Thursday, February 08, 2007


I admit that I have no patience with people whose opinions are diametrically opposed to mine. I don't want to try to figure out their reasoning when it appears to be non-existent, or at least illogical or uninformed. My typical response as of late is to walk away, turn the page, change the channel.

I tried watching "Jesus Camp" the other day, because it had been recommended to me, plus it's nominated for an Oscar so is on my "list." The movie, if you're unfamiliar with it, is a documentary about an evangelical summer camp for children. It's filled with scenes of young children talking in tongues and sobbing out their love for jesus while adults look on with pride. There are also interviews with the kids and their families, and glimpses into their home life.

I found it very difficult to watch, because of how often they infuriated me. Not so much the camp's evening revivals (I actually attended a similar camp when I was 17 - that's a story for another time I suppose) but scenes where the parents were shown "teaching" their children. For example, a mother who is home schooling her son tells him that "some people" think that because the average temperature rose less than a degree last year, that proves the existence of global warming. Of course, she tells the boy, that is ridiculous, and he happily agrees. But then she uses this one idea to decide that the entire concept of global warming is fabricated, something she announces to her son as fact.

It's so illogical I can't stand it. No scientist would ever look at one year's temperature fluctuation and interpret it as meaning anything on its own. So here of course we all agree! But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't consider that a pattern of annual temperatures over time might actually result in a more scientific conclusion. It's like testing one woman for HIV and, upon finding she doesn't have it, deciding that all women won't get it.

I don't know why I think that raising kids with bad science (or lack of respect for scientific methodology) is worse than raising them to think all their friends who haven't accepted jesus are doomed, but I do. Maybe because I can't claim to have scientific proof that their religion is wrong (lack of proof that it's right isn't the same thing), but have respect for the facts that others have exhaustively researched about the health of our planet.

I was tired when I watched it, and after my moment of fury over the stupid mom (who of course is home schooling - not that I think all home schooling is wrong, I have friends at the other end of the home schooling spectrum, liberal hippies), I started to doze off. I pulled myself awake long enough to turn off the DVD and the TV was tuned into Nickelodeon, specifically an episode of the new series "The Naked Brother Band." It's a show starring two real-life brothers (9 and 13) who have a band; their real-life musician dad co-stars and their real-life actress mom writes and directs. Of course it didn't take me too long to doze off again, into that state where my eyes kept fluttering open, pretending I was aware of what was on the screen. Only in my version, the Naked Brothers were not singing but wailing in tongues, screaming out their love for jesus.

"Jesus Camp" has been accused of having a liberal bias, so I supposed if I continue to watch it, there might be something to provide an alternative point of view to what's being portrayed. Or maybe people just felt that the way the kids were portrayed was making fun of them, exaggerating their weirdness, etc. I don't know. I'm not sure I want to finish it, though, because I hate seeing another child's mind being twisted by his or her grossly under informed parent. ("See, Johnny, nobody can accurately count exactly how many Jews died in the Holocaust, do you know why? Because it never happened! Otherwise why all the confusion? Right?") Like I said, I know I can't argue with them, so I just want to walk away.

The irony is that "Jesus Camp" is up against "An Inconvenient Truth" for best documentary feature.


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