Monday, July 09, 2007

Religious Documentaries online

This post comes with an honest health warning: Don't click on the link below if you suffer from discipline problems when it comes to time wasting and internet TV! I'm serious! (Matt 5:29-30)

Here is a list of numerous streamed TV documentaries for your viewing pleasure, with quite a few religious ones to boot. Included are:

Banned From The Bible (not yet seen)

Creation Vs. Evolution (not yet seen and probably won't. I used to be a creationist, by the way)

Battle For The Holy Land (I really enjoyed this one. I sometimes wonder if the Palestinians today exist in a way comparable with the Jews under Rome in the time of Jesus)

Jehovah's Witnesses Exposed (not yet seen and doesn't sound like it will pull my chain. It's the 'exposed' bit that puts me off.)

Jesus Camp (A real mixed bag this! 'Creationism has all the answers', 'there is no such thing as global warning', 'stupid if you believe in evolution', 'alive churches need to be charismatic'?!?! It's that sort of thing that makes me think that home schooling is a mistake. But their zeal and passion is something to admire – and something us theologians would do well not to mock.)

Who Wrote the Bible? (This is a documentary programme featuring, among others, Mark Goodacre [no, I've never heard of him either], A. McGrath, Peter Head, and Tom Wright. While some of it was interesting, I was a little unimpressed to be honest. It came across as the struggles of an ex-fundamentalist coming to terms with the reality of scripture, and not finding it as he expected it to be. Unsophisticated and exaggerated either/ors led, I suspect, the presenter down an unhelpful alley – though his final words were spot on. The preacher at the end was very scary!)


At 7/09/2007 3:05 PM, Anonymous Shane Clifton said...

Fascinating list Chris. You may be interested to hear that i am going to run a theology and film subject this semester. It is somewhat experimental (at least for me), but i am going to try to podcast my lectures, so we shall see how it goes. I do plan to get my students to watch Jesus camp - among a bunch of other films including (if my memory gets it correct), Life of Brian, Jesus of Montreal, The Passion, The Seventh Seal, Dogville, Dancer in the Dark, The Matrix, The Mission, Saved, Hotel Rwanda (and a few more). It is fascinating how non-religious films are actually theologically quite stimulating.

At 7/09/2007 4:58 PM, Anonymous Rob said...

How is that website legal?!

At 7/09/2007 11:25 PM, Anonymous Edward T. Babinski said...

Chris, You wrote about the Jesus Camp kids that "their zeal and passion is something to admire." But you admit it's misplaced because of their faith in the absolute truth of a literal biblical 6-day creation account, and in the absolute literal truth of charismatic Christianity above all other Christianities (which to such folks are "not Christian").

I suspect that neither their zeal nor their passion such as they have it, would continue to exist if they began to doubt the dual truths above, of a creation account that explains everything, and of charismatic miracles that explain the rest, and both of which demonstrate to them the HAND OF GOD DIRECTLY AT WORK as they look at the entire world around them and view each event in their lives as GOD'S DIRECT MIRACLES impinging upon them. This DIRECTNESS and ABSOLUTENESS of their beliefs is what keeps them so "zealous" "enthusiastic"--and freer from doubt than most other Christians.

Allow me to sum up with a quotation from a street preacher who was in the news about 18 years ago:

My daughter is five-years-old and, people say how inhumane, I let my daughter lay and cry herself to sleep for a week straight about the flames of Hell. See my daughter personally lay at night and say, “I don’t want to go to Hell, I don’t want to go to Hell,” and she’d be laying there crying. I could have run right in there and gave her the Gospel and she could have made a profession of salvation, but I let it get deeper into her memory. Know that I mean? That there is a Hell. And that will affect her whole life. That’s why she’s an obedient child.
[SOURCE: Barry Weaver, street preacher, quoted in Jim Naughton, “The Devil & Duffy Strode: In Marion, North Carolina, a Boy Preacher’s Hellfire Gospel Alarms a Quiet Community,” Liberty, Jan./Feb. 1989]

At 7/10/2007 12:20 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Edward, nice to hear from you.

"I suspect that neither their zeal nor their passion such as they have it, would continue to exist if they began to doubt the dual truths above"

Maybe you are right. I hope not. I mean, I want to embody the contradiction of this claim, but you would have to get to know me personally and decide for yourself.

That quote at the end is quite horrid. How awfully tragic.

At 7/10/2007 12:27 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Shane, if you get those podcasts up, let me know. Perhaps we could put them up here too?

