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10:58 pm EDT 49°F (9°C) in Harrisburg, PA
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After some minor trouble with the truck on Friday night, I proceeded to run over here to Pennsylvania’s state capital over the weekend. At the moment, I’m in a dock getting a “shag” load (a local load, generally less than 100 miles (160 km)) unloaded.
As promised, I’m going to start taking on my project that involves the movie Jesus Camp, in which I shine a spotlight on how the so-called “fundamentalist ‘Christians’” featured in it are anything but. To explain the format I’m going to use, I’m basically going to put each comment/observation in its own paragraph, which will be led off by a minute:second timestamp (or range thereof) indicating the event’s place in the film. For example, if I put 04:19 in front of something, that indicates that that thing occurs four minutes and 19 seconds after the beginning.
00:08–02:09: Highway-driving scenes are the visuals here, while the audio features quotes from various Christofascists (among them Pat Robert-satan and D. James Kennedy) and one caller to a Christofascist radio station. Some of the opening credits roll near the end of this segment.
02:10–03:11: Mike Papantonio, the host of Air America Radio’s “Ring of Fire” program, is introduced to us and shown taking a call during a broadcast of his show. He makes occasional appearances throughout the film, just when you think you’re about to lose your mind over how insane the so-called “Christianity” you see in the film really is.
03:12–04:50: Next, we head to the Children’s Prayer Conference, held in Lees Summit, MO, just outside Kansas City. What we see next tells us almost everything we need to know about so-called “fundamentalist ‘Christianity’”: a group of about 10-15 children are on the altar of the church, performing a dance with some kind of sticks which they wield like swords. Almost all of the children have some face-paint on, and one boy’s face-paint job covers his entire face in a camouflage pattern. As if to even further show how so-called “Christians” are indoctrinating children to be savage and militaristic, this same boy is wearing camo pants to complete the outfit.
04:51–12:53: Immediately after the song and dance is done, we are introduced to youth pastor Becky Fischer, who features quite prominently in the summer camp from which the film takes its name. She starts by telling the audience about a book being sold at the conference, and then proceeds to mention the summer camp itself. At 06:30, the horrendously overweight Fischer, now in full yelling-at-the-children mode, unleashes the classically hypocritical line I mentioned in a previous update: “We’ve got too many Christian grown-ups that [sic] are fat and lazy! They don’t wanna give up their evening meal! They don’t wanna fast for a three-day fast, or a 40-day fast, or whatever!” The hypocrisy is, of course, lost on the children — but not on Jesus, who condemned hypocrites in the worst way all throughout chapter 23 of the Gospel of Matthew.
What’s even worse about this is the reason she suggests for fasting: it has nothing to do with dropping the excess 60 pounds (27 kg) or so she is carrying around. Rather, she says, Christians and especially Christian children should fast because Muslims do so during Ramadan “from 5 years old,” she claims. (Got her on another violation of God’s Eighth Commandment, the one that says “thou shalt not lie”; one Muslim girl in my 8th-grade class in 1993-94, at a Catholic school no less!, explained to us that she was doing her first Ramadan fast that year at age 14.) Seriously, somebody needs to ask Becky Fischer the question: if Muslims jumped off a bridge, should Christians jump too?
During a group prayer led by Fischer around 07:20, we see at least a few indications that the children are doing all of this not out of their own free will, but because they are forced. Part of the prayer itself, which is first spoken by Fischer and then repeated by the children, has the children saying “I’m here to be trained — I’m here for an education.” One child shown in the video for a few seconds obviously wants nothing to do with Fischer’s “prayer,” but is forced to do so because one of his parents has both hands on his head.
Around 07:55, we are introduced to “praying in tongues” as Fischer leads the children again. I don’t know where exactly they get the idea that mixing the occasional “we love you, Jesus” in with a bunch of baby babble constitutes “prayer” or “holiness.” Around the 09:00 mark, Fischer is shown at home watching a tape of one girl making a bunch of random babbles and noises, and somehow comes up with the insane claim that the girl is “hooking up with the Spirit — she’s staying focused.” A better, more plausible explanation is that the children are just imitating Fischer’s own quasi-retarded babbling.
We get more Muslim-bashing right after the 10:00 mark, as Fischer insinuates that all Muslim children know exactly what to do with hand grenades and other weapons. Her hatred of those ragheads is quickly becoming clear. She even admits, at 10:38, that she “want[s] to see [Christian children] radically laying down their lives for the Gospel, as they are in Pakistan, and Israel, and Palestine … for Islam” — again, she apparently doesn’t get that you don’t jump off a bridge just because somebody else does. You don’t kill your children just because somebody else has a savage, “fundamentalist” interpretation of another religion. Forget keeping up with the Joneses — it’s more important, apparently, to keep up with the al-Faisals, the Husseins, and the Ahmadinejads. How fucking sick can you be?
But it’s all OK, according to Fischer at 10:54, because “excuse me — we have the truth!” Whatever. Competing claims to “the truth” have only caused EVERY WAR mankind has ever fought.
