Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Speaking of Camp . . .

Have any of you ever seen Jesus Camp? I just finished watching it five minutes ago and I feel . . . conflicted. Not about my own beliefs or relationship with Jesus. I didn't even find anything there all that surprising.

I guess I feel like what I know from personal experience about the American secular worldview and what I know in the same, but maybe even more personal, way about the American religious right both get plastered across the entire documentary, and I'm just as uncomfortable and unhappy with both as I usually am, only if I'm going to sit there and watch the whole thing, I have to face it. Admittedly, the views and behaviour of the religious right are the subject and focus of the movie, but the secular views opposing it seemed just as evident to me as the frame around the subject. Maybe you're not supposed to notice the frame, but sometimes they're a little more vivid than others.

I wanted to strangle (metaphorically speaking) the radio announcer who deplores what's being done among Evangelicals, because he was being at least as intolerant as the people he was aghast over. On the other hand, I think I got equally twitchy over the mother who was trying to teach her son a limited view of creationism, that global warming wasn't even a viable concern, and that science doesn't prove anything. (I agreed with the later points of view about abortion, though.) It was also rather striking to watch the segment featuring Ted Haggard . . . before his "fall from grace" . . . speaking specifically against homosexuality.

I get why people who don't have any moorings in this subculture--or who have been burned by it--find this kind of indoctrination of kids so alarming. A few times I could sit there and feel it. Personally, I found the kids themselves quite inspiring, and I was encouraged by their prayers. But I agreed with the documentary-makers, not, maybe, that one's faith should have no bearing on how one relates to one's country, but at least that the Republican agenda and the will of God are not (necessarily?) the same thing. I also cringed when the little girl talked so earnestly about the "kinds of churches God likes to go to" and how it's "all about the way the people invite Him."

I think that's what depressed and concerned me the most. It's one thing to teach your children truth . . . or even the truth as best you know it. But when they have questions and you're not willing to entertain them and give them some solid reasoning--or even some solid faith-filled doubt--how are they going to stand up to the questions later? Especially when they come in the form of hypocrisy or failure? Their own or someone else's? I imagine a follow-up documentary on these same kids done in a couple of years and seeing at least some of them running from Jesus as fast as they can, and I think . . . I just hate when we cloud the main Point so that we can't even get to Him.

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