Lord, Save Us From Your Followers is a documentary on the church, Christians and American Christianity today. Dan Merchant examines the things that drive people away from the church, and things that confuse him about Christianity today. He mostly focuses on how people are willing and ready to force their views with slogans and quick quips rather than engaging in loving and respectful discussion. At one point, Rick Warren says that he believes that “the church is the body of Christ, but for the last fifty years the legs and hands have been amputated and all it’s been is one big mouth.” That statement really embodies what Dan ends up discovering throughout his journey out of rhetoric and into conversations.
Context, context, context.
How you frame discussions matters. In the movie, Dan wears a suit plastered with bumper stickers and begs people to talk about any one of them with him. He gives the sense that without this conversation we are simply beating others over the head with your thoughts. He lifts up comments by Bill Maher, who is right, right, right, and some comments of Jon Stewart. Bill Maher talks about how Christ is the ultimate role model, but Christians are nothing like Him. Jon Stewart talks about how context and the way we present information can be brainwashing, dangerous. Presenting opinions as facts can be devastating, and I would add that it can be even more devastating in the church.
Anger and Turning the Tables
Protests, war-like language, and Ann Coulter oh my! Dan spends a good amount of time talking about how we speak to other people and the language Christians use. A lot of the movie he talks about how we talk to others, but even more important is that he spends time talking with humility and honesty. Isolation, us and them mentality and a loud mouth with no ears is something that Dan believes makes the church appear angry, hateful and well, stupid. The separation that the hate and anger causes is creating tension and more misunderstanding and more anger. In the midst of the movie, Dan set up a game that was called culture wars. The left and the right religiously and politically were asked questions about each others culture. During the game, they spoke matter-of-factly and quite brashly. At the end, however, the two teams spent over two hours talking after the show and finding middle ground in a peaceful and understanding, even if not agreeing, fashion. All in all, the main point made is that Jesus never advocated being “righter” and being louder, but being more peaceful and loving -regardless of what we want.
The Confession Booth
My favorite part of the movie is the part where Dan sets up a confession booth. This wasn’t a normal confession booth in that when one walks in, one hears confessions. He spends time talking with people at the gay pride parade and apologizing to people for the hurt and harm that the Christian church has caused. He apologized for the awful jokes, and for the way we handled the AIDS crisis. He apologized for not loving them like he should. Once he did that, the people immediately opened up. It made all the difference to those people, and many of them said that the reason that they weren’t Christian is because of all the hate they have felt from the Church. That’s what the love of Christ is all about. Nothing in the church should be turning people away from Christ. Especially not the Church’s penchant for judgement. Every time it makes me cry. Every time I feel like that is my role in life: to meet those standards of love and to speak up for the down trodden. What an important documentary.
“You don’t have to legitimate a lifestyle to be someone’s friend and to stand up for them.” -Tony Campolo