Reading the Post chat with Ryan and Peter, I’m struck by people’s persistent tendency to ask the filmmakers about their solution to the problem. What policy should be instituted? How can we remove the dictator from power? How can we fix it? Just as persistent is Peter and Ryan’s response: we care about the problem–deeply– but we don’t have any solutions to put forward. Perhaps privately, they have strong opinions about this. Or maybe they have intentionally avoided moving toward a solution. Or maybe they’ve just been too busy making this film to think about it. But in any case, I see how too strong of a perspective might hurt the film, and might encourage viewers toward a dichotomous response–agree or disagree– when what is better for the problem (and the viewer, and the world) is more engagement with this complex issue and creative thought about it.
I wonder if this is suggestive of anything with regard to church. Is it the task of church leaders and theologians to offer answers, solutions, and strong perspectives? Or is it better if leaders can find a way to provocatively raise the issues, inviting creative engagement? (Or have I just created my own false dichotomy?) If we present one position, we invite only agreement or disagreement. We ask only one very simple question: Do you believe this?, instead of helping people to discover what they truly believe, with the hope that they might choose to move toward what they’d like to believe.