Sugar Valley Sampler

Film Info: “Sugar Valley Sampler” (1979) – Part of the”Profiles of Rural Religion” series roduced by P.J. O’Connell for the Rural Documentary Project and Penn State Broadcasting – 58 minutes

Distributor:   Pennsylvania State University Media Sales DVD – $25

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.

Thank God and the Revolution

Film Info:   “Thank God and the Revolution” (1981) – 57 minutes

Distributor:  ???????????? (formerly Icarus Films, but it’s not in their current catalog)

Summary:  Outstanding illustration of many theories about the role of religion in social change in Nicaragua.  It includes Liberation Theology, base Christian communities, a brief historical background, and interviews with people from all strata of society – rural villagers to cabinet officials.  The folk hymns in the soundtrack are moving.

Film notice taken (with permission) from the “Teaching Resources” list in Meredith McGuire’s Religion: The Social Context, third edition. Her 5th edition (available from Waveland Press: see does not contain the resource list. I have only traced some of these films to current distributors. Please post updated information about them, if you have it. – JS

Out of Order

Film Info: “ Out of Order”, by Dian Christian and Bruce Jackson, color, 89 minutes, 1983

Distributor:  Documentary Educational Resources (DER) –

Summary:  In “Out of Order”, six former Catholic nuns tell why they entered and why they left religious life.  They talk about single life and marriage, the changed place of religion in their lives, sex roles, institutional supports and burdens, and work.  The film offers unique insight into female socialization and identity in modern America by probing ideals and realities of womanhood, sex, work, and service from an unknown an unusual perspective.  (From the distributor’s blurb.)