Monday, June 11, 2007

jesus camp

just got home from 'jesus camp' movie night at a friend's house.
yikes. we all had to have a couple of cigarette breaks to just get through the thing.

some things i noted:
first, i never grew up pentecostal so the whole speaking in tongues thing to me is just silly. i mean, it's gibberish, people. no one can understand you. watching little kids get whipped into a frenzy of tongues-speaking disturbs me a little; it's irrational, hyper-emotional and seems just a bit psychologically irresponsible and manipulative of the adult who controls it.

second, my issue with the movie has nothing to do with biblical doctrine. if you're a homeschooling, anti-evolution, fundamentalist, pentecostal evangelical and this is the way you want to raise your kids, then have at it. but it made me ask what the ramifications are of raising a group of children to be totally paranoid, with huge persecution issues and believing in the rhetoric of war?

for me, it doesn't matter if you're evangelical or a hippie on a greenpeace boat: the process the movie traces is a perfect one for raising a flaming radical who may or may not bear a significant resemblance to timothy mcveigh. in particular, i'm thinking of the scene where the kids are exhorted to smash porcelain cups with the word Government written on them. the symbolism is simple, yet effective. what's the difference between smashing the government to make it more holy and smashing the government because of its politics and policies? sounds like two faces of terrorism to me.

and i think of the scene at the end of the movie, where little rachael approaches a group of older african american men in an effort to 'witness' to them and she asks them if they died, do they know where they'd go? (typical witnessing gambit) one of them says heaven, she presses how does he know and then they leave when it's clear that the men aren't going to say any different. as she's crossing the street with her little friend she says, 'i think they were moslem.'

my friends and i laughed our asses off. it was funny. but it was also telling: here's this little girl, totally raised to look at anyone who doesn't believe what she believes as the Other. and what's the form of this Other? a moslem.

disturbing, man. (oh, and never mind the part where the kids are practically genuflecting in front of a cardboard cutout of president bush. euww. idolatry, anyone? oh! or the part where they tape little plastic fetuses on their hands and pray for an end to abortion. do i want these kids in charge of my reproductive health access? hell no.)

should folks see it? i think so. it sparked a lot of discussion in my group about our different faith traditions, what being 'saved' is and if that's a requirement for all faith groups and then led to a broader discussion of recent supreme court decisions and why alito and roberts perhaps need to experience the Rapture before anyone else.

(oh, and the ted haggard stuff is just priceless.)


Martina said...

Your review of "Jesus Camp" was very interesting--makes me not want to see it, but maybe I should.

I've just been reading a book, "God without Religion"--a quote from the preface by Arun Ghandi: "Human beings can only pursue the truth and not "possess" it, as many religious zealots claim to do. Pursuit implies humility, acceptance, openness, and appreciation, while possession sugests arrogance, close-mindedness, and lack of appreciation. Herein lies the rub: if we persist in competing to possess the truth instead of working in unity to pursue it, we are going to face untold grief--and worse--violence."

By the way, I landed on your page because I was chasing a Google for "Sovereign Lord, Redeemer, Righteous One" (which I still can't find).

ding said...

martina: thanks for stopping by. if you're looking for information on that song (it's beautiful, isn't it?) you can look under gustaf holst, 'The Planets,' or a combination of those with mary mcdonald as the arranger. i wasn't able to find a choral version online but maybe i wasn't looking hard enough.

i think folks should see 'jesus camp.' the tone of the film was very even and not at all judgmental: it was very detached and almost disinterested in the topic. there was a lot of humor in it and i don't think that these people come off as 'scary' but very different. it's like looking at any other subculture movement.

for me, coming from a conservative baptist background, some of the scenes resonated with me but i think it's quite an accessible documentary for everyone.

just build in alot of snack breaks!

ding said...

martina: as for pursuing v. possessing truth - not that i necessarily disagree with you (which i don't, actually) but i was wondering what happens to the idea of Truth when all we can do is run after it and never know it?