy Accident
By Dan Merchant
Lord Save from Your Followers
Before I embarked on the Lord, Save Us journey I didn’t have a long personal history of being particularly open about my faith. I hoped that actions would speak louder than words, and for the most part that seemed to be true. On the rare occasions where someone would ask me – point blank – about what I believed or why I believed it I was truly amazed at the deep and meaningful engagement. What I didn’t understand years ago is that most people are interested in talking about these subjects. Most of us have wondered about the big questions, we all think about them, we all have an opinion, widely varying, diverse opinions, but those rich conversations seemed too rare and occurred more like happy accidents. I suppose this is at the root of why I designed Lord, Save Us From Your Followers to be a conversation starter. Was it possible start these conversations with each other in a way that didn’t lead to harsh words, hurt feelings and blood shed? Was that really possible or should I shut up and be content with the occasional “happy accident” conversation? The good news turns out to be that the conversation is possible if we are willing to engage.
Now that the film is available on DVD one of the truly amazing things about the reception Lord Save Us From Your Followers has received is embodied in the kind of responses I’m getting from such a wide range of beliefs. Here are excerpts from a few notes from people who don’t believe what I do. I can’t tell you how good it feels to connect with and learn from these fellow image bearers of God.
I am not a believer in God or Religion because of the world I witness and the treatment of my friends and others in the world. I just watched your movie and I am FLOORED. The whole movie was GREAT! The last 40 minutes when you held the confession booth hit me very hard. I am not gay, but I have many gay friends who have been hurt by the religious and the hatred projected by them so your movie really moved me.
“I don’t think I will move to a religious life any time soon, but I definitely felt something powerful because of your movie. You and your crew have really made something special. I will be asking all of my friends (Religious and non-religious) to watch your film.”
“I really just wish that others would watch your movie and take away your final message. It is all about Love, Forgiveness, and caring. If more people believe that and put it to practice I think this country and world would be a better place.”
“I watched “Lord Save Us From Your Followers” a few days ago and wanted to say thank you for it. Growing up an atheistic/agnostic Russian Jewish immigrant in the South, I’ve had my share of less than desirable interactions with people who identified themselves as Christians, beginning with 1st or 2nd grade when I would get in trouble with teachers for NOT saying the “under God” part of the pledge of allegiance. It is nice to see examples of folks who are willing to reflect on their own behavior.”
“Atheist queer here. Think you inspired me and my partner to volunteer. Great film. Good message. I’m sure your god digs it… We did.”
I don’t share this to be self-serving, just to illustrate the point that conversations are out there in places we don’t expect. People who believe differently than we do are still moved and intrigued by the same things that move and intrigue us. Stop to take a look around your office or neighborhood or school and know that a conversation is possible with anyone that crosses your path or crosses mind. And also consider it’s probably not an accident when a particular someone does cross your path or cross you mind. Be open and let the wonderful surprises begin.
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