“These days many of us seem to have lost our voice…” announces Hilary Brand opening her new Lent course ‘Finding A Voice’ – a personal devotion or study group course designed to help us find and use our authentic Christian voice.
Speaking with authority about our own faith can be a difficult thing. In ‘Finding A Voice’, Hilary Brand asks: “Do we feel that we have a right to be heard? Do we dare to speak?”
With the film, ‘The King’s Speech’ as her starting point, Hilary explores themes from fear to faith and profanity to potential in five one-a-week sessions from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Through this course she invites us to engage more deeply with our faith and use the time to nurture our spiritual growth.
‘Finding A Voice’ and ‘The King’s Speech’
‘The King’s Speech’ tells the story of George VI and the challenges he faces as a man with a stammer who happens to be the new King. We see his journey towards greater fluency through the help of his speech therapist. It is a journey of courage, creativity and discovery told in a compelling screenplay written by a man who himself stammers.
Inspired by the film, Hilary Brand’s ‘Finding A Voice’ asks whether in today’s world we dare talk about what is “loving and true, when so many other voices challenge and dismiss our faith.” Or have we, “lost the sense of who we could become and what together we might accomplish?”
Finding your authentic Christian voice in Lent
My own work as a professional Speech and Language Therapist, leads me to believe that the themes of fear and courage, empowerment and discovery, so sensitively and authentically portrayed in the film, are brought out beautifully in this course. I am proud of my profession and the privilege it gives me to engage with someone’s personal transformation.
The questions and scenes from the film may well create deep feelings and strong opinions. But because of the way the course is set up and written, it is accessible to everyone. Whether group members wish to share much or little, ‘Finding a Voice’ offers much to learn and consider for our own spiritual walk, whatever our level of spiritual maturity.
‘Finding A Voice’ the course in outline
The five key themes of ‘Finding A Voice’ are explored over the five weeks of Lent:
- Fear and friendship
- Chasing the dream
- Pressing forward and breaking through
- Poisonous words and profane responses
- Faith in our voice
I found a very clear path through each of the week’s one and a half hour sessions. Each begins with a short ‘to start you thinking’ chapter introducing the content of the session. After each session you are encouraged ‘to take it further’ by reading another short chapter.
‘Finding A Voice’ the course in practice
The sessions consist of short film clips and Bible verses alongside other literary quotations. These are creatively and cleverly interwoven to add more insight on the theme being explored.
For example, in session 1 of ‘Finding A Voice’ a clip is shown of the King’s wartime speech and verses from 1 John chaper 4 are used: “Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.” Questions asked are about what enabled the King to make the speech despite his stammer – what were his encouragements?
Questions for longer discussion relate to the Bible text: ‘Is it our love for others that conquers fear, or others’ love for us? Can you have one without the other and which comes first?’ Each session ends with a meditation where silence may be kept or music played whilst quotes from the Bible or other sources are read aloud.
About the author: Hilary Brand
Hilary Brand is a freelance author of books for adults and children. She has written a number of other film-based Lent courses including, ‘Christ and the Chocolaterie’, (Chocolat), ‘Not a Tame Lion’ (The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe), and ‘The Power of Small Choices’ (The Shawshank Redemption).
About the reviewer: Julie McLean
Julie McLean is a qualified Speech and Language Therapist of more than 20 years experience with voice disordered clients. With an MA from the Central School of Speech and Drama she also works to improve speech and presentation skills in teachers, clergy and performance artists. A tutor for Voice Care Network UK, she is a lay reader at her church in Chester, Northwest England.
Quick Guide to Finding A Voice - by Hilary Brand
This Lent course works for me because:
- ‘Finding A Voice’ explores themes of fear, encouragement, our calling and our use of words through film clips and verses from the Old and New Testament.
- Hilary Brand writes with a clarity and simplicity that belies the complex questions she asks and reflections she invites us to make.
- Through this modern film she helps us connect our faith with popular culture and invites us to continue this kind of reflection for ourselves far beyond Easter.
This Lent course is for you if you want to:
- Follow a Lent course for yourself or run a group course with a clear layout and practical help with managing the course and leading the group.
- Work in a creative and honest way through questions about our faith and fear, our words and our calling.
- Engage with modern culture and the Bible.
February 13th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison