izhilzha (izhilzha) wrote,

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A Purple State of Mind (book review)

I recently heard a man named Craig Detweiler speak--he's a professor of film at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, and a filmmaker himself.

His latest film (A Purple State of Mind) is a documentary recording of four conversations between Craig and John Marks, his one-time college roommate who left Christianity around the same time as Craig really entered it.

Welcome to a conversation between two old friends. Welcome to a real conversation about the things that divide - and unite - all of us: our memories, our identities, our beliefs, our choices. Craig Detweiler and John Marks have known each other for twenty five years. When they roomed together as college sophomores, they were devout Christians. It was Craig's first year in the faith, John's last. After graduation, they parted ways, and when they met again years later, they never talked about what had happened. Until now. Their conversation starts as a bull session between pals and becomes a story about how people make friends, and lose them; how people change, how they grow, and how they deal with the big stuff: death, sex, the meaning of life, God. The conversation between Craig and John captures in all its intimacy and difficulty a one-on-one reckoning between two people who want to understand each other but without compromising their personal beliefs. At a time when our country is increasingly divided over questions of faith, spirituality, morality and the very meaning of life, here's a film that says welcome - to a new way of talking, a new meeting of the mind and heart. Welcome to a Purple State of Mind.

I would recommend this film to anyone who is sick and tired of people bickering instead of trying to understand each other's beliefs and viewpoints--it's a story of questions and relationships, not answers.

Craig wrote a book as a companion piece to the film (A Purple State of Mind: Finding Middle Ground in a Divided Culture), and this I would recommend mostly to my fellow Christians, especially if you've had a difficult time trying to reach a balance of conversation without compromise. Craig has a lot to say about the ineffectiveness of the so-called 'culture war,' and I have to admire his dogged determination to tell the truth, but with the emphasis on love. This is a balance I've been struggling to find in my own life, and that I see a grievous lack of in the modern American church. It has been a breath of fresh air to realize that I am not alone in this perception; and that I am not alone in the ways God has been urging me to reach out to others, finding the places where we agree first, rather than where we disagree; making friends rather than enemies; understanding rather than trying to be understood.

St. Francis of Assisi, back in the day, understood this.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen. May we all come to understand this, and live it.
Tags: books, church, contemplative, godstuff, review, the industry

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