Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Jesus Camp

I missed the first half hour of this documentary film, but watched the rest last night. From what I saw it was a well made, restrained documentary which let its subject matter do all the work in the way Michael Moore doesn't.

The films about a camp, set up by one lady, for extremely religious kids (or at least the kids of extremely religious parents), where they cry and repent their sins, preach to each other, "learn" about abortion, smash crockery representing evil in politics, idolise a cardboard cut-out of GWB and other associated christian fanaticism.

Obviously I'm quite against this, and I would guess (and hope) most people here are too. So, rather than rant about it, I have one problem that always sticks when I hear fundamental American Christians. Why are they so patriotic? Surely God trumps country, there shouldn't be any boundaries for their faith or who they want to change. If they want to spread the love of Jesus, surely they want to spread it everywhere, not just in the good old U-S-of-A.

I think my point is that everything they do makes sense from a fundamental christian point of view. I don't agree with it, but I understand it in relation to where they're coming from. The rampant nationalism doesn't seem to follow and seems almost contradictory to their faith.

Anyway, time for some confusing tags


TheTelf said...

I guess they see America as the major fortress of Christian values, and as such are proud of it?

Also, why exactly was my polite request for an opening up of a discussion about how we want to use tags sensibly the inspiration for everyone to suddenly start doing exactly the opposite?

I don't want to start going through the tag lists being all genocidal, but I will if I have to...

The Big LeBamski said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the nationalism linked with hardcore Christianity comes from the idea of manifest destiny - God wanted the pilgrims to settle in America and make a new world, and everything since then has been a continuation of doing God's will, as well as God showing Americans that they are doing what he wants.

There's also the whole "One nation under God" stuff, which kind of ties in with that, but I suppose is more to do with government than American history.

James said...

Given their hatred for most politicians and people in power, pride seems unlikely. It feels more like they think America is in some way the promised land, which, given it was a considerable distance from where Christ lived for the first coming, seems unlikely. Maybe God's aim is improving over time.

I'm quite happy for my Tags to die, martyed in the cause of Tag freedom. Soon there will be the second coming of the great Tag and my martyrs will receive eternal bliss in purgablogotory.

No, I don't know when the first coming was :-)

TheTelf said...

But if America were not the promised land, why would God have allowed it to become so powerful? It must be true - it all makes sense...

And people can be proud of something while disagreeing with those in charge. There are plenty of people who proclaim themselves 'proud to be British' while slagging off the government at every turn.

James said...

True true. I guess my feeling is just that if I had such faith I doubt I'd care much for national ideals. Instead I'd be splitting the world into those of my faith and those not.

immedia reaction said...

On a slight tangent, have you ever seen "But I'm a cheerleader!" ? It's about a girl whose Christian parents think she's gay and send her off to this Christian camp to be taught straightness, along with all the other gay people. When she gets there, she discovers that hey, she really is gay. It's very funny, if slightly odd.

And I think the answer to your question about why the patriotism is linked so closely to religion lies in the history of America's foundation.

The pilgrims were looking for a place where they could practice their religion free from persecution. They founded a state based on this ideal (though whether you believe it ever took shape in reality is an argument for another time). As such, religion was very much at the heart of their government and their stated ideals in forming a state. Values such as liberty, democracy, the right to bear arms, are all as much a part of the constitution as the religious belief that helped make their dream of statehood a reality.

Thass wot I fink newayz.

immedia reaction said...

And Patrick, in answer to your question, it's because we hate you. A lot.

joebloggs said...

Interestingly enough, about two weeks ago the small group I attend with my Church spent an evening watching and discussing this documentary, which was very interesting indeed! I agree with James in that I have no idea how they can place so much value in patriotism, but I really disagree with this statement:
"I think my point is that everything they do makes sense from a fundamental christian point of view."
It really doesn't. For starters, other than the patriotism thing, they teach "prosperity gospel", an American idea justifying (and encouraging) wealth in extremes, something I (and, I believe, the Bible) fundamentally disagree with. While I recognise some fairly ordinary Christian practices within what they're doing, I have massive problems with the manipulation that's going on and think it's massively counter Christian. Truly "fundamental Christianity" is about self sacrificial love, not pushing political agendas. So it upsets me that these people represent what the large portion of western culture think of as fundamental Christianity.
One clip that really got me riled was when they were washing the hands of hysterical eight year olds as a symbol for cleansing them from their sin. That annoys me enough, but to add insult to injury the water was being poured from a Nestle water bottle! For anyone who doesn't know Nestle have a history of treating some African communities very unethically indeed.
So while I agree that the patriotism thing makes little sense, please don't get the idea that that was the only inexplicable and contradictory thing they were doing!

TheTelf said...

I have seen neither "Jesus Camp", nor "But I'm a Cheerleader", but I've heard of them both, and would certainly be interested in seeing them.

James said...

@ Joe, I hadn't realised that, interesting. Guess it makes sense if you want to a) be republican and b) attract wealthy patronage.

Don't worry, I manage not to confuse them with the rest of Christianity.

Also, presumably Nestle are covered by their god-goven right to make money. Also, god clearly (as shown by Telf) doesn't care about Africa.

TheTelf said...

@James: I guess you were talking about one of my previous comments, but I rather like the idea of being, in and of myself, an example of how God doesn't care about Africa.