A Conversation with Peter Rodger: Filmmaker, Author and Spiritual Seeker
Apr 04, 2011 03:08PM
● By Brett Campion
Frustrated with religious turmoil, fanaticism and fundamentalism, filmmaker Peter Rodger set out on a global quest to understand why the concept of God has become so politicized. In his stunningly beautiful, just-released documentary, Oh My God, an intriguing assortment of celebrities and ordinary people around the world share their perspectives and individual understanding of God.
What inspired you to undertake this epic documentary?
I was fed up with the irrational, schoolyard mentality that permeates this world—I call it the “My God Is Greater than Your God,” syndrome. What is this entity that goes by the name of God, which causes so much friction, violence and pain? I decided to travel the world and ask people from all walks of life what they think about God.
Most of us personalize God in some form or another. Why did you ask, “What is God?”, rather than, “Who
I wanted to look at God as an objective concept. Humanizing the concept by referring to God as “Who” already puts that concept into the image of man, and the objectivity is lost. Did God create man, or did man create God? Asking “What is?” instead of “Who is?” leads us to look at God from the outside in, rather than from the inside out, and helps quench preconceptions.
Did you find a common theme in the answers you received?
Yes, so much commonality emerged from all over the world—“God is everything”… “God is the Creator”… “God is the energy that binds us all together”—that at one point, I thought I didn’t have a film at all. Then I realized that the problem is how man uses the God concept to control others by creating politicized ‘clubs,’ or religions, that we are expected to join. And some of these clubs dictate that if you don’t abide by the club’s laws, you are going to Hell when you die. When I recognized the role man has played in the question of God, I realized I had a film.
What personal spiritual insights grew as a result of your journey?
I realized that we all have a responsibility to live our lives with tolerance and understanding for one another. When we learn about other cultures and come to appreciate our shared humanity, we realize that the only barriers among people are of our own creation, not God’s.
You believe that children are natural vessels of Godliness. Why is that, and what can we learn from them?
I think children are enlightened—look into a child’s eyes and you see absolute grace. I love the truth of children, their generosity of spirit. They mingle with one another with no worries about skin color or where they come from. They absorb into themselves this amazing environment that Earth gives us, and then project it out in a beautiful, untainted, spiritual manner. As we grow older, we often lose the spiritual essence that is innate within children. They love life and laughter, and are nonjudgmental.
What do you hope people will take away after watching your film?
I would like people who see the film to come away feeling that they have experienced an amazing journey, seeing places they would never normally see, hearing music and words that inspire them. I’d like them to be ambassadors for the discussion the film creates.
No ‘club’ is better than another club, and every human being on the planet experiences the same basic desires and feelings. There is far more that unites us than divides us. If we can open our hearts to the tolerance and peace that every religion and spiritual practice preaches, then we might have a chance at a good future.
How do you now answer your primary question, “What is God?”
I believe that all of us, collectively, are what we refer to as God. God is the energy that binds us together. God is everyone’s inner consciousness. So, if true godliness is within us all, our collective energy is what drives the Universe.
To locate a screening of Oh My God, visit omgmovie.com. Also learn more about Peter Rodger’s upcoming books (the story of the film’s production, and a photographic essay with interviewee quotes) and a CD based on the movie’s soundtrack.