Home > Media > Pelosi: Friends of God (2007)

Pelosi: Friends of God (2007)

Over the weekend I got a chance to finish watching Alexandra Pelosi’s 2007 travelogue/documentary Friends of God. In the second half she spends a fair amount of time at Liberty University and at Thomas Road Baptist Church, and she visits a BattleCry rally. She also has a parting shot on Ted Haggard, whose sex-and-drugs scandal broke after Pelosi finished filming but before she finished production.

There’s some other stuff, too, but it’s mostly filler: a drive-through church, one of those guys who puts up crosses everywhere, etc. Pelosi’s take on most of these is pretty much live-and-let-live. I guess they’re supposed to soften the blow of the rest of the film.

Pelosi visited Lynchburg during the 2006 Congressional election cycle; Jerry Falwell had months to live, and the church was still at its Thomas Road location, before it moved to Candlers/Liberty Mountain. I’d forgotten how unwell Jerry looked the last few years of his life. It doesn’t help that he sits down to talk to Pelosi wearing casual not to say unflattering clothes, and of course she shoots him with the funny lens that distorts the shape of his head and makes him look even less well.

There’s also a brief introduction to Mel While, and footage of White crying while attending Thomas Road. Oddly enough White doesn’t get the eggplant-head treatment; I’m not sure why. It was a bit jarring for me to see White portrayed as the prophetic moral voice in his segment, engaged in some sort of peaceful protest by attending church at Thomas Road. And the footage of him sitting in church, apparently alone, crying, had a too-perfect feel. For some reason it reminded me of the orange juice scene in The Decline of Western Civilization II [link]. I wouldn’t say it was fake; it just looked and felt staged.

Her coverage of the BattleCry rally was essentially incoherent. All I really took away from the segment was that BattleCry rallies have slick marketing, a clear message of some sort, and are loud. I don’t understand why BattleCry and Rock For Life get as much attention as they do, and I definitely got the impression that Pelosi was appealing to a reference point she and I don’t share. I think the message was supposed to be something like “back in the Sixties rock concerts changed the world; now they’re in danger of changing it back again,” or some such. I’m not sure.

I think the definitive voice in the film was one of the short segments in the first half, where Pelosi visits Jeff and Susan Chapman: pastor, wife, and ten children with an eleventh on the way. Susan Chapman says directly to the camera that she though when she was in college she wanted to become a lawyer and eventually be the first woman President, but instead she got married and had ten children. To Chapman this is a clear sign of God’s work in her life; but I’m guessing Pelosi included her because she comes across like a character from Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale [link], and Pelosi uses her deftly to suggest that the rise of the Religious Right and the appointment of justices like Samuel Alito [link] will bring oppression and the end of feminism. Or some such. I could be wrong.

Careful viewers may also recall that Alito was the embodiment of all liberal fears in the movie Jesus Camp, too. Why Alito gets singled out this way I can’t imagine; he’s not an evangelical, and if he’s part of the theocratic avant garde I can’t figure how. But that’s another topic for another day.

I would recommend seeing Friends of God if you get a chance; it’s not a good movie, but I found it interesting to see what Pelosi considers strange if not horrible about contemporary Evangelicalism in America. Hint: some of it really is strange, and some of it is horrible. I’m just not sure she and I would agree on what, exactly, and how.

 

Advertisements
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: