Friday, January 2, 2009

Beyond Our Differences (Entropy Films, 2008)

by Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2009 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved

The December 26, 2008 episode of the PBS public-affairs TV series Bill Moyers’ Journal was given over to a film (or an excerpt therefrom; from its listing I conclude the original is a good deal longer than the 56-minute excerpt we got to see) called Beyond Our Differences, which is basically your standard Religion Is Good After All documentary focusing on religious leaders who are actually working to bring peace on earth and people together rather than driving them apart and therefore are providing an alternative to the fundamentalists. To say I have mixed feelings about this subject is putting it mildly; I firmly believe that on balance, religion has been a negative force in world history — all the Gandhis and Kings who have done good things in the name of their faiths are vastly outweighed by the Torquemadas, the Cotton Mathers, the Meir Kahanes and Osama bin Ladens who have killed in the name of theirs.

Predictably I felt my skin crawl when I saw Father Kieran Creagh being held up as a positive role model for setting up a hospice for “AIDS” patients in South Africa, not only because I’m sure most of the “AIDS” patients whom he’s helping to ease their deaths would probably have been salvageable if the real, preventable or treatable, diseases they had were acknowledged as the causes of what was wrong with them instead of having it all blamed on “HIV” but also because Creagh is saying that he’s been inspired by “AIDS” to do education on the South African Blacks to get them to stop having sex and remain abstinent until marriage (it’s oh so convenient when you manage to watch what’s happening in the world and decide it confirms what you already believe), and whereas the film presents Father Creagh’s willingness to take an experimental AIDS vaccine in 2003 as an example of physical and moral courage, it’s hard to see even by the mainstream’s lights what on earth this is supposed to prove, since as a Roman Catholic priest he’s not supposed to be having sex anyway and therefore his likelihood of “exposure” to HIV in the primary way the mainstream says it’s transmitted is minimal to none.

I liked a lot of Beyond Our Differences and was particularly moved by the quotations from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic holy books even though director Peter Bisanz is cherry-picking the scriptures as thoroughly as Fred Phelps is — particularly ignoring all the passages in the Old Testament and the Koran that specifically have God green-lighting his chosen people to commit genocide.