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So Help Me God - documentary DVD review
SO HELP ME GOD Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating: 4 stars
Featuring: Simon Cole
Director: Simon Cole   Studio: Alive Mind
DVD release: 15 September 2009   Runtime: 52 min. (1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD, NTSC
DVD Features: Aspect ratio 1.33:1, Audio tracks (English)

Matthew 6:33 says "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things [the day-to-day necessities of life] shall be added unto you." Simon Cole does just that in his clever and tenderly biting film So Help Me God. He starts with a question: "How does one start believing in God?" He lives a charmed life with a nice house, car, girlfriend, but he feels compelled to believe in God to make the picture complete. Simon decides to start investigating the world of God. What better place to do it than America, which boasts over 1500 religions?

Simon looks at about every kind of religion he can get his hands on: Benedictine monks, Amish, Mormons, Baptists, Evangelical Christian, Free Thinkers, Fundamentalist, Buddhist, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, and more. He spends time with Fred Phelps (he of the Westboro Baptist Church and fame). He also spends some time with gay Christians who seem tickled by the fact that the fundies are always thumping their King James Bibles when he is purported to be as queer as a three-dollar bill. On all his journeys, he seems genuinely interested in the people and their faith. He is friendly and non-judgemental in his queeries and I am convinced that he really is looking for a path to God in earnest. It comes so easily for some people as Simon seeks his epiphany.

It is an amusing look at a search for faith that many in this world encounter at least once in their lives. I have myself vacillated over the years. I was raised Catholic and first learned to doubt my faith from religious children's books, of all things. When there was a disparaging image of people worshipping false gods, what hit me was: "There are other gods?" When I asked my First Communion teacher, Sister Mary Esther, how we knew our god was the one, she hissed at me: "We just know!" She did it with such venom that it scared me. Now I wonder about the strength of her faith at the time. Perhaps I asked this question after a serious, life-long vocational miscalculation.

After a scary baptism, Simon takes the fruit of his journeys and heads out to the desert to search his soul and listen for God. I won't tell you the outcome, but I will say that the journey is incredible, fair, and evenly balanced. Simon speaks with the faithful and the faithless with not a hint of condescension in his voice. If Bill Maher's Religulous seemed too abrasive for you, then So Help Me God is more even-handed. My sole complaint is that it's too short.
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reviewed by A. Theist
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