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Issue Date:  March 7, 2008

Film argues for gentler church approach to divorce

Divorced people no longer feel as if they are wearing a scarlet “D” on their chests when they walk into most houses of worship.

The prevalence of divorce has forced even the most conservative church leaders to grapple with the issue and explore ways to welcome people from unsuccessful marriages without giving up the ideal of a lifelong union blessed by God, church observers say.

Yet Christian filmmaker Dave Christiano said there are still times when he gets the sense that churchgoers who have never gone through a divorce look at a divorced person and can barely hide the thought, “What did that guy do wrong?”

In his new film, “Me & You, Us, Forever,” writer-director Christiano, 51, of North Carolina, tells the story of a divorced 47-year-old Christian man who thinks back and reminisces about his first love of 30 years ago.

The semiautobiographical movie, which opened Feb. 22 in 83 U.S. cities, is based on Christiano’s first love with a New York woman; he would not disclose the woman’s name.

“This is a tribute to a lost first love,” he said.

But it also is meant to help Christians, particularly those going through a divorce initiated by a spouse, as Christiano did, to accept that such devastating losses happen in life and cannot always be explained.

“The answer is God is God. He’s the Lord,” said Christiano, who calls himself a nondenominational, Bible-believing Christian. “The issue is to try to grow and mature and deal with it” without remaining angry and bitter.

The main character in the movie, Dave, is angry at both his ex-wife and God. When a friend says God is not responsible for divorce, Dave responds, “Why not? He’s the one running the show, isn’t he?”

A divorce-recovery group at a church helps Dave deal with his anger and denial.

Pastors need to confront the issue, Christiano said.

“Look out at your congregation, and 90 percent of people have been touched by divorce,” Christiano said. “What I try to do with my film is to offer some help to people.”

-- Religion News Service

National Catholic Reporter, March 7, 2008

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