Catholic Exchange today features an interview with a film-maker who has produced a film that chronicles his search for God. Peter Rodger travelled around the world, asking people “What is God?” Those he spoke to included people from across the spectrum of religious belief, including Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, and indigenous cultures (i.e., what we would be inclined to call pagans). The results could be interesting from a sociological perspective. They could also be very dangerous.
For those who believe, as I do, that every man is created by God with a desire for God stamped on his heart, it could be interesting to see how this desire is manifested across cultures and across individual persons within any given culture. This is the natural law argument that man is inherently religious, and it is alluded to by St. Paul’s speech at the Areopagus (see Acts 17:16-34) concerning the unknown god. The Catholic Church has a history of inculturation, taking these manifestations of inherent belief and Christianizing those that are not inconsistent with Christian belief. They can be built upon to show the universality of the mission entrusted to her by Christ.
The danger, as I see it, is that some Director of Religious Education is going to think the film is wonderful and needs to be seen by all of the kids in the Parish School of Religion. These indiscriminating children will then be bombarded with a wide diversity of opinion about what God is without any context regarding what the Church teaches and why some of the ideas expressed in the film are erroneous. There is, unfortunately, a lot of muddled thinking and outright error out there concerning the nature of God and the moral implications that derive from that.
After viewing the film, some kids (and some adults) might reach the conclusion that everybody has his or her own ideas about God and either they’re all correct, or it doesn’t really matter. I fear that the film will contribute to the “spiritual, but not religious” mass of confused humanity.