Considering that the only other Christian documentary I’ve seen was Jesus Camp, which was so disturbing that I still keep it filed under “horror movies”, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Holy Ghost.
It’s an interesting concept: a filmmaker and his crew decide to make a film led entirely by the Holy Spirit. No script or plan, merely listening for the whims of divine intervention to shape their journey. In a world where movies are so overly processed, with every sentence audience-tested and rewritten until all sense of spontaneity or innovation is scrubbed clean, it’s a bold move.
I know the existence of the Holy Ghost is a controversial topic, even among Christians. Perhaps not in a Biblical sense, but in the sense of an actual force that still exists and has the power to act upon humanity and manifest.
I decided to meet the film on its own terms, without judgment, and try to take the journey it wanted to lead me on. I was pleasantly surprised. It did offer up some delightful and interesting moments and experiences. The excitement of the crew is palpable, like a band of little boys setting off on a high adventure in uncharted seas.
Part of it is the bold sense of bravery and discovery you feel when you decide to travel without a destination in mind. I’m not sure how many of you have tried this, but I highly suggest it. Call it fate, coincidence, synchronicity -or the Holy Spirit moving through you– but there always seem to be these moments of pure unlikely happenstance when seemingly disparate threads weave together to form a clear path at your feet.
There are many such moments in this film, from random destination changes that turn into golden opportunities, to different members of the crew being led to talk to total strangers who turn out to be exactly the person they needed to meet at that very moment.
One segment of the documentary features the metal band Korn, much reformed from their drugging days and now tatted up for Jesus. Possibly more shocking than finding out that Korn have become faith healers was the way they managed to walk out into the crowd of fans waiting to see their show and basically turn it into an old time religious revival without causing a stampede.
The film quality itself is great, especially for a documentary. Some of the fill/background shots they captured, particularly those in India, are absolutely gorgeous. There’s a kind of randomness to the editing that can be a little disconcerting. For instance, every so often Lenny Kravitz pops up, cool as ice behind sunglasses, rambling about the Holy Spirit and how he isn’t of the world, but he’s in the world and he loves the streets man, he loves the streets. And you suddenly feel like you stepped into the middle of an episode of the Boondocks where the aging Black musician loves Jesus but he’s keepin’ it reallll yo. Buy my next album.
Speaking of India, the segment of the film where they visit the “oldest city on earth”, was both the strongest and yet the one I had the most mixed feelings about. The vision of the singer walking through the narrow, twisting streets, voice echoing, stirring up throngs of locals by wielding his guitar like the Pied Piper, is a powerful one which will linger in my memory.
Their interactions with the local Hindu priests were more problematic for me. The filmmakers were welcomed into Hindu and Buddhist temples and allowed to pray, sing and invoke Jesus in ways that I have no doubt would never be reciprocated in American churches, if say a Hindu priest were to stop by and offer to pray to his Gods to open up the hearts and souls of that congregation. So while the crew talks about being afraid of the savagery of the Indian natives, they are actually met with nothing but kindness. And while they repeatedly state that they have no agenda, they’re also quite mocking and dismissive toward Hinduism, Buddhism and the beliefs of an entire country- beliefs that predate Christianity by thousands of years .
References to the”Monkey God Temple” like it’s the funniest joke they ever heard and a misguided attempt to minimize Shiva as merely some evil, destructive God- almost in exact opposition to the Christian God – were particularly grating. Even a cursory understanding of Shiva would show this to be ridiculous. As with any god, Shiva is complex and containing multitudes of attributes as both protector and punisher.
Still, it is definitely a film worth watching that will leave you with much to ponder.
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Check out the official website here: http://holyghost.wpfilm.com
Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
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