Directed by: Dan Merchant
Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements and some language
Movie Released: 2008
I’ve spent the last few weeks catching up on some much needed rest and relaxation and a DVR/Netflix and Hulu desktop queue filled full of TV shows that I’ve been wanting to watch. Since, I haven’t started writing about every scrap that is on TV (at least not yet), I’ve put myself out of the review spotlight as of late. Filled to the brim with all the TV goodness that God could provide, I finally felt the need to go searching for a movie. The criteria was simple; I wanted a documentary that I could share with everyone. I wanted to find a documentary that wasn’t mainstream, and well known yet could still be easily accessible to everyone who wanted to watch it. What I discovered while perusing Hulu.com was that it is hard to find a documentary that isn’t aimed at telling me that George W. Bush is the anti-christ. While I don’t believe that statement, Hulu started to make me question the sheer validity of it! What I finally stumbled up was a documentary called Lord, Save Us From Your Followers. I decided “game on” and started streaming the film.
Not knowing anything about this film, I assumed it was going to be a Christian bashing affair filled with “here’s whereyou’re crazy!” type talk from beginning to end. I found that director and writer, Dan Merchant was in fact a Christian himself setting out to expose what others think about Christianity and more importantly trying to start a dialogue about it. He spends this 100 minute documentary travelling the country talking to people of various, ages, races, beliefs and lifestyles to try to get a better understanding of what makes the Christian population end up with the bad reputation they sometimes get.
What I found really interesting about this film was simply Merchant’s approach. He didn’t simply set out to have a “convert or else!” conversation with others. Instead, he set out to LISTEN to others and their stories and in turn shared his stories as well. What he found was that there is a basic human level plain where people can find common ground. Whether it was a cross dressing, homosexual nun, an atheist professor, or even some of America’s religious leaders and political pundits, Merchant challenged himself to simply start a respectful dialogue.
It’s easy as a Christian to throw stones at the non-believers and immediately assume that you are doing “God’s will” by forcing the Bible upon people. But Merchant brings to light a different approach, an approach of understanding. He never denies his beliefs, but he is willing to listen and accept others for who they are as well. Simplfied, Merchant assumes loving others IS what Jesus would do.
On the flip side it is easy to throw stones at the Christians and say that as Americans we are not a country with Christian influences. To some degree, your point can be seen. However, as Merchant points out it’s not about right and wrong, or right and left but instead about co-existing. In order for to happen, both sides need to be sensitive to every one’s needs. As Christians we need to be mindful that it may not be right to put a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn, and as a non-believer we need to be mindful that a “Christmas Tree” is not a highly offensive thing.
Lord, Save Us From Your Followers despite it’s short runtime gave me some great food for thought and I found it to be a great little documentary for both Christians and non-believers alike. As a Christian it can help open your eyes to how others may stereotype and view you and how you can help change that. As a non-believer it can open your eyes to the fact that the stereotype is not always true. There are people like Merchant out there that do exist. There are people who may believe that something like gay marriage is against their moral beliefs, but still not devoting their lives to hating the LGBTA and what it stands for.
I’ve never hidden any of my personal beliefs in my reviews, and so you can easily tell which side of the fence I fall upon. However, I think as a Christian it is important to look outside the box and see things from the other perspective as well. Human beings are human beings, regardless of their belief in a higher power. You can agree to disagree and that is fine. You can share your ideas and still be respectful at the same time. You can admit your weakness, and admit that you are wrong. Accepting that fact that you are being hypocritical at times is fine. Accept it and then try to correct it. Too many times we get hung up in what Jesus would do, rather than actually doing it. Merchant’s flick should be a reminder of that.
Whether or not you simply believe in coincidence or a higher power, I finished up Lord Save Us From Your Followers yesterday and later on in the evening, I had two friends share a YouTube link with me. One of them was a Atheist, the other a Pastor. The video was a response video by Penn Gillette, a known Atheist who was given a Bible by a fan. I’ve posted the video and will let him speak for himself, but Penn’s words solidified what I felt the message of Jesus Save Us From Your Followers was really trying to get at. Agree to disagree, but EVERYONE on both sides needs to respect each other.
Lord Save Us From Your followers at the time of posting is currently available for free on HULU.COM.