“Yet the stones remain less real to those who cannot name them” ~Dana Gioia
To paraphrase the illustrative Peter Rollins, many people of faith feel a desire to speak about that which is most precious to them, about that which has transformed their lives, that which they feel has liberated them. Yet that needs to be contrasted with the concern that every time we speak of that source, that place of liberation, we somehow do it an injustice. Our words are always inappropriate. At their best, they point toward something, and at their worst they eclipse it and encrust it, and prevent people from actually experiencing that source for themselves. So the believer feels they must speak, but in another way also remain silent.
This means that theology is analogous in many ways to poetry. Poetry, at its best, tries to express something that always slips out of language. It speaks of subjects that go beyond words. Love, desire, birth, death & loss–these are things that mark us, but yet we find difficult to put into words. Poetry offers a language beyond language. When done right, poetry (and all art) serves as an invitation to another which allows them to, in some ways, experience something that has effected you in such a profound sense that you can’t quite express it through normal means.
Callid’s film begins to teach people how to do this, how to talk poetically about their faith. This film really did inspire me. Callid had asked folks for ideas on how this film could be used for teaching/conversational purposes, and I told him that I see this film being shown at festivals, conferences, galleries, colleges, seminaries, living rooms, heck just about anywhere people of all stripes, faiths and beliefs can be found. Because for me, this isn’t just a film about how to talk about God and creativity. It’s a film about how to talk about the most important things in life, whatever they may be (God, life, death, love etc.). We all need to learn how communicate with each other better, more thoughtfully and more lovingly, and who can teach us how to do this better than poets?
One thing that stuck with me throughout the film is something that I often hear Callid say: “The messages we give and receive about God can alter our experience of God.” With that in mind, the answers which the people in the film give to the questions Callid asks, could very well be compiled into one truly amazing, crazy, fantastic poem about God.
Brilliant and Beautiful.
I admit that I really enjoyed this film. Knowing about Callid’s work in theopoetics gave me a big advantage in comprehending what Callid was attempting to do. I will say, however, that not having foresight into Callid’s work, one could be at a slight disadvantage when attempting to grasp at the deeper meaning of this film. Regardless, for me this film accomplishes it’s goal: It is an invitation to a new way of being. It is an investigation into the things that matter most. It is indeed a documentary poem.