Oscar-nominated filmmaker Oren Jacoby’s fascinating documentary explores some of the massive amount of violence and ill done in God’s name throughout history — a skipped-stone journey of remembrance and reckoning. Starting with the story of conservative Christian ideology being peddled at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs (where fliers for Mel Gibson’s The Passion were handed out, and Ted Haggard’s New Life ministries touted) and winding back in time, the movie follows author and former Roman Catholic priest James Carroll as he interweaves his own family history with a grander inquisition into faith, and in particular the nasty, tangled intersection between Christianity and Judaism.
Neither naked provocation nor burrowing analysis is a part of Jacoby’s agenda here. In fact, as soon as the film alights on some engrossing historical nugget — Roman general Constantine’s 310 A.D. conversion, which ushered in the iconography of the cross — it’s just as quickly off to something else. This occasionally makes for some minor frustration, since one wants a deeper probe and massage of certain topics. Carroll, though, is a fantastic and articulate guide, and this exceedingly contemplative and engrossing work is both topically important — warning of what happens when military might and religious fervor are mixed — and intellectually stimulating as all get out. For more information on the film, click here. (First Run, unrated, 95 minutes)