Telling Stories with Dr. Craig Detweiler, Part One

This week on the podcast, Dr. Dan Allender sits down with Dr. Craig Detweiler, who was inaugurated as The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology’s third President earlier this year. Craig shares about his work as an author and filmmaker, and—in true Dan Allender fashion—Dan asks about how Craig’s passion for storytelling grew out of his earliest experiences and family of origin.

Craig: “Movies were, in some ways, my first love. They were my original escape. They were my means of processing the world and trying to understand things that didn’t quite make sense.”

Craig learned at a young age that, in a world that can seem absurd and messy, the complex humanity of a good story is often far more authentic than the black-and-white answers many of us were taught. Storytelling, especially filmmaking, can also function as what Craig calls “the transportation business”—when we have lost the imagination for growth and change, films can transport us to another world and remind us that a new way of living is possible.

I needed stories to process the story that I was in.

Craig: “Even though movies in theory are a fictional medium, they are operating on a level of mythological truth about the human condition and our longings and needs.”

As he talks about his own work and the stories he chooses to tell, Craig shares about his passion for bringing together people from disparate groups, fostering dialogue where there seems to be no common ground. He and Dan also talk about Craig’s work as a writer—in particular his newest book, Selfies. The book reframes the much-derided prevalence of selfies, inviting us to bless our human need to be seen and affirmed, and to wonder about how our own self-images reflect the image of God in which we were created.

Craig: “With Selfies I’m trying to maybe be one of the first academics to dignify selfies as a legitimate artistic expression, to bring it back to self portraits throughout history. […] People have always been self-interested, but they haven’t always had the ability to self-image.”

Dan: “There’s an impulse to goodness in the human heart, even if it’s broken and at times darkened. […] What you’re calling us to is not to disdain, but to honor.”

Dan and Craig will continue this conversation next week, diving more deeply into the role of the filmmaker and the sacred call to invite others into a different reality.