Reviewing the new PCN films 1
At our August 2020 meeting we watched two of the new PCN films: Gemma’s story and Greg’s Story. Since the PCN chair asked for feedback we thought we’d better record a few notes from our conversation.
We were favourably impressed by both films as they pushed at the boundaries of how people have traditionally seen ‘church’ and ‘religion’.
This film reached our hearts. Several could identify with her broken feeling and the unhelpful comment from the church about reading the Koran. One former hospital chaplain told us that they had come across someone who was going around the hospital wards making similar comments about why people were ill. They were subsequently banned from the building.
We noted that it was a book that provided her with the breakthrough and at least one of us had experienced the same – that in a time of need they had been able to extract from a book the wisdom to meet their predicament. We were struck by her comment that whatever helped her it was part of who she was. A profound thought.
We liked the mixture of religious influence and iconography and the sense of a church or temple having a peaceful atmosphere – perhaps the relic of generations of worship. We would have liked to know more of what it was about Ghandi’s thinking that appealed to her.
Several of us felt a bit uncomfortable with her comment about Truth, given that Truth is not the same for everyone. Love on the other hand is more universal. She was living in a slightly gilded world which raised a doubt in one person’s mind about how universal a message this could be.
Overall the group was very taken with this film – people liked its sense of peace and the crossing of boundaries.
Everyone liked this film too. The idea of a church needing to be relevant was praised. The idea that activities other than worship were also ‘church’ (eg the church in the gym) appealed. Someone asked if any club with a good banter and a cooperative band of people might be considered ‘church’. It was felt that perhaps when it took place in a church there was more opportunity to absorb the spirit of fellowship which churches are supposed to embody. One member belongs to a church which offers a lot of activities such as an art group, and a coffee morning group, where there is no specific religious content and which non-church goers attend. She herself goes to a couple of these groups but is a relatively infrequent service attender. We felt the film might offer a lesson to those church wardens who say, ‘if only we could get messy church parents to attend normal service’
We went on to discuss how the films could be used and who might be impacted by them. Although they are not overtly theological, as Living the Questions, we appreciated the depth of the subject matter in these two films.
We thought they could be used as part of worship. We thought they would be good in a sixth form or student context. Being short form there was plenty of time in our session for us to discuss the issues raised in our breakout groups and then to report back later.