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Sunday, June 13, 2004

Praise the film!

Mrs Philocrites and I whole-heartedly recommend Saved!, the teen flick about Evangelical culture. I can't vouch for the verisimilitude of the world portrayed in the film, but Mrs Philocrites — who grew up in the Evangelical Free Church and was quite active in Evangelical circles until she shifted gears to the Episcopal Church in college — says that Pastor Skip and the school assembly scene in particular are bulls-eye parodies. We give Saved! two thumbs up.

Christianity Today, one of the leading Evangelical magazines, is advertising a little blurb on Google:

Is "Saved!" Accurate?
CT magazine looks at why this film
seems to be an accurate portrayal.

In the essay, Anastasia McAteer writes:

I would have been proud to have made this movie. It absolutely reflects my experience in all accuracy. And its message is exactly what I wanted to say to my friends in the pews. Is it possible that Christians wouldn't deride it if someone like me, a confessing Christian with the right evangelical pedigree, would have made the film? Would it then have been a "searing look into the faults of the church with a message that could stand to be echoed in the pulpit"? I wonder.

I didn't find anything in the movie to be over the top. I don't know where people are getting that. It's absolutely the way evangelical schools are, it's the way evangelicals act, it's the way we are in our bubble.

Every character in Saved! has several real-life counterparts that I personally have met. Maybe we don't realize how weird we look, and thus the accusation of satire. But I look around the church and the movie is what I see.

The closest Mormon analog to Saved! is a charming film called The Singles Ward, a nearly toothless satire of life in a congregation of unmarried young people in my homeland, Utah County. Until that movie loses its nerve in the last few minutes — the re-conversion of the wayward protagonist struck me as not just unconvincing but also entirely nostalgic rather than religious — I thought it was the best pop-culture product about Mormon life I've encountered.

Now who's going to make a parody of Unitarian Universalist young adult life? Con-Con: The Movie could be damn funny.

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 13 June 2004 at 10:31 AM

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8 comments:

Scott Wells:

June 13, 2004 06:41 PM | Permalink for this comment

[pull from Coffee Hour]
Why not call the UU parallel, Circle Worship instead? Though I can't not imagine a couple of scenes that would give the film a NC-17 rating!

Steve Caldwell:

June 15, 2004 12:48 AM | Permalink for this comment

On 13 June 2004, Christopher Walton wrote the following:
-snip-
"The closest Mormon analog to Saved! is a charming film called The Singles Ward, a nearly toothless satire of life in a congregation of unmarried young people in my homeland, Utah County. Until that movie loses its nerve in the last few minutes the re-conversion of the wayward protagonist struck me as not just unconvincing but also entirely nostalgic rather than religious I thought it was the best pop-culture product about Mormon life I've encountered."

Chris,

Pop culture movie references to Mormonism are rare ... the only big one that I'm aware of is Angels in America (HBO adaptation of the stage play), which has several Mormon characters in the play along with discussion of the LDS faith.

Then Christopher wrote:
-snip-
"Now who's going to make a parody of Unitarian Universalist young adult life? Con-Con: The Movie could be damn funny."

Gee ... I thought Con Con was a youth event and not a young adult event.

Perhaps you're thinking of ConCentric (UU young adult leadership conference) or Opus (UU young adult spiritual retreat). In any case, I would suggest leaving the parodying to those within the group (or group alumni) out of respect to the YRUU and C*UUYAN communities.

Any parody coming from outside the youth or young adult communities (or from community alumni) may come across as bullying and less than respectful.

There's a big difference between the disempowered parodying the empowered vs. the empowered parodying the disempowered.

My personal view on all of this is that we older adults would do well to learn what we can from UU youth and UU young adults. I've heard so many youth at bridging ceremonies and worship services testify about how YRUU saved them.

Ministries like YRUU in our congregations, clusters, districts, and in continental YRUU are one aspect of UU soteriology (how we find salvation from those things that deny us life or make our lives less whole) that we should be proud of.

