Beyond the Confines of Tolerance in Rachid Buchareb’s London River: Theological Discussion and Educational Approach to an Open Ended film

  • Author(s): Panayiotis A. Thoma
  • When: 2015-10
  • Where: Journal of Religion & Film
  • The article discusses Rachid Buchareb's film London River both from a theological and an educational point of view. Therefore I argue that this film may be of great use in the lesson of Religious Education (or other subjects that concern multicultural and inter-religious affairs), for it raises some crucial existential issues, mainly: how do people of different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds truly connect to one another especially in cases in which these exact differences may be the cause of extreme suffering. This is actually the thematic concept of the film. Based on the teachings of the Bible and particularly, the Incarnation and the way it is elaborated throughout Christian tradition, I conclude that mere tolerance will not suffice if humans are to truly connect and embrace each other in spite of any racial, cultural and religious differences. The film presents us both with the obstacles on the road to a true encounter between different people (the two protagonists, who represent the Christian and Muslim identities) and the right steps towards an intimate relationship. It is a realistic depiction of inter-personal and inter-cultural relationships, which may be better approached in a classroom environment through the use of open-ended questions. The latter promote analytical and creative thinking, which is necessary when we examine complex existential issues. This is the focal point of my educational approach to the film and in order to support it, I suggest a set of open-ended questions that may address the problems and issues that the film portrays. Within the same context, I also argue that doubt, which seems to pervade the whole story, can turn from a life and faith-consuming experience to a reason for a meaningful bond between people who come to experience it. The open-ended story of London River may denote a possibility of a better future regarding multi-ethic-religious affairs, based on the mutual desire for a genuine connection, friendliness and openness towards "otherness" that the Christian faith proposes. In this regard, Christian Churches should make use of the pattern of Incarnation outside the confines of mere adoption of a Christian doctrine. In terms of their dialogue with members of other religious traditions, they could see Incarnation as a starting point for the establishment of a common ground for the sake of peace and reconciliation.

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