catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 4, Num 19 :: 2005.10.21 — 2005.11.03


Sunday morning cinema

When we got married, more people than I can remember made comments about the need to establish “patterns” and “a rhythm” for daily life together. I doubt that many of them anticipated that one of the first to emerge would involve us giving up the habit of attending church on Sunday morning.

This wasn’t a particularly dramatic development for either of us. We’d both independently begun to find that not only did most services not connect with us in any tangible way, but nor did it seem that we were contributing to their connecting with others. As churches have grown and moved to the outskirts of their towns, it has become harder and harder for many of us to make that give/take connection that we hope for in a church community. For us, it was easily replaced.

Perhaps the surprise was how quickly the alternative has become ritualised. Every Sunday morning we prepare the same food, take shelter in front of our television, position the blinds just-so and embrace the latest little connection delivered to us by the good people at Netflix. By chance we discovered that while neither of us was proving successful at concentrating in church on a Sunday morning, that slot was a good time to appreciate those films which require a little more alertness. We’ve taken to purposefully seeking out and saving films that are likely to be challenging to fill this particular niche in our lives.

In navigating the complex territory of your average church, many who preach find they have to find a path between the demands of rigorous theological exposition and the need to provide the faithful with a life lesson. It’s a similar balance to that found in many of the films that have been keeping us company. The (largely) fictional narratives show their characters working through similar existential musings coming from their creators, but there’s a diversity of voices and language that is rarely found in a conventional church setting and, for us the viewers, the opportunity to take breaks and to discuss the stories as they flow.

These Sunday mornings are enriching times, but after a year of them it has also become apparent that they won’t work alone. They help us recapture the “take” we were looking for but, aside from the ability to make more film recommendations, they have divorced it from the all important “give”.

As we get to know one another more and more, there’s a natural inclination to share the experience with a wider body, and to find ways of enacting those good things the films show us. We’re beginning to look for ways to work with (not break away from) existing churches to find something that feels more rooted in our local community, more participatory in its approach, and (perhaps) less easily given up. It’ll take time, but it?s a return that the church needs to make. In the meantime, we’ll continue to receive sustenance and inspiration from our Sunday morning movie times.

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