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I have a great fondness for the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema here in Atlanta. I count myself very lucky to have this theatre around as it is one of the only venues here in Atlanta that shows the greater variety of independent and more influential films that are being produced today. Last night, Br. Addison and I went to see the new documentary on Hunter S. Thompson. That alone will be topic for a later post. But to my great surprise, I saw a preview for a new film by Parvez Sharma (Director) and Sandi DuBowski (the same producer of “Trembling Before G-d”).
As with DuBowski’s previous film, Sharma and DuBowski explore the intersection of religion and homosexuality, but this time Sharma will lead us into the heart of dogmatic and fundamentalist Islam. The trailer alone caught my breath and left me stunned. (http://www.firstrunfeatures.com/trailers_jihadforlove.html) It was obvious, just from this glimpse, that this will be an exceptionally courageous and powerful film.
One line in particular from the trailer frightened me the most. Clad in his white robe, what I assume is a Muslim cleric states: “Homosexuality is a crime in Islam, and is punishable by death…The only difference among the jurists is how the person should be killed. That’s the only difference.” And here we see the ironic bedfellows of fundamentalist christians and fundamentalist muslims. Just as I’ve written before, here again Christianity and Islam share a commonality, but unlike previous posts, here we see that both religions are subject to the same maligned interpretations of their fundamentalist or even orthodox sects.
It proves to be the case in every religion: the fundamentalists – and to a degree, the doctrinally orthodox – are the most violent, angry and hate-filled individuals of their world-encompassing religions. And though the fundamentalists are not majorities within their faiths, they are typically the most vocal and outwardly (in both word and action) violent and abusive. It should bear striking witness to the fact that none of these fundamentalist sects could exist without a scapegoat they can target. Within my own Christian faith, it saddens me that these denominations have chosen to revert back to the ritual of scapegoating, the very practice that Jesus abolished.
And it is no wonder that these fundamentalists are trying so hard to protect their hatred against homosexuals. After all, the LGBTQ community is one of the last scapegoats they have left. In most culturally advanced countries, equalities have been offered (at least on paper) between the races, and between the sexes. If these religions lost the legal ability to persecute, intimidate, harass and kill homosexuals without fear of moral or ethical reprisal, then who would they have left to hate? Who would be left to stand above so that they will be able to feel justified in themselves? Who would be left to target and abuse and thus save them from finally having to look inwards at themselves?
It still remains dangerous within Christianity and Judaism, let alone Islam to stand up against and especially expose the prejudices that remain against homosexuals. But fundamentalists in all faiths have been allowed the shelter of silence and twisted religious tolerance for their violence for too long. The only way to end it is to bring their bloodied hands to the light for all to see. It appears that this film will have the courage to do just that. I applaud Sharma and DuBowski for this effort and pray that it will be a solid step towards protecting those who are so inhumanely being hurt. It is time to shatter the silence that surrounds this violence and finally give speech to those who are being killed without a word. As a Christian, and fundamentally as a contemplative, I believe in a God of Love. And as the title of their film indicates, we will have to fight for that Love. But the weapons we choose to bear will have to be films like this instead of the typical weapons that fundamentalists have chosen to use for so long. I can only pray that it will be enough to make a difference.