Thursday, September 21, 2006

jesus camp

Allie and I met some friends Tuesday night to see Jesus Camp. All in all, I thought it was an outstanding film.

Not surprisingly, the film is taking some heat from the Christian right, who say it's slanted. In Salon, one of the film's creators, Rachel Grady, denies this, telling Salon, "We really took pains to show this community with our point of view out of it as much as possible, and also with compassion." And I would agree, except that I think they betrayed their own opinions by adding a creepy musical score to the scenes where the kids were overcome with the Holy Spirit. I've witnessed moments like this recently, and I think they're odd enough without enhancement. So I thought that was manipulative.

Which is fine. I would agree with Allie that this made for a better movie-going experience, at least for folks like us. But don't steadfastly claim objectivity when doing something that's so obviously not.

As I read the Salon story today, I was struck by the inaccuracies and misconceptions,, even by the filmmakers. It stated on several occasions that the film focuses on a very obscure subset of evangelicals, the Pentecostals, and as such it might distort reality.
"We want to be clear," says Grady, "that the people in our movie are part of a subset, you might say, of the evangelical world. I would not use the word 'fringe,' because I don't want to dismiss them. But the entire evangelical world might be 100 million people.

The truth is that Pentecostalism is the fastest-growing segment of Christianity in the world, with nearly half a billion adherents internationally.

Put another way, it's America's number one spiritual export.

What's more, I would argue that the present-day strength of the Christian right is firmly rooted in the history of the Pentecostal movement, which is now a mere 100 years old.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Joe. George mentioned your review of Jesus Camp, and wanted to shamelessly plug my own review for the most part, it seems like we agree on the problems with the film's representation of Pentecostals. It is an excellent film, but the omnious music and the presentation of the Air America host were manipulative.

I also think the film overstates teh degree to which these camps are brainwashing. Why not show 2-3 kids who were rebelling against or ignoring the lessons of Fischer and her fellow pastors, just to name one option.

Anonymous said...

BTW, comments aren't working on my blog right now (unless something has happened in the last few minutes), so I'll try to check back here. Again, I very much enjoyed your review.