What on earth is Jesus doing in the world? Commentary on Jesus news.

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Location: Irondale, Alabama, United States

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Jesus Goes to Camp

The big news about Jesus this week mostly surrounds the new “Jesus Camp” documentary by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. Check out to see the trailer and other clips.

LA Times writer Gina Piccalo has written an in-depth article this week that has been reprinted around the Tribune newspapers. It is fairly representative of what is being said.

I haven’t seen the film, and living in Birmingham, Alabama, I’m probably not likely to see it until it comes out on dvd. So, anything I say at this point is only based on the clips and what I’ve read. Kind of reminds me of a book I read back in July, The Secrets of Judas by James M. Robinson. The book, about the recently reconstructed and translated Gospel of Judas, a Gnostic text from roughly the same period as other texts unearthed at Nag Hamadi, Egypt, weighed in during the height of the National Geographic-hyped “discovery” at Easter. It turns out Robinson wrote his whole book before he ever got to read the actual Gospel of Judas.

I guess I can risk speaking in my own ignorance or naivety…

The Jesus Camp Controversy surrounds the response to Pastor Becky Fisher’s conservative evangelical “Kids on Fire” Bible Camp in Devil’s Lake, ND. Liberals are aghast. Evangelicals are split between an enthusiastic “thumbs up” and a mere nervous “maybe not.” Pastor Fisher stands accused of indoctrinating children into becoming “Christian terrorists.” The horror expressed by critics seems to be based as much on the indoctrinating process itself as it is on the fundamentalist content of that process.

Filmmakers Ewing and Grady had wrote about their promotional tour at the Huffington Post yesterday. They noted how differently the film is being received in the “heartland” from its reception on both coasts.

Now, I would not be called a conservative by Alabama standards, but at the same time I would not be called liberal by NY or LA standards. Personally I condemn fanaticism. I find much of the politics of the Christian far-right repugnant. But I admit that when I look at our culture I find my Christian faith more and more embattled. It is more important today than ever in American history for Christians to know what they believe and why.

Before I was a pastor, I taught and was a researcher in experimental psychology with emphasis on how to teach and how people learn. Now that I am a parent, I am relearning something I taught long ago: parents are never not teaching their kids. One way or the other, you as a parent are indoctrinating your child into something. The only question is “into what?”

It is time that mainline Christianity understands that we must be much more intentional about what we teach our children… about God, about love, about who Jesus is and what Jesus wants from us.

The question every parent of faith must answer is “what will be the legacy of faith that you pass on to your child?


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