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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Oh My God?
Directed by Peter Rodger
Hay House 11/09 DVD/VHS Documentary
One question has served for centuries as a lure for theologians, religious teachers, and spiritual seekers: "What is God?" In this gorgeously filmed documentary, Peter Rodger takes us around the world to 23 countries to talk to people of all types, colors, and creeds. The result is an open house where Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, native peoples, and even atheists share their views about God. Filmmaker Rodger and composer Alexander van Bubenheim fine tune our senses and our souls to the mysteries of the Divine and the yearnings of the human heart.
The quest begins in the United States with an interview with a born-again Christian owner of a gun shop. A human behavior specialist poses the question raised by all college students: "Did God create human beings or do men and women create God with their own ideas, hopes, and dreams?" A Native American brings us back down to earth with his view that God enables us to reach out to others and help them. Seal, a singer/songwriter is convinced that God is "infinite energy," a view that is gaining in popularity since it is in sync with scientific understandings of the universe. Chatting with poor kids in New Orleans after Katrina, Rodger asks them about the role of the Creator in their lives. In a very different context, the musician and political activist Bob Geldof reveals his negative vibes about God and the religious establishment.
During trips to India, Australia, and Bali, the filmmaker talks to people who are concerned about God and religious warfare, the question of why human beings must suffer, the aboriginal path of singing to God, and the creative dimension of Hinduism on the "island of the Gods." In Tibet, Rodger is confronted by Buddhist spirituality and in Eastern Africa, he encounters the Maasai tribal people and their rituals of animal sacrifices. The filmmaker sums up four ways people seem to think of God: as Creator, as policeman, as giver of eternal life, and as the scapegoat when things go wrong.
Perhaps the most moving segment in the documentary is the visit with a hospitable Jewish rabbi and a Palestinian community leader and peace advocate who embrace and concur with the notion that God is the space between us when we meet with true presence and love. The two most troubling vignettes are one with the close-minded Christian fundamentalist minister who spews hatred for Islam and Muhammad, and another with a Muslim fundamentalist who claims erroneously that the Qur'an states that Jews and Christians are going to hell. He is corrected when Rodger interviews a Muslim scholar who demonstrates Islam's openness to other religions.
This documentary is a spiritual adventure where you can have a close encounter with faith, devotion, suffering, the natural world, community, inner peace, sacrifice, and service of others. Celebrities appear throughout the film including Hugh Jackman, Ringo Starr, David Copperfield, Jack Thompson, and others. The one person who stands out from the rest is the singer/songwriter Seal who admits that on his spiritual journey, "I have chosen to see God in people." This is the key to unlocking the future and to opening the doors of our hearts and minds and souls to others. It takes us beyond religion, beyond walls, beyond terrorism, beyond hatred, and beyond exclusivism to a unity that is exultant!
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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