I just realised that a week from today I’ll be attending a screening of Marketing The Messiah in Melbourne. Here’s a story.
Around 2004, I went to see the documentary THE CORPORATION. Towards the end of the film there’s a scene with director Michael Moore where he talked about how he makes films that oppose what corporations stand for but they distribute his films anyway because they don’t believe anyone will do anything about the things he says in his films. But Moore said he believed that a few people would watch his films and get up and do something about making the world a better place. I was still working at Microsoft when I saw the film. But his comments connected with me and not long after that I left Microsoft and started The Podcast Network to try to make the world a better place.
But here’s the kicker – the cinema where I saw that film, was the Cinema Nova in Carlton – the exact cinema where I’ll be standing up one week from today to introduce my own little documentary.
My first documentary film, Marketing The Messiah, will be screening in selected cinemas in Australia and the USA in March 2020.
It’s a secular history film about early Christianity. I interviewed twelve scholars and asked them to explain how a fringe Jewish sect from the backwaters of Judaea ended up taking over the Roman Empire.
Who wrote the New Testament?
When was it written?
In what order?
How did the message of the New Testament change over the course of the writing of it?
And how did the early Christians convince Romans to worship a dead Jew?
It might seem strange to make a film about this because most Christians probably think they already know the answers – and most atheists don’t give a shit.
But what I’ve found over the years is that most Christians are actually incredibly ignorant about the foundations of their religion. Moreover, most of them don’t want to know. There’s an attitude many of them have that suggests history doesn’t matter – only faith. Which is fine, I guess, but strikes me as rather silly. You’d think that anyone who decides to devote a chunk of their life to a philosophy would want to understand where it came from.
The atheists, on the other hand, tend to dismiss Christian history because they aren’t interested in religion. But I need to point out that Christian history is the history of Western Civilizations from around 400 CE onwards. As I often say – Julius Caesar and Alexander The Great were both worshipped as gods and you’re interested in their history – how is this any different?
The film, however, isn’t an attack on faith or a theological debate. I’m not interested in those topics (for now). This is just about the history of the early church. And to make sure it isn’t biased, I made sure that half of the scholars are Christians and half are atheists. As you’ll see when you watch the film, they all agree on the fundamental questions posed above about the writing, authorship and timing of the New Testament. That’s mainstream scholarship – even though most Christians will probably be shocked by what they hear.
You can find screening information here and learn more about how to set up your own screening here. You can watch the trailer here and more clips from the film here. Yes it will eventually be available for streaming, but not until later in the year.
For example, he talks about the “grim conditions created by a dysfunctional economy”, but fails to mention these grim conditions are largely caused by crippling and illegal US sanctions. The sanctions have been criticized by the UN high commissioner for human rights who said last year they would ‘significantly exacerbate the crisis for millions of ordinary Venezuelans’, but the Post doesn’t even mention them until paragraph 8 and even then not mentioning the UN criticism or the illegality of the sanctions. He also doesn’t mention the report published by the Washington-based Centre for Economic and Policy Research last year that 40,000 people may have died in Venezuela since 2017 because of US sanctions.
The Post then goes on to quote Ecuadoran President Lenín Moreno who “insisted that Maduro’s “despotic regime” had to go”. Moreno is the guy who took a sharp turn to the right when he became President in 2017, after a meeting with Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort (currently serving seven years in jail), then revoked Julian Assange’s asylum, after allowing Assange’s private conversations with his lawyers be bugged and shared with the US (it’s alleged), and accepted a US-backed $10 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It’s the same Moreno who has been roundly criticised by his own people during the 2019 Ecuadorian protests, and who is currently sitting on an all-time low popularity, reaching only 7% of approval as of February 2020.
Check out this amazing and terrifying story in The Intercept about a lawyer whose life is being systematically destroyed by a large corporation.
“Chevron has hired private investigators to track Donziger, created a publication to smear him, and put together a legal team of hundreds of lawyers from 60 firms, who have successfully pursued an extraordinary campaign against him. As a result, Donziger has been disbarred and his bank accounts have been frozen. He now has a lien on his apartment, faces exorbitant fines, and has been prohibited from earning money. As of August, a court has seized his passport and put him on house arrest. Chevron, which has a market capitalization of $228 billion, has the funds to continue targeting Donziger for as long as it chooses.”
What did he do to piss them off? He helped tens of thousand of Ecuadorian farmers to successfully sue Chevron over contamination of their lands. They were fined $18 billion – and then refused to pay up.
It’s a stark warning about what can happen if you try to take down a corporation by yourself.
Disclaimer: I’m not saying these people are psychopaths. But this is the kind of behaviour we should expect from psychopaths and psychopathic organisational cultures.