Wednesday, September 19, 2007

For Starters

What's up with our fascination with movies? There are more new multi-theater multiplexes being built than church buildings. (although we have figured out how to use those buildings on Sunday mornings) Research says that there is no difference between the movie habits of Christians and non-Christians.

So I'm reading about movies on Christianity Today's website, and they have a feature review for the PG-13 movie, "Mr. Woodcock." That's fine, I think it's good to be informed about what is happening in culture - if you can call this culture. Don't get me wrong, I'm not protesting this movie - I haven't seen it - I haven't read the script - it's a first-time director, but I don't think I would design small group curriculum around it.

So why does Christianity Today write "discussion starters" for a movie they give 1 1/2 stars?

1. Mr. Woodcock says the word "sorry" is only for "criminals and screw-ups." Do you agree or disagree? Would you apply those words the same way Mr. Woodcock applies them, or differently? In what way might we all be "criminals and screw-ups"?

2. In what ways might the hard line toed by Mr. Woodcock be a sign of strength? In what ways might it be a sign of weakness? In what ways might weakness, itself, be a sign of strength? Note how the film suggests it takes "backbone" to say "sorry."

3. John says his book has been helpful to people, and Mr. Woodcock replies, "Lot of losers out there, I guess." When have you been tempted to dismiss people as "losers"? Why do you think people tend to look at others that way? Do you (or did you) ever see yourself as a "loser"? If so, in what way? And how do you/did you deal with it?

4. Beverly is in a relationship and has not told her son; and once her son finds out, she is reluctant to accept her son's criticisms of Mr. Woodcock. How do you think single parents should approach new relationships, after their children have matured to adulthood? How would you respond if you had a mother like Beverly? A son like John? Do you "buy" the relationship between Beverly and Mr. Woodcock? What do you think it is based on?

5. How difficult do you think it is for people to relate to parents and teachers as fellow adults, after they have grown up? How has your relationship to human authority figures changed over the years? Have these changes affected the way you see your relationship with the ultimate Authority, i.e. God? If so, how?

6. At the beginning of the film, John has published a book encouraging people to "get past your past." By the end of the film, he is saying that people should "embrace" their past. If you had to choose between these options, which would you choose? Do you think you have to choose between them? What are their pros and cons?

Is this an outreach strategy? Have we run out of content that we have to look to Mr. Woodcock? At least CT didn't write discussion questions for "I now Pronounce You Churck & Larry" - or did they?

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