You know the adage about never discussing religion, politics or sex in polite company? Craig Detweiler and John Marks never got that memo.

To understand where Detweiler, a filmmaker and professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Marks, a journalist, author and former 60 Minutes producer, are coming from, we must first go back to 1982 when the two roomed together at Davidson College.

It was Detweiler's first year as a Christian. It was Marks' last.

Twenty-five years later, Marks wrote a book about leaving his faith behind, Reasons to Believe. His first interviewee was his old college roommate. Similarly inspired, Detweiler decided to film their conversations, four in all, over the course of a year. Those sessions became the narrative thread for Purple State of Mind, a candid, thorny and relentlessly funny dialogue between two men who are just as unyielding in their divergent principles as they are the critical importance of their friendship.

Detweiler, reflecting the Hollywood styles where he lives, shows up in hip suits and a warm, radiant smile, speaking most often in colors and shades, an artist most comfortable with the language of beauty and emotions. Marks always seems to be dressed down, confronting each issue like the journalist he is, dissecting facts and figures with the burnished instruments of logic and reason.

Detweiler and Marks see America as a nation of speechmakers. More often than not, they contend, all we ever do is stand across a gulf and shout at one another, hurling salvo after salvo in a culture war that has left countless dead and wounded on both sides. Detweiler and Marks yearn for the day when the culture war negotiates a truce and embarks instead on a legitimate conversation that allows people with ...

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