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Water for Elephants

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.