(L to R) MAHERSHALA ALI and VIGGO MORTENSEN star in Participant Media and DreamWorks Pictures’ “Green Book.” In his foray into powerfully dramatic work as a feature director, Peter Farrelly helms the film inspired by a true friendship that transcended race, class and the 1962 Mason-Dixon line.

by The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton

The Season of the Nativity (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany) is a time when a lot of good films are released. I enjoy going to the movies. In Advent, movies often provide time for quiet for me, as well as rich topics for reflection in the season of waiting. Some congregations have movie groups where they view a film together and discuss faith themes they see in the film. My hope is to recommend films for your personal reflection or your movie group. You might even want to consider starting a group at your church. A movie group brings parishioners and community members together through fellowship and engages people in theological reflection. Movies help us to see where God is speaking and acting in culture, in our daily lives.

I commend these films and discussion to you. My list of recommendations will grow throughout the season. You can follow it on the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland webpage (episcopalmaryland.org), as well as on Facebook @EugeneTaylorSutton. I hope you enjoy the movies and that they give your rich fodder for reflection. Below are the recommendations, followed by discussion questions.

BOY ERASED – Recently I saw the film, Boy Erased. About the teenage son of a Baptist preacher in the South, this coming out story goes beyond the societal struggles associated with coming out, reaching theological challenges so big a father feels he has to question whether he can love his son as he is, his faith beliefs being in tension with his love for his son. The young boy, Jared, is sent to a cruel conversion camp where he wrestles to understand himself, his family and his beliefs.

Questions for Discussion:

1) Have your religious convictions ever been in tension with your desire to love unconditionally?

2) When did you first encounter a person of faith who was publicly open about their sexual orientation to the same gender?


GREEN BOOK – My next recommendation is the  Green Book. This is also a personal recommendation for me, as my parents grew up in areas of strict racial segregation. I remember traveling with them in the South and finding out as a young boy that we could not eat or stay in some establishments because of the color of our skin. Did you know?… There really was a published Green Book. In the film, both of the main characters, one white and one black, are transformed in significant ways because of their friendship.

Questions for discussion:

1) Have issues of race ever come up in any of your relationship? Why or why not?

2) Is racial equity, injustice or insensitivity, and issue in your church?

You can follow my movie recommendations and suggestions for movie groups in one place on our diocesan website, EpiscopalMaryland.org.