Progressive Christian Channel
To Hell and Back: Q&A with Filmmaker Kevin Miller, Part 1
If we are talking non-Christians, I'm hoping they will be surprised to discover how many thoughtful, intelligent, well-meaning Christians are actually out there thinking through these issues. Too often the extremists are the ones who get all of the press. And we are far too quick to paint religious people with broad strokes as fire-breathing fundamentalists. One of my agendas with this film is to offer an apologetic not just for Christianity but also for religion as a whole. A lot of people think religion is the problem, that the only solution is to get rid of it. I disagree. I think we need more religion, not less. But it can't be the rigid, imperialistic form of religion that brooks no rivals, dividing the world into two camps—us and them—and then projecting that same way of thinking onto God. That kind of religion certainly has to go.
The kind of religion I'd like to see more of is informed by a new logos or organizing principle—forgiveness, empathy, and self-giving love. It's a form of religion that offers an escape from the cycle of retributive violence in which we are currently stuck, not one that adds to it by using religion to legitimize our violent impulses. I believe Jesus' command to love God first of all, to love our neighbor—even our enemies—as ourselves truly is the "e=mc2" of the moral universe. As long as we refuse to do this, we will continue to experience weeping and gnashing of teeth. I know this is true in my own life, but it's also true on a global level as well. The problem is, we're all caught in a "Mexican standoff," to use a film term, and no one wants to be the first to lower their weapon. I think Christians are uniquely positioned to lead the way in this regard, seeing as we claim to follow someone who refused to take up arms against his oppressors but used his dying breath to plead with God to forgive them instead.
Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of our interview with Kevin Miller, where he talks about Christian universalism and his own theological beliefs about hell, the biggest challenge in making the movie, and his ultimate hope for Hellbound?
Read more from Kevin Miller at his Patheos blog, Hellbound?
Deborah Arca joined the Patheos team in 2009, after more than ten years of managing programs for the Program in Christian Spirituality at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. Deborah has also been a youth minister, a director of music/theatre programs for children, and a music minister.