MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
For They Know Not What They Do - Virtual Theater 3 Day Rental ($10.00). You may rent this film and support your local independent theater (I would highly recommend The Cleveland Cinematheque).
Directed by Daniel Karslake. Documentary.
It’s really hard to talk about movies during this season of home quarantine and social distancing. With theater viewing still on hold and dozens of options for streaming, including Netflix and Amazon Prime, people are literally never watching the same things (and therefore having little to talk about together). The free availability of Just Mercy has helped initiate a church-wide conversation about justice, poverty, and mass incarceration.
It’s time for another conversation, and it is going to cost you ten dollars.
For They Know Not What They Do shares the personal stories of four Christian families and how they deal with raising children who self-identify as gay, transgender and nonbinary. It is vital viewing for anyone who identifies as United Methodist and who cares about children.
In other words, you need to see it, especially if you are engaged in the current conversations about LGBT marriage and ordination and the current prohibitions in The Book of Discipline. I know that I have Christian friends whose opinions on this topic differ from mine. I have been praying for a film that could provide a common ground for conversation with them. This is that movie.
The four families depicted in this film are all families of faith; they all struggle to understand and love their children after they come out as LGBTQIA+. Rob and Linda Robertson are evangelicals who send their 12-year-old son Ryan (who cooperates in this approach) to Exodus International for conversion therapy. David and Sally McBride are Presbyterians who are moved from confusion and discomfort into growing support and advocacy for their transgender child. Victor Baez and Annette Febo are Catholic parents with Puerto Rican roots whose gay son Vico encounters tragedy at the Pulse night club. Harold and Colene Porcher are a mixed-race Episcopalian couple whose son Eliot struggles with depression after coming out as transgender.
All of the people in this film are Christians who realize how much they love their kids – and deal with it.
The film does not hold back showing videos of pastors and politicians who call homosexuality an abomination and cite chapter and verse in scripture to back it up. The movie also shows church leaders (including the retired gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson) with a message of acceptance and love for all persons – and a different way of reading the Bible. The United Methodist Church is not mentioned at all in this film, although one UMC church is name checked briefly.
There is nothing particularly flashy or innovative about this film and it mostly consists of interviews and a few home movies along with some additional documentary material. This kind of doc is normally called a “talking heads” movie. I prefer to call it a talking hearts film. If we can let the compassion and caring of these Christian families touch our hearts and minds, we may just discover a mutual place of healing and hope for our bruised and battered church family.
Halo and Pitchfork Rating:
Five halos: Love is central in this important film about faith and family.
Two pitchforks: Hate speech, harmful misinformation.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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