By Delvakio Brown
Meter Staff Writer
The Jewish West End Synagogue in Nashville on March 16 transformed into a place where people of various religions gathered to take part in an early preview of “The Story of God with Morgan Freeman.” Nashville is one of a few selected cities to receive an early viewing of the show. The Story of God is a six-hour National Geographic documentary that airs April 3, 2016 on the National Geographic Channel.
Imagine sitting in a seat and the person on your right was a Muslim woman wearing a hijab, and the person on your left was a Jewish man wearing a Kipa, and just so happens the person right behind you was a Christian. This was reality for some who attended the special viewing.
The curious and thought provoking Morgan Freeman, who was God in the 2003 film “Bruce Almighty,” now questions who is God in a third person view point by exploring the five main faiths of religion. Through the lens of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, questions are raised about how each faith views different subjects and how each religion is similar and different.
Early viewers were shown the episode about The Apocalypse, the hardest episode to make according Lori McCreary, CEO of the production company Revelations Entertainment.
“This is of the six, the hardest episode for us to put together, but my favorite part in particular was going to Jerusalem because I’ve never been,” McCreary said.
She continued, “It was very moving and very hard to explain the feeling and effect it left on me. It was really the heart of when we started as a group of filmmakers coming together in the midst of a location important to three religions.”
When the premier ended, a panel of four with a moderator took the stage. It was at this moment the audience found out how members of different religions felt about the film.
“I think when you see the six episodes, you get to see that flavor, in particular the Jewish part,” stated Rabbi Joshua Kullock, who also served on the Faith Leadership Advisory Council for the documentary.
Zulfat Suara, chair of the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC), liked how misconceptions were broken down.
“I was glad that the gentlemen talked about the difference between Islamism and Islam,” she said.
In the previewed episode, a man of the Islamic faith talked about how he was radicalized during a time he was marginalized. Based off the color of his skin and culture he was picked on, and Islamic extremist recruited him. Suara was glad that it was showcased that all Muslims are not the same, and many cases of radicalization are a result of being marginalized in society. Panelist Stacey Croft, pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, wanted more information displayed after reviewing it. “The film is a connection piece,” Croft said.
The idea sparked while McCreary and Freeman were on a tour of the Hagia Sophia, a museum in Istanbul, Turkey eight years ago. McCreary noticed a painting above her head and realized that there were some concepts about religion about which she needed to know the truth about.
After that, the idea was made into a concrete plan and the documentary got underway. By bringing together a group of 80 people from various religious backgrounds, cultures, and curiosities, a well-rounded series was created that doesn’t focus on the differences of each religion but the viewpoints of each religion on the topics that they all share.
With the narration of Morgan Freeman, viewers are taken on a journey around the world discovering the connection that each religion has on creation, who is God, evil, miracles, end of days, and resurrection. Viewers are shown a world behind the scenes that Freeman questions through intellectual conversation. There is so much information to share that there are talks about a possible The Story Of God 2.