This evening, I watched the Peter Rodger film Oh My God. The film is said to be a journey through 23 countries asking one question, “What is God?” He did however venture into some other questions, like “why do people fight in the name of religion?” He expressed surprise at how many Palestinians and Jews saw the conflict as unnecessary. And he included a few extremists. And a few of the famous. Bob Geldof was surprisingly negative. Ringo Starr and Hugh Jackman were unexpectedly clear. After saying that Buddhists don’t believe in God, some renowned Buddhists answered the question.
Regularly during the film, the filmmaker comments on recent interviews. Some of his thoughts I found summarized recent points. Others expressed his own lack of certainty or clarity. They occasionally seemed irrelevant. On a few occasions, interviewees made very clear comments about the nature of God and he blew past it. The editing also didn’t really take us into some of the deeper interviews.
What I saw was an apparent resistance to God being anything more than a choice of faith or an intellectual concept. One of the earlier interviewees commented that Carl Jung said he no longer believed in God, he knew God to be real. But no interviewees managed to get any closer than that.
Given that God (by whatever name you prefer) can be discovered, experienced, and known, there was a sorry lack of that in the film. Those who began to point to that were cut away from too quickly. Including one who observed that the film was based on the wrong question. Perhaps that was part of the issue.
One fellow commented that faith is a key factor early on. You need a ladder to get to the roof. But once on the roof, pass the ladder to someone else. Good advice. When experience begins, just a little faith or openness is required to not push it away. Once that connection is established, it ceases being a question of belief. But note that faith is not quite the same thing as belief. Belief is a concept and like all concepts, can be a barrier to experiencing what is beyond concepts. True faith on the other hand is an openness of the heart.
The role of the heart was briefly touched on, as was that God is within everything and in the space between us. He could also have touched on Interfaith. And where was the person saying “What is Not God?”
The film reminded me of One, the Movie. That one began with 20 questions but the film was allowed to evolve and came to focus on the common answer that We are One. The result was a more satisfying film than Oh My God.
The closing had good messages about finding out for yourself and that all faiths really preach peace and love. But the smorgasbord of variety didn’t communicate a core message. I notice this complaint in a few reviews as well.
Still, there was gorgeous photography and certainly a diverse presentation of answers to the question, even if the greater opportunity was missed.