(Cross-posted for my favorite religious lady and friend, FranIAm, who proves to me daily that you can be a Christian and cool. Rgds, T.G)
(Despite my calls for action for Blog Against Theocracy weekend (Also available at MockPaperScissors) I seem to have run out of time without writing a post. To that end I am submitting and posting this post from my blog, from early March. The post was about the film Constantine’s Sword and is interwoven with a case of campus proselytizing of the worst sort a the Air Force Academy. I was inspired to do this by the fine posting I just read at Happy Jihad’s House of Pancakes written by the inimitable Bing McGhandi.
For those who read this at Ten’s or at BG’s BAT site and do not know me… I am a very religious person who is deeply committed to keeping church and state separate. As a person of deep faith I do not want to tell you what to do or how to believe, nor do I want to be forced into anyone else’s ways of being. Peaceful coexistence is my goal.
I have not been utilizing my Netflix subscription very much lately that I recently sent a movie back after meaning to write about for weeks and then not doing so! I am so out of touch with my queue that I did not know what would arrive next.
As I am studying church history this semester and have been obsessed with Constantine (not in a good way), I hit the Netflix/Grad school jackpot when Constantine’s Sword arrived a few days later.
Currently I am immersed in church history as that is what I am studying this semester. And I am really struggling with how and why Christianity and government/power got intertwined by Constantine’s declaration that Christianity would be the religion of the Empire. “In hoc signo vinces” (“in this sign you shall conquer,”) or the IHS you often see above Jesus’ head on crucifixes.
And this film – Constantine’s Sword, uses that point in history to explore parallels between church, state and military that exist to this day.
I really liked the film; it was not the greatest, but it was interesting. It did a good job of pulling together the story more quickly, but be warned it is without all the historical detail and data the book offers. If you don’t know the history, it might not be as clear.
As a former Catholic priest, Carroll does have a bit of an axe to grind. However, make no mistake – Carroll has clearly called out the truth about anti-Semitism and the Roman Catholic Church, which needs to be called out and called out loudly and clearly.
(Not to go too far afield, but many of you have heard me say this on the phone, I do not think that I have said it here… It is NO excuse for any of the awful things of late – especially the SSPX situation, but I do not believe that Pope Benedict is a Nazi or a virulent anti-semite. He is many things, but not that, as I see it. Want to talk with me (or fight with me) about that? To discuss it, email me please. I would be curious about your viewpoint and willing to share mine, but I will not likely blog about it. That said, B16′s words and actions inspire those who do reject the Jews.)
Back to the film… It does an excellent job of exploring not only the anti-semitism fueled by the RC Church, but it truly brings forth and weaves the relationship between ultra-right conservative Christianity, the US government and also the military. The real focus for this is the Air Force family of Mikey Weinstein and how Weinstein pushed back hard against the proselytizing at the US Air Force Academy.
You are likely aware that Colorado Springs is the home of this place and this place and this place. (i feel dirty just googling and publishing those links. ick… On a former business travel related note, I used to go to Colo Springs all the time. I always found the place physically beautiful, but slightly creepy… I used to say it was Apt Pupil meets Red Dawn. *shudder*)
Anyway, the movie goes back and forth between the relationship between Constantine’s toxic mix of war, power and faith and the current similarities. Now this film was released in 2007, that sick era of Bush-shit.
Especially creepy were scenes where Carroll interviews Ted Haggard, like this one. (it is only 21 creepy seconds long…)
(Is that smile insincere and soul-chilling or what???)
This movie covers a lot of historical ground as it encapsulates the history of the church and the toxic mix of church and state that began with Constantine in 312 and mentioned above. Prior to this, the religion of the empire was pagan. The question will always remain – did Constantine really convert or was this his evil exercise of unifying power? I always tend towards the latter on this.
So you go from what was once the counter-cultural group of outsiders, that is those who followed Christ, to the forced religion of the empire. Add to that the struggles already extant in the growing Christian faith, many of whom never thought of themselves as anything other than messianic Jews. There were already forces at work in the various communities of that time that were sowing seeds of anti-Semitism.
Bring that into the context of the war against Iraq (think GWB and the use of the word “crusade”) and the power of the religious right in this country during his presidency.
Carroll’s own history matters here too… His parents were of Irish descent and working class at that. Yet his father became a General and played a major role in government. Carroll lived a privileged life and became a Catholic priest in the Vatican II era. He embraced peace and social justice only to discover how conflicted his work was.
Carroll was vehemently anti-war and an activist priest during the Vietnam era… and his father worked at the Pentagon.
Church, state and war are always an intoxicating mix for those who love power and domination. This is why they should never go together, but always do.
This movie is worth a watch just to see how ugly it can all get. I realize that for a 90 minute movie, there is so much to write about and I have barely captured any of it.
Let it suffice to say that Carroll travels to Colorado Springs and to Rome; he journeys to Krakow and Auschwitz as well. He does a good job of presenting the sometimes complicated role of the Catholic Church and some very dark chapters of history with clarity. His segments on the Jewish community of Rome were especially excellent.
I recommend this film if you have an interest in this history… and in how dangerous it is for the forces of the military, the government and religion to mix.