How do I become a Christian when I struggle to believe in God?
The Trouble With Paris
A brilliant leader's resource, exploring the darker side of today's culture.
The Trouble with Paris is a DVD and book pack by Mark Sayers aimed at young adults. The DVD provides four weeks of short, engaging video presentations to start a conversation about our culture.
In it, Sayers and his team pick out several themes in contemporary society and expose them as destructive illusions; poor substitutes for the life of meaningful faith. And they are (rightly) ruthless: consumerism, image, selfishness and experience are all pinned down as lies which contradict God's ultimate, fulfilling reality.
The strength of the resource is its creativity and clarity. Sayers is a great storyteller, and the Room 3 visual creative team do an outstanding job of communicating his ideas visually and aurally through the DVD. There is never a dull moment on screen.
That said, the book and DVD of course have their limitations. The DVD episodes are presented very much as conversation starters - they refer to biblical ideas, and use quotations from scripture, but are only a starting point for more meaty bible teaching. And of course, Sayers has his own lingo and theology to push, so Bible teachers will want to think about how these words and ideas fit with the rest of their program. As with any resource, be discerning, and take what is good.
Second, I would be cautious about relying too heavily on the book and DVD in young adults or university ministry. The idea underwriting the book and DVD is that of "hyper-reality". Sayers does a good job at using this buzz word as a point of departure to make some poignant observations about society, but a more stuffy academic audience might take issue with the arguable misappropriation of Baudrillard's theory of hyper-reality.
These limitations aside, I look forward to using this DVD next time I do a youth group talk on being a counter cultural Christian.
So what is the trouble with Paris? Sayers tells the story of a young woman he met at a party, who felt depressed, and decided that the solution was to move to Paris to "freshen up her life... she feels as if she needs to experience something new" (p21). Six months later, she emails him to say that she's now in Ireland: "Paris was not all she had expected". The trouble with Paris is really the trouble with the myths that "it will be better when..." (as if all we need to solve our deepest problems is a new experience, or a new toy, or a new image).
A great resource to add visual spice to your Bible teaching.