12:01: Although we have already seen him in snippets of video, we get our first real introduction to 12-year-old Levi O’Brien at this point. Fischer converses with him and one other boy, asking if they are attending her camp in Devils Lake, ND (a most appropriate place to hold the camp, since it is the ways of Satan that will truly be taught there — I admit to having watched later parts of the movie before writing this), and then asking when the boys became Christian. Levi tells us, “at 5, I got ‘saved’ because I just wanted more of life — there was just nothing that I thought was fun.”
OK, there is something clearly wrong with what Levi has just said. You cannot tell me with a straight face that any 5-year-old has the wherewithal to make such a life-altering decision of his/her own free will — his ‘conversion’ was quite clearly forced by his parents, in clear defiance of Jesus’ command in Mark 6:11. Furthermore, how can a 5-year-old, who should be concentrating on building the skills necessary for friendship with other children, feel that nothing is fun? The answer to that is pretty obvious: we’re talking about a child who was tortured into depression by his parents, until he said what they wanted to hear. Other children caught on to it, no doubt, and probably made Levi’s kindergarten experience a sad one.
(Then again, as we will see in the immediately following scene, Levi is now home-schooled at 12; if he was never put into a normal school with other children, he was obviously denied the chance to bond with peers that normal parents give their children. In fact, this is pretty much proven just seconds later, when Levi admits he has a hard time meeting other people.)
14:34–14:52: We visit the O’Brien home in St. Robert, MO, located along Interstate 44 about 140 miles (220 km) southwest of St. Louis. As mentioned in the last paragraph, we see Levi’s mother teaching him one of his lessons, and she specifically asks him this question: “One popular thing to do in American politics is to note that the summers in the United States over the past few years have been very warm. As a result, global warming must be real. What’s wrong with this reasoning?” Demonstrating zero reasoning skills of his own, Levi answers, “It’s only gone up 0.6 degrees.” “Yeah, it’s not really a big problem, is it?” continues his mother, showing a complete lack of understanding of what has gone up 0.6°F (0.4°C).
Levi and his mother apparently think that it’s only the daily high temperatures that have gone up by 0.6°F. That wouldn’t be a big problem, for a single-day daily maximum to have increased by less than a degree over several years — but that’s just not true. What has gone up by 0.6°F over several years is the worldwide average temperature, averaged over all points over the entire year — with larger increases in colder polar regions. This, obviously, is much more significant, but so-called “fundamentalist ‘Christian’” global-warming deniers will stop at nothing to twist reality to suit their earthly political ends.
15:36: After a laughable, truth-denying assertion by Levi’s mother that “creationism … is the only possible answer to all the questions,” we are treated to a three-second shot of the O’Briens’ dog that I find hilarious in its irony and suggestive value. The dog is no doubt sitting there contemplating its own mental superiority over mankind, glad it doesn’t waste huge swaths of its life insisting that its “god” is any better than the Rottweiler “god,” the golden-retriever “god,” or the Dalmatian “god.” The dog, which kinda looks like a Chihuahua, probably is also thinking about how stupid humankind has always been about race; I mean, I doubt their dog would be all that bothered by the so-called “designer breeds” like Labradoodles, while many “Christian” humans still have this insane belief that black people are “cursed seed.” Like I said, this shot is hilarious in its irony.
17:20–18:34: Just when you’re ready to lose it, Papantonio returns to explain the truth behind what these so-called “Christians” are really doing.
18:35–20:44: We go to a bowling alley that I believe to be in St. Robert; it sits next to an adult bookstore, just off a freeway exit. Rather than the cartoons and comic books that normal children like to read, we find that 9-year-old Rachael Elhardt is given Jack Chick tracts for reading material. She gets so caught up in reading one of them that other children have to call out to her, reminding her that it is her turn to bowl. In a proof that “prayer” does nothing, as I showed here almost a year ago, the response to Rachael’s prayer for “a good hit” is a gutter ball.
She sits back down, but not before noticing a young straight couple sitting at a table in front of an adjacent lane. As the man gets up and goes somewhere, Rachael does something that, for as “Christian” as everybody in her group purports to be, probably shows budding lesbianism. Walking up to the very attractive blonde woman, Rachael all of a sudden gets very nervous, almost breathless, as she tells the woman that “God’s telling me that you’re on His mind, and that He just wants to take you, and He just wants to love you, and He has special plans for you in your life.” Hmmm … is it God who has those plans for the woman, or maybe is it Rachael? The way Rachael spoke after seeing how hot the blonde was, it seems that in several years, Rachael will be munchin’ mound, chompin’ carpet, or lickin’ labia — pick your favorite term.
Geez, I can’t believe I’ve only managed to get through the first quarter of the movie in the time available to me tonight. There is that much red meat for me to devour in the actions and words of these so-called “fundamentalist ‘Christians’” in this film. Now, society at large, will you think twice before you listen to them about any other topic, like homosexuality? I’ve proven with a review of only 20 minutes of Jesus Camp that they can’t be trusted on anything, so all the lies they tell about homosexuality should be going in one of your ears and right out the other without even tickling your brain cells on the way.
When I get more time, I will take on more of the movie, but that will have to wait for another time. Until then, auf Wiedersehen.