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Laramie Movie Scope: iGod

A lot of conversations about God and man

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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February 11, 2015 -- This is one of those movies about big ideas, and ideas don't get much bigger than the nature of God and God's relationship to man. There is quite a bit of diversity in the thoughts presented on this heavy subject, from atheists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, pagans, and even a follower of the Norse gods. There is a Baptist minister, a Buddhist monk, a Roman Catholic priest (who converted as an adult from a protestant denomination) a college professor, authors of books on spiritualism, physicists, a whole plethora of deep thinkers, and some shallow thinkers, too.

The film seems to advance the idea that there has been an evolution in thinking about the nature of God over the years, from a jealous god that man must fear, who demands love and obedience, or else, to a more inclusive kind of God (occasionally referred to as a woman) who is everywhere and in everyone. A number of the people interviewed for this film talk about this view that everything in the universe is connected to everything else and that all people are connected to each other.

The narrator, Neale Donald Walsch (who is a co-writer of the film with director Jonathan Friedman and Robert Friedman and also conducts some group discussions in the film) says, at one point, “A recent study revealed that people who believe in an authoritative and judgmental god are more likely to be intolerant of other people's beliefs in general and frown upon lifestyles different from their own. Those who believe in a less judgmental, or non-judgmental god tend to have a much greater acceptance of and empathy for other people's views and spiritual philosophies.”

Dr. John Morreall of William and Mary University is one of the more eloquent speakers on the subject. He said, “I grew up believing in the God of the Bible, but the more I read into the Bible, I found all kinds of problems ... If you don't have the Biblical idea of God, which is the person above the world, a male person, who controls and owns the world, then there's all kinds of other ideas of God. For example, there is an idea in Hinduism that God or divinity is identical to consciousness.”

The most dogmatic voice of those in the film is that of a Baptist minister, who was into that old time religion, you know, the blessed and the damned, 10 commandments, my way or hell. On the other hand, you have a Rabbi Michael Lerner who says, “If that belief system produced a society that was manifesting huge amounts of love, kindness, generosity, peace and social justice, I would say that's a religion that I want to give a lot of credit to.” Funny guy. Clever guy. He also said, “What Judaism is, is a 3,200 year debate about what Judaism is.”

Among the discussions in the film are, is there absolute right and wrong? What is the relationship of God to us? Does God judge us after we die? Does God communicate directly with us? What is good and evil? Why do pain and suffering exist? A lot of different people take their turns tackling these thorny questions. The film uses many colorful pictures and drawings to illustrate its points (including a lot of Hubble Telescope images). The movie makes the point that this subject is important because people's attitudes towards god have a big impact on society, culture and law.

Vernon Kitabu Turner, author of “Soul Sword” has a nice analogy in the movie to illustrate his idea of us being in god and god being in us. He said we are like fish in the ocean. The ocean (god) is also inside us and around us at the same time. Among the deep thinkers in the movie is renowned author and lecturer Deepak Chopra, who said, “I consider myself to be a privileged biological organism through which the universe is continuing its evolution, and for that, I am grateful.” Deep thoughts.

I confess, I had to watch this twice in order to pick up most of it because it is so chock full of ideas and different points of view. It held up well under a second viewing and it looks like it is the kind of film that works with multiple viewings. There are some impressive thinkers in this film, along with lots of ordinary people putting their two cents worth into the mix.

I watched the blu-ray, which looks and sounds good. Unlike most blu-rays, there are no alternate soundtracks, no subtitles (which would have been handy since some people have some thick accents) and a very minimal menu with no extras, just chapter selection. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2015 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)