Sundance festival films for justice and the common good

February 6, 2007, 1:07 am | Posted by

Many film critics believe that we exist in the golden age of documentary filmmaking. Several recent films shown at the recent Sundance Film Festival fuel the fight for justice and human rights.

Here’s Ghosts of Abu Ghraib by Rory Kennedy who is, yes, the daughter of RFK. I really like her film because it explores why ordinary people all too often commit extraordinary acts of violence.

In an interview with New York magazine, Rory says:

I had planned on making a film exploring the question of how ordinary people commit extraordinary acts of evil, and Abu Ghraib kept coming up. It was really with the intention of doing a psychological profile of the MPs –were these people psychopaths? Or was it the pressure of working under these conditions?

So, what did you find?

They’re perfectly normal in many ways. Javal Davis–there’s a sweetness to his eyes, an honesty to him. They did horrible things, but it was pretty obvious that these guys were told to do 95 percent of what they did.

This film will play on HBO on February 22.

Another excellent documentary to appear this year at Sundance is The Bible Tells Me So.

This film is “an exploration of the religious right’s use of the Bible to justify shutting homosexuals out of the faiths in which they’ve grown up.One of the central figures in For the Bible Tells Me So is Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first-ever openly gay man to be elected a Bishop of the Episcopalian Church. Robinson’s consecration in 2003 (at which he had to wear a bullet-proof vest due to death threats) was a historical occasion that caused a rift in the Episcopal church.” The doc also includes conversations with Desmond Tutu, Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer, the Rev. Susan Sparks, Crissy Gephardt daughter of former Presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt, and “the Poteats, an African-American family in which both parents are preachers still struggling to accept that their daughter, Tonia, is a lesbian.”

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Shots from Both Wings…

February 5, 2007, 5:00 pm | Posted by

There’s been quite a bit of dust kicked up recently over the political consulting of Common Good Strategies, a group headed by Mara Vanderslice and Eric Sapp. Some on the left say they’re selling out progressivism. Others on the right say they’re communists in sheep’s clothing. The debates offer a window into the highly charged ground that CGS is treading. Must be interesting to take hits from both your right and your left…

“Mara Vanderslice’s attempt to convince Christians to vote for pro-abortion, pro-homosexual Democrats (who hide their real goals behind claims of ‘faith’) is working — and the Republican Party should take note,” said TVC Executive Director Andrea Lafferty. “Tragically, Vanderslice’s brand of ‘progressive’ Christianity has more in common with Marxist-Leninist ideals than with orthodox Christianity. I pray that Christians will not be fooled in 2008 — as many were in 2006. Because many evangelicals voted for liberals in 2006, we face a Congress that is openly hostile to biblical values.”

Traditional Values Coalition, February 1, 2007

Casey should have ignored Vanderslice’s reckless counsel for a variety of reasons, including that there was no reason to seek additional support from those who would never provide it. Contrary to Vanderslice’s notions, engaging the leadership of the hard Religious Right does not demonstrate respect for “people of faith.” Instead it sends a clear message of capitulation to the long discredited Aristotelian notion of inherent inequality. Any continued acceptance of this unnecessary strategy of pandering will have its ultimate end in the furthering weakening of liberal democracy.

Frank Cocozzelli at Talk2Action, February 4, 2007

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Southern Methodist University theology profs oppose Bush library

February 3, 2007, 11:18 pm | Posted by

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What’s New in the Neighborhood?

February 1, 2007, 7:20 pm | Posted by

America’s Young Theologian writes about Gandhi, Graffiti, and Christian Ethics:

“Bourgeois suburban Christianity is limited in practice to largely interpersonal matters. It tends to see the command to love others as elevating the personal encounter with another person over working to alleviate the structural conditions that enslave others. [Given the impersonal nature of people's daily lives, this may seem right, but one cannot claim love while failing to address the structures of poverty and classism.] So, they send teenagers on mission trips dressed in GAP clothing, largely unconcerned with their own suburban exclusion, greed, and perpetuation of poverty.”

Upon reading her “beloved” issue of Burma Issues, Brethren Priestess registers alarm that “the military is intent on wiping out Christianity in Burma, according to claims in a secret document believed to have been leaked from a government ministry.”

Can’t get enough of Islamoyankee’s sharp analysis of religious issues this week at Faith in Public Life? Check out his discussion of Shi’ism.

Over at JSpot, Lenny finds an article on community organizing that kinda convinces him to pay a little more attention to Obama.

If you know what WHINSEC / SOA means, you’ll appreciate that Chuck Currie writes about the Chicago UCC minister who just got a ticket to the grey hotel for protesting outside Ft. Benning in Georgia.

What a lil’ controversy? On Street Prophets a “Pro-Life Secular Liberal” writes about how abortion doesn’t fit with the principles of her childhood Universal-Unitarianism.

CrossLeft posts Olbermann’s recent “special comment” on Bush and terrorism and Jaws 2.

Ryan Beiler blogs at God’s Politics Blog about Sen. Biden’s launch speech to Sen. Obama: “NEWS FLASH TO WELL-MEANING WHITE FOLKS: When you praise people of any minority or ethnicity for being “articulate,” you’re suggesting that you have deeply held stereotypes about people that don’t look like you that are only overcome by what you see as noteable exceptions.”

City of Brass notes “The incoherence of Ghazali.” Poor Cristo Lumen. Apparently his entire blog got erased.

Not surprised, Mainstream Baptist, confirms a recent report that points out that Baptist women head to other denominations.

Be sure to read Jeff Sharlet debuting on Talk to Action by writing on that weirdness known to Americans as the National Prayer Breakfast. Here’s something to go with your Frenchy-blend:

“Today, the National Prayer Breakfast is a gathering of all faiths, in Jesus’ name. To be fair, the organization that produces it — so deliberately lowkey that they encourage the misperception that it’s an official government event — tones down its true strangeness in honor of the attendance of the president and hundreds of congressmen. For instance, they don’t bring up what they consider the leadership lessons of… Hitler. Yes, Hitler.”

Catholics United for the Common Good can’t take the conservative bashing of the late, great Fr. Drinan.

Homogenizing her coffee and recent Catholic news, Pam’s House Blend mixes it up over an Italian newspaper report on the difference between papal moral absolutes and the advice given in the confessional box.

Yes, human trafficking is a modern reality that must be stopped notes Faithfully Liberal. The Rev. Deb Haffner wonders about who gets to define “family values.”

And finally, the NCC blog notes a Goode day for America . . .when an interfaith delegation went to invite Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode to a Muslim service.

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Dispatches from Davos: Rules for a Global Neighbourhood in a Multicultural World

January 29, 2007, 2:18 am | Posted by

In an era of great change, religion and spiritualism can provide strength and guidance. However, it is vital to strengthen the dialogue among different religions and cultures in order to foster common understanding. In the case of the West and Islam, a growing disconnect poses serious challenges to global order. This session builds on the ongoing dialogue created by the World Economic Forum’s C100 initiative.

1. Will multiculturalism determine national and global politics for the coming generation?

2. What main issues characterize the current West-Islam dialogue? Can concrete actions be taken to resolve differences?

* Jean-François Copé, Minister of Budget and State Reform of France; Government Spokesman, France

* John J. DeGioia, President, Georgetown University, USA

* Mohammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran (1997-2005)

* Chief Rabbi David Rosen, President, International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Relations, USA

* Jim Wallis, Editor-in-Chief and Chief Executive Officer, Sojourners, USA

* H.R.H. Princess Lolwah Al Faisal, Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees and General Supervisor, Effat College, Saudi Arabia

* Opening Remarks by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia

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