According to a 2007 survey conducted by thePew Forum
, "44 percent of American adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether." Modern Americans are grappling with how to fit centuries-old faith-based traditions into a world filled with contradictions.
The Calling, a documentary produced by Danny Alpert and the Kindling Group, and screening at the Rice Media Center on December 15, is the story of seven idealistic young Americans on the path to becoming the spiritual leaders of tomorrow. The film follows each individual through years of study and training and into their individual practices as religious professionals, providing an unblinking look at modern Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim traditions and the struggles faced by those called to lead the "I'll have my cake and eat it too" generation of Americans. "We set out to create an American film about faith," Alpert says.
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(Seminary student Tahera Ahmad discusses her traditional Muslim upbringing and her non-traditional career path as a leader in the Islamic faith.)
The Kindling Group launched "What's Your Calling," a companion engagement campaign, at the beginning of this month. The project, set to run through Spring 2011, features a series of interviews, videos and articles pushing the notion of "a calling" beyond the scope of religion.
Previous films of executive producer Daniel Alpert have been nominated for Academy and national Emmy Awards, and have aired on PBS, HBO, A&E and on television and at festivals around the world. The Kindling Group is a nonprofit organization with a mission of creating enlightening, innovative and engaging documentary films and promoting the civic and educational impact of such films. In addition to the Rice Cinema screening, The Calling will air nationally on the Emmy® and Peabody Award winning PBS series Independent Lens, on Monday, December 20, and Tuesday, December 21, from 9 to 11 p.m. (check local listings).
The Calling screens Wednesday, December 15, 7pm, at Rice Media Center.