Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Switch - the BBC's service for teens - broadcasts about two hours of TV programmes per week. Most of BBC Switch TV air time consists of programmes made in, or about North America. Last Saturday one of the offerings was a new documentary series called Teen America, available here on the iPlayer for a short while. Nineteen year old Louis Bhose (Flash Louis) presents the series, and he began by saying that he'd been spending far too much time living in his own little world.

Bhose: So I've decided to spread my wings and checkout what other teens my age are up to across America. This week I'm going to find out if the life of a devout Christian could be for me.

Louis then proceeded to hook up with a group of fundamentalist Christians at a weekend 'Acquire the Fire' convention in Richmond, Virginia. He seemed quite at home with the group's enthusiasm when they shouted "Yes, yes, yes we do, we love Jesus, how about you?" Inside the convention hall he met up with guides Mani and Charlotte. Bhose listened to Christian rock, a group prayer, and a tearful session which he said made him feel a little uneasy.

Bhose: It's very interesting. They've created Christianity for the MTV generation. This is it. This is the big screens, but then they're relating it back to Christianity. They've found the formula and people are getting caught up in the hysteria and in the moment, and crying almost for the sake of it.

Bhose said he was a bit confused by it all.

Next we saw the groups founder Ron Luce dish out advice, with a prayer which was repeated a phrase at a time by those at the convention.

Luce: Lord Jesus make a covenant with my eyes. I refuse to let Hollywood tell me what sex is really about.

Then Luce demonstrated their attitude to pornography and lust by having a computer monitor smashed to pieces with a baseball bat, to wild cheering and applause of onlookers including Bhose himself.

Bhose chatted to Charlotte about her all-girl 'abstinence' class. Bhose said that Charlotte seemed to truly believe that God would find the right one for her.

After discussing the commercial side to the operation and then a short chat with Ron Luce, the documentary concluded with Bhose chatting to guides Mani and Charlotte. "This weekend hasn't converted me to Christianity," he said, "but it's taught me a lot more respect for it, speaking to people like you two and seeing that you're not crazy." Louis asked them to keep him updated because he wanted to know how the journey goes. He ended by joining Mani and Charlotte in a group embrace.

I was a little concerned about that particular programme because it seemed to me that Louis too readily embraced a fundamentalist religious movement, failing to look at it with a sufficiently critical eye.

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