Safe Space for Dangerous Conversations: Faith & Justice in an Age of Wikileaks- Vic Thiessen

“It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”

So says Morpheus to Neo in describing The Matrix in the 1999 film of the same name. It’s a line that comes to mind when I hear the various governmental responses to Wikileaks. ‘How dare anyone try to reveal pieces of truth in a world of lies and cover-ups?’ they ask. This unmasking of the powers is a dangerous game, as witnessed by calls for incarceration and even assassination of the Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, and any suspected Wikileaks information leakers.

Two thousand years ago, it was likewise dangerous for Jesus, and he paid the ultimate price for his fearless truth-telling and noncompliance with the ruling authorities of his day. As followers of Jesus, we are called “to live in history with open eyes, to look deep into present events, beyond the conflicting claims of those vying for power” as we “search for and attack the very roots of violence and oppression that hold the human story hostage,” as Ched Myers has said.

When I first visited the Greenbelt Festival eight years ago (I was living in London at the time), I was struck by two things:

1) This was a “safe space for dangerous conversations” (as Gareth Higgins described it to me then) and

2) There were so many Christians looking for such a safe space on their journey towards finding a Christianity with integrity for the 21st century.

One forum for such dangerous conversations is the discussion of film, the most popular entertainment medium of our time. Films can open our eyes to the truth around us and help us become more fully human. But they can also promote blindness (e.g. the myth of redemptive violence: the idea that violence is often necessary to accomplish good ends). As a film buff, and sometimes critic, I got involved in Greenbelt’s film program. Now that I’m back in Canada (in my spare time I am the COO at Mennonite Church Canada), I look forward to being part of the film program at the Wild Goose Festival. If you’re ready to be unplugged from the matrix, maybe I’ll see you there.

Vic Thiessen was Director of the London Mennonite Centre, and is current COO of the Mennonite Church in Canada. With his brother Walter, he co-hosts the Thiessen Bros Film Blog.

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