Rob, they have their excuses!

At 7/10/2007 2:55 AM, Anonymous Arni Zachariassen said...

"Keith Allen is Going to Hell" is worth a watch too. For a comedian he's not very funny and he's very bad at arguing, but it's always fascinating to see the Westboro Baptist people. I think Keith has a point when he calls them "media whore". With the number of documentary films, news segments and articles coming out about them, you can't not conclude that they love the spotlight.

In a related note, Louis Theroux, whose documentaries are all good and fascinating, has made one about the Westboro people ("The Most Hated Family In The USA" or something like that), which is worth a watch too. It's better than Keith Allen's, primarily because Louis is a much more sympathetic person, which makes (some of) the Westboro people open up more. Especially the oldest daughter. (SPOILER) You really feel for her when she admits that she's afraid of Hell. (/SPOILER) Louis also made one about slightly more mainstream but still pretty crazy Evangelicals called "Bible Thumpers", which is cool.

They're all on the site, obviously.

At 7/10/2007 3:31 AM, Anonymous T. Michael W. Halcomb said...

You need to see that Jehovah's Witnesses documentary, it is very good and eye-opening (I think it's the one I saw a few weeks ago). Good stuff. For instance, I had no idea of their relationship with the Holocaust (Hitler offered them a way out and they didn't take it). I'd love to get to the Aushwitz museum sometime and I've heard that they just opened a wing devoted solely to Jehovah's Witnesses. Anyways, it's worth the watch.

At 7/10/2007 12:47 PM, Anonymous James said...

Err, Chris, what exactly to you mean by "I sometimes wonder if the Palestinians today exist in a way comparable with the Jews under Rome in the time of Jesus"?

I really hope you're not implying some kind of moral equivalence between (say) Pilate mixing the blood of Galileans with their sacrifices and legitimate Israeli counterterrorism measures.

At 7/11/2007 10:38 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Arni, I saw Louis’s one – what an odd bunch that particular Baptist lot all are. Thanks for the other recommendations.

Hi T Michael,
I watched most of the JW docu today. Flippin eck! I know quite a bit about the Watchtower organisation, but that was an eye-opener still!

Hi James,
I didn’t mean to imply moral equivalence, no. Sorry for any offence. I was hinting at the economic and social situation. However, I also would not want to pretend that the Jewish powers to be haven’t perpetrated their own awful injustices, not least against certain Christian communities as they finally came back to the Holy Land. And I tend not to find Israeli counterterrorism measures legitimate. Not least from my Christian perspective of ‘turn the other cheek’ but also because I have felt in the past that it was far from balanced and thus not ‘legitimate’.

At 9/05/2007 2:46 AM, Anonymous chris morrison said...

Dear Chris I found the podcast that you did for Southern Cross College's Theology and Film class so stimulating and convicting.

I spent most of my school years in Christian Education and did not have the chance to engage intelligently with Darwin and Hawking until this year when I read Bill Bryson's book "a brief history of almost everything." I was exactly the kind of person that you critique. I was uninformed.

I greatly appreciated your insight, one that you share with Stanley Grenz, that we are called to love God with our whole selves- including our minds.

An issue that will require further pondering for me will be the difference between learning and indoctrination.

Also thankyou for your insight drawn from your interaction with N.T. Wright, how can our faith be anything other than public.
Perhaps our problem is that our faith and ethics has led us to uncritically side with conservative politics and be Soldiers of the Republican Party.

At 9/05/2007 3:15 AM, Anonymous Andrew Youd said...

Hey Chris,

I want to thank you for your review of the documentary "Jesus Camp" which you did for our "Theology and Film" class. I loved your review and your humility, that is often not seen from Christians in engaging with difficult subjects, was most definately recieved from you.

I loved your questioning when it comes to indoctrination, it is a hard subjecting to grapple with for me personally as someone who's childhood faith saw me through the decade of being out of the church untill I finally came to a relationship with Christ. The Bible does say to teach a child in the way that he/she should go, but when is too much. I guess for me I would respond that to give unjust weight to the oppinions of the world, without grace, is a mistake that will come to bite in the end.
This also you alluded to at the beginning and I'm am much appreciative of your honesty and humility in this.

I also loved your appreaciation for the childrens pation, and to have to check myself in light of my current relationship with Jesus.

While I don't know you, you seem like a very nice person, and I loved listening to your views.

Thankyou and Godbless


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