Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Friday, January 04, 2008

Jesus Camp (Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady, 2006)

Fittingly enough, I watched Jesus Camp, a documentary on middle/southern American children who go to an Evangelical summer boot camp, only days before Mike Huckabee took America by surprise and won the Iowa Republican Caucus. But after watching Ewing and Grady's movie, I wasn't really that surprised at all; Huckabee's smiling face of evangelism is growing more and more powerful in this country, but after all, he is really more similar to the fanatics in this film than he would have us believe. As in their previous film, Boys of Baraka, which I truly loved, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady present a cultural phenomenon dealing with children, one that is overlooked in popular culture.

Youth pastor Becky Fischer holds the summer camp for youths of evangelical (born again) Christians, most of whom seem to be home-schooled (no suprise). This is a sort of training camp for "the army of the Lord," a disturbing phrase that is used more than once. Fischer is quite a character; one moment, she is condemning Muslim countries for making their children into suicide bombers and radicals for Allah, but the next, she says that Christians in American need to be more like them in order to flourish. In this way, she and others teach the kids at the camp how to be a solider for Jesus, which includes praying for "righteous judges," praying to end abortion, praying to never be hypocritical in their faith, and pretty much praying and crying about everything. If you've read this blog before, you can probably tell I'm a hardcore feminist, so the section where the pastors were blatantly lying to children about abortion really got under my skin. News flash: a fetus isn't a tiny, perfectly formed baby like they told the campers. The amounts of misinformation and propaganda thrust at these children before they're even old enough to understand the nature of religion, or any complex political issue, is astounding. This might as well have been a reeducation camp.

Fischer calls in to liberal Christian Air America host Mike Papantonio (who provides liberal balance to the evangelicals, in the absence of any narration) and tells him that she isn't aware of any political bias to her camp at all. Apparently, we didn't see the camp the way she did. And maybe that's at the heart of the matter; evangelicals could look at this film and be proud, while liberals like myself could be totally horrified. True, there is no narration, but you can pretty easily guess Ewing and Grady's slant through editing and music choice. And because I agree with them that this is a scary, underestimated force in American politics. I am glad to have seen this film as a wakeup call of sorts, and am more confused than ever as to the political future of this country 10-20 years down the road.


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