The Armor of Light

The Armor of Light ★★★½

Opening with footage of anti-abortion protestors that may, depending on one's point of view, either establish the conservative evangelical bona fides of one of this film's main subjects, minister Rob Schenck, or put you right off of the film altogether--about Rob Schenck and his beliefs (although it cycles back to that anti-abortion stance in the final moments of the film) it's a film about what we believe and why, what it means to be part of the orthodoxy and what happens when you start to think differently from those around you--the difference between accepting a simple answer and accepting a complex one. And for someone like me who has a natural interest in topics such as these where they touch on matters religious and how that affects say, political or day to day beliefs, this was pretty engaging.

Visually, Abigail Disney has a good eye for a shot, and as a documentarian, she doesn't shout--she lets her subjects do most of the talking, in a number of (increasingly uncomfortable) scenes, where we see Schenck (a teenage convert to evangelical Christianity, interestingly) get shaken up after a mass shooting in his neighborhood and start to think about the deep and mutual ties between the community he's part of, and the NRA, and what the bible says about violence, and what it means to be 'pro-Life'. Given his stance against abortion, shouldn't he be more concerned with shootings?

While this is going on, another thread is being established, as we meet Lucia McBath, the mother of murdered Florida teen Jordan Davis, who, after his death, becomes a gun control advocate and lobbyist. She's a woman of deep faith, and references her actions as God's plan for her several times in the movie, and she also (almost casually) alludes to pro-choice abortion leanings, and so when she meets Schenck at the midway point of a film for a sit-down and asks for his help, it's a remarkable scene to see how she connects to him. There are also scenes in NRA rallies, scenes in both black churches and white (the role of race is mentioned as the elephant in the room here, soberly) and scenes of evangelicals arguing over food--bringing up talking points and getting frustrated with each other and their ability to see eye-to-eye, their different perspectives on the role of guns. While the film's central focus is on raising the question of how the evangelical community responds to gun violence, there's a host of issues here that the film lays out efficiently and compellingly, up to the closing credits.

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