Image of one of the window installations created by David Lynch for the Galeries Lafayette du Boulevard Haussmann in France.

David Lynch, Disney, and Baptists. Odd bedfellows to be sure.

As the son of a Southern Baptist minister, I remember well the day the church boycotted Disney in 1997. Sure, Donald Duck wore a shirt and no pants, and that was a bit uncouth. But other ducks didn’t even bother to wear shirts, so Donald was light-years ahead of his peers. Why couldn’t the Baptists let Disney do as it pleased? I suppose it should not have been surprising, then, when Disney teamed up with David Lynch in 1999. At the time, this union probably prompted the higher-ups in the Southern Baptist Convention to have visions of  Satan himself shaking hands with Mickey Mouse.

But the resulting film was rated G, as in “Gee, I wonder what happened to the guy who directed Blue Velvet?”

In March, David Lynch will invade First Baptist Church (Fear not, we are not Baptists in the Fred Phelpsian sense. We are American Baptists.), Lawrence, KS. He will not erase our heads or wrap us in blue velvet or leave us to hitchhike along the shoulder of the lost highway. Instead, he will shoot straight, offering us a simple story instead of the circus that usually accompanies him. On Sunday, March 13th, we will screen David Lynch’s The Straight Story as part of our monthly film course, Sanctuary of the Cinema.

Start Time: 6:30 p.m., Sunday, March 13th, 2011.

Location: First Baptist Church, 1330 Kasold Drive, Lawrence, KS 66049. We will screen the film in the Judson room adjacent to the sanctuary itself.

Our film screening protocol is as follows: We watch a film and discuss it afterward in terms of its theological importance. It is one thing to read about Jesus saying we should forgive one another, and another to see a character either embody this ethos or defy it blatantly. The teachings of Christ are all too often relegated to the periphery of our lives, so familiar to us that they become like antique objects in a room that have value but no immediacy or importance in the present moment.

Sanctuary of the Cinema teaches students of the cinema to see the sacred in the everyday – even in the profane. It challenges viewers to emerge from the confines of the theater with new eyes. When we look through those eyes, we hope to see our neighbors more clearly and love them better. We hope to love God and others despite our reservations, our phobias, our prejudices, and ultimately, despite ourselves.

I say all of this encourage you to come to FBC on March 13th at 6:30 for a screening of The Straight Story. If you are fascinated by the absurd, is there really anything more absurd than going to a Baptist church to watch a Disney film directed by David Lynch? I’m sure there is, but I can’t really think of it at the moment. We hope to see you there, Eraserheads.

First Baptist is a CVLI-licensed church.