movie week! starting with Cool It

Cool It could be a useful tool for college ministers, helping them better grasp the climate change issue and start (or continue) discussions on how their students can help in all sorts of world concerns. The film brings up great questions about what it means to truly help; as the movie says, “It’s not about feeling good about yourself, it’s about actually doing good.” Could that be any more relevant to college students on our campuses?

Theming is fun, so this week is Movie Week here at the blog. Enjoy.

My free screening for Cool It last Thursday came in response to a mass email from Relevant magazine. [And you can go free this week if you live in D.C., Nashville, or Grand Rapids.] Maybe I shouldn’t have assumed the ticket site‘s repeated references to “God’s creation,” as well as the movie’s promotion by Reel Truths (whose tagline is “Finding God at the Movies”) meant there would be overtly religious content here. You might even think the Christian small group discussion guide available for the movie would indicate that it touches – at least somewhere – on the spiritual connection.

It doesn’t. But while the whole experience originally felt like a bit of a bait-and-switch, it’s been good for me to remember that creation stewardship is still a spiritual concern, even if no spiritual case was made within the movie. (And unlike the movie, the free, impressive discussion guide definitely turns that corner.)

In any case, I did enjoy this movie, which takes a look at world concerns and where climate change / global warming fits into those concerns. For somebody who hasn’t paid much attention at all to this issue (and I bet I’m not alone!), the movie at least “caught me up” a bit and put it on the radar for me. But one surprise I appreciated is that Cool It expands its vision beyond discussing climate change to looking at quite a few other world issues, including issues that more directly affect individual lives right now. (“Priorities” is a major concept in the film.)

For a few moments, this documentary reminded me of Expelled; both documentaries reveal ideas skeptical of prevailing scientific opinion that have been supposedly subjected to an excommunication of sorts. But that focus doesn’t turn out to be the meat of Cool It; although the introduction-of-sorts drags something like 25 minutes, it then curves toward even more interesting topics.

Unlike Expelled, the primary subject and the narrator are the same (very interesting) person, Bjorn Lomborg. And it’s important to note from the outset that he is – by no means – a “climate change denier.” This film doesn’t have as obvious a conservative slant as Expelled; for example, while Lomborg’s critique of Al Gore’s work is strong here, he also praises Gore for putting environmental concerns on the world’s agenda. A Reuters article quotes Lomborg elsewhere as saying, “A fundamental problem of climate change is that we seem to be stuck in two positions – it’s either the end of the world or it’s not a problem at all.” It’s thinking about a pragmatic balance that is the heart of Cool It, for sure.

From the movie’s official site:

Award-winning filmmaker Ondi Timoner travels the world with Lomborg exploring the real facts and true science of global warming and its impact. Lomborg is the founder and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, a globally respected think tank that brings together the world’s leading economists to prioritize major global problems — among them malaria, the lack of potable water and HIV/AIDS — based upon a cost/benefit analysis of available solutions. Amidst the strong and polarized opinions within the global warming debate, Cool It follows Lomborg on his mission to bring the smartest solutions to climate change, environmental pollution, and other major problems in the world.

So the movie focuses on more than climate change; it looks at priorities and asks what we can do to help with all sorts of difficult problems faced by the world community. As I noted at the top, thinking about true help vs. “help” is one of the best ways we can help our college students grapple with the very current social justice issue.

Later this week, ideas on why and how Cool It (or other movies) can be helpful to us as college ministers. But I’ve provided enough links and info that hopefully you can consider that already!


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  1. Pingback: Cool It for college ministers (as movie week continues!) « Exploring College Ministry blog (daily notes about our field)

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