Friday, August 17, 2007

Just a quick hit today, and then I'm off to record the Podcast.  This is only marginally related to Christian Cinema, but I had to post it because I think that it speaks to one of the greatest horrors of our time: the corruption of children by religious fanatics.

Odds are you don't know who Saraa Barhoum is.  But if you were a Palestinian tween, you'd know that Barhoum is the star of Tomorrow's Pioneers, a children's variety show that airs weekly in Palestine.  She's sort of their version of Hilary Duff.  Imagine something like a PBS Children's Television Workshop program, think Sesame Street, but instead of merely espousing the virtues of friendship and the alphabet(which it does), it also includes the occasional reference to the Great Satan of the USA and calls for jihad against the West. 

Anyway, Barhoum had an interview with a newspaper where she said that her primary goal is to be a doctor, but if that doesn't work out or if the opportunity presents itself I suppose, she would also like to be a martyr. 

The reason I post this here is that this is the same sort of stuff that you find in Jesus Camp, a film we may get around to reviewing or may not.  This is the indoctrination of hate and death into children, and while it may seem evil in this context, many Christians in America are embracing it as the only effective way to wage what they view as a war against Islam.  It saddens me that children on both sides are being brought up to believe that there is no greater glory than dying for God in a war against other people. 

When I was in high school my Church youth group used to play a game called "Roman Soldiers."  We would stay in the Church after hours, turn off all the lights, and then run around holding "underground" Church meetings while the leaders would run around arresting people for violating "Roman Law."  It was fun as a big hide and seek in the labyrinthine building my Church had, but I never got the whole "wait to die" part of it.  Sure, there are historical and Biblical precedents for it, but to me, the situation in the Bible where Jesus admonishes Peter for cutting off the guard's ear is one of not fighting back once you're caught.  Jesus never says "just wait around to die, or even better, give yourself up for execution."  This idea of romanticizing persecution and martyrdom is very disturbing to me.  Even in college some people in my Bible study used to wistfully talk about the possibility that Christians may one day be persecuted in the USA the way they are in places like Saudi Arabia and China.  The idea being that such persecution would weed out what they viewed as half-hearted Christians and leave only those willing to be martyred, like them.  The same thing came up after Columbine, when so many people were talking about "if a gunman asked you to renounce Christ or die, what would you do."  Tough question, but not exactly something I'd like to fantasize about.

Idolizing martyrdom has a tremendous amount of history behind it, going all the way back to Foxe's Book of Martyrs, but the current trends are very different.  Christian kids and Palestinian kids aren't looking forward to being killed because of their religion, they're looking forward to being killed in the battle with their opposing religions.  A totally different breed of Martyr.

Personally,  I'd be willing to die for my faith, but marching into the detention center is not what I had in mind.

(story from OneNewsNow)

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