December 7, 2023

Brighton Journal

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John Chow tried to convert a remote tribe to Christianity and was killed – Rolling Stone

John Chow tried to convert a remote tribe to Christianity and was killed – Rolling Stone

It is not difficult to disdain Jun Zhao. A 26-year-old evangelical Christian with a love for outdoor adventure, he went on a solo mission in 2018 to North Sentinel Island, an extremely remote and inaccessible area of ​​India, to bring the gospel of Jesus to the Sentinelese. Even if you don’t know the story, it’s clear from the beginning of the new National Geographic documentary the mission That things didn’t go well. The film is a reminder that, from a non-missionary perspective, and even from a less reckless missionary perspective, such undertakings represent the height of arrogance and arrogance and that unreached people generally do not want to be reached, even if your cosmology so specifies that they will go To hell unless you “save” them.

the mission He makes the point quite convincingly, but there’s a lot more going on in this admirably complex film. Directors Amanda McBain and Jessie Moss are a husband-and-wife team State of children, seek to understand Chow and the culture that led him to what one church friend described as “the pursuit of imagination.” This culture has deep roots in colonialism, a deeply Christian field of boys’ adventure stories, and what Chow’s sad but philosophical father, a Christian himself, calls “radical evangelical extremism.”

The film presents all of this with clear eyes, imagination, and an absence of frank judgement. McBain and Moss immerse you in Chow’s thinking, using his memoirs (read by actor Lawrence Cow) and the recollections of friends and teachers to flesh out a young man who seems like a decent, deeply emotional man who pushed himself too far (with some help from people who should have known better) and defined himself as a tool. In the hands of the Lord.

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The most poignant counterweight comes from the words of John’s father, Patrick, from a letter he wrote to the filmmakers (also read by actor David Shea). Patrick appears sad and disappointed in himself because he did not prevent his son’s tragic foolishness. We also hear from some wise men, including historian Adam Goodhart, who wrote his own history of the North Sentinel The last island; and linguist Daniel Everett, whose work among the Pirahã people in the Amazon rainforest helped transform his Christian faith into atheism.

“It is unfortunate that we live in the 21st centurystreet Last century and we still have people who believe in the myths of the first century enough to die for. This is Everett who sums up Chow’s fate. But believe they do. Some Christians were quick to portray Zhao as a martyr for Jesus, rather than an outsider who spoke an indecipherable language and carried potentially fatal diseases. This story, of course, is older than America. It takes a great deal of arrogance to declare a remote island inhabited by hunter-gatherers “the devil’s last stronghold,” as Zhao did on North Sentinel Island. But he was not serious, and seemed desperate to do something he thought was important. McBain and Moss allow these different aspects of Chow to breathe and bounce off each other; They are more interested in the prickly humanity of the story than in any other genre I caught you Rhetoric.


Animated sequence in “The Mission”.

National Geographic

The film packs a swirl of images and resources, including original watercolor-like animation and clips of everything from the original film King Kong character To the disturbing ethnographic documentaries of the past. Chow’s childhood touchstones are included Robinson Crusoe, The Adventures of TintinAnd the missionary story of glorification The end of the spear. This National Geographic doc is also credited with casting a critical eye on… National Geographic, which for years painted its own picture of the “noble savages” of the backlands. These myths are deeply rooted in Western consciousness, both religious and secular.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for evangelists in the documentary world the mission and the HBO docuseries Savior complex, about a Christian missionary who decides to play a doctor in Uganda. Both are solid works, although very different in approach. where Savior complex It is a fair investigation of the facts, the mission is an interesting philosophical exploration – a personal glimpse into a particularly aggressive brand of Christianity. In the film, Pam Arlund, of the missionary organization All Nations International (which predicted great success for Zhao’s mission), describes not allowing anyone to hear about Jesus “a violation of their human right.” As it turns out, this kind of thinking can get someone killed.