Devolution

It’s a dismal sign of the times that “altered states” has been supplanted by “alternate realities.” Instead of drug experimentation and expanded consciousness, we have an epidemic of science denial and faith-based ignorance. The holiday hoot “Incredibly Strange Religion,” presented by Other Cinema, works as both an exposé of and an antidote to a particular kind of tunnel vision. The program is anchored by the pretzel-logic documentary The Earth Is Young, in which filmmaker Michael Gitlin juxtaposes interviews with Young Earth Creationists, true believers who compile evidence to refute evolution, with the real-world drillwork of professional paleontologists. The bill also includes Ben Rivers’ lovely, ephemeral visit with a Scottish hermit, Origin of the Species; and a wealth of clips by and about Pentecostal evangelist and faith healer A.A. Allen (who met his maker in a San Francisco hotel room in 1970), the Moody Institute, and Scientology. Frankly, the philosophies of these outliers on the religious frontier aren’t much nuttier than Peter Jackson’s gloriously awful infatuation with the bittersweet hereafter in The Lovely Bones. But that’s the problem with an epidemic — it spreads from a narrow(-minded) population into the mainstream. Heaven help us all.
Sat., Dec. 12, 8:30 p.m., 2009

 
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