I've been watching GOD IN AMERICA these past two nights and I have mixed feelings about the way it tells the story. I thought it was particularly good on the various revival periods and on painting with a very broad brush. There were way too many talking heads and not enough visuals, visions and stills. It was good enough to bring me back a second night, and I will be there tonight, but only "just" there. I thought it did a particularly poor reading of the Church and race in the pre and post Civil War period. It was not a gripping series.
On several occasions I was reminded of what, in my mind, is a much clearer story told about The Episcopal Church. THE STORY OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH, by James Friedrich, traces the development of The Episcopal Church and touched on many of the same themes, often in the same way, as did God In America. In fact there is one almost direct parallel in the voice of a young girl describing her complete surrender to God, so close that I wonder if the writers of God in America had not seen that cut in Jim's work and simply used it again. And unlike God in America, The Story of the Episcopal Church was very pointed in its analysis of the success and failure of The Episcopal Church in its response to slavery and racism.
The Story of The Episcopal Church is available on DVD. It is a superb teaching tool. The description on The Episcopal Marketplace reads, "The Story of the Episcopal Church Our church's past merges with the present with narration by David Morse and interviews with Episcopal historians and commentators that 'make the history of the Episcopal Church come alive.'Part 1: From Jamestown to Revolution (20 min.) Part 2:The Call to Mission (23 min.)"
Like God in America, The Story of The Episcopal Church tells a tale of religion in America, and with great honesty looks at the past and present and wonders just how the various religions experiences of Americans will shape the way in which The Episcopal Church will carry out its Gospel work.