Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Journeys with Jerry, et al.

The filmmaker daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has turned her lens on the Evangelical movement for her latest documentary.

For the benefit of our readers outside the States, "Pelosi" + "Evangelicals" = "Explosivo."

And you know the product would sure be interesting. And, of course, you know that, somewhere along the line, the question of the Democratic Speaker's Catholicism would sure come up.

From the Chron:
Alexandra Pelosi doesn't like to say she's a "lapsed" Catholic. Because when she does, her mom, recently appointed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, tends to take it as a "failure that she couldn't keep me in the church." That position looks especially bad lately, after the elder Pelosi stressed her devout Catholicism during swearing-in ceremonies this month.

So despite 12 years of Catholic education in San Francisco and four more at a Jesuit university, Alexandra, a 36-year-old documentary filmmaker, prefers to say that Catholicism "didn't stick. I always try to tell my mother that I believe in God, but I don't believe in church. But that offends her. Parents take it personally when you reject something they gave you."...

Pelosi was already in an introspective mood, re-examining her own spirituality as she approached parenthood. When she completed the documentary less than two weeks before giving birth, Pelosi says she had a "personal revelation: I have to take my son to church." A baptism is planned.

"Because if I don't, he will be called 'unchurched' and (those are the people) most susceptible to some of the more extreme religions later in the life," Pelosi says. "You have to give your children something that they can reject if they want to."...

The "most painful part" of the project, she said is how nearly every evangelical tried to "save" her off-camera.

But she rarely challenged anyone.

"I was not trying to get into a political debate with the evangelicals about their belief," Pelosi says. "They interpret the Bible the way they want to." But Pelosi was quick to add, "I don't interpret it to say the things that they're saying it says. I don't believe that the Bible says we shall be gay-bashers."

Learning about that divide was a shock to the woman who spent her childhood in progressive Catholic schools. "We were taught just to accept people, that was just a given," Pelosi says. "I don't ever remember being told at Convent of the Sacred Heart that gay was wrong. They never even told us there was anything wrong with abortion. They were just choices.

"That's why it was weird when I'd go to these places and ... people would say, 'It's in the Bible.' And they fall back on the Bible for everything."

During Nancy Pelosi's speaker celebrations this month, as the Pelosi clan drove through the streets of Washington and Baltimore together, some protesters held up signs that read, "Pelosi Preys on Children" -- a reference to the speaker's pro-choice stand, which contradicts church doctrine.

"My mother, throughout her entire life, has been faithful to the church, even though the church has not been that faithful to her because of her politics. And I think that takes a lot of perseverance," she says. "And still, people protest her right to go to her own church."...

Although Pelosi may have interpretative differences over the Bible with the evangelicals she met, she left with an appreciation of their skills for political organization.

"If you go to church in the red states, you have a nice service. They play good music, you have a real sense of community and then they invite you to go to a Colorado marriage amendment meeting or a Florida marriage amendment meeting," Pelosi says. "And you go, because all your friends go....

"And that's what democracy is. You get enough people out there to show your point of view, and you win."