I just finished watching Hip 2B Holy on Global, and all in all I thought it was a fair look at the rise of the evangelical movement in Canada. It was fairly interesting and informative. However as an atheist I have to say that I was hoping for more criticisms of the movement.
The documentary followed three seperate stories within the evangelical movement: youth pastor Nate Gerber, Connexus Community Church pastor Carey Nieuwhof (I’m sorry if I got the name wrong, please correct me if I did, I missed his name while watching and I had to go off the church’s website), and a couple where the woman is a devout Christian, and the man is an atheist.
The show opens with a Christian rave led by Nate Gerber. It’s a place where Christians can gather and dance and listen to hard rock and have a party without, I suppose, compromising their morals. Gerber represents the next generation of Christian leadership, and he’s bent on finding new ways to spread the message in a way that connects to youth. He seems like a cool guy, I can see where the appeal is to listen to what he has to say. He’s passionate, energetic, he’s a good dancer and musician, and it also can’t hurt that he’s good-looking.
Next up is pastor Nieuwhof. His church, Connexus, takes advantage of modern technology to communicate the story of Jesus by moving his church into a multiplex movie theatre. Rather ingenious I have to say, and I imagine this helps the theatre out by selling popcorn and filling a space that would otherwise sit empty.
Nieuwhof seems reasonable enough. Obviously I don’t agree with the core of his message, my point of view being that the Bible is a work of fiction and I don’t believe in Jesus or god or heaven or hell. But I like his approach to morality, in that he doesn’t deal in absolutes (except, it seems, on his anti-gay marriage stance). For instance, he doesn’t have a black and white stance on abortion, and believes that picketing abortion clinics is the wrong approach. I can definitely respect him for that.
The third story was that of the couple in which the man, I believe his name is Aaron but again, correct me if I’m wrong, is an atheist. He is devoted enough to his girlfriend that he attends her church, Connexus, even though he doesn’t believe in god or heaven or hell. Let me tell you, I really like Aaron. Of course I was cheering him on to stay logical, and was very happy at the end of the show when he declared that he still had no faith in god. Aaron was a great person to choose to represent atheists because he’s a friendly guy, clearly accepting of other peoples’ faith, and willing and open to learning about the Bible and about what people believe.
I think that the main purpose of Hip 2B Holy is to present to the public a picture of what this new evangelical movement in Canada, currently about 10-15% of the population, is setting out to achieve. Apart from finding new, more modern ways to preach, they have political aspirations as well. There was a group of students from Christian universities learning about how to present their arguments without the use of the Bible…what a novel idea! There was also a demonstration on Parliament Hill in which Christians were encouraged to pray for their MPs…maybe telling undecided voters about their platform would be a more useful approach, but to each his own. One of the prayers that gave me a chuckle went something like “pray lord that you’ll download to [the MP]”…how’s that for modernizing Christianity?
The Canadian evangelical movement is also in a race to define themselves before American fundamentalists spill over the border into Canada. Listen, anything to keep the fundies out. Hip 2B Holy showed a stark contrast between the mega-churches in the US, and those at home. I was pleased to see Nate Gerber’s apprehension when attending an event put on by American evangelists, which involved pyrotechnics, skateboarding, and a call for people to come to the stage and declare their faith. Even though I dislike evangelism as a rule, I’m thankful that the Canadian version is much more moderate than south of the border.
I wish that we lived in a godless world without churches and without religion, but we don’t. People will hang on to their irrational beliefs for dear life, and if they want to sink time and energy (and money) into the type of Christianity portrayed in Hip 2B Holy, I can’t fault them. The evangelical movement within Canada is a new thing, so this was a god introduction to what these people are all about.
So 1o-15% of Canadians are a part of this new type of Christianity and they get a fair and informative show about them. Hopefully Global’s next project will be to profile people who fall within the 16% of Canadians with no religious affiliation (according to the 2001 census).
I just want to make a little disclaimer: It’s late. I wanted to write my thoughts on Hip 2B Holy while they were still fresh in my brain, but I’m tired, so if this blog post doesn’t flow pardon me.