We’re All In This Together
Now Hear/See This

Everywhere new technology and communications brings men and nations closer together, the concerns of one inevitably become the concerns of all. And our new closeness is stripping away the false masks, the illusion of differences which is at the root of injustice and hate and war. Only earthbound man still clings to the dark and poisoning superstition that his world is bounded by the nearest hill, his universe ends at river’s shore, his common humanity is enclosed in the tight circle of those who share his town or his views and the color of his skin.

It is your job, the task of the young people in this world, to strip the last remnants of that ancient, cruel belief from the civilization of man.

–Robert F. Kennedy, Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966

I can’t stand your religious meetings.
      I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
      your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
      your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
      When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
      I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
      That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

–Amos 5:21-24, The Message

These are the principles, plain and simple, behind the Hillsong United call to action that is the film called The I-Heart Revolution: We’re All In This Together—merely Part II of a three-part social-justice campaign that includes Hillsong’s worship music, the film, and a global-community action resource website.

The film itself is a two-plus-hour sprawling, but nonetheless tightly-crafted, demonstration of three things: first, as proposed by the I-Heart Revolution creatively-punctuated manifesto, that “there is a like minded and like spirited generation of people from all round the world—who are worshipping God with all their heart and who want to make a difference and see injustice’s justified—a generation already part of the revolution”; second, that the world is one seriously messed up place; and third, that courageous and idealistic young people have almost always been at the core of the West’s social-justice movements.  It is also an impassioned argument that godly love has also undergirded those same movements.

To a great measure, the film works because it is grounded and bridged by wisely-chosen  and utilized excerpts from the oddly uncredited but stirring audio of RFK’s University of Capetown speech.  Kennedy was young, he was an idealist, and he was a martyr, a true globalist hero cut down before the moral force of his potential could be fulfilled.

Joel Huston, Hillsong United frontman and co-director of We're All In This TogetherThe film also works because Hillsong frontman Joel Houston, son of Hillsong Church’s lead pastor, is self-effacing and inarticulate enough to avoid Pharisaic appearances.  When he reads the above-quoted passage from Amos over the film’s opening concert footage, with the footage finally settling on his very troubled visage, there’s no mistaking it as anything other than a self-critical indictment of pop-celebrity worship.  Hillsong points no fingers; it merely attempts to point the way.

That’s the film’s very short first act, setting the stage for what the film is not about: Hillsong.  The film’s very lengthy second act, occupying the better part of probably ninety minutes, is a riveting (if oppressive) look at global disillusionment, despair, and destitution.  On the one hand, it feels like overkill; on the other, it’s not.  Not at all.  The words of Amos and other prophets tell us that if our hearts do not bleed for the oppressed, we are not yet sufficiently Christ-like.  If it takes footage like this to prick our calloused hearts, so be it.

Wisely interspersing the second act, though, are creatively-animated short-film-format sequences detailing the legacy of such crusaders as William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King, Jr.  The hopefulness builds as the third act rather meanderingly advocates personal action motivated by love, a call to forget about the obsession over “what happens within the walls” of the church in favor of “what happens in the streets.”  The touchstone is Helen Keller’s words:

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something I can do.

The spirit is kin to Bono’s ONE initiative, except more focused, as near as I can tell, on individual action than political pressure.  And it’s fair to say that the spirit is about more than short-term missions and youth-group-sponsored relief projects.  In the words of Ezekiel: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”  Hillsong wants to see young people radically transformed.  And through the Holy Spirit, it is indeed possible, though with men many things are impossible.

I was astounded to learn that the film was co-directed by Houston with Danielle Saleh. This is wildly accomplished filmmaking, especially for an artist whose primary outlet is music.  The craftsmanship here is, dare I say it, inspired.

The film was presented as part of Fathom Entertainment’s Hillsong United event on November 4, during which, on some 500 screens across Canada and America, the film was shown in conjunction with “live” footage of Hillsong United performances and interviews with band and crew members.

Once again, I can’t say enough about Fathom’s presentation.  Yes, this is HD Video and not film, but Fathom takes care to make sure that everything about these niche-marketed presentations is  relevant to the attending audience.  You never feel like you’re getting bait-and-switched; nor do you feel like you’re getting shilled everything from Mercedes to foot powder.

I’m very glad to have seen We’re All In This Together; and I’m glad it was part of a Fathom event.

We’re All In This Together is unrated, though Fandango reports the rating as PG.  Even though it’s certainly clean enough to be G-rated material, it’s intense enough that younger children would probably be quite disturbed by it.  Somehow, though, I don’t think Hillsong would mind.  They want to disturb young people, and they want them to be different from their parents.

Courtesy of a national publicist, Greg attended the Fathom “Hillsong United” event with a paying audience.