Understanding the French and Their Murdered God

So they killed God. The French Revolution was as much a rebellion against the church as it was against the monarchy. For the French people, the two were inseparable. Forty thousand priests were either murdered or exiled from the country during the Revolution. Rejecting their kings and priests, the French people did indeed lose much of their power and wealth, but they gained their lives. Today, many French people proudly proclaim, "There is no god. We killed him, and we are better off for it."

Of course, I don't believe their proclamation is true, and neither do the hopeful people of the arts ministry I worked with this summer. The god the French people killed wasn't the one true God. They killed the gods of institutionalized wealth and power. America would be wise to learn from them and do the same, albeit hopefully nonviolently. But in killing our false gods, we must not make France's mistake and elevate ourselves to the place of prominence. In many ways we've already done this, but instead of creating a religiously antagonistic society, we created a religiously tolerant one in which we try to worship every god at the same time. If France is atheistic, America is pantheistic. We worship institutionalized money and power, our gods, and ourselves. Both cultures need to end their idolatry. I have hope that the people in these cultures can do just that.

A children's movie helped me understand both French and American culture better. Like any other cultural object, films illuminate aspects of our societies we may not otherwise notice. Films, and not just documentaries, but also films made purely to entertain, help us see our world better. If my time in Fuller's School of Intercultural Studies as a student of Theology and Art has taught me anything, it has taught me to pay attention to the culture and think deeply about what I see.

11/21/2011 5:00:00 AM