Panel discussion included Fuller professors Terry Hargrave and David Augsburger
The Travis Auditorium filled up quickly on Friday night, February 5, as filmgoers gathered to watch The Big Question, an award-winning documentary examining the impact of forgiveness on human beings. Personal accounts of experiences with forgiveness as well as interviews with authors, psychologists, and prominent religious leaders such as Desmond Tutu demonstrated the wide variety of opinions on the subject. The screening, hosted by the Brehm Center’s Reel Spirituality Institute, was followed by a panel discussion with the film’s executive producer, Fr. Frank Desiderio, C.S.P., and Fuller professors David Augsburger and Terry Hargrave.
“This film is a gift to us,” remarked Dr. Augsburger, professor of pastoral counseling, in his opening comments. “It is a conversation for the interfaith world.” Executive producer Desiderio affirmed the diversity of views in the film. “I didn’t necessarily agree with everything everyone said,” he admitted. “But I wanted people to be able to tell their story.”
Professor of Marital and Family Therapy Terry Hargrave was also “struck by the variety of people speaking about forgiveness.” He observed, “It’s like they all had witnessed a miracle and were trying to put words to it.” Dr. Hargrave’s comment, however, ignited an interesting discussion on the panel. Augsburger took issue with Hargrave’s framing forgiveness as a “miracle,” stating, “Forgiveness as I understand it is a stubborn, faithful practice—it’s basic humanity.” When we make the act miraculous, one can mistakenly believe that only some experience forgiveness and some don’t, he claimed.
Based on questions from the audience, other topics addressed during the discussion included unconditional versus conditional forgiveness, the coexistence of forgiveness and anger, and whether it is necessary to forget as well as forgive. Panel moderator and Reel Spirituality co-director Rob Johnston asked, “In what sense is forgiveness a human trait, and in what sense is it an empowerment of the divine?” A perfect example of the big questions that may result upon viewing “The Big Question.”
To learn more about the film, visit www.BigQuestionTheMovie.com.
For more information about the Reel Spirituality Institute, visit their website.