Archive for October 18th, 2008

I’d been seeing a lot of commentary regarding Bill Maher’s new movie (I’m hesitant to call it a straight up documentary), and had been reading things about it that both piqued my interested and annoyed me at the same time. So, of course, I had to see it. To be honest, there were a few moments in the beginning when I wanted to get up and walk out of the theater. But once I resolved myself to stay, I was glad I did. In all fairness, I laughed out loud nearly as much as I cringed. And when I cringed, it wasn’t so much because I was offended, but because Maher had clearly found (in several cases) interviews solely designed to prove his point.

After coming home and processing, I remembered a conversation in which a friend had recommended I see Jesus Camp. So, being on my religious movie kick, I decided to Netflix it. I watched it the other night with, what had to be, an incredulous look on my face the entire time. While Religulous made me cringe and laugh, Jesus Camp made me cringe and cry. It actually pained me a little bit to see kids crying after being yelled at by an adult for being hypocrites and sinners. I’ve been to God camp (I never called it Jesus camp before, and I especially won’t, after this) for the past ten years and have had extremely positive experiences – that don’t involve tears.

I won’t get into every detail that bothered me (we don’t have all day), but I was astounded when the pastor stood up and said, “Okay, now it’s time to speak in tongues. Ready, go.” (I’m paraphrasing, but it’s not too far off.) The last time I checked, you can’t force yourself to speak in tongues. But hey, what do I know?

I figure that there has to be a happy medium to the two extremes of Religulous and Jesus Camp – something that gently pokes fun at the religiously intense but doesn’t make a total mockery of believers. And then it hit me: Saved!

What a fabulous movie. You have super goody-two-shoes Hilary Faye who is “a warrior on the front line for God.” You have her brother, Roland, who doesn’t believe in God and consistently mocks his sister and her friends. And you have Mary, who gets pregnant in high school (trying to turn her gay boyfriend straight) and comments on the virgin birth: “I know this is wrong, but do you ever wonder if she just made the whole thing up? I mean, it’s a pretty good one. It’s not like anyone can ever use virgin birth as an excuse again. I don’t really think she made it up, but I can understand why a girl would.

Honestly, I think Saved! reflects more reality than either of the other two films. People doubt. They question. They turn away, and sometimes they come back. Sometimes they don’t. And it’s all a personal decision. If you believe, you don’t need Maher telling you that you’re either stupid or arrogant. And if you don’t believe, you don’t need Pastor Becky Fischer telling you you’re going to hell.

Watching Mandy Moore ruthlessly trying to save everyone she meets, and throwing the Bible at them when “necessary,” though? That makes me laugh, every time.

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