Love thy neighbor

Just spent Friday night at home with boyfriend J watching a DVD. Nothing unusual except that we only had one DVD left to watch and he wasn’t all that excited about watching this one.

The thing is J grew up Christian and has always been religious. He believes in God and has always been faithful, he was very involved in his church since young and has been finding ways to build his relationship with him. His sexuality has shaken things up a little and it has been an issue we talk about time to time… I grew up agnostic with very atheist parents who were strong advocates of science and logic. Completely different background from him in that aspect and had to learn to be patient and compassionate about his journey.

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So “Jesus Camp” is basically a documentary about a group of evangelical christians in Missouri who starts this Christian summer camp for their kids through the leadership of their youth pastor Becky Fischer. The controversial part of the camp, or rather their entire church, is the fanatical approach they take to the bible. Children are given lectures after lectures of their sins and are driven to tears and collapsing on the floor, repenting their sins while their parents and pastor Becky smile in the background. Their world is only seen in the context of spiritual warfare and fighting temptations of the devil, and politics, current affairs and culture is seen through this narrow focus. The documentary places alot of emphasis on the current administration’s ties with evangelical christians (George Bush is one) and how this group see the return of “One Nationa under God” under this administration’s reign.

F or the far left, the images of wide eyed kids with war paint on their faces chanting christian war cries must have been terrifying. I found the images creepy but also somewhat sad thinking about the conflicts they will have later in life as they leave their christian-coated homes and families into the real world. And alot of their struggles (how to be a good christian in a secular world? how to resist temptation? etc etc) are very relevent issues… it’s just the way they approach it is troubling. For one thing, they’re hitting kids over their heads with such strident messages, secondly the whole military warfare theme in all their preachings is just not healthy.

It’s not about war, it’s about compassion. Haven’t we seen enough sufferring as it is?

But the strangest thing must be watching Ted Haggard on film. I read so much about his fall but to watch it on tape was surreal. Much has been written about his sexual relationship with masseur Mike Jones and it’s sad to see someone fall such great heights. But what’s sadder to me was listening to him condemning homosexuality right in front of his church with such fervor, the irony of it all.
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The last part of the movie closed with this adorable devout little girl (well she gets away with it because she really believes it) going up with this group of middle eastern looking men and ask them “what would happen if you die this moment?” One of the men says he will go to heaven and she’s utterly shocked and retreats. Upon joining her friends, she says in disbelief “I thought they were Muslims”.

On a lighter note, that reminded me of an email I got from freecycle, a group I subscribe to that recycles stuff. It was hilarious in light of the current America/Muslim dynamics:

“Burqas to give away! One white and one dark blue, both don’t have a lot of wear as they were bought for Halloween costumes (reactions were pretty funny). They’re rather plain, with some ornamentation around the head and netting over the eyes.”

Nothing so terrifying as those we don’tunderstand.

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