interview: Callid Keefe-Perry [1 of 2]
[this week, Callid Keefe-Perry’s documentary “Made as Makers” is released! the documentary is an exploration of how faith, imagination, and art come together in faith communities. Callid’s interview below (and later this week!) discusses the film, his thoughts on creativity, and what he hopes the film might accomplish. the movie is great! and we hope that you’ll check it out and show it to your faith community soon–movie night!’]
your film “Made as Makers” is released on june 1. can you tell us about your hope for the film and what inspired it?
Sure. From its inception the film was supposed to be practical. That is, a discussion of theological topics addressed in such a way that they connected to the experience of people of faith. The film is intended as a tool to encourage dialogue and conversation about topics that are sometimes hard to talk about. What it isn’t though, is “practical” in the sense that a manual is practical: it doesn’t give answers or prove points, as much as it invites people to explore and connect to questions of faith.
I’ve been video-blogging for years and academically writing about the topic of theopoetics just as long, so it seemed time to create something that was in itself creative, and the medium of film helped me to do something else that is important to me: share voices that are not mine.
but what is actually in the film? what is it about?
It is about the intersection of creativity and faith, and how we can express our spirituality regarding God, faith, and our hope for the church. From a concrete point-of-view, other than the first and last short sections of the piece that are mostly me setting up the context and closing them out, the entirety of the rest is a series of conversational interviews I shot from October 2010 through February 2012.
In each interview, I first talked to the person about their own experiences of creativity in church settings, letting them interpret that as would: some folks talked about paintings in the sanctuary, some about new orders of service being created to better serve, and some talked about creativity in the sense of “newness” and God’s large work. After the “creativity and the church” part, I told folks that I had three prompts that I was hoping they would respond to and encouraged them to answer from the heart and from experience. I had the same three prompts for everyone I interviewed: 1) If I didn’t know God and yet somehow God and I got set up for a dinner together, what should I know about God in advance? That is, tell me about God. 2) Given your ideas about God, tell me about faith. 3) What is your hope for the church?
could you discuss your ultimate aim for a documentary like Made as Makers? what do you hope people might begin to think, say, and do because of the message of the film?
My ultimate aim? Phew… how about my aim for the next year? If that is the scale, then my hope is that it will find its way into seminaries, churches, community conversations, and teenage youth groups, and there inspire those folks to engage one another, experimenting with new language and freshness of experience. I’m utterly uninterested in people abandoning the way they’ve always talked about God just because some creativity-promoting whippersnapper like me says they should: what a bunch of idolatry that would be! No. What I hope is that there is some encouragement for those who have felt a calling-forth to express God in ways that don’t quite match what they see being expressed around them. Moreover, I’m hoping that the film helps communities themselves to encourage new vision and articulation, allowing for voices to speak (and write, paint, dance, etc.) that have previously been quiet.
what do you suggest people read or consult if they are interested in using creativity to experience and explore the Kingdom of God?
I guess I ought to push the film here, so I’d check out MadeAsMakers.org, which has a free link to the movie and will have some ideas for use of the film in community. In terms of sheer joy of reading though, I can’t recommend enough the Brazilian poet and theologian (and now children’s author) Rubem Alvez. Especially his book The Poet, the Warrior, the Prophet. Powerful beauty that is. In addition I think that the work of Andy Crouch in Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling is great as well. He engages the issue of human creativity and Divine connection well and in an accessible manner. Also, I maintain a bunch of online articles and videos over at theopoetics.net if folks are interested in my other work.
Callid Keefe-Perry is an Educator, Artist, and Community Builder. He is the founder and managing partner of an improvised comedy troupe and theater in Rochester NY, consults on the use of the Arts in classrooms, coordinates the non-profit arts organization, The Transformative Language Arts Network, and writes/researches on the use of language to shift (religious) experience. He maintains both TheImageOfFish.com and Theopoetics.net for people interested in his theological blah-blah.