Created on: September 27, 2009 Last Updated: January 10, 2010
"For the Bible Tells Me So" is a good, maybe even very good, documentary, but it is certainly an advocacy piece, and like most such documentaries its focus is on pushing the right emotional buttons rather than putting together a cogent argument for its conclusion.
The subject of the documentary is the Religious Right's opposition to homosexual rights. The documentary contends that this opposition is unjustified.
As I say, the film is not structured as a clear, reasoned argument. Instead, various threads are started with no narration and no explanation, and you have to infer over time why they're in the film. For example, we are introduced to several couples talking about themselves, their children and their religious values, but it's only over time that we find out they have gay offspring, and that their segments are included in the film to show how different families deal with such a situation and how it can modify their religious beliefs about homosexuality.
In addition to this anecdotal material, sprinkled throughout are statements about why homosexuality is inconsistent with living a moral, Christian life (by angry, sloganeering, unkempt-looking rednecks primarily), statements about why homosexuality is consistent with living a moral, Christian life (by ultra-reasonable, calm professors and kindly celebrities like Bishop Desmond Tutu primarily), and statements by medical and scientific types about homosexuality.
But the order of the material, if not random, is organized for aesthetic or emotional reasons. You can piece together arguments against the Religious Right's positions from the material provided - and probably pretty good ones - but only by re-arranging material, making explicit some things that are left implicit, and so on. And if you want to take into consideration the most reasonable case for the other side, you pretty much have to supply that yourself as well.
Again, I don't think this all makes this film somehow more flawed or more biased than the typical advocacy documentary. And even though I was thinking of some "Yeah, buts" along the way, I agree with almost everything this film wants viewers to believe and feel.
Though they were offered up in a scattershot fashion, I found some of the Biblical interpretation claims intriguing. Now, as a guide to my own values and behavior I don't much care whether something is consistent or inconsistent with the Bible, any more than I care if it's consistent or inconsistent with the tenets of some tribal
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