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Spiritual Review: The Believer, a drama on DVD

RATING:  4.5 Hearts – Excellent

Okay, okay.  So I’m a big Ryan Gosling fan.  In fact, my primary reason for viewing The Believer is because I wanted to see all of Gosling’s work.  When I noticed that The Believer won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, that sealed the deal, and I got even more excited about the prosect of seeing it.  Henry Bean co-wrote and directed The Believer in 2001, which is loosely based on the real-life story of Daniel Burros.  Back in the 1960’s Burros became an American Nazi party member and a leader of the Klu Klux Klan, but he shot and killed himself after a NY Times reporter revealed his Jewish heritage.

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The Believer uses anti-semitism to explore love and hate and to show how love and hate get all confused based on fundamental beliefs about God. It also demonstrates how our beliefs about God play a direct role in determining our life and death experience. Director Bean frames The Believer with the recurring theme of the Biblical story of Abraham. Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice and kill Isaac, his son.  But why must he do this?  Does God want us to kill ourselves and others as a sign of faith, devotion, love and obedience?  Does killing self or others make you happy?  Is God just on a power trip?  Do we have the intelligence and free will to override God and guide ourselves if His direction doesn’t make sense?  The Believer reminds us that Jesus was an enlightened Jew who followed God’s will and who allowed himself to be sacrificed and killed to express his love of humanity.  Maybe self-sacrifice is the ultimate path to enlightenment. 

The story is told from the perspective

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