The Jeezus Culture

Earlier today Jane and her friends saw Soul Surfer. They thought the movie was okay but the mom who took them said, “There’s a lot of Jesus in it.” Jane thought that the movie might be trying to make people Christian.

Part of me wishes I’d have researched the movie a little bit. As a Jewish mother who isn’t overly observant I have a complicated relationship with those who prosthelytize. On the one hand I see them as Jesus freaks who look as dopey as Cheech and Chong once did, and on the other hand I see them as Jim Jonesesque type creatures that want to strip my children of logic and reason.

I love the idea of my kids being surrounded by people who believe in something. I hate the idea of my children being told that their own beliefs are wrong or inadequate. I’d rather my children believe in Freud and Physics than Armageddon and Afterlife. Jews believe in education, we believe in questioning everything, we believe that man judges. We are the people of the book.

I remember growing up in a community that played host to a mega church. I remember being told I was being taken to a concert only to find out that they were rockers for Jesus. I remember being told I’d burn in hell if I didn’t take Him into my heart. Still, if believing makes you a better person I say go for it.

I remember not believing in Hell even when I was tiny. I tell my children that it’s a made up place that people in power use to frighten children. I still believe that’s true, and no quoting of books will convince me that it’s anything but a man-made manipulation.

I’m as likely to believe in an afterlife as I am to believe that my Uncle was once an earthworm. This is not something I’m looking to debate, it’s simply how I see the world.

So when my kids see a movie that’s actually meant to prosthelytize I feel torn. I like that Jane didn’t buy the message, but I dislike that at every turn there’s this need for Christians to try and bring everyone to church with them.

I need something incredibly secular now. I’m taking Jane and a friend to their second movie of the day. We’ll see Water for Elephants. We’ll talk about adultery, animal abuse and running away from home. It’s an All American Story that I can relate to.

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Comments 11

  1. You are brave to say this out loud. Hope you aren’t attacked by people who don’t understand how it feels to be Jewish in a loudly not-as-Jewish environment.

    A year ago my family went to Israel and were delighted by how comfortable we were discussing my son’s Bar Mitzvah planning in a restaurant without having to whisper.

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  2. I can’t remember a time in my life where this wasn’t an issue and I don’t expect it to change any time soon. I get the door knockers on my door step and more than a few emails/comments that come from the blog.

    It is part of the joy of being in the minority.

    On the other hand when you send your kids to day school they say things like, “What do my Christmas people do on Shabbat.” It is kind of funny.

  3. Hmmm… I don’t know why this post bothers me but it does. I read it when you wrote it and it kind of stuck with me and today I saw Soul Surfer with my daughter and I thought, “Wow! Really!” Where exactly is the preachy part? What I saw was a movie about a girl who got her arm eaten by a shark and overcame it by being brave enough and strong enough to not only surf but become a competitive surfer again. Yes, her family was Christian and she belonged to a youth group and even went on a mission to Phuket after the tsunami and had a bit of enlightenment there – but that was it.

    Even though I was raised Christian, I’m probably about as Christian as you are Jewish – meaning yeah, I celebrate all the major holidays and know the prayers when I enter a church but I’m pretty ambivalent, and question a lot. Most of my friends are Jewish and I’ve celebrated my share of Jewish holidays too. And I hate it when people preach their religion to me (even when it’s my religion) in that churchy preachy way, so in a way I was ready for it in this movie and ready to be turned off by it. But I wasn’t, I simply didn’t see it there.

    As you know the movie is based on a true story. Leaving the Hamilton’s faith out of the story would be leaving out an incredibly important part of her story. I hope that Jane DID buy the message that it is possible to overcome disabilities -physical or otherwise- even if some people are able to overcome them because they have faith in God.

    Just my two cents.

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