YRUU and C*UUYAN may be a place where our religious movement can do "research and development" ... the ideas and experimentation in these communities could enrich our more traditional congregational communities and be an excellent example of intergenerational learning for our wider UU movement. I've shared anti-racism work that I've learned about from district and continental YRUU with my congregation's board ... they said they benefited from this enrichment. I've used community building resources from YRUU in OWL teacher trainings and other adult workshops too.

Then Rev. Scott Wells replied to Christopher's post:
-snip-
"Why not call the UU parallel, Circle Worship instead? Though I can't not imagine a couple of scenes that would give the film a NC-17 rating!"

I'm assuming that you're not intending this as an insult towards the spiritual practices of a significant portion of our UU youth and UU young adults ... folks who represent part of our future as a religious movement.

Speaking as a former Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) youth active in the 1970s, I think the NC-17 quote could be said about many religious youth groups.

UU youth certainly don't have a monopoly on sexual expression ... this happens in other youth group settings and I think that we're just more aware of UU youth sexual expression. Perhaps youth in other faith traditions hide things better?

Philocrites:

June 15, 2004 09:13 AM | Permalink for this comment

Um, Steve, you seem to be writing part of the screenplay. We're discussing parody. Of course a parody of Unitarian Universalists is going to make fun of our earnestness, our immediate slide into anxiety that someone, somewhere, is being oppressed. And because I was comparing apples to oranges Saved! is about teenagers; The Singles Ward is about twenty-somethings I picked a general term and what seemed the best-known "con" (conference) in our movement.

Dave:

June 15, 2004 02:05 PM | Permalink for this comment

Philocrates, those are the nicest comments I've read about The Singles Ward (which I have not seen). Perhaps a product of Utah County can really see it from the inside, and of course you can indulge in wholehearted laughter rather than the guarded, nervous laughter that most Mormons viewing the film might have to settle for.

I think I'll go see Saved! instead.

Philocrites:

June 15, 2004 02:42 PM | Permalink for this comment

What can I say, Dave? Hearing Primary songs performed as pop-punk songs was just too heavenly. I may have to buy the soundtrack.

Scott Wells:

June 15, 2004 06:32 PM | Permalink for this comment

Is it funny that someone my elder is policing me, to make sure I'm not making light of his juniors?

I can still join CUUYAN, even after seven years in the ministry, which itself is strange. And, no, even as a teen, I was never in the youth group. It looked like a case of ecclesiasstic red-lining then, and boring besides. Then and now, I prefer to play with the adults.

Provided the adults don't pull an 180 and start acting like children, of course,

Eric Posa:

June 16, 2004 04:46 PM | Permalink for this comment

Steve Caldwell wrote:
I would suggest leaving the parodying to those within the group (or group alumni)

Steve, my friend, you make an excellent general point here, and I'm always glad to have voices like yours advocating for us. But when it comes to the specifics of UU Young Adult (YA) parody, I'm with the good Rev. Wells and Brother Philocrites on this one. Besides the fact that they are both in the "YA" age range themselves, they make the good point that we (& I include myself), as a community, suffer from terminal over-sincerity. We're ripe for parody...and these guys are qualified.

Which reminds me, I have a suggestion for one scene in this parody flick: a drum circle. At the last one I attended--an informal CUUPS circle, consisting mostly of UU YAs--the "new guy" there realized quickly how overly seriously people were taking the drumming. His response? To start singing, along with the drumming..."Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash. Half the group were looking at him like he had just killed their pets; the other half of us got the joke, and started singing along. There's got to be a way to work this into a satire.

Oh, and I recommend casting Johnny Depp as the absent-minded minister serving as chaplain at the con.

RevThom:

June 16, 2004 06:58 PM | Permalink for this comment

I figured by the time I got to the bottom of these comments, I'd have something clever to say, like you could take the script to the mid-nineties movie PCU and set it in a church basement rather than a college campus (PCUU?)...

... but then I realized that I'm still eligible to be a Young Adult for almost 9 more years. I'm glad my "real" adulthood won't start until then ;)



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