A straight man travels America meeting gays & ex-gays, lovers & haters, saints & sinners, all trying their best to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, and along the way he learns what it means to "love your gay neighbor as yourself."
Stained Glass Rainbows explores the most controversial subject facing America today: the collision between the LGBT community and the Christian church. Can gays be Christian? Is homosexuality a sin? Is there a gay gene? Is there such a thing as an ex-gay? Both families and churches are being torn apart over these divisive issues. Stained Glass Rainbows brings together the voices of the left, the right, the middle, and helps bridge the gulf through its dialogue. From gay pride parades to anti-gay protests, Stained Glass Rainbows confronts the controversy of faith through the hearts and minds of people on both sides of this uncivil war.
Great Starting Point for Honest, Respectful Discussion
The review is abbreviated from my review at Hollywood Jesus and The Virtual Pew.
There is little doubt, one of the most heated topics in the church today is the role of faith in regards to homosexuality. It brings about likely more anger and debate than any other topic. It is a topic many refuse to engage in, yet, others bring to the forefront of discussion, especially amongst those of varying views. Kent Williamson, along with Paladin Pictures has done it once again, that is, produced and made a documentary that will raise eyebrows, create discussion, and cause the viewer to think. Just like their previous documentary, Rebellion of Thought, Stained Glass Rainbows is a must watch movie which will likely do more to engage conversation than raise tempers and create argument than any film on this subject ever done.
Stained Glass Rainbows does what a documentary film should, present various sides of a perspective without taking sides. While there may be some dogmatic viewers on either side of the topic of homosexuality and faith who will have trouble with the film, I watched a private screening with persons on varying sides, from one extreme to the other and the universal opinion of each person was the film was fairly done and respectful to all sides. It isn't to say the film makers don't have an opinion, they likely do, but a good documentary isn't to do what Michael Moore often does in exaggerating truths and disrespecting the subject matter and opinion of those in the film, but instead, to present facts and let those facts and opinions of those being filmed be enough to provide their perspective.
Kent Williamson does a tremendous job in his work. As an independent filmmaker I can think of few I respect more, not just in the subject matter of his films but the quality of work, from sound to lighting and from cinematography to editing and direction. Stained Glass Rainbows is exceptional but beyond those things is the scripting to some extent, (normally a part of the editing process) in telling the story in a fair and respectful way. This film, much like the previous work Rebellion of Thought along tells a thought provoking story along with the documentary nature of the film. There are surprises and thought provoking footage, mixed in with humor and perspective that will challenge the viewer, no matter what their perspective.
Stained Glass Rainbows includes interviews with various persons, from former Christian musicians such as Ric Alba and Sean Doty to theologians such as Robert Gagnon and Cindi Love along with numerous others. Included in those interviews is a surprisingly, respectful interview with Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of former Westboro Baptist Church Pastor Fred Phelps. Known for their protests at dead soldier funerals and homosexual events among other events.
When speaking to Kent he told me that he was able to get a respectful interview with Shirley Phelps-Roper due to the fact that the film was an independent film. Of all the interviews I have seen with this woman, while I strongly disagree with the approaches her group takes, it was the most respectful interview I have seen her give. Why do I say this? It shows the ability of Kent Williamson to interview individuals with such diverse opinions while at the same time, being fair. He gets more information out of her because of her calm demeanor, along with the other interviews, that I have seen others ever get. This allows the viewer to make up their mind. The interviews also move the viewer to view the subject matter in a deeper more respectful way without the drama of a Jerry Springer television show.
Stained Glass Rainbows has one perspective it is consistent with throughout the film, that is, all people, are loved by God. While individuals interviewed may not take this position, the film certainly does. I greatly appreciated it because it does something like no other film I have seen on the subject, it brings the topic to the forefront of respectful discussion. I found myself appreciating things said by Cindi Love, especially her response as a lesbian pastor and what she would say to Fred Phelps if seeing him in Heaven, as well as the perspective of Jonathan Ervin, a formerly gay man and his perspective on his own life regarding his faith.
Stained Glass Rainbows shows that despite ones views, no matter what side they are on, the discussion should be respectful and is worth taking part in. The film shows, that the reality is, there are multitudes of homosexuals who are seeking a knowledge of God and a relationship with Jesus. No matter what perspective one takes, Stained Glass Rainbows shows the possibility of engaging in respectful and appropriate conversation on the subject.
At the end of the screening I did, I don't think anyone's opinion was changed, that isn't to say their attitudes didn't change though, especially in how they would or could discuss the subject with others. Each person felt they were better prepared for respectful conversation on the topic. That is a starting point and it shows the power and potential of the video helping bring about understanding is major aspect I loved about this film Who should see this film? Anyone impacted by the discussion on homosexuality and faith! It is well worth seeing and beyond that, watching with a group and engaging in conversation afterwords. There are plans for a discussion guide on the film which will be worth getting for these types of gatherings.
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