Making the Grades
Whether she knows it or not, Katie Lapp (Danielle Panabaker) is at a crossroads in her life. The daughter of a devout Amish family, she has been honored by the proposal of their congregation’s leader (Burgess Jenkins) to be his new wife. Their union will also make her responsible for the care of the Bishop’s two sons who are still grieving the death of their mother.
Yet as the wedding day draws nearer, Katie can’t diminish her desire to sing forbidden music or play her forbidden guitar. Nor can she stop thinking of the young man (David Topp) who gave her the precious instrument, even though she thought she had put his loss behind and moved on long ago.
While these minor indiscretions have Katie wondering if she is an appropriate spouse for such a prominent member of their religious community, something far more significant happens to shake her faith. An outsider (Sherry Stringfield) comes to the small village with a letter for someone named Rebecca who should have a daughter about twenty years of age. When her note ends up in the hands of Katie’s mother (Sandra W. Van Natta), questions arise that reveal long held secrets. This information only fans the flames of the young woman’s already burning doubts about her place in the Amish Order.
Based on the best-selling book by Beverly Lewis, The Shunning follows Katie’s quest to know who she really is and what she really believes, even as she is ostracized by her community. Although few viewers may experience such consequences for making these kinds of inquiries, many will relate to her universal questions, as well as the feelings of isolation that often accompany them.
As Katie seeks answers, her story sheds light on the unselfish love of mothers, the concern of fathers and the enduring power of family love. With only minor content concerns (like the mention of an unwed pregnancy and the depiction of an angry parent’s outburst) this made-for TV script offers some thoughtful advice. For instance, an elderly woman (Nancy Saunders) explains, "No matter where God puts us, it is up to us how we choose to live." These little moral nuggets offer good food for thought to any seeking direction at the crossroads of their lives.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Shunning.
Is Katie being willfully disobedient when she learns to sing and play the guitar? Is a certain amount of rebellion normal during a person’s teen years? How does her rule breaking affect the way she feels about herself? How does it influence the way she sees others?
What is the purpose of "shunning" someone? What do the religious leaders hope the punishment will accomplish for Katie? How would you handle a similar situation?
What secrets are worthy of being kept? Which ones do you think should be revealed? How are feelings of trust and betrayal associated with both the keeping and breaking of confidences?