Tuesday, October 16, 2007

for the Bible tells me so

On Saturday night Brent and I went and saw For the Bible Tells Me So.

I was the only woman in the theatre.

Apart from that, my main observation about the film is that I was pleasantly surprised that the inevitable negativity toward Christianity was not the whole message, but was rather well-balanced by the stories of Jake Reitan (Lutheran), Bishop Robinson (who grew up Disciples of Christ in KY but now, obviously, Episcopalian), and others. Rather than simply dismissing Christianity as a religion too hateful and xenophobic to accept gay people, the film makes the case that hatred is not the center of the Christian gospel.

from the Sundance review article:
Karslake mostly avoids demonizing the religious right, instead simply
holding up the families at the heart of his story and saying: Here they are.
These are the gay people you so fear, and they are your sons and daughters, your
brothers and sisters, the neighbors you've known for years. Karslake has made a
powerful film, one that I hope will be widely seen, because it addresses the
fulcrum of the religious right's objection to homosexuality without attacking
those who hold those beliefs. Rather than smacking down with a righteous hammer,
Karslake instead simply takes those who would believe that there is no common
ground between faith and homosexuality and gently, relentlessly chisels away at
every argument that bolsters those beliefs.

One of the more striking things about the film is the difference in the quality of religious speech made so obvious by the film. Karslake "mostly avoids demonizing the religious right" because the religious right's own words--from the mouths of Jimmy Swaggart, Dr. James Dobson and others--so self-evidently angry and fearful and hateful, do the job without any outside help. The vitriol is paired against the quiet, ultra-reasonable, peaceful replies of people like retired Bishop Desmond Tutu, and the difference is never directly commented upon but allowed to remain implicit and yet unmistakeable.

My one disappointment: that I was the only woman in the theatre, and Brent and I probably the only two straight people. This isn't, in the end, a film for gay people or for welcoming and affirming Christians. It's a plea directed toward those people, like the families featured in the film, who find themselves caught in the middle between intolerant beliefs and the moral imperative to change. But those people weren't there. And they weren't likely to be, at the Quad Cinema in Greenwich Village. Will the film reach the people for whom it is an offering? I don't know. But if it does not, in fact, make it to a theatre near you (in Abilene or Oklahoma or Tennessee or wherever you are)...Netflix.

2 comments:

Scott said...

I have been trying to figure out a way to get to Dallas this weekend to see it when it opens there. I'm not expecting it to come to Ponca City any time oon.

Carolyn said...

It's coming to DC and even though we rarely make it to the theater, I'm hoping we can go to this one. It's on my netflix queue in case we don't.