I contemplated writing this post on my religion blog, but I wasn't quite sure it belonged there, although it is religious in nature. My purpose isn't to criticize anyone, but to analyze and explain my feelings. I hope that no one will be offended by this.
Tonight I flipped on the tv and saw that a show called "Jesus Camp" was on. I had heard some negative things about it from the media, so decided I would watch it and form my own opinion. Now I should say right off that I feel I am an objective viewer. I am a Christian, although I wouldn't consider myself a "charismatic". I do feel very strongly about my beliefs, but our methods of teaching and worshipping are very different from the charismatics. I went in to this with an open mind to be tolerant of other religions. However, I knew that the media would "spin" it in their favor, and that they would produce it to show Christians in the worst light possible. I feel like they did achieve that objective. But being a Christian, I understand the feelings of the participants, and I understand their fervor. I don't, however, agree with their methods.
I didn't watch the entire show, but I was disturbed because many of their methods were similar to those used in brainwashing. The music, and the way the preachers spoke was designed to elicit fervor and passion in the children. I really felt, while watching the show, that they could have been talking about any subject, but with riling the kids up the way they were, they could have convinced them of the truth of anything. They had the children chanting to music, and they were using dramatic efforts to get them worked up about the subject. In this case, the subject they were speaking about was abortion. I do believe we need to teach our children that abortion is wrong, but their methods were such that the children got overly excited and worked up about the subject. The more they chanted, the more the children got anxious. Some children were crying and yelling. I just don't feel this is the Lord's way to teach.
Why do I feel that this method isn't right? Because that isn't the way the spirit works. The Holy Spirit doesn't rely on dramatics, anger, or chanting to testify of truth. The Holy spirit testifies to our hearts in a peaceful manner. In the Old Testament, Elijah heard the voice of the Lord. He didn't hear it in the gale of wind, or in the tremors of the earthquake, or in the raging fire, but through a still small voice. I feel that those who rely on dramatics are relying on something that isn't the spirit. There is no need for dramatics to feel the influence of the spirit. The feeling that comes to a person's heart is truly still, and small, albeit powerful.
The Book of Mormon describes the voice this way: "And it came to pass when they heard this voice, and beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul— " Helaman 5:30
While I admire the desire of those who held the "Jesus Camp", I think their motives are a little off base. I feel that they should concentrate more on helping the children to develop reverent worshipful attitudes toward the Savior, than to teach them to react hysterically to their beliefs. In many ways, they are extremists. This was the way the media concentrated on portraying them. But I must say too, that in their efforts to do this, those who made the film also became extremists. They looked at a small percentage of the Christian population, and made it appear that the entire Christian movement is trying to take over the world. Basically, it was a film about extremists, made by extremists.