The Shunning
by Phil Boatwright

New on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment – Beverly Lewis’ The Shunning. Directed by Michael Landon, Jr., and starring Danielle Panabaker, the story concerns a young Amish woman who discovers she had been adopted. Fearing they would someday lose her, the adoptive parents have kept the adoption a secret. Feeling betrayed and now shunned because of her questions, she reneges on a marriage proposal and sets out to discover her true roots.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Amish Grace, which came out a little over a year ago, celebrated the faith of those in the Amish community. The Shunning focuses more on the cult-like aspects of a religion that shuns someone for playing a guitar or not going through with a pre-arranged marriage. Though Michael Landon Jr. makes good use of his camera and the production values are solid, its story approach seems one-dimensional, its characters staid and stoic, but not very interesting.

Still, the production gives us something satisfying for discussion. As we see the law of a religion often taking precedence over the love of Christ, the film cautions us to examine our own faith walk. Are we using the teachings found in the Bible as guidelines for a growing relationship with the Almighty, or are we using them to belittle others?

Most know Christ’s greatest command, love God and love your fellowman (Mark 12:28-31), but somehow denominational differences separate us when folks begin interpreting the Scriptures. Who’s the more devout: those who don’t drink wine or those who don’t gorge themselves on food? Those who rest on Saturday or those who acknowledge Sunday as the Sabbath? Those who take communion once a week or those who celebrate the Lord’s sacrifice only once a year? Who’s right? I find that when these questions arise between members of different churches, love takes a backseat to self-righteous debate.

Paul puts denominational differences in perspective in Romans 14. That chapter makes it clear that we are to interpret the scriptures with the heart, not just the head.

Originally shown on the Hallmark Channel, The Shunning is available September 13th on DVD, and contains bonus material, including deleted scenes. Nor rated, I found nothing objectionable.