Film documents young adults preparing for ministry

by Jamie Manson

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Last night, PBS premiered part one of The Calling, a new documentary from the Independent Lens series. (My fellow NCR Today blogger Maureen Fielder wrote about this show On PBS: 'The Calling'.) The film follows the lives of seven young adults entering the ministry in the Muslim, Jewish, Protestant and Catholic faiths.

The students’ journeys are filled with all the Sturm und Drang that I remember from my own experience in divinity school: The anxieties of challenging coursework and demanding internships, the joys of community, the pain of continuous self-doubt. No one escapes being reduced to tears. It’s fascinating to see that these experiences and their accompanying emotions transcend all faith boundaries.

Executive producer and director Danny Alpert spent nearly eight years following the subjects of his documentary. In addition to chronicling the gifts of these ministers, the film also offers insights into the pitfalls of egotism that dot their paths toward religious leadership.

Alpert acknowledges that his study comes at a crucial point in the history of religion in the United Sates: “Religious institutions, and organized religion, are undergoing great changes. . . . People are changing jobs more often than they used to in the past -- and people are also changing faiths more often than they have in the past. Three of our characters have grown up in faiths they are no longer a part of and are assuming leadership roles in new faiths.”

Part two of the series continues tonight on local PBS stations. You can also download the film on iTunes. Read the rest of the interview with Alpert here.

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