Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Must-See Film

If you’re in the Twin Cities area and haven’t yet seen the new documentary film, For the Bible Tells Me So, then be warned: you only have until Thursday evening to get yourself to the Lagoon Cinema and catch this must-see film! (Update: Good news! The film’s run has been extended through to Thursday, November 1.)

Directed and co-written by Daniel Karslake, For the Bible Tells Me So is an incredibly powerful film. (And not only because my friends, the inspiring Phil and Randi Reitan, and their equally inspiring son Jacob, feature prominently!)

Of course, for Catholics, it’s not the Bible so much as doctrine that’s trundled out to dismiss and deny the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Still, biblical or doctrinal, fundamentalism is fundamentalism. Accordingly, For the Bible Tells Me So is an invaluable testimony and resource to the confronting of this particular “stumbling block” in all its forms. As I said, it’s a must see film!

Following are excerpts from Heidi Fellner’s October 12 review in Lavender magazine.


Throwing the Book at Homophobia
By Heidi Fellner
October 12-25, 2007

That right-wing Christians selectively interpret “anti-gay” scripture by overlooking historical and literary context to the detriment of gay people and their families – is not news to anyone in the LGBT community.

But therein lies the rub. One watches a documentary in order to gain knowledge, perspective, and greater understanding. I feared that the filmmakers [of For the Bible Tells Me So] would simply preach last week’s sermon to the already converted.

I needn’t have worried. The film resists the impulse to declare religion and religious people the problem, depicting homophobic parents as the church’s mindless minions. Instead, it embraces a broad message of love and tolerance, employing Christian and Jewish texts to do so.

For the most part, the narrative focuses on the stories of Bishop Gene Robinson, Chrissy Gephardt, and the Reitan and Poteat families. Their stories are told with a heartfelt honesty that helps guide the film through sections that could have easily become melodramatic.

Not to slight those personal accounts, but supplemental interviews with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Reverend Peter Gomes, Rabbi Steven Greenberg, and Reverend Jimmy Creech were among the most valuable parts of the film. . . .

In the end, the final question the film attempts to answer is the most daring: “Why?” Why, of all the sins listed in Leviticus, including the consumption of shrimp, does homosexuality retain its title as chief “abomination”? Why, if homophobes claim they are simply adhering to literal scripture, do they not also advocate the selling of women into slavery and the punishment of trivial offenses by torture and death? . . .

Thankfully, For the Bible Tells Me So moves beyond the old saw about the necessity of having someone to hate, and tries to explain why the LGBT community is that someone. According to some in the film, it’s that darned patriarchy again and its right hand, the subjugation of women. Blurring male and female roles threatens that übermacho status quo. . . .

All in all, this is a remarkable documentary – well shot, well edited, and graced with a superb soundtrack.

Heidi Fellner
October 12, 2007

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