Friday, June 18, 2021

Tribeca with Abe: Building a Bridge

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections virtually from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which runs June 9th-20th.

Building a Bridge
Directed by Evan Mascagni and Shannon Post
Viewpoints – Screening Information

There is a feeling many people have that the faith they were raised in is incompatible with who they are, and that to attempt a return to religion won’t be successful because they are not welcome. There is good reason for this given that biblical texts tend to be discriminatory and outdated, and while modern interpretations cast a wider and more inviting net, traditional readings are often quite exclusionary. This notion can be incredibly painful for members of the LGBTQ+ community who have been told over and over that there is no place for them within Christianity – or other religions, for that matter – and find open-minded preachers and churches to be all too rare.

Father James Martin is an exception to the rule, a man whose devoutness drove him to make a controversial decision to endorse extending the hand of friendship to the LGBTQ+ community. His book Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity was not received well by many of his peers, but the choice to meet people where they are and accept them has made a huge difference to the many who were cast aside by parents and communities because of their identities.

This documentary has an affable, energetic protagonist, one fully aware of the uphill battle he faces to confront a powerful and vocal group within the church that calls him a heretic and seeks to discredit him for what they see as blasphemous teachings. He supports Pope Francis’ example of not judging LGBTQ+ people who seek to have a relationship with Christianity, and continues with his mission despite all the naysayers who say that all he stands for is incongruent with a true religion vision.

This film showcases the outreach by Father Martin, but also allows those who fight fervently against what he stands for to speak. The way that their opinions are presented and expressed doesn’t overshadow his work or threaten to give them a platform that could encourage audiences that perhaps this is a two-sided issue where their opinion could be regarded as anywhere near as valid or acceptable as Father Martin’s. His ability to respond and hold fast to his beliefs that bringing in any member of the community who wants to be a part of it is only made stronger by their lack of desire to consider what he says or does. At some point in the future, this story should be so common that this documentary need not exist, but for now, it’s an important and spirited message that change like this absolutely must be happening.


No comments: