Friday, April 11, 2008

Today's Crusades

I made more preparations for my trip today, though it was hard to concentrate, since there is a major construction project involving masonry going on where I am staying.  

I left the racket the workers were making behind, and headed out into a grey humid day. Daffodils along the bike path made up for the lack of sunshine. I got a second dose of spring on my return trip, while riding through a stretch of blossoming cherry trees, giving me a momentary hallucination that I was in Kyoto, though in reality I was next to the West Side Highway 

Yesterday I saw a film that will be released next week. "Constantine's Sword" a film by Errol Morris featuring  James Carroll as the narrator and screen writer. The film is a combination of his biography and his book about Constantine's Sword, A history of the crusades. I am a fan of James Carroll's writing and thinking, (I read his articles that are often in the Boston Globe at, a site that posts alternative news from different media outlets) and though I don't think this film is very good (music too schmaltzy, too many obvious establishing shots; the film overall needed a tighter edit) it was a great film to watch all the same.  Carroll put the war on terror in context by reminding me Bush had proclaimed the war on terror to be a crusade. Terminology his PR people had to spin shortly after Bush addressed the nation the day the invasion of Afghanistan began. Bush's proclamation that we had embarked on a new crusade eerily reverberated through the screening room. 
The film is a history lesson on the persecution of the Jews over the last two thousand years and the how the church has been complicit in disotrorting  historic facts that have fueled anti-Semitism. Carroll shows how racism feeds the  fanaticism that threatens the world today- and warns of the danger that comes about when military power and religious fervor are joined together. 
When it comes to war, there is a litany of justifications for murder and other brutal acts committed. I have always questioned the idea of killing in the name of god. This film draws parallels to what is going on today and the crusades, which were full of state/church sanctioned mass murder.  I wonder, if god take sides in war and if he/she really gives people permission to kill.

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