09 January 2014 You are here:

Cringe-worthy!... Embarrassed!... Confused!... Shocked!... No words!...

You would be correct if you believed that these are quotations from the social media comments being made by Salvationists about the BBC4 programme screened on Tuesday night (7 January 2014). You may even recognise one or more of them as your own!

At the time of writing, the comments, criticisms and questions, while noticeably decreasing in volume, continued to appear some 24 hours after the screening of God’s Cadets on Tuesday. The negative comments are, in the main, from Salvationists who are reacting to aspects of the programme about which they feel uncomfortable or statements with which they disagree. In the main, the comments from “outsiders” are either neutral or positive. I offer no interpretation, except to note that this is interesting.

So intense has been the discussion sparked by the programme that I have decided to return to the topic in this blog. This is not meant to be an apologetic of, nor an apology for, our decision to allow the cameras in. I simply want to let you know about some of the positives that have resulted from the programme’s screening.

But, before I do, let me confirm a few things because some of the facts have become “woolly” as they have been bandied about in cyberspace.

First, there is little of what was said – on either side of the discussion as to the merits or demerits of this programme – that I do not understand. I mean emotionally, and not merely intellectually. It is a fact that I have already confessed my own discomfort at some of what was said or portrayed, and far from brushing such things under the proverbial, I would agree that some statements need to be unpacked with those who expressed them – privately, despite the statements being so public. It’s how we would treat anyone, so it is how we should treat each other.

Secondly, I can confirm that we saw the final version of the film as early as mid-November, but we did not have editing rights nor did we influence the choice of content from the many hours of film that was made. We felt no need to do so.

Finally, it must be remembered that it was a film about The Salvation Army, as opposed to being by, or for the Army.

So, why broach this subject again in a blog?

Simply to share with you that as a direct result of viewing the programme:

two people have asked – separately – for information on how they can join us; someone has asked to have a conversation about Eternity; someone has had a personal meeting with Jesus and been saved; someone wants to know where to attend the nearest Army meeting; a group of people working through their addictions spent a couple of hours talking about Jesus and his calling on people’s lives; a couple have offered for officership; someone wants to talk about God in the context of dementia; a person wants to explore healing after an abusive past. someone expressed how it has opened his eyes to reality, purpose, justice and community a group of people started talking about their own beliefs and the things that drive them to follow their faith

These are outcomes I’ve heard about in the past 12 hours or so, and I thought that they present a perspective that’s worth having in the midst of all the lively discussion.