Some of tonight was spent watching the film Jesus Camp, a film many people are aware of. I remember when it came out, when it seemed to blow up the little corner of the blogosphere that I'm marginally a part of.
I'm certainly not afraid of a film, but I am somewhat worried about the mentality of the sort of people portrayed in the film. I'm not surprised that people are like that, and I come from a not too dissimilar background, so I'm well aware of the indoctrination that happens to kids born into such religiously zealous backgrounds.
I'm nearly ready to call what I saw in the film brainwashing. I'll admit to raising my own kids in a way that mirrors my beliefs, and to some extent that's what is portrayed in the movie, but then it must be admitted that these people take it to a whole other level.
Big Brother didn't watch the whole movie with me. He and The Boy were too busy playing with some new toys they bought today with their own money. But they were both in the room playing, and he did see some amount of the movie. He was aware of some of it and watched some of it with me.
I want my kids to know they can ask questions when they have questions. They don't as much as I'd like, but when they do I want to be honest. This movie and the few question Big Brother did have because of it opened up some interesting conversation, but more than that it made me think.
I was able, because of this movie, to discuss with him the dangers of taking too seriously everything you hear. I was able to discuss the need to approach things objectively, to at least try to view all sides of a discussion. I was able to discuss the fact that repitition, music, chanting, etc. can put people in a state of mind that is almost trancelike, that it opens people up to suggestion. I even got to discuss abortion and my views.
I want to think that my most important point throughout the discussion was the point of having an objective approach. I want him to understand that my views are my own, that other people are welcome and within their rights to hold differing views. Most important is getting information that will allow him to make an intelligent decision about what he believes.
More than anything what I personally took away from all this is my own need to interact more with my children. It's so easy to just let them go about their business, to give them quick answers to their questions, to allow myself to become so absorbed in my own things that we don't live together and communicate together so much as exist within the same realm.
And as for the kids in the movie, I really felt sorry for them. They are taught a certain dogma, they are taught the "right" answers. They weren't taught to look at things from any sort of distance, to judge things on merits that aren't completely tied up in their faith based world view. I worry for the ones that are fed this singular view, the ones who know better, who look into themselves and see that it isn't right or isn't right for them.
And finally I'll share one bit that stood out to me. The kids at the end passing out religious pamphlets approached the black family to ask that age old question, "If you were to die where would you spend eternity." They got the answer of heaven, but as the kids turned away one of them mentioned to the others her belief that they were probably muslims. It's much more likely that the people were christian somewhere within the typically accepted protestantism of the U.S., but I assume based on their skin color, the kids made the leap to muslim. Just wow!