Sunday, August 22, 2010

Jesus Camp

As I type I'm watching the documentary, Jesus Camp, with my eldest daughter Merkin.  I am keenly aware that I live in the Bible Belt.  Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church is in our backyard and the folks of Jesus Camp are here as well.

I would love to watch a follow-up to Jesus Camp and see what those kids are doing now.  It was rather spooky for me as I attended a few camps that didn't look so very different.  The biggest difference I noted was that everyone at Jesus Camp spoke in tongues while only a few kids at the camps I attended did. 

Another difference is that the Jesus Camp kids were allowed to listen to Christian rock.  I still remember one of our pastors telling us "Those same drum beats in those Christian bands are the same drum beats of those pagans in Africa."  He told us that one of the African men he saved asked him why their native music was evil when those same drums and rhythms were in the music he listened to at the church.  When I got home that summer I took all of my records and tapes and through them in the trash--I wasn't going to listen to devil music anymore. 

My junior year of high school, a friend came back from his church camp ready to pitch all his music too.  I told him that I'd hold on to his tapes, because in a few months he'd wish he had them back.

Each time I came back from camp, I'd throw away music and books that I discovered were "of the devil."  I began to believe that I was the rocky ground which good seed was wasted--that it would begin to take root but soon the weeds and rocky soil would choke out the good plant growing and it'd go back to waste.

I came home and tried to save all my friends.  I remember praying with one of them that special 6 word prayer that I believed protected us from hell--"Jesus, please come into my heart."  I knew that if the words weren't just right (please forgive me if I've screwed them up here) it wouldn't work--Jesus wouldn't listen.

I remember tears rolling down my face knowing that I was a hypocrite and luke-warm--I was something God would rather spit out than keep in his mouth.  As we watched the kids on Jesus camp cry for forgiveness I knew that feeling.  Out of all of the movie it is that which drives me most crazy--the guilt and shame inflicted upon these kids.  Where is the love of Christ?  The love Christ has for us?

As we watched (it's now over), Merkin would shoot me a quizzical look.  Did I agree with what they were doing?  Saying?  More often than not I understood and I could agree with many of the words but I couldn't go along with the "spirit" presented.  There is something violent about it all, its teaming with anger and rage.  I certainly understand the passion, perhaps even some of the reasoning, and ideas but that undercurrent brimming with rage and getting flattened by platitudes is disturbing. 

Watching Ted Haggard talk with the young boy, I wondered if Ted was sizing the boy up not as a future pastor but as a plaything.  I want to know how those folks responded to Ted's scandal.  I don't think that was the hypocrisy they wanted the kids to admit.

5 comments:

Mompriest said...

one of the reasons I left the institutional church for years is thinking that portrayed such a narrow view of God/Jesus - my own experience of God, at least as a child was far more expansive....of course now I often have days when I wonder about God at all...sigh..

I don't know if I ever saw Jesus Camp? I did see something, what was it???? oh well....

Rebecca Ramsey said...

I've never seen this all the way through-just clips. So painful to watch.
Children are so naturally in touch with God. To see them manhandled and manipulated makes me really sad.

Ross said...

Have you seen CAMPOUT? It's a doc about a christian camp for LGBT teens.

revhipchick said...

i'll have to check out CAMPOUT--i have a feeling that will be way scary, unfortunately.

Ross said...

no it's pretty good, it shot during the camps experimental stage, where they're working through/out the kinks of the camp (Lodging, meals, showers, schedule, ect.)