Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Amazing Grace Sunday School Class

I thought last year's Amazing Grace movie was fairly well-done. It wasn't overly preachy, it kept the luster of 18th century political language present without whacking your head with it, and the summary of Wilberforce's life at the end was at least mildly thought-provoking (the sermons delivered by free African-Americans are even more so but I'll have to get to that after I finish Wilburforce's biography). At any rate, in a climate of political power-mongering and the impending collapse of the Evangelical™ political machine I thought it might be good to watch this movie with Christians and have it spark conversation. If anyone shows up, I'll be starting it this Sunday (it's likely that anyone who doesn't read this blog won't show up - because no one in my church pays attention to announcements for anything, much less a movie-based Sunday School class.). I wanted to take 3 or 4 weeks to watch the movie and spend some time on the implications of Wilburforce's life and work on our own lives. I was looking forward to this, because the movie came with a Study Guide that I could use. I should have read it before now. Really.

I don't want to knock people for trying - it's a difficult thing to write a decent curriculum for a small group (I know, I've done it). It's even more difficult to write decent "discussion starter" questions for a movie without being completely leading and hokey. I'm sorry to say that, on quite a few levels, the Amazing Grace study guide doesn't accomplish it's goals. Why is this? Because the guide springs from Evangelical™ roots - roots which are incapable of the type of introspection a movie like Amazing Grace deserves, and the world needs. The guide is a launching pad to make people feel able to be "world changers." While being "world changers" isnt' such a bad goal (provided the "change" is Kingdom oriented and brought though peace - but when you get Evangelicalism™ talking about world-changing the distinct lack of introspection leaves the call feeling rather shallow. This makes me rather depressed, because there was a well-done push to make people aware of present-day slavery alongside of the movie which didn't make the jump to the study guide. I don't know why, it just didn't.

Again, I don't want to vilify folks, they tried to do something that was more worth-while than just package up a DVD and roll in the bucks, that needs to be commended. It's just that in reading the materials (which are salvageable - kinda), I'm reminded again as to why I really am not part of Evangelicalism™ any more - it's not my world. I'm still looking forward to the class, though, 'cause the material is so wonderfully though-provoking and intersects with Scripture in some wonderful ways.

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