“When I have a terrible need of – dare I say ‘religion’? – I go outside at night and paint the stars. – Vincent Van Gogh
Painting the Stars is a video put out by the good folks at Living the Questions. LTQ has been creating videos based on the work of many of today’s leading liberal theological voices. One of my favorites is the awkwardly named ‘Countering Pharaoh’s Production-Consumption Society Today’ featuring Walter Brueggemann. They have even developed some children’s curriculum which I find to be a great resource for any church on the liberal side of the spectrum.
Painting the Stars features over a dozen thought leaders from the traditional liberal voices of Shelby Spong and Mathew Fox, to more contemporary progressives like Rachel Held Evans. While the video is broken up into seven sessions the overarching theme is about how a faith tradition rooted in a pre-scientific worldview engages the discoveries of science. While it is easy to think about the relationship between religion and science as some kind of war, be it the Scope’s Monkey Trial or the works of the New Atheists, this series presents a comprehensive view of a third way. This third way is discussed as an evolutionary faith.
As I thought about reviewing this I admit to having two different reactions. As a piece of scholarship I found myself wanting more meat. This of course is coming from the perspective of a pastor who has already personally reconciled my faith and science, and has read the works of many of the people featured in the video. So for someone who has decades of experience interpreting theological texts through a lens that affirms the insights of science, it might not provide a whole lot of brand new information.
On the other hand, as a resource for discussion this DVD could be very valuable. I think it could be very helpful in broadening the discussion between the binary that the science and religion argument often gets stuck in where either science or faith must get rejected outright. Its strength is found in its gentle approach to affirming both insights of science and faith from a variety of spiritual perspectives. It includes voices that are orthodox, evangelical/post-evangelical, non-christian, and mystical. These voices cover topics from interpreting Genesis to ecological ethics, from personal spirituality to historical theological perspectives, from the nature of having an evolving faith to the contemporary expressions of the church. I am looking forward to exploring some of these conversations with this video in my current congregation.
One final highlight that I have to lift up is that at the end of each session is a prayer emerging from the theme of the session. Sometimes prayer is able to express a dimension of truth that the literal word cannot. In this case I found the prayers to be a perfect compliment to the themes and give the series a sense of wholeness that it might otherwise lack.
I would recommend this video as a great catalyst for group conversation regarding the impact of science upon the understanding of our faith.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.