Film: discussion with director of 'Oh My God!'

William Gibbs McAdoo Jr (1863-1941) Californian Senator and United States Secretary of the Treasury was fond of pointing out that: "It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument."

The same is also true of a film produced from the perspective of celebrated ignorance.

Before I tell you what's wrong with Peter Rodger's film,  let me begin by saying that Oh My God! is the most visually exciting film I've seen in many years. When I met with the director in a private interview I congratulated him for creating a graphically stunning and visually-captivating film. I attribute it to Rodger's experience as a commercial photographer. His accomplishment is even more stunning considering it is his debut film.

Oh My God! is a video log of the director/narrator's worldwide quest to answer the single question: "What is God?" Rodger told me he wanted to avoid asking the question as to who the Deity was as he wanted to get at people's feelings rather than their theological considerations. In this regard it is a successful film. Rodgers asks many dozens of people from almost as many religious traditions including animist, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism. The slow, thoughtful panoply of smiling God-graced faces answering from their hearts the simple question as to what the Lord of All is to them is inspirational. All people of faith should rejoice in the fact that God has revealed Himself in the hearts of all His children and not squirreled Himself to only one people or religion.

This movie however was as fair balanced and intellectually-satisfying as the average Fox News broadcast - it beats a dull, hollow and dyspeptic drum. The film is the typical anti-Christian nonsense to which we've become almost inured: Buddhism-Hinduism-and-paganism-are-wonderful-and-Christianity-is-the-sole-cause-of-all-evil-in-the-world-yadda-yadda-yadda.

For all the whining Rodger did about Christianity in his film he conveniently forgot to mention Hindu extremists who hunt and kill Christians,  gang rape Catholic nuns and set churches, mosques and Sikh temples ablaze. He also never mentioned Buddhists who nearly destroyed the native Bon religion in Tibet as a result of their zealous proselytizing or the fact that the vast majority of people involved in the bombing of Pearl Harbour were Buddhist and Shinto. He also never mentioned that Christians were nearly exterminated by pagan Romans at its inception. In fact, Rodgers couldn't name any Hindu or Buddhist crimes, sins, foibles or diableries.

I pointed out to him the October 14 2009 New York Times article about child sex abuse in Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish community. All he did was smile and moved on to what he believed was a more important consideration (i.e. anything that didn't reveal his inconsistencies, hypocrisies and cowardice as portrayed in the film.)

Having met with Rodger for more than an hour, I conclude that Oh My God is a roman-clef,  a thinly disguised attempt at hiding the director's Christianophobia and embittered anti-intellectualism. Rodgers spoils the beauty of the film by announcing in the very beginning that he is interested not in understanding the common experience of God among all of His children but rather why it is that religions are so "predictably" violent. In this the film is a monumental flop.

I managed to forgive the director throughout most of the movie until his film crew got to Israel. After filming a Moslem imam and Jewish rabbi embracing in a moving display of fraternal love,  Rodger had the audacity and stupidity to look directly into the camera and say with a straight face that he "didn't find any religious violence in Israel."

If this is true someone should alert Secretary of State Clinton and suggest she direct her attentions elsewhere. Idiocy like this shouldn't be rewarded. Even if this film were to fade away into the Dollar Bin at Blockbuster, this one sentence will go down in cinematic history as the singularly stupidest sound bite ever recorded on celluloid.

The director had the opportunity to portray the truth about religions but instead, he wastes the audience's time with his flatulent whining about how he is personally miffed at Christianity though he failed to mention specifically how he had been inconvenienced or personally hurt by the Faith. He also knew nothing about pedophile rabbis, nationalist and religious conservative Jewish Israelis, Shinto kamikaze pilots, Buddhist Japanese keeping Korean sex slaves and slaughtering Chinese noncombatants in their notorious Unit 631, Taoist assassins, extremist nationalist Hindus or homicidal Jains.

Several tiresome interviews of embittered atheists are awkwardly grafted into the film at awkward places. It is the same schlock that the world has been subjected to ever since the 1960s: Vedic religions (i.e. Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism) are wonderful while Abrahamic religions (i.e. Christianity, Islam and Judaism) are wrong and stupid.

