Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

For The Bible Tells Me So

For the Bible Tells Me So” is playing at the Nickelodeon Theater. It started last Thursday and is running through this Thursday.

I had dinner last week with the Executive Director of the Nick who told us about how he called the distributor for days and weeks on end to get the Filmmaker’s contact information in order to have an earlier release in Columbia. His argument is that “we need this film in South Carolina.”

How right he was. Last night I went with Bobby, Little Edward, and Bill to the Nickelodeon to see this film that we need in South Carolina.

I must say, it was a pretty good film, it resonated with me for many reasons, but it wasn’t without fault. The film was very intricate – which in this instance worked. You had the Topic “Homosexuality and the Bible” and the obvious dichotomy associated with it – The Bible either does or does not accept/allow for homosexuals/homosexual behavior.” This dichotomy the film makers chose to portray as Literalism vs. Contextualization, and for good or bad this seemed limited to a Protestant understanding (although the Catholic perspective was given a 10 second blurb). An argument was made for why the Bible is against homosexuality by showing anti-gay, usually ultraconservative, Christian (Protestant) persons quoting the particular scriptural passage against homosexuality. Then the Scholars (many from Harvard, Yale, other Institutions of Higher learning as well as Religious Leaders) would confront that literalist interpretation by first using the context of the passage within the whole text. Secondly the scholars and leaders would interpret the context of the historic situation of the Hebrew people.

For example – the Leviticus text, the scholars pointed out the other abominations appearing in the litany including the admonition against eating shell fish. They then explained how historically the “Holiness Codes” were used and interpreted by the Hebrew people.

This exchange of (lay/pastoral) literalist interpretation and academic and (institutional) clerical interpretation was also interspersed with the growth and development of five very Christian and very American families from varying backgrounds that offered perhaps the overall same interpretation of homosexuality in scripture (immoral/wrong/abomination/etc) with their own nuances according to region and sect and how they are adjusting with the fact that they have a gay child.

We discussed and I agreed with the fact that only one family, the Poteats from NC seem to be truly representative, at least in our experiences, of where many families and families we know are when it comes to their children. From the movie’s website about the Poteats:

“I’ve fallen in love with all of the families in the film,” Karslake [the director/producer] reports, “but I have a huge amount of respect for how honest and forthright the Poteats were with me. When Brenda Poteat shares that she was hung up on the sex, I really think she speaks for 80% of Americans and what being gay first means to them. Coming from her, that’s a huge breakthrough.”

The fact remains also that unlike the other parents, perhaps with the exception of Bishop Robinson’s, and Ms. Mary Lou Wallner whose own story of transformation is incredible and incredibly sad, that for the Poteats they’ve not resolved the issue of their daughter her sexuality and what that means to them spiritually. After all Mrs. Poteat stands by her Biblical interpretation of the sinfulness of homosexuality and says she can’t accept her daughter’s partner as a part of the family and be happy about it. But she can and is happy that her daughter is at last happy, and can say that she loves her daughter. Sounds very familiar.

There’s a lot more ‘good’ about the movie, and some things that I might have left on the cutting room floor, but overall this is a good movie. But I can’t help but think that despite how it does attempt to reach that moveable middle as the director would like it to, it may end up being “preaching to the choir

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