Tuesday, October 31, 2006


We have successfully premiered another film. Rebellion of Thought screened Saturday at the Virginia Film Festival to a sold out crowd. Nervous, anxious and exhausted, Brad and I arrived in time to mix and mingle a bit prior to the screening. We and the team had worked 18 hour days the entire week prior, which culminated with an all night editing race to prep the film for its premiere. With less than an hour of sleep on the editing room floor and another 45 minutes on the carpet of the soundstage I thought I might literally fall asleep during the showing, but fortunately the adrenaline kicked in and got me through it.

The moderator announced the screening, the lights dimmed, the crowd settled in and the Paladin Media Group logo took over the screen... and then for the next 75 minutes the crowd was forced to “drink from a fire hose” in the non-stop assault of the heart, soul and mind that is Rebellion of Thought.

It was an interesting mix of a crowd, including friends, family, old professors, colleagues and strangers. I’ve always thought Rebellion of Thought is a very difficult film to watch, because it is a talking-head picture about a rather esoteric subject. Plus, it’s non-stop with very little room to digest the material during the film. It’s like no film I’ve ever seen in that regard.
Anyhow, the 75 minute screening passed quickly and the credits started to roll. That’s when I noticed that no one moved. Not one person stood to make their way to the exit in the entire theatre. An eerie feeling was in the room as everyone stared at the screen and watched the credits while Will Musser’s music pushed them along. Finally the film faded to black and the Paladin logo signified the very end at which point a rather awkward applause broke out. I imagine people probably uncertain to clap because they liked the film but didn’t agree with everything it promotes or perhaps just glad to have survived the experience. Regardless, it was over and time for the most bizarre Q&A I’ve ever been a part of. This was followed by close to an hour of conversations with a host of people who came down front to talk. Obviously, it is an engaging film about a topic that people want to discuss.

Following the screening Brad and I took our parents, my family, James (our editor), Leslie, (our office manager) and her husband Jimmy to the LimeLeaf restaurant for a celebratory dinner. Great memories were made as we concluded this great premiere.

FYI... yesterday I received an email from the program director of the RiverRun International Film Festival. She was in the audience on Saturday and she requested a screener for consideration at their fest next spring in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We’ll keep you posted.


sheff said...

i was part of rebellion of thoght's official coming out on saturday. thought provoking for us who are sensitive to christ's calling in our lives. would like to bring some people to see it again. to continue the conversation.

the film asks a big question that it doesn't - rightfully so - answer. that would be too easy. but one feels like a discussion must come out of the film. perhaps the reason for the lapse before the applause.

i vote for a second screening in cville and a discussion ...

Kent C. Williamson said...

Sheff -

Thanks for coming out on Saturday and for helping make the premiere a success! Until we can arrange another screening in Cville let's use this blog for dialogue...

What do you see as the "big question" of the film? And how do you think those "sensitive to Christ's calling" should live out their faith?

Thanks for your interest,


sheff said...

what is the “question” posed in the film. to me the over riding storm that seemed to build in the producers life over the span of the film reads like this: if we live in a postmodern culture (should not be too much doubt about this, western europe has long been in this stage) and people now view the world through postmodern culture tinted glasses and we are called by Christ to meet as a community in this world – a church – and to reach out and love the world around us ... can we do this with in the structure of the current church. like bonhoeffer – do we have to jump off the train? is the train really on the wrong track with no switches between here and irrelevance that can be thrown to redirect towards relevance? do we jump to make a new train or do we redirect the train we are on?

this is not a new question? same issues were debated during the reformation (erasums vs. luther). and the issues of post-modern culture and where it meets man did not fall upon the world unannounced. francis schaeffer in his work “where do we go from here” paints the clearest picture of this that i know of. but how to deal with this issue now in the time and place we are living, remains new. if one jumps or deconstructs the current church, what does one jump to or create in its place. it is clear that one must be in community, in the church. we can’t jump to nothing. this leaves us in the same place as the postmodern man.

Kent C. Williamson said...

Sheff said... "is the train really on the wrong track with no switches between here and irrelevance that can be thrown to redirect towards relevance? do we jump to make a new train or do we redirect the train we are on?"

This I would agree is one of the essential "questions" of the film. The answer to which each of us must determine on his own. This may sound post-modern in itself, but the reality is that every church and every believer's circumstances are unique. Jumping is so severe that I think it should be determined on a case by case basis. In the end it may appear as a mass "jumping from the train", but I would hope that it would be individuals coming to this conclusion on their own and realizing that something drastic needs to take place.

If it is possible to "redirect the train you are on" then perhaps this may be an option... I've had friends that have attempted this. So far, the ones I've seen, haven't made a real difference in the direction things seem to be heading in their traditional churches. At the same time they've been called to stay... while others have been called to jump... both are possibilities that should be considered. In one case a woman I know has spent over 30 years attempting to turn the train around. She's seen fruit from this decision, but honestly, if I knew it would take 30 years to see results I don't think I could do it.

You're right in saying that "it is clear that one must be in community, in the church. we can’t jump to nothing." I ask what do you mean by "church"? If you mean, a collection of believers, I would agree. If you mean in a specific building at a specific time on Sunday morning, then I would disagree.

