Film Screening - Love is a Verb

Love Is a Verb
Film screening and conversation featuring Tolga Misirli interviewed by Danica Simonet
Monday, March 19, 2018, 4:30 to 6:00 PM
Quad 264, Saint John’s University 

The award-winning documentary film Love Is a Verb, narrated by Ashley Judd, examines the life and teaching of the renowned Turkish Muslim scholar, poet, and humanitarian activist Fethullah Gülen and the social movement that he inspired. That movement, which began in Turkey in the 1960s and now has millions of followers worldwide, is known both as the Gülen Movement and as Hizmet (the Turkish word for service). In 2013 Time Magazine named Fethullah Gülen, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, as one of the most influential leaders in the world. Although his followers and countless others view him as an inspiring religious and ethical leader whose message is one of love, service, peace, and interreligious cooperation, Gülen and his followers are viewed by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government as enemies of the state, responsible for the 2016 military coup attempt in Turkey.  Since that coup attempt, thousands of Turkish citizens involved in the Gülen Movement have been imprisoned and thousands of others have been purged from governmental and educational positions. Gülen has denounced the coup attempt and has repudiated the charge that his movement played a role in it. 

Love Is a Verb was written and directed by renowned film director Terry Spencer Hesser, who describes the film as a “story of Muslims who are working toward bringing the kind of change we would all like to see in this world.”  She said she gave the film its name “because the generosity of Gülen volunteers is an act, not a feeling or a word” and that “the presents, the food, the concern that they have for others is a physical manifestation of love as a verb.” 

Following the screening, Tolga Misirli, a volunteer in the Gülen Movement since 1994, will be interviewed by Danica Simonet, a student interfaith leader with the Jay Phillips Center.  Audience members also will have the opportunity to ask questions of Dr. Misirli. 

Tolga Misirli, Ph.D., is executive director of both the Turkish-American Society of Minnesota and the Minnesota branch of the Niagara Foundation. The Latter’s mission is “to promote social cohesion by fostering civic conversations and sustained relationships between people of different cultures and faiths.” Dr. Misirli earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Istanbul University before coming to the United States in 2008.  He is an adjunct professor of chemistry at Ridgewater College in Willmar.