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April 26, 2011

Movie Review: Selling God (2011)

Salvation has been for sale since the beginnings of religion. Look at any luxurious church or any stadium filling megachurch that sells tickets to an event. Money and religion, especially Christianity, go hand in hand. I've never been to a Sunday service that didn't involve a collection plate. I've thought for a long time that money is a huge motivator for religious leaders, but how do you sell the idea of religion to the masses?

Buy Selling God on DVD

Selling God goes into the history of religion and how it has attracted followers through televangelist speeches, old movie clips and interviews with a few PhDs and church followers. The film is segmented into chapters, which are oddly noted with a tone you might hear in an audiobook. It touches on everything from heaven and hell to a woman who sold a grilled cheese with the virgin Mary's image on it for $28,000.

The documentary contained plenty of interesting information, but it was presented in an uninteresting way. It plays out more like a video you might watch in high school than a real movie. It definitely has an agenda, which is that those who sell religion are full of shit. While I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment, I don't like the way it's presented. It's done in a way that is not straight forward. This is a big problem with left-leaning pundits. While the religious conservatives come right out with their bullshit, the liberals tend to take a sarcastic round about path. Some people just don't pick up on that, so the message is often lost.

The interviewees are clear about their thoughts and feelings, but the narrator has that tone of someone who thinks he's funnier than he is. The filmmakers were able to land an interview with Noam Chomsky, which is impressive, but I would like to have seen a few with the televangelists or even Kirk Cameron, whose video clips are featured.

I get satire, and I love it when it's good, but when it falls a little flat, I have a hard time staying interested. I've seen a few docs on religion now, and they seem to be tough to pull off. Even Bill Maher's Religulous has quite a few shortcomings. So far I'd have to say Lord, Save Us From Your Followers is the best and most honest documentary I've seen on the subject. Selling God just doesn't hold a candle to it.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review and points, Kevin. I think that can be one of the greatest dangers any documentary with an agenda will face. Getting both sides of the story in an interesting and at least halfway objective manner is the way to go, imo. If someone is full of it, let them nail themselves to that cross. (Pun so intended.)