Living the Questions: A Video/Discussion Course for Progressive Christians

Review & Commentary

One thought on “Living the Questions: A Video/Discussion Course for Progressive Christians

  1. Review

    Living the Questions is, I believe, exactly what many individuals and congregations in the progressive Christianity network have been looking for: an attractive and thoughtful expression of the progressive approach to Christianity. The DVD and web-based curriculum is designed to help people wrestle with the relevance of Christianity in the 21st century.

    Living the Questions features some of the most outspoken and respected voices in today’s theological circles, including TCPC honorary advisors Marcus Borg, John Cobb, and Jack Spong. The series, however, does not limit itself to the wisdom of elderly white men. Viewers are introduced to the insights of several women, who like the other men, represent a variety of races and cultures.

    Each session presents video clips of lectures and interviews with people whose thoughts often complement, and occasionally contradict, what the others have said on the subject. One of the program’s strengths is that the producers have made no attempt to explain away differences among the variety of views they present. Another strength is that the course acknowledges the limits of logic by presenting some of the material as living parables, such as a visit with a gardener whose passion is growing orchids and with a potter who demonstrates his craft. Music and other art forms also receive the attention they deserve.

    The TCPC network owes a great debt of gratitude to the two young (at least they look young to me on the video clips) Arizona-based United Methodist pastors who have spent the last several years collecting and editing the video clips.

    The two, David Felten and Jeff Proctor-Murphy, also have prepared imaginative and sensitive lesson plans available for downloading from their website.

    Although they advertise the course as having 12 sessions, they advise having an initial orientation before the course actually begins. They also include a 13th video and discussion session as a bonus for Methodists. In my opinion, the Methodist session could be valuable for Christians of every stripe.

    As I see the course, it has great potential in three diff erent kinds of settings.

    1. A congregationally based study-course for new or prospective members. As Jeff and David point out, the discussions are designed for groups of no more than ten participants, but a church could accommodate larger numbers by projecting the videos on a large screen or by providing several monitors and then by dividing into small groups for discussion.

    2. TCPC local study groups. Although some of our local groups might balk at the $250 price tag, if they divide up the cost among ten people it works out to less than $1.80 per session for each participant. A real bargain!

    3. Individual viewing for people who can’t or won’t go to meetings. I have an aversion to television, but a DVD player came with my new computer. On days when the temperature is too low and the walks too slippery for pleasant walking in the early morning, I work out on a treadmill in my basement. I usually listen to National Public Radio, but I found I could arrange the furniture so that I could face my computer monitor and watch Living the Questions while treading. Even as a solitary experience, I found the course to be engaging, enlightening, and uplifting.

    I think that every progressive organization should have a set of the DVDs to circulate among shut-ins and people too busy to attend classes. You can order the course on line at http://www.living thequestions.com or by writing to 5501 N. 7th Ave, PMB 733, Phoenix, AZ 85013-1755.

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