My teenage son lives and breathes football. If I try to teach him something that does not involve football, he is...less than enthusiastic. That is why I was so excited when I learned about Woodlawn. But when I watched it...I was even more excited.
Take the civil rights movement and the violence of integration in Birmingham, Alabama. Then add a talented African American boy who has never seen a black sports superstar, but is told that he can be one. Add a disillusioned coach, and a volunteer "sports chaplain". (I never knew there was such a thing.) Insert an intense school rivalry, a Christian revival--and you've got yourself one heck of a movie.
And it's all true.
I love this movie because it shows courage on so many levels: personal, professional, religious, and social. People in this movie get fired for their beliefs; they stand up to domestic abuse; others say "no" to pleasing those in power in order to stay true to themselves...the list goes on and on. The final point of the movie is that Jesus Christ is the One Way, and that becomes Woodlawn's team motto.
But Woodlawn doesn't feel like a preachy movie. It is intense, interesting, funny and filled with tension. By the time it is all done, viewers feel energized, uplifted, more dedicated to doing what is right. I'm going to throw a pizza and movie party for my son and his friends-- I know they will all love it.
*Note: as always, please check the content of this and other movies at www.commonsensemedia.org or kids-in-mind.com before you watch it to make sure you feel it is appropriate for your family.
-Research and discuss the civil rights era, the Governor of Alabama, John F. Kennedy's integration orders, etc.
-Grandma Cathy often says that God was really smart to make different kinds and colors of people--that often it shows us honestly whether we are good at loving or not. What do you think of the people in this movie?
-What kind of courage did Tony Nathan show? What about his coach?
-How can you be a friendly, but intense competitor against someone else? (See Gettysburg for a discussion on "who is my enemy".)
-How can you show courage in living your faith?
Community Question: There is a lot of conflict with freedom of religion vs. different political and social movements today. How do you navigate these waters, showing love but also worshiping the way you see fit? (*This is a sensitive issue. Please show respect in all comments.*)
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