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Why is the Gospel of Love dividing America? That’s the question documentary filmmaker Dan Merchant asks in a fantastic new movie that releases nationally in select theaters this weekend. It’s called Lord, Save Us from Your Followers and, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s an entertaining, funny, and thought-provoking film.
In awarding it the best spiritual documentary of 2008, a BeliefNet judge said this: Christianity, [Merchant] contends, is far more interested in the gospel of being right than the gospel of Jesus Christ. But if Christianity supposed to be built on the foundation of “loving the unlovable,” then what does that say about the face of Christianity in America today?
I don’t watch a whole lot of movies, so I don’t get around to recommending them that often. But I’m a big advocate of looking at our faith from an outsider’s perspective, and Merchant hands his mic over to plenty of outsiders to offer their perspective. So if my thumbs-up meant anything at all, I would apply them to Lord, Save Us.
Here are five reasons why:
1. Writer/Director/Star Dan Merchant is funny. Not Christian comedian funny, but genuinely funny. His Bumper-Sticker Man persona is a profound way to get people to talk about religion without getting mean. His Top Ten Sins list parody is spot-on.
2. Merchant is an equal-opportunity offender. He’s a Christian, but is not afraid to poke religion in the eye when it comes to its divisive role in the culture wars. Eyes on both sides of every issue get jabbed in this film. But it’s a loving kind of jab.
3. Merchant is a great interviewer. He actually has Al Franken (who, among conservative Christians, is practically the vice-antichrist to President Obama) commenting how nice the members of the Christian Coalition are compared to the Democratic Convention. That’s genius.
4. He makes fun of the stupid car bumper wars involving Christian fish/Darwin fish/Christian “truth” fish eating Darwin fish. As well he should.
5. He is a friend of the Pocket Guides. Dan graciously offered this endorsement of my series: “The Pocket Guides are more fun than a plague of frogs, more satisfying than manna from heaven and way less expensive than attending seminary. Pocket Guide to the Bible, to Sainthood and the Afterlife achieve the remarkable feat of being absurdly funny, surprisingly full of legitimate Biblical information and, inexplicably, provoking a deeper understanding of my faith. Jason Boyett is a truly inspired and disturbed individual and for that I am grateful.”
(I’m grateful, too, and can apply to same adjectives to Dan.)
So if you’re in Atlanta, Houston, Nashville, Portland, Seattle, or San Antonio, get thee to a theater near you and check this film out. If you live in other large urban areas, it’s coming your way in a week or two.
If you have a few minutes, this sampler provides a good taste of the film’s tone.