Constantine's Sword, the Film

June 25, 2007

Report from L.A. Premier of film from“our”side-(posted on dailykos.com)

This is a brilliant documentary that explores the dark side of Christianity, both from a historical perspective and todays aggressive evangelizing among the American military. You can read my review that is now on Internet Movie Data Base, and then some personal reflections on attending the premier.

The film is “Constantine's Sword” and I wrote about it's opening on Sunday a few days ago trying to get some of you to fill the seats at the L.A. Film festival. I hope not too many hopped a plane to get here since it turned out to be an SRO crowd. For me it was a real treat since it was an occasion for my meeting one of the people featured in the film, Mikey Weinstein, along with having a few words with the writer, James Carroll.

A premier of a film is a unique experience. There are no reviews to read, no buzz from people who have seen it, only anticipation, and in this case hope that it would fulfill my expectations. I know the writer, James Carroll well, as do all who have read his books. Jim (we are that close) is a scholar, yet all that he writes is channeled through his own perceptions. From a child growing up in a devout Catholic family, to a young man enjoying the pleasures of sports, girls and pranks, to the transformational experience that caused him to join the priesthood, Jim shares his life with his readers.

Meeting him and shaking his hand in front of the theater was like greeting an old friend. As I write these words the memory of Jim's real Jewish friend of his childhood, a “best friend,” whom he called Peter Seligman, described in his book just popped into my mind. I have the book by my side and I just read the part again where he is first introduced into the soft antisemitism of the era, when he asked Peter why he didn't go to the local pool club. “We don't go there, “ he said simply. “Why not” “Because it's a club, and we're Jews.”

I could have told the same story, but from the other side, of realizing that I was not quite welcomed by my childhood friends in all parts of their lives. The kids couldn't help it, it was something bigger than we could understand from our child's eye view. Jim made it his life work to understand why this was. I greeted him in the line as Peter would have embraced his old buddy.

Jim and I have gone down different roads in dealing with the hurt of exclusion because of religion. Jim, although leaving the priesthood, still believes in the tenets of his faith, in the revelation of Jesus Christ as part of the trinity of God. He explores the pathologies of the earthly stewards of this truth with a vigorous precision of expression that I can only describe as exquisite.

My route is different from Jim's, rejecting the core of belief that, in spite of the history of genocidal hatred, unites Christian and Jewish theology. We both view with alarm the resurgence of evangelical power in this country, but I from a rationalist atheistic perspective, and he from his understanding of the true meaning of Jesus Christ. This is an intellectual divide that can not be breached, yet I feel nothing but affection for this person Jim Carroll, and those whom I know who are cut from this same cloth.

This film allows its viewers to meet Jim Carroll, as he guides us along his journey back and time and connects this with a potentially frightening vision of a theocratic America.

After the showing I spoke to the producer, Oren Jacoby, who agreed with the film being in limbo at this time, with success only possible if this gets good distribution deal. We need to connect with others, most importantly at this moment, theater owners or perhaps local television stations, to express our enthusiasm for this film.

This is one of those occasions where those on this site can make a direct difference to our country's thinking

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Here's the site for more extensive information about the film from the producers, including the trailer: