Saturday, May 16, 2009

What I've Been Watching

Lately, I've had the opportunity to view two excellent films dealing specifically with Judaism but both films have wider implications with regard to faith in general.

God On Trial was an episode of Masterpiece Theatre on PBS in 2008 and is a play based upon the legend that a group of prisoners in Auschwitz convened a rabbinical court and put God on trial for his crimes against the Jewish people. This is heavy stuff and has many theological and philosophical aspects to it. This film can easily be a doorway to deep reflection on the nature of evil and existence of God. The discussion goes back and forth between God's defenders and God's detractors. When one of the prisoners says that the trial is blasphemy, this is responded to by saying that putting God on trial and questioning him is very biblical. It is pointed out that Abraham questioned God, Jacob wrestled with God, this is, in fact what the name ISRAEL means, "one who struggles with God," Moses questioned God, and Job questioned the justice of God. One of God's defenders argues that God has promised that the Jewish people will survive but has not promised anything to anyone individually. At one point, one prisoner who was ethnically Jewish but was raised as a gentile but was arrested by the Nazis anyway says "Don't let them take your God away from you, even if he doesn't exist." As in the legend, the prisoners find God guilty. Anyone watching this should be prepared to do some extensive reflection. The Bad Catholic gives it five Torah scrolls.

A Life Apart: Hasidism in America is a documentary film released in the late 1990s dealing with the lifestyle of Hasidic Jews living in the United States particularly in New York City. The film is narrated by Leonard Nimoy and Sarah Jessica Parker. The Bad Catholic is fascinated by people who take their faith seriously, and for the Hasidim, Judaism permeates every aspect of their lives. While living in the most commercial and materialistic country in the world, the Hasidim have tried to keep their lifestyle uncorrupted by the modern American culture around them. They do not allow television and modern media into their homes, and they try to keep away from other corrupting influences like secular education. This film is an excellent introduction into the world of ultra - orthodox Judaism. Definitely Five Torah Scrolls.


  1. Just to show you how serious I am about my faith here in the Deep South, when we moved to Thomasville I gave up fried chicken, pizza, soft drinks, cheap beer, cheap wine, cheap whiskey, AND I quit watching wrestling on TV. So what if you pray the rosary. I GAVE UP WRESTLING.

  2. Oh, and cake, pie - basically every dessert form in the known universe. I gave it up!

  3. You gave up WRESTLING! That was the ultimate sacrifice! I'm going to lead your cause for beatification.

  4. Mark,
    I was thinking about you this morning and all of your books,and book reviews. You may enjoy a site called

    It is a running list of the books you have read or hope to read. You can write your reviews of the books, read others reviews, and discuss literature with those that share your common interest.

    Here is my link: