In the interest of full disclosure I should tell you that I am an atheist. For those that know me, this is no shock. Those that don’t know me probably don’t care. I only point it out so that you can know my perspective of this DVD.
The movie has a fascinating beginning. In an amusing montage of old movie clips and under Brian Flemming’s near sarcastic narration we are presented with the story of Jesus. The kitchiness of the old films and Flemming’s barely contained chuckle through it all do a very good job of showing how Christ’s allegedly miraculous time on Earth appears to those of us on the outside - as whole lot of hooey.
After this quick recap of Christianity, Flemming makes the surprising ascertain that Jesus never actually existed. This was a new one for me. I’ve always assumed that he did exist but was just one of the best documented cases of a messiah complex in history.
This is the kind of stuff that I can really get into. I’ve truly enjoyed the ride of The Da Vinci Code with all of the reactions and reactions to the reactions. I love to sink my teeth into conspiracy theories and history. And what better historical conspiracy could there be than the invention of the Christ?
But, despite the title of the film, very little time was spent on this angle In fact with my first viewing, I wasn’t really sure what the point of this DVD was except for Mr. Fleming to declare as loudly as he can that he doesn’t believe.
For after making the claim that Christ never existed and backing it up with a few facts presented with the same chuckling sneer, Flemming moves right on to begin ridiculing Christians and poking at them from every perspective that he can.
He explores the separation between the God of the bible, vengeful and absolute in law, and the God of today’s Christianity, more Care Bear than maker and overlord of all things. He examines the more likely folk tale roots of the “facts” of the bible. He discusses moral atheism, a concept that seems to be an oxymoron to many people today, with a handful of interesting scholars and thinkers.
In fact, it was these experts that I found myself enjoying the most. As the film moved on and went deeper into Flemming’s personal journey from a devout christian to an even more devoted atheist, I found myself liking him less and less. In the end Flemming, at the height of narcissism, revisits his old school – a Christian institution. The point of his visit and interview with its principal is really unclear though Flemming seems to think that he taking a stand. Really, he appears to whine about a time in his life that he’d rather have gone another way. While the principal does a fine job of remaining calm under his accusatory and erratic form of questioning, Flemming believes that he’s building the situation to a dramatic victory. When the principal mentions some sort of trouble that Flemming got himself into while at the school and ends the interview by walking away, Flemming gets his final victory by going to the school’s chapel where he thrice accepted Christ and declares that he now denies the existence of the Holy Spirit.