Summary: An introduction to the religious makeup of Clinton County, PA. From the ethnic Catholics of Renovo, through the fundamentalist Baptists of North Bend and the struggling Jews of Lock Haven, to the consolidated Lutherans of Nittany and Sugar Valleys, this is a survey of religious conditions and outlooks in this rural county. The film also serves to set the scene for the remaining films in the “Profiles of Rural Religion” series.
Film Info: “We’re Really in It With You, Charlie” (1979) – Part of the”Profiles of Rural Religion” series produced by P.J. O’Connell for the Rural Documentary Project and Penn State Broadcasting – 58 minutes
Summary: Rural pastor Charlie is an “Outsider” having moved to the area only one year before. Charlie Mason is a thoughtful smart aleck, irreverently reverent, a counselor, a politician, an outsider in the small rural city where he is pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Lock Haven, PA. Rev. Mason is in conflict with his new congregation. He believes “they just want to have a church, and I want to do something important in the lives of people.” Conflict–real and imagined–is at the heart of this examination of a clergyman and his relationships with his congregation.
Summary: At 33, Paul Wonders was a successful dairy farmer, with a wife, six children, and a farm that had been in his family for four generations. He “got saved” at an evangelistic meeting in 1948, sold the farm, became an itinerant tent preacher and later an ordained minister. Today, he is pastor of the Gospel Tabernacle Assembly of God in Hammersley Fork, an unincorporated crossroads community in the most sparsely populated corner of Clinton County, PA. The Wonders have built a new church building; they hold four exuberant services a week for their congregation of less than 100. They and their church are flourishing. This is an exploration of a minister and his wife–co-ministers–and the joyous brand of evangelism they conduct in their lives and in their church
Summary: Religious involvement can be casual; in these three cases, it is not. Sue Jensen is a seminary intern, encountering the Salona Lutheran Church. Sue is suburban-raised, Princeton-educated, and a woman serving as pastor of a small, rural congregation. She is, to say the least, in contrast to her congregation’s expectations. Connie Richardson is a rural activist in the Gospel Tabernacle Assembly of God. She sings; she plays the organ; she teaches Sunday school; she is a missionary to her neighbors. And Connie believes: in the biblical “gifts”, in prayer, in healing, in her power to perform miracles “in the name of the Lord.” Celeste Rhodes Larsen is a nonbeliever in a strongly religious community, a former Jew in a predominantly Christian population, and a creative dance professor at a small teachers college. Her skepticism counterpoints prevailing attitudes. Rural religion is varied, intense, and decidedly alive.
Summary: To conclude the “Profiles of Rural Religion” series, the series consultants, sociologists Don Crider and Joe Faulkner, come to the TV studio for some analysis and some dialogue with the subjects of the six documentaries. But the dialogue develops most strongly between the subjects themselves, as questions of diversity and religious choice become prominent. And the program provides a final, frontal encounter between Suzie Andresen and Glenn Stover (see “Separate Realities”). Their quite different religious views, untempered and forcefully put, illustrate the range and intensity of religious expression in Rural America.
Summary: Sugar Valley is a “bowl,” with only two breaks in the mountain rim. For 200 years, it was largely self-sufficient, economically, socially, and religiously. Since World War II, however, the Valley has slowly changed. There are two Lutheran churches where once there were nine, a group based out of the United Church of Christ is fighting a school merger with a district outside the Valley, and at the annual community picnic there are now electric-guitared rock groups. But the content of the lyrics–the gospel message–has remained much the same. This is a film of preservation and of change, of meeting the needs of the times and of holding on to what is dear. Sugar Valley is changing, but gradually, sometimes grudgingly and, when possible, on its own terms.
Enlarging the Kingdom explores the encounter, interactions, and conflicts between Catholicism and African Pentecostalism. By putting in conversation Nigerian and Ghanaian Pastors and Catholic Priests the documentary looks at their diverse understanding of evil forces, authorized and unauthorized forms of relating to the Divine, the making of idols and icons, religious leadership and authority, women access to the pulpit and religious politics of the Italian Nation State. Enlarging the Kingdom offers a unique insight into the challenges of African Pentecostals in Italy and the role of Pentecostal Churches for African immigrant communities.
Film title: “Knocking” — by Joel P. Engardio and Tom Shepard — 2005 or 2006 — 53 minutes (plus extras on the DVD) Distributor: New Day Films — 888.367.9154 — www.newday.com/films/knocking.html Summary: (from the distributor’s blurb)
KNOCKING opens the door on Jehovah’s Witnesses. While protecting their own rights, they have won a record number of court cases expanding freedoms for all Americans. In Nazi Germany, they chose the concentration camps over fighting for Hitler. They refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds but support the science of bloodless medicine. They are moral conservatives who stay out of politics and the Culture War. KNOCKING follows two families who stand firm for their often controversial and misunderstood faith. Their stories reveal how one unlikely religion helped to shape history beyond the doorstep.
Keywords: sects, pacifists, American religion, religion and law
An engrossing and detailed look at a small Fundamentalist congregation in Massachusetts in the mid- 1980s. It follows several families, detailing their views of their religion and of the world. It provides an insider’s view without varnishing away negative details. First rate!
I find the shorter version more useful for the classroom, as it leaves time for a quick debriefing in an 80-minute class period. The discussion during the next class period works best if I give students study questions and ask them to relate the film to their reading.
Leave plenty of time for talk! Most students need it. (JS)
Keywords: Fundamentalism, worldview, conversion, family life, sects