From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
April 3, 2005 5:42 AM
Right now, I'm sitting in the "lounge" of Lynchburg Regional Airport watching Mass at the Vatican as the world honors the life of Pope John Paul II. My 6:20am flight was cancelled, and I won't be leaving until 11:30am. I found this out about 5 minutes after I dropped my rental car keys into the dropbox, so I'm stuck. I just bought my first 50-cent cup of coffee from a vending machine, and I'm eyeing the frozen Michelina's Beef Stroganoff. Very Terminal, minus the Starbucks.
So with free wifi, 6 hours to kill and a cup of 50-cent coffee in me, it seems it's time to break my two-and-a-half week blog silence, and tell you why I've been in Lynchburg, Virginia, the home of Dr. Jerry Falwell (who is still hanging on to life even though his heart is stopping every now and then), and his school, Liberty University.
I'm in pre-production on my directorial debut -- Church 2.0 -- a documentary about how the evangelical church is adapting and thriving in the 21st century. This is not the secret project I've been working on. That's still a secret for a couple more months, and is eating up most of my time through the rest of the year. This is my next project after that, and I hope to release it in late 2006. Many things about this project will be different than the others I've been involved with... the first thing being the transparency of the filmmaking process.
This weekend, Liberty U hosted a conference on internet evangelism, so I came to meet the (fascinating) people driving the growth of the evangelical church online. Personally, this was the perfect place to kick things off. As a volunteer, I put together (with my buddy, Will Samson) the very first Liberty website back in 1995. Liberty has grown enormously in the last 10 years, taking over the massive Ericsson building my dad used to work in, starting a law school, and even building a tunnel under the freeway. I remember installing the first email server on campus, and now there's wifi and video hookups in every room.
Will introduced me to a group of Christian bloggers all heavily involved in the emerging church "conversation." Not a movement, but a conversation amongst those disaffected with the largely boomer-driven mega-church movement led by pastors like Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and Bill Hybels of Willow Creek.
The bloggers are an incredible group of guys, who were very generous in being so open with me about their journey of faith. Really smart and open-minded. Even though they feel the church is failing, they are still committed to it, to each other, to the world, and to living for "God in the Way of Jesus." Plus, I found out Nick was the guy who made the binary to english translator, so he got big points with me.
My goal with the film is to destroy the evangelical caricature by putting a human face on what has become a political statistic. Faith is something that should bring people together, not tear them apart, and I'm sick of the media-political elite using it divisively. People of faith have much more in common than not, and it's time everyone starts talking -- respectfully. Myself included.
If you're interested in getting involved, please send me an email, join the discussion here, or just head straight over to the wiki. Right now, I'm particularly interested in people open to giving their testimony on video, or people who want to film testimonies of others in their church. Some of this will be in the film, but more importantly, I hope to put together a website with thousands of testimonies across the evangelical spectrum.
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Read the 11 comments.
I'm excited to see your 'secret' project... and I can't wait until 2006 for Church 2.0... but I guess I have to!
Anyways, it was great to meet you and hang out. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of that time together- it already seems to be producing a lot of conversation on Will and Stephen's blogs.
I'd be willing to video some testimovies (that was a typo, but I kind of like it... did I just coin a new term?) of bluer peeps for your site.
Sun Apr 3 2005 8:44 PM
Not exactly what you're looking for but I'd like to direct you to a video snippet of someone EVADING a discussion of faith... the December 12, 2004 White House press briefing: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/12/20041206-6.html
Scroll down to the very bottom to read the transcript. Reporter Russell Mokhiber asks about the President's views on the Rapture and whether he thinks the Jerusalem Temple should be rebuilt.
Bloggers haven't picked up on this (I heard about it on Ian Masters' Background Briefing radio show http://www.ianmasters.org/ on Dec. 12. They have audio archives.)
I have no problem with having faith, but I wonder how people can have faith in a President who refuses to describe his own in more than vague terms. Is his policy of aiding the rich and burdening the poor based on faith?
Mon Apr 4 2005 12:40 AM
Everytime he mentions he faith you liberals flip out and attack him yelling separation. What a joke. A liberal asking how anyone can have faith in a president who doesnt talk about god enough.
Mon Apr 4 2005 5:21 AM
I like that name... Testimovies. Just registered the domain name.
Mon Apr 4 2005 6:38 AM
Tom from Madison:
Bush frequently invokes religion for his own partisan purposes. That's profoundly un-American for any elected official. He is supposed to try to be everybody's President.
He seems to not realize America is a country of many faiths. The President is not supposed to be the "Preacher in Chief". It's not in his job description to convert people to his religion; nor is it for him to enforce the will of one religion on the whole country.
If he wants to do that, he should resign and start his own church!
Mon Apr 4 2005 9:06 AM
You know, TFM, I sure don't remember any protests from you when, last year, Kerry and Edwards both gave (on numerous occasions) campaign speeches to church congregations, something I don't believe "W" ever did. I don't recall you ever taking either of THEM to task for being "profoundly un-American". Or is that different because they're Democrats?
Tue Apr 5 2005 4:40 AM
"We don't ever have to be ashamed of our values," Dean said at Vanderbilt. He made a point of invoking Holy Writ, championing "paycheck-to-paycheck" working people against the predatory wealthy via the famous passage which says a rich man's entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven is as difficult as a camel's passing through the eye of a needle. He employed scripture to defend civil rights for gays: "When Jesus said 'love thy neighbor' he didn't mean choose which one to love."
Isn't this the same guy who proclaimed that he hated Republicans and everything they respresented?
Isn't this the same guy who stated in his ill fated primary run:
"We have got to stop having the campaigns run in this country based on abortion, guns, God and gays..."
Wed Apr 6 2005 8:46 AM
Tom from Madison:
Religion can be used to unite or to divide. I prefer when it's used to unite. Bush often uses religion to divide. The Schiavo case is a PRIME EXAMPLE.
I don't have a problem with any candidate speaking to a congregation or saying where his own faith comes from. I DO have a problem with one candidate suggesting he is somehow 'holier' than the other side.
When a candidate suggests that he follows a particular religion, it is certainly fair game to compare is actions with his rhetoric. Does he really practice what he preaches?
When I look at George Bush in this light, I don't see a righteous man. I see a power-drunk, self-aggrandising opportunist. But isn't that what American politics is all about these days?
Thu Apr 7 2005 11:40 AM
I assume Tomaig was referring to something like this: http://jerome-a-paris.dailykos.com/story/2005/3/23/121017/153
(Click my name for the same link).
If a church did endorse a particular candidate, then they should lose their tax-deductible status. Any candidate, including Sen. Kerry, would know this, and avoid jeopardizing a sympathetic audience.
Thu Apr 7 2005 11:06 PM
Tom from Madison:
What concerns me is the deliberate blurring of church / state distinction invited by Bush's Faith-Based initiatives. I don't want the Federal Government playing favorites among competing churches.
Both sides, but especially Bush and the Republicans, have been using churches as political action committees. In return for getting out the vote and soliciting campaign donations, churches can get federal grants. A Philadelphia church got $1M this way! [See link below]
This is just BEGGING for a constitutional challenge.
Fri Apr 8 2005 3:24 PM
hi, i have a few questions on religion. and this 2.0 if someone can email me back i'd appreciate it, thanks. firstname.lastname@example.org
Sat Dec 23 2006 11:08 PM