When I made the jump, (which the film purposefully doesn't address) I landed in a small group of believers... kind of a home church thing. It started as four families and over the first year grew to around 50 people. We knew we didn't want to buy a building, pave a parking lot, hire a pastor, etc., so instead we multiplied into two groups. Our group is now growing again and I imagine we'll repeat the process in the not-so-distant future.

We go house to house each week with a different family hosting and a different family leading. It's a shared leadership model that has it's strengths and weaknesses. Here are some of the strengths... no overhead, lots of flexibility, kids welcome and involved, very hard to be a passive participant, amazing fellowship, and 100 percent of your tithe goes to the ministry, homeless, needy, missionary, etc. of your choice.

Is it perfect? No, but being here, I'm pretty confidant I could never get back on the train.

We have an open door policy that allows people to float in and out of the group as they feel led. It's a good place for people to land between churches. We've even had people join us for a time and then decide to jump back on the train. We don't shun them, because we know that everyone's faith journey is unique and if we can be of service along the way, then great.

What's your current church situation and what do you see as the strengths and weaknesses? I'm also curious as to what types of things people see as temptations NOT to jump.


sheff said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. Yes, we all have to make personal choices and be responsible for these. But, at some point collectively these personal choices amount to community choices and that becomes a “church” choice. I never consider buildings to be synonymous with church ... buildings are a tool, a physical tool to help the church accomplish its purpose. This can either be a means of grace and blessing or become a stumbling block and a curse. I imagine we can all think of examples of both.

As for me, my recent experience of church community is perhaps unusual. I spent a long time in a London based church that reached out across a wide social and economic cross section with the Gospel. Although the community was predominately young and professional, I had homeless friends that had been reached out to and worshiped with us. We had a row of ex-gangsters in Church who were saved through prison outreach. And we had an ever stream of international visitors relaying how God was working in their country through the reaching out in love by this Church. We never spoke of missiology or contextualization of other similar concepts. We were just trying to figure out where we could serve best. Looking back now, a couple of years, I realize how unique this was and is.

Of late I was part of a church that didn’t have a building but grew strongly through purposeful relationship building and application of God’s word. OK, some of the US based church culture was hard to get used to – but the love and care shown in community are exemplary. Now I am in a new community that is still learning how it will relate and live out its calling in this area.

But all this discussion on how should we live out Christ’s call in community and in response to his great love how do we love our neighbor is a reoccurring theme as I try and re-adjust and manage an American culture (and church culture) that has changed much during my absence. How does one have a purposeful and fruitful life while enjoying a merciful God full of grace while reaching out to those around us? Do we recreate the church – I think some call this the emerging church – or do we renew the church? Yes this is personal, but it should also be a shared concern for followers of Jesus regardless of the exact choice we make for our specific church community.

contucius said...

I vote for another Cville screening very soon - perhaps at Gravity Lounge...

I have yet to see the movie!


I have a great deal to add to this discussion, and am working on some videotaped dialogues to that end. To me the issue is linguistic, and its resolution possible to a very important degree - to a degree where "the mutual truth" can be actualized - lived out in one's daily life.

However we generally get hung up in linguistic resolution - the search for ultimate truths we can express in universally understandable terms, like 2+2=4.

Language however is not capable of that clarity - while the absolute can be known, perceived, felt and understood, it cannot be expressed linguistically.

In other words, any understanding of spirituality or god knowledge as a basis from which to espouse guidelines for anything, is a misunderstanding. When you speak it is silent, when you are silent it speaks...

Best regards.

sheff said...

thanks for sharing your views on this discussion. i am trying to understand your point of view, the linguistic impasse that you point out. the inability to express in words universal truth.

however, to me this is an option not left open to those who have been called out and touch by a loving god who came and walked amongst us, used our language and loved us in ways that are understandable, real, full of substance and meaning. god is speaking, he permits us to speak, he communicates. i am humbled and undone by this privilege bestowed upon us, upon me. to speak and listen and be loved through communication with god. this is a life that can be lived, that must be lived.

i feel despair when i think of not being able to speak any universal truths because language is an unsuitable for this task. what is the practical outcome of this view of life? if i love someone close to me, can i not express that love because the words are meaningless – and if i am silent in order to speak – is my silence speaking? this i actually have tried in the past – a silent communication with one i love. it was a disaster. how could it be otherwise. try living your life with the view that anything that anyone said is meaningless – language is unable to express truth. what a desperate place this leaves man. this would be bad enough if one held to the belief that god did not exist. but if one believes that god does exist, that he created us and put us in this world -- where does this leave us if we can not communicate with him because language is unable to express truth. we are more than desperate. we are utterly hopeless and can look forward to nothing but to wandering deaf and dumb through this life.

thank god it is not so. words have meaning. god expresses universal truth. god=love. man-god=despair. man+jesus=forgiveness, hope and meaning. this is language speaking loud and clear. are we listening? are we willing to humbly respond?

sheff said...

now brothers williamson - when is the next screening?

Kent C. Williamson said...

Here's the next screening...

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006 at 7pm
Hinton Avenue United Methodist Church
750 Hinton Avenue
Charlottesville, Virginia

See the post REBELLION OF THOUGHT... ANOTHER SCREENING for directions and more info.