Monday, October 03, 2011
We slipped into Toronto on Saturday afternoon to see the film Higher Ground. If you saw Up in the Air or Source Code you'll know the acting work of the star and director Vera Farmiga. How many actresses can claim they spurned the affections of George Clooney as she did in Up in the Air?
Higher Ground is the story of a young woman, Corinne, who marries in her teens and with her new husband becomes involved in a fundamentalist Christian group. For years she is content with the authoritarian and patriarchal approach to faith. But when she wants to explore the world through art and literature, to formulate and offer spiritual insights, to question God's benevolence when a dear friend gets sick, the dissonance begins and grows.
This is not a film that stereotypes fundamentalist Christianity in part because Farmiga grew up in a Pentecostal family. While she no longer shares the faith of her parents she is willing to treat the subject with respect. Ruth and I grew up in mainline churches but during our teens we both spent time and we would say flourished in more conservative Christian groups. Eventually we moved on because our minds mattered and there were aspects of this approach which were stifling. We enjoyed Higher Ground because it rang true in many ways. We laughed out loud as Corinne attempts to induce "speaking in tongues" in front of the bathroom mirror. We were moved by other scenes of both devotion and doubt. We would certainly recommend it.
I sometimes wonder how we can find our way between mainline "whatever" or "when it works for me" faith, and fundamentalist "we have all the answers" faith.
Have any of you experienced immersion (no pun intended) in conservative Christianity? Do you think mainliners are guilty of stereotypes of conservatives and fundamentalists? Have you seen this film?