Born Again

Before we left for spring break, we watched a film called Born Again, which followed the lives of several members of a Fundamentalist Church in Massachusetts in 1978. One thing that struck me initially was how all the members of the church seemed to unwaveringly believe in the word of God and believed that he answered all questions. This made me think of the Chaves reading which has discussed the trend of declining confident belief in God and made me wonder if unwavering belief was still the case in members of the congregation. Throughout the course of the film, we observe how members of the church struggle with their relationships with each other and desire for a relationship with God. The church runs its own school, and, in the school, the insular nature of the community becomes more evident. The children pledge allegiance to both the American flag and the Christian flag, which seems to be an attempt to impress the importance of religion on the children by equating allegiance to religion as equivalent in importance to allegiance to one’s country. In addition, the way Bob speaks about his wife Emma, and his refusal to allow the children to see her because she “lived in sin” outside of the community, also impressed on me the insular nature of the church. The pastor’s daughter even comments on her interest in the way people live outside of the church indicating its all-encompassing influence on members lives. I previously wrote a post regarding the psychological damage suffered from negative, forceful religious experiences and watching the film I was struck by the aggressive way some matters, like the talk that was had with one church members brother to attempt to bring him to God and become born again where instead of talking it was a bunch of church members speaking loudly over the man and pressing him to the point he was clearly emotionally exhausted. I wonder if insular religious communities are more likely to result in people suffering from some sort of religious trauma. This is of course not to say that all religious communities are bad and trauma-inducing, but I wonder if the full-time religious influence and pressure has a more profound effect on people living within it.