1/17 Movie and Discussion

When: Saturday, January 17 (snow date is February 7)  9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.          (includes discussion and lunch)

A Brief Reflection on Healing by Bishop Dorsey McConnell, Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, followed by The Fault in Our Stars

Bishop Dorsey McConnell is loosely connected with the making of The Fault in Our Stars because parts of it were shot in one of the churches in his diocese, in fact, a church named St. Paul’s. He is directly connected with the film because it’s about two young people who have cancer, and he himself has had cancer. Part of his message is about meeting Christ in those who suffer: “In the end, underneath all our fancy clothes, our masks, our daily situations, we . . . are all waiting for healing.” Other parts of his message raise a multitude of questions about healing: What constitutes healing, and how does it happen? If you live with a disease like cancer, can you be healed? How can the effects of pain and suffering enrich our spiritual life?

The bishop’s message only takes a few minutes, but it is a wonderful lead in to watch the full-length film because it provides a framework within which to view.

If you were an English major, the title of the DVD, The Fault in Our Stars, might sound hauntingly familiar. In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the inverse is spoken by Cassius to Brutus, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” This is in direct contradiction to the biblical notion that “he [God] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 4:45). But for Caesar, we are the cause of all suffering in our own lives.

This popular film is about two young people with cancer who fall in love.  Yes, it’s very moving.  But the powerful message of the film, borne out of the subtle twist in Shakespeare’s quotation, is that even though these two protagonists did not cause their disease and cannot change its course, they have choices and can live a full life, if a short one.

This is not a movie about a God who fixes everything (one of the lines in the film is that “the world is not a wish-granting factory”).  It is about, as Bp. McConnell suggests, a “God who takes on our suffering and walks a little in front of us, calling us into his life, and that life is filled with love.”  That reflects Jesus’ promise to us: “I have come that [you] may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Pain and suffering touch everyone’s life at one time or another.   Please join Dick Hall and others to hear Bishop McConnell’s personal comments, watch the film, and discuss our own experiences.  Lunch will be provided at the end of the program.

Facilitator:  The Rev. Cn. Dick Hall