Another Story Must Begin
Jonathan Meyer, Darton, Longman and Todd, 2013, this ed. 2014

£5.99 (Approx)
3.6
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Overview

What does it say on the tin?

Another Story Must Begin is an original Lent course based on the film, the novel and the stage adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. Through discussion of some of the themes and principal characters of this epic narrative, the course explores the grace of God, alongside our fallen state and opportunities for redemption. It ask us to reassess what we can do with our lives, both for ourselves and for those around us.

What do you get?

The course is based around five weekly group sessions:

  1. Fantine and Cosette
  2. The Bishop of Digne
  3. Jean Valjean
  4. Javert
  5. Redemption and Salvation

Each session includes suggestions for using the Oscar-winning film and the original novel as inspiration, and provides questions and reflections for group discussion. Also available as ebook from DLT £3.29.

Who is it for?

Adult, older youth, Beginning and Growing.

Review

  • What is the overall quality of material presentation?

    Paperback book with easy-to-use formats for each session; an effective and thought-provoking foray into Lent-related themes from Les Misérables.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    Each chapter has a short paragraph that explains the aim of the session.

    How accessible are the leader's notes?

    The one book contains an introduction and Leader's notes for each chapter. There are a few pages of ‘To start you thinking' about the subject – these could be used just by the leader – there is only one chapter where the subsequent session questions are linked directly to this input. It could be summarised also – it is a bit too long to read out verbatim. Obviously the whole group could pre-read this material if wanted, but the sessions would work anyway with the film clips (or song lyrics/songs from the show) plus the questions, led by the leader.

    Each session has a mixture of elements: clips from the film (two – four), linked with biblical passages, time to reflect on the theme, plus questions and discussion. The sessions close with a scripted prayer. No references given for film clips, just descriptions, but otherwise straightforward and easy to follow. Written by the vicar whose church was used in filming 2012 version of Les Mis.

    Who could lead it?

    Les Misérables is stashed with biblical parallels and themes, so any leader who is enthusiastic about the production would be fine – with the usual proviso that they can lead effectively through the question/discussion format. Suggested timings for each section are given.

    How helpful are the participants' resources?

    Just the one book which all will need if the introductory material to each chapter is to be read beforehand; otherwise, it would not be necessary.

    How good is any digital material?

    As good as the screen the film is viewed on, and the competence of the person lining up the clips …

    How much prep will I have to do?

    Familiarisation of the material, plus practising finding the film clips. Some leaders may want to write out and display the questions.

    Is there website support? Links?

    N/A

  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    Format is consistently good questions plus discussion, so this should provoke interaction. I could imagine that the film will inspire easy interaction anyway – it is powerful in itself.

    How well does it cater for a variety of both learning and delivery styles?

    Watching the powerful film plus reflection and discussion provides for a slightly different mix. Good to bring together ‘popular' culture and Christian engagement.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    This is quite a thoughtful resource, so would suit those best who will appreciate that approach.

    How well does it encourage people to work together in applying the material?

    Not a focus.

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    Grounded in the Bible passages that appear throughout each chapter, both for reading and discussion, and referenced.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Each theme is well linked in to the Bible passages, and the questions bring these together in a thought-provoking way.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    The big themes of the film are common to much of humanity and lend themselves easily to biblical study. This is a good opportunity to think through attitudes and wrestle with challenging life issues.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    Hugo began a Roman Catholic but ended up more of a self-confessed ‘free thinker'. His wide-ranging themes are suitable for all.

  • How well does it inspire people towards whole-life discipleship?

    The film itself wrestles with some of the biggest questions and challenges of life, all of which are pertinent to discipleship. While some of the supplied questions explore the characters in the film, they also explore and challenge our own reactions.

    How well does it encourage and enable people to grow in their faith?

    The different characters from the film, plus the biblical material, should make for memorable engagement with the issues.

    How well does it stretch faith and vision of God and his purposes?

    The appeal and strength of Les Mis are mostly because they revolve around very human issues – and yet they are essentially also very Christian issues. Definitely faith-stretching to focus on them in a structured way.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    The story of Les Misérables is essentially all about real life issues, so it is good to consider them in the context of biblical study.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism? Not a focus; however, understanding the film better from a Christian point of view might mean that you could talk more interestingly to your neighbour about it.

    How well does it encourage local or network-based community involvement?

    Not a focus.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    The issues of poverty, injustice, grace, mercy, greed, cruelty, courage, oppression, revolution, love … these are universal experiences.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Not a focus.

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