Sunday, May 19, 2013
Purple State of Craig
Because the conversation continues….
“Muslims kill 500 Christians in Nigeria” made headlines recently. Would it have garnered as much attention if the story was, “Christians killing Muslims in Nigeria?” Those were the reports in the same region in 2008. For over a decade, a battle has raged across northern Nigeria between Christian Tarok farmers and Muslim Hausa cattle herders. The Jos region hasn’t succombed to all out genocide yet, but I wonder how the cycle of violence and recriminations can be healed.
Next week, I’ll be in Indonesia for a conference on “Songs of Peace and Reconciliation.” How do Muslims and Christians co-exist in the most populous Muslim nation on the planet? President Obama may have postponed his trip to Indonesia, but we are moving forward with concerts and discussions aimed at forging common ground. It doesn’t mean participants will set aside their core beliefs. But they are at least willing to see and hear from each other. The Indonesia meeting will form the second half of a documentary I started in Lebanon last year. I’m grateful for this timely opportunity made possible by a grant from the Luce foundation.
As Easter approaches, I am quite thankful for the tangible example of forgiveness captured in the award-winning documentary, As We Forgive. Laura Waters Hinson won the Student Academy Award for this stirling example of how Rwanda has begun to reconcile as a nation. Victims and perpetrators from the horrific genocide are figuring out how to forgive (while never forgetting).
Laura invited me to join her 40 Days of 4Giveness campaign. The hope is to raise awareness and funds for housebuilding in Rwanda. For the season of Lent, writers and bloggers are reflecting on forgiveness. I’ve contributed a piece on ‘forgiveness and films.’ So check it out and see the remarkable movie, As We Forgive. Surely we need it in Rwanda, in Nigeria, in Indonesia, in the United States’ Congress.
by John Priddy
We are proud to have an encore showing of one of our Windy Wednesday Windrider WinterFest series films that received a great deal of positive feedback: “Driftwood”, by Michelle Steffes. With this highly acclaimed, 19-minute, family friendly drama, we invite you to explore a new take on an old tale — about the search for love, the pain of longing, and the surprising power of a wish.
“Steffes’ inventive short navigates the delicate balance between finding the courage to fulfill a wish and choosing between one’s own happiness and that of others.”
– Director Monika Moreno, Angelus Student Film Festival
“2009 was my third time screening a film at a Windrider function, and it’s always a fantastic experience. It’s very rare to find a conversation about faith and film with the depth that is demonstrated at Windrider.”
– Michelle Steffes
A Brief Synopsis:
Blaire Farrow has grown tired of her job as a client liaison for a wish-granting foundation. She and her co-worker Jimmy bicker every day, and she hasn’t had a date in what feels like centuries. When Farrow decides to take in a handsome amnesiac, she thinks she’s found everything she’s ever wanted. But, there may be strings attached.
My Personal Reflections about this Film:
This special film is a well-written, beautifully shot, conversation-starting story about love, longing and wishes. Not only does “Driftwood” stand on its own merits for great storytelling and cinematic excellence, but both film and filmmaker are a part of our own “wishes come true” at Windrider. Here’s just a part of the story:
Angelus alumnus Destin Daniel Cretton met Michelle Steffes at Windrider Sundance 2008. Their “chance” meeting led to a collaborative effort on “Short Term 12″ (http://www.shortterm12.com/), the 2009 Grand Prize award winner for short filmmaking at Sundance Film Festival.
With all we dreamed of back in 2003 when we launched Windrider — our modest “Windy” endeavor — I don’t think we even thought of wishing our small forum could be used in such a big way. We hoped we could create an event at Sundance where people of faith could engage, and thereby enliven the dialogue about film and beyond. We dreamed we could find films with great potential for artistic excellence and insight that would open up theological possibilities, often by focusing on hidden aspects of the human experience. We wished we could bring local community partners (who serve as hosts and event organizers) together with films, filmmakers and their audiences. All our hopes/dreams/wishes have come true!
Please enjoy “Driftwood.” And as you do, think about your own wishes and all the times they’ve come true. Then, think about occasions when you’ve received something even greater than what you wished for. Steffes and “Driftwood” represent that to me.
Noted Screenings, Honors:
“Driftwood” (http://www.driftwoodthemovie.com/movie.htm) is an Angelus live-action semi-finalist and the second short film for writer/director/producer Michelle Steffes. The film was developed at the Directing Workshop for Women at the American Film Institute and featured at Windrider Colorado Springs in 2007 and Windrider Sundance 2008.
Grand Prize winner of the Audience Choice Award for Best Short at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, “Driftwood” has also played at the L.A. Shorts Fest, the Sonoma Valley Film Festival, and the Savannah Film Festival.
A Taylor graduate, Steffes served as director of development for Larger than Life at Universal Studios — Gary Ross’ production company (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) — before leaving to pursue her writing and directing goals full time. She and writing partner, Timothy Lundgren, are currently working on their second psychological thriller.
The democratization of information epitomized by Google’s all powerful search engines drove a recent conference at Claremont School of Theology. Philip Clayton and Tripp Fuller hosted the Theology After Google conference in connection with a recent book and their current class on the future of theology in a wired world. This ‘eclectic’ gathering got some solid coverage in the LA Times.
All the presenters were encouraged to follow TED rules, keeping our sessions short and spicy. I unfurled a talk rooted in my new book, Halos and Avatars: Playing Video Games with God. What a privilege to honor my ace editor, Jana Riess, and a key contributor, Heidi Campbell, who were in the audience.
Theology After Google was a great time to reconnect with friends and bloggers like Ryan Parker, Tony Jones, Steve Knight, Jana Riess, Doug Pagitt, Spencer Burke, Heidi Campbell, Barry Taylor, and John La Grou. That’s alot of creativity energy in one room! The subtext of the event was why have progressive Christians been so slow to incorporate new media into their ministries. Amongst the core issues Philip Clayton raised to frame the conversation:
• Theology is not something you consume, but something you produce.
• No institutions, and very few persons, function as authorities for theology after Google.
• Theology after Google is not centralized and localized to a single church building.
• The new Christian leader is a host, not an authority.
• Theology after Google does not divide up the world into the “sacred” and the “secular.”
Amidst a flurry of live tweets, one sharp talk I heard stood out. Jonathan Walton of UC Riverside did not bring a powerpoint presentation. He didn’t rely upon a film clip. Instead, he challenged those of us who tweet, blog, and make a general public spectacle of our private lives to bring things back home. Perhaps we need to tell our 800 Facebook friends that we’re taking a break to spend time with our 1 wife. Snap!
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