Rodger even managed to find and interview a Moslem terrorist in his film even though the director admitted he put his life and those of his crew's in peril to do so. But despite this Herculean task he couldn't find a single Catholic nun who had dedicated herself to working in the slums of Cairo, Washington DC or Paris.

He never mentioned such Catholic heroes as Abbe Pierre Grous, Sr Emmanuelle Cinquin, Sr  Dorothy Stang, Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin,  Mother Teresa, Mother Theodore, Gurin, St Vincent DePaul, Mother Ann Seton and Mother Drexel.

The film looks like a set-up job. It's easy to make a point and even prove it if one disregards the facts. The film shamelessly stinks of "truthiness" a term coined by the ever insightful and thoroughly Catholic television comedian Stephen Colbert in 2005 to describe things that a person claims to know intuitively or "from the gut" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination or facts.

I asked Rodger why he chose to film in Ladakh rather than in Tibet. Though he didn't respond the answer is clear: Tibet is currently controlled by secularist, atheist, militaristic, expansionist and genocidal China which would never allow him to film in that country. If religions were as nefarious as Rodger would have us believe, it would seem he'd be welcome  in China which officially advocates atheism and discriminates all religions equally.

Rodger chose of all people, Tim LaHaye,  the co-author of the insipid Left Behind Series,  to represent Christianity. It's hard to imagine the director of this movie going to the trouble of finding Tim LaHaye but incapable of finding and interviewing to any of Mother Teresa's sisters working among the poor in Calcutta or any other city in the world for that matter or,  for that matter,  the tens of millions of Catholics who actively work with the poor and needy in every country of the world. Despite the vast number of Christians around the world (there are currently 2.5 billion Christians) Rodger couldn't find any of them. Amazing! Is it logically possible to think that Rodger couldn't find these people but was capable of finding a "pass-the-ammo-and-praise-Jesus" Evangelical to make fun of? He should have saved himself the trouble and simply interviewed Fred Phelps and have it over and done with and condemning all Christians in the process.

I asked Rodger repeatedly that if the above individuals by their actions condemned all of Christianity what does Mother Teresa or St Francis of Assisi do for the Faith? He refused to answer the question but I was becoming used to his flummery. He also couldn't name any Buddhist Hindu or Moslem charitable concerns though he was certain they existed somewhere. He became noticeably angry when I asked him about nonexistent pagan charities. But despite my listing of their sins Rodger refused to change his mind. Only Christianity and Islam were responsible for all of the world's ills.

Rodgers abjectly refused to answer most of my questions about the jarring lack of fairness, historicity or intellectual integrity throughout the film. When one refuses to read books or discuss issues with those who hold opposing beliefs, it's very easy to convince oneself of the veracity of one's wildest uneducated delusions. Delusions in turn lead to rationalizations and rationalizations lead to lies and lies lead to violence.

He actively evaded unsuccessfully all of my questions as to the identity of the supposed Christianity terrorists he believed were plotting to destroy the world. He also couldn't name a single Christian who had personally condemned him in his life which is odd considering his odious contempt of the Faith he repeated ad nauseam in the film. He openly told me he hated Christians who condemn others but he couldn't explain what motivated him to condemn Christians in general. Even after my many examples,  he refused to admit that the Vedic religions were responsible for some truly heinous crimes against humanity throughout world history.

Rodger didn't create a film which explored why religions were guilty of endless crimes. Rather, he wanted to document his petty feelings as to why Christians were responsible for all of the world's problems. I rarely recall ever meeting a person who so reveled in his ignorance and hatred as Peter Rodger. He blithely admitted to not having read any religious scriptures or any books on theology and cultural anthropology. His is a naive narcissism in which undereducated opinion is somehow more acceptable than logic wisdom and objective historical reality. There is no evidence of a discerning intellect in the film. Instead Rodger only offers disingenuous drivel and bigotry masquerading as art. Admittedly, it's a very pretty package but upon looking past its superficiality one finds only dullhackneyed foulness.

There are some good reasons to see this film but they are spoiled by the fact that the director has no qualms about lying about history and cherry picking his data to "prove" his point. This documentary is the anti-Christian version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The intellectual underpinnings of this film are weak and confused at best and dull and mean-spirited at worst. Having met the director I can safely say that the film is as he intended it: a petulant diatribe, a predictable and undereducated attempt at attacking Christianity.   

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