Hello friends in the blogosphere! I am back from my travels to the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in Durham, NC, and I am quite tired. It's a long drive between here and there, but the trip was well worth it! I had a great opportunity to re-connect with my former chaplain and religion instructor from prep school in Hendersonville. And the drive from Western Carolina over to Durham was full of mountainous beauty. Ah, bliss!
My movie, "The Weimar House", had the same sort of reception it did when it played in Tallahassee: there were those who loved it, and those who seemed to not find the humor in its "fiery" ending. I don't know what to say except, "To each their own." Although I have a suspicion as to why this film...which mocks the mockery that is the gay marriage debate...didn't get the kind of laughter at the end that I would have expected. And to understand the reticence to laugh, all I had to do was look outside the Carolina Theatre on Saturday.
The festival, now in its 13th year, drew five protesters. One had his huge wooden cross. Another couple appeared to be in their teens. And there was the one African-American man in his "Jesus Saves" T-shirt who continuously screamed at people walking to the theater:
"Repent! Repent means to turn from your wickedness to Jesus! Your wickedness of man lying with man and woman lying with woman!"
For more than four hours, anyone trying to go to the theatre from the street entrance off West Morgan had no choice but to come under the verbal assault of this man trying to communicate a message of Christ....as he interprets that message. Even an elderly lady making her way to the McDonald's up the street came in for his proselytizing message. And she snapped back at him, "I'm going to McDonald's, God dammit!"
The sad part of this display is that as much as this man claimed to be speaking of the love of Christ, he had an odd way of displaying that love himself. I wondered how he thought he could make headway with people when he started from a place of telling them they were going to burn in Hell...and, oh, by the way, Jesus loves you? It reminded me of the passage that is in Mark's gospel in which Jesus explains that it's not what goes into the person that defiles, but what comes out. And, as much as this screaming man may believe himself full of the Holy Spirit, his words of harsh judgement on the strangers in his midst betrayed his arrogance at thinking that he has a place to decide who is in and out of the kingdom of Heaven.
OK, so how did this dampen the humor of my movie? Well, "The Weimar House" is a mock horror film, in which the horror is the presence of a married lesbian couple in the neighborhood. The "christians" of the neighborhood decide they must protect the sanctity of their own marriages by driving out the lesbians. They assemble as a horde that marches on the lesbian's house, the Weimar House, and the clash between the two sides ends with hatred going up in flames in the face of love. Trouble is, when you have a real life representation of the 'christian horde' standing outside a theater, the absurdity of people chanting, "Onward Christian soldiers!" and threatening to burn the lesbians with their tikki torches suddenly becomes a little too real.
Folks from the festival saw me taking notes on this ranting man (who isn't just opposed to homosexuals and lesbians; he also doesn't like Buddhists, Jews, Catholics, lukewarm Christians, Masons, Shriners...). They're now looking forward to what I do with this material for the next Mickee Faust/dwp film short. And I'd like to write something, but what? All I can think of is Mr. T's famous line: "I pity the fool!"
For me, the antidote to this man's screaming tirade came on Sunday morning during a simple, wonderful service at St. Philip's Episcopal Church on E. Main Street in Durham. The words of Paul in Romans 11 hit home:
"I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all."
This message, accompanied by the gospel story of the Canaanite Woman in Matthew which is similar to the Syrophoenecian Woman story recounted in one of my other entries, is a reminder that the one you may not think is worthy of God's redeeming love may very well be a most worthy recipient of that love. It is not our place to judge. And it certainly is not the place of a man screaming, "Repent and Return" on a sidewalk in North Carolina to tell any person from the LGBT community that they are the dogs of "christian" society.
Yes, screaming man: repent and return to your own faith...and don't judge mine.