Higher Ground is a 2011 film that examines a woman's experiences in a slightly-post-Jesus-People church community through the seventies and into the eighties. Extremely accurately, and I feel sympathetically, observed - enough so that if you've fled that world, it will push a lot of buttons, and if you're still in that world, it will push a lot of buttons, and if you've never gone near that world, these folks will just look like loonies. I don't think any of those responses is really intended: like the book it comes from, it's a memoir, and simply aims to portray a series of experiences. Maybe I was the perfect audience member: I only ever visited that world, and have never really stopped visiting, so it didn't rile me up - I mostly marvelled at how much they got right, and how little they condescended. The Carolyn S. Briggs memoir was originally titled "This Dark World," which was changed to tie in with the release of the film - which is currently showing on Canadian Netflix.
Do you have any regrets in writing This Dark World?
Sure. I wish I would have allowed for more time to pass, so that my perspective cleared a bit. I regret the book was edited in such a way that I appear to have wholly rejected my faith—which I have not ever been able to do. In writing memoir, one tells one’s story, obviously, but one also tells other people’s stories who may not want their stories told—especially from someone else’s perspective. I have wrestled with this reality and continue to as the film is released.
Where are you with your faith right now?
I could not live in a world without God. And this God is big enough to contain my doubts. Tobias Wolff says doubt is part of faith. Doubt and faith can co-exist; each informs the other. My faith infuses my doubt and my doubt infuses my faith. What else can I do but keep seeking God? Tolstoy advised a life of seeking God because that assures a life with God.
Do you consider yourself a Christian?
I understand that Christian hipsters are using the hyphenated word Christ-follower these days. I’m too old and not cool enough to be a hipster, but I love that idea. I am striving, pressing on, working out my salvation in fear and trembling. I can’t think of anyone or anything better to follow than Jesus Christ.
I titled the screenplay Higher Ground because I wanted to show Corrine as a character reaching for God, reaching for higher ground throughout her life. As Vera says in interviews, Corrine is not leaving her faith. She is leaving an impoverished faith.
from Carolyn S. Briggs' website.