Every time I join an audience to watch “God in the Box” I learn something new.
In recent days I’ve had the pleasure of screening the film with an audience in Columbia, Missouri, right down the street from Mizzou. Upon landing, my hosts immediately took me to legendary Shakespeare’s Pizza, to give me a taste of the town. The event was hosted by Broadway Christian Church and held at Ragtag Cinema. It’s a fantastic theater with lots of character, showing first run studio features next to grassroots indie films, with a bar in the lobby where you can buy a glass of wine and bring it in for the movie. Pastor Tim Carson and a team of volunteers organized a great program which culminated in a lively and engaging night.
Pastor Tim and his congregation are such a warm and welcoming group of people. This Jewish filmmaker felt right at home with his Christian hosts and vice versa. It was a diverse audience reflecting life in Columbia, frankly life in America. Before and after the film, I had a chance to visit with members of the audience, some of whom had spent days with their local “Box” at venues around town, introducing visitors and recording footage for their own Columbia short version. Their curiosity about the box and the film was infectious. It reminded me how I first felt when I set up the box with my crew of friends during production in Arizona…and every occasion since. It’s always a fantastic experience inviting visitors inside “God in the Box.”
When local groups record footage for their own short film and we watch that short right after watching our feature documentary, wonderful little gems from the material begin to sparkle and stand out. This time for me, it was a drawing. A visitor to the “Box” in Columbia drew a sketch which closely resembled a drawing in the film in which stick-figure people are holding hands. In the feature, the visitor describes God as people helping people. The local reporter next to me and I looked at each other as if to say, “Deja vu.”
This Sunday, April 14, Pastor Tim will be showing his Columbia “God in the Box” short film to his congregation as part of their service.
God in the Box Columbia Missouri – YouTube (referenced drawing at 9:54)
I hope everyone there takes a moment to mentally transport themselves inside the “Box” and explore what their own answers would be to the questions. What does God mean to you? What does God look like to you?
There are no wrong answers. The box is yours.
Many thanks to Pastor Tim and his team for being such wonderful hosts, also to special guests Amy Gearhart of Missouri United Methodist Church, Dr. Bill Bondeson – Philosophy Professor at University of Missouri and Dr. Sahba Jalali of the Baha’i Community for their insightful post-film comments. And compliments to editor Caitlin DeSpain for her work on the short film “God in the Box, Columbia, Missouri.”