Posted by: jcscott51 | March 1, 2010

Review: ‘HolyWars’

“HolyWars” is the story of two men who represent two very different walks of life.

We are first introduced to Khalid Kelly, an Irish-born convert to Islam. Kelly read the Koran during a stint in prison, and the faith becomes his lifestyle.

His mission is to live a fundamental and conservative Muslim lifestyle and to seek an Islamic state.

His counter-character in the film is Aaron Taylor, an evangelical Christian missionary. Born in what he refers to as the Bible Belt, Taylor’s goal is to evangelize Muslims around the world, to be a “soldier for Christ.”

Clearly, the men who are the subjects of the film are direct opposites. The film explores these differences, and at times makes the issues at hand seem so black and white that the viewer begins to feel a sense of despair.

The men represent a wider culture, and are absolutely steadfast in their convictions. Millions of people in the world have similar beliefs, and the film makes the viewer feel that a catastrophic conflict is just around the corner.

After all, how can there be compromise where disagreement is absolute?

An example of their vital differences is in their reactions to the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Taylor, who was 23 on Sept. 11, 2001, was deeply affected by the tragedy.

Shortly after, he wrote a brief call to action to his church. He outlined the situation as a sign of the end times described in the Bible.

He sees the world today as in great danger, humanity in a war between good and evil. He urged his fellow Christians to start waging the battle for souls.

He and his wife develop a ministry with the goal of evangelizing the non-Christian parts of the world. The ministry takes him all around the globe, including to places hostile to his message.

Kelly, on the other hand, has saved newspaper clippings of the catastrophic 9/11 event. He believes the Taliban and Muslim fundamentalists want what he wants. He and his wife even named their son Osama.

He believes that part of his duty, since a Muslim is to work to implement what is called sharia law—and an absolute Islamic state.

The turning point of the film comes when Taylor and Kelly first meet. They have a debate, in which Kelly gets the best of Taylor. Taylor realizes that the U.S. and Christians in general are not always necessarily innocent.

From that moment, each man again takes different paths.

During the debate, Kelly shows a brief glimmer of tolerance, suggesting that each camp simply live and let live. Yet, he becomes more vocal in his campaign for sharia law. He flees his home in the U.K. fearing arrest. He travels to Pakistan and realizes that even in what he considers a Muslim state, many people don’t support sharia law.

Kelly finds himself driven to find the only people who he finds he can truly identify himself with – the Taliban.

Taylor, on the other hand finds himself motivated to use new tactics to find success with his ministries. His beliefs were not changed by the debate, but it challenged him to view them in a new way. Taylor approaches his goals with renewed faith and a more accurate view of how to effectively preach. He recently published a book and keeps a blog, the genesis of which was his meeting with Kelly.

The film’s narration acts as a driving force and helps to develop each of its key characters. The photography sets each scene and depicts the scenario at hand so the viewer accurately understands the sense of danger associated with particular scenes. This helps the viewer understand each man’s zeal and the strength of their convictions.

The film weaves a vivid tapestry that ties the complexities of politics and religion tightly together. Religion has always been a driving force behind action in the world, but with Islam as the fastest growing religion in the world, the global landscape has the potential to be very different in the coming years.

HolyWars is a move that preaches tolerance, and displays polarizing issues. It helps us understand a new perspective on the state of the world. The issues can be a bit difficult to grasp simply by their nature, but the value of the new knowledge the film offers surpasses any frustration the complexity of the issues might cause.

Viewers can expect to leave the screening with a renewed sense of hope and a heightened awareness of one the most pressing issues of our time.


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