As I begin this post, I’m actually listening to Katy Perry’s album Prism, and the song is “Spiritual.”
“And I am finally here (or healed?)/This is spiritual, under your spell/Phenomenal, the way you make me feel/Like an angel, oh, at blow/Like a feather, you make me float…”
Katy’s Christian undertones are showing through the whole album.
Everyone is spiritual. Rob Bell has a talk called “Everything is spiritual,” and I’m down with that too. And all this is bubbling to the top of my brain because I watched this movie Good People Go to Hell, Saved People Go to Heaven.
The documentary follows a group of pentecostal, Bible believing, lower middle class white Americans, in post Katrina New Orleans. The characters are a guy who carries a cross across the US and up and down the Mississippi river, a single mom with an agnostic marine son (married to a Christian convert), and a perfect pentecostal teenage son.
The story is of all these good, simple people, surviving the Louisiana weather and preaching Christ is coming. You better accept him, or you’re going to hell. Many of them described the events in New Orleans as a spiritual cleansing. At the very beginning of the documentary, a pastor is standing amidst the ruble of his own church building and says something along the lines of, “If God did this, then I would guess he’d target Bourbon Street and all that, and they didn’t get a drop.”
Even when I fall prey to it, I despise interpreting when I get what I want, that it was God’s will, and that when I don’t get what I want, then it is the enemy, sin, or punishment. It never makes any sense. For every person who get’s what they want and attribute it to God, there are hundreds of people crying out and not getting what they want. What’s worse is that as I believe I’m getting what I deserve, I then have to believe that they are getting what they deserve. This is terrible.
Even though I have a lot of problems with the Christianity that many of these characters in the documentary boldly proclaim, I actually really enjoyed the people in the documentary. I know those people. Those people are my friends, and while sometimes I think they’re crazy, I don’t actually think they’re crazy. Everyone is doing their best with what they know. Everyone is spiritual.
I read a comment on Amazon about the movie. Someone complaining that they thought the documentary depicted the cross carrying guy as crazy, and I didn’t think that at all. He explained, and I wasn’t sure if I believed him, that he never asks for things from people, he only asks God, and he won’t take anything from anyone unless they say, “God told me to give this to you.” Sounds like a great loophole to me. Not asking for anything?! He’s living in a trailer, traveling, and loving God in the best way he knows how.
They all seemed normal and like very genuine people. They are caring for people in ways I can’t. They feed people, even if that food is later used to frighten them out of hell.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of dangers with their readings of the times, the Bible, salvation, and the afterlife, but as I was watching, I found myself being particularly attentive to what those people do that is Christian. Take away hell, take away scare tactics, and watch them pray, watch them care for one another, watch their trust, watch their experience. There is Spirit there.