Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Furious! I was in a movie and didn't know it!

I wasn't really furious.  I was more surprised.  I received a call from Drew, the pastor at the North Shore Bridge Church in Beverly, MA.  He called to tell about a movie they were showing at their church last Friday night.  It was 3pm and he apologized for not contacting me earlier.  I wasn't sure why he apologized, until he asked me if I would like to come and say a few words before the film began at 7pm.

I wasn't sure what the film was about, but the name "Furious Love" sounded familiar to me.

Then Drew mentioned my part in the film.  (Sound of the screeching needle across the vinyl record inserted here)  What?!  I'm in the film?

Then I remembered that about 18 months ago some guys came into to Salem filming events, and did an interview with me about stuff God is doing in Salem.  I was nervous about the interview, because the things we do in Salem are definitely outside the box, and our stance to befriend and love Witches and the various Neo-Pagans living here has been misunderstood and/or demonized a few times too many.  Even if it has not been demonized it has been re-communicated in typical, and often aggressive sounding warlike Evangelical/Pentecostal terminology.

I am not sure which is worse: to be demonized or defined by someone whose language offends our friends.

I went home and watched the trailer.  Now I was really nervous.  This was looking like a crazy, demon busting film.  I was sure I was going to be typecast as an aggressive Witch Hunter.  Oh boy, just what I need living in Salem, MA!

I arrived at The Bridge Church just before the movie began.  Drew talked with John Harding (my good buddy in the crime of overtly and openly loving people in Salem) and I, and asked us to share for a few minutes before the film began.

John talked about the outreach which their church performs with us in Salem, and then I followed up and suggested that the title Furious Love challenged us to consider love as the weapon of our warfare, and turned our conceptions of treating people different than ourselves upside down.  I was hoping the film might have that kind of theme attached to it, but I was really just grasping for straws, and was quite nervous about the way I would be cast.

Film began:  Demon possessed people in Africa (I think it was Kenya) were flailing around and screaming.  This set the stage of a documentary travel film, which went to the "darkest places of the world" trying to find out if God was working in these dark places.

Within two or three other visits to "dark places" the movie makers arrived in Salem, MA during October.  Of course, they inaccurately identified Haunted Happenings (the month-long Halloween celebration) as a Witchcraft Festival.  It really is a combination of children's events, street vendors, theatrical presentations, museums retelling history of the 1692-1693 witch trials, and witchcraft shops peddling their wares and holding events.  Our church is more active than almost any other institution in town and so it can't exactly be called a Witchcraft Festival, but that's what most people seem to think it is.

Now in Salem the movie makers were trying to reach out to people by praying for them and healing their diseases.  They spoke of coming into Salem looking for a fight with the devil.  Oh boy, I was getting real nervous, because I knew this was the lead in to whatever interview cuts they took from me.

They showed an encounter praying for a lady with a knee problem.  She did not get healed and openly said that it felt exactly the same as before the prayer.  This was contrasted with another experience in another place in which a man on crutches was healed.  They remarked that nothing was working, and that their approach to looking to fight the devil head on was going nowhere....


The scene panned in to our church with me sitting on a stool in front of the old vault which graces the meeting room. 

"...we met this man."

Uh-oh.  My part came in.  The cut they used had me sharing that it was far too frequent for people to be afraid of, and to demonize the Witches and Neo-Pagans in Salem.  Once we do this we disqualify ourselves from speaking on behalf of God.

The movie then pivoted upon this interview, and they went back out into the streets of Salem, and found themselves being able to interact positively with the visitors and locals on the streets.

This was truly the first time I have felt that an interview was understood fully, and effected the kind of response we are known for.  The theme of the movie moved from war to love - but love as the manner in which God fights for people.

It continued through other countries, and other events with some wonderful, and some sad stories.  It was far more beautiful in its shaky, hard edged documentary style than I could have expected. 

It touched me simply because I felt understood, and because it encompassed the message we live in Salem.  Hundreds of people every year learn from us, and the movie captured something we have been teaching for 11 years now.

So it gets a biased two thumbs up from me.  Watch it if you can.

Okay, here's the trailer that scared me, and made me wonder how I might be cast.


cern said...

I don't want to watch the trailer unless I can also watch the whole movie. I'd probably find myself getting angry even though I knew the movie would be pivoting and showing how the aggressive stuff might be considered counter productive.

Hoping to see the proper movie some time in the future. :)

BB and hugs


Pastor Phil said...

Know what you mean. Peace bro.

Kieran Conroy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeremiah said...


Pastor Phil said...

Yeah, we've got to get it and show it at the Vault.

Bruce said...

What a good thing this is. Thanks again Phil, for reaching out with love. And God Bless Salem.

Joy said...

Haven't watched the trailer yet, but fully expect to love the movie and can hardly wait to see it. I have no doubt you were pivotal in the direction this movie took. You and our time with all of you in Salem in the fall of 08 forever impacted Paul and I both. Blessings, Phil...

Beth said...

Saw Furious Love at The Bridge Metrowest on Valentine's Day. It was fun seeing you and a couple other people I knew in the movie :) I'm not real keen on documentaries, but I thought they did a good job.

HP said...

Pastor Phil, I wanted to thank you for what you said in the movie. For too long I've watched Christians throw the baby (sinner) out with the bath water (sin). As long as our eyes only see the sin and reject the person and not the opposite we'll miss the opportunity to powerfully bring the Kingdom of Heaven to them.