MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
On DVD, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and iTunes
Directed by Freida Mock. Documentary.
We proclaim from our pulpits and Sunday school classrooms that God’s love is for everyone and that the grace of Jesus Christ knows no limits. But there are places in America where the church often falters and sometimes fails to go. Those Christians who live and work in the inner city know that God is very much alive on the urban streets, but there are many that fear the urban landscape, scared off by evening news stories about street gangs, drugs and drive-by shootings.
Father Greg Boyle is a Jesuit priest living in East L.A. who has been in ministry for over 25 years in a neighborhood that at one time had the highest per capita percentage of gang members in the entire country. Father Greg (loving called “G-Dog” by the former gang members who live and work alongside of him) began reaching out to at risk youth by first creating a jobs program and then expanding upon that initial effort to include programs such as a bakery, a diner, a farmers market, clothing manufacturing, legal services, and agencies that work with people dealing with substance abuse, domestic violence and mental health. Not only do these programs help the people in the community, but they also provide jobs for former gang members, prostitutes and drug addicts. (You can learn more about Father Greg’s ministry at www.homeboyindustries.org.
G-Dog is simply the story of a year in the life of Father Greg and his community and it is one of the most joyous and hopeful celebrations of the Kingdom of God that I have seen on video. Father Greg is a positive, down-to-earth, and very funny priest who cuts through pretention and hypocrisy to accept people just as they are, believing in the power of redemption. We also get some close-up profiles of his staff and they mirror the hope and the positive energy that they were first shown by Father Greg and others who believed enough in them to give them a purpose and a job. One of their T-shirt slogans is “Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job” and they are living proof.
There are challenges in the year that we spend with Father Greg, as well as some tragedies, but that’s life for you. Most of all, there is hope and joy.
I hope that you will take the time to watch G-Dog. It is available for free streaming on Netflix and is an inexpensive rental on other Internet video services. Give it just five minutes and you will find yourself hooked.
This is highly recommended for adults and youth, junior high and older, but preview it ahead of time to make up your own mind about the swearing. Or perhaps you might have your youth watch it first and then find out from them if they think you can handle it.
Five halos: An inspiring and often joy-filled story of seeing Christ in all persons.
One pitchfork: Brief swearing, including one use of the F-Bomb.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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