The Guthrie Theatre in Grove City will host a special screening of “The Divine Plan,” a documentary based on the work of Dr. Paul Kengor that delves into the partnership between President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov.7.
At first glance, the two men seemed very different: Reagan was a movie star and heartland Protestant. John Paul II risked his life to become a Catholic priest in Poland. But they shared a faith, philosophy and a flair for the dramatic. The world knew Reagan as an actor, but the Pope, originally Karol Józef Wojtyła, also acted in theater in his homeland.
The commonalities do not stop there. Shot within days of each other in 1981 in separate assassination attempts, they believed their lives were spared by God for one purpose: to defeat Soviet Communism. Reagan referred to this resolve to win the ultimate battle against atheistic communism as the “DP” or the Divine Plan. That idea was a key element of Grove College Political Science Professor Kengor’s 2017 book “A Pope and a President.”
Filmmaker, writer and director Robert Orlando heard Kengor present a deeper dive on the relationship of the two men during a lecture at the College in April 2017. He knew then that the story and shared mission would make a great film, and he approached Kengor with the idea. The two had some history. Kengor was one of the subjects interviewed for Orlando’s documentary “Silence Patton,” about the famed World War II general, which was screened at the Guthrie in 2016. “With his background in theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and NYU film school, he is the perfect person to make a film like this,” Kengor said.
Orlando interviewed 14 experts on the Pope and Reagan, including Kengor and other scholars, politicians, historians and journalists. Those interviews resulted in more than a dozen 20-page transcripts, far more information than could be presented on film. So Orlando and Kengor proposed another book. They approached Jed Donahue, the editor of Kengor’s previous works, and he told them it was a “no-brainer” to publish in conjunction with the film, though the book could stand alone.
The film and the book, “The Divine Plan: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the dramatic end of the Cold War,” will be released across the country on Nov. 6, with the film playing in over 1,000 theaters in the United States.
“I am honored to be part of this showing of ‘The Divine Plan’ at The Guthrie Theatre,” Spencer Folmar ’10, owner of the Guthrie said. A Q&A with Orlando and Kengor will follow the screening, providing not just an entertaining event but an educational opportunity for both the community and Grove City College students.
“We are looking for more ways to work with the College to provide educational opportunities and premieres like this to highlight the importance of cinema and films that exemplify truth,” Folmar said.
Tickets for the show are $6 for general admission and $5 for students, children, seniors and veterans.