Porter Speakman Jr., producer and director of a documentary film on Christian Zionism, talked with EthicsDaily.com via Skype in an interview now live on Vimeo.
Speakman, whose feature documentary, "With God on Our Side," explores the under-examined phenomenon of Christian Zionism, spoke recently with EthicsDaily.com from his home in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"I grew up, I would say, as a Christian Zionist, but not really knowing what a Christian Zionist was," said Speakman. The edited interview runs just under six minutes.
Speakman said he had an opportunity to travel to Jerusalem in 1998. What began as a six-month stay turned into five years, as he and his wife lived first in Jerusalem's Old City and then in the town that is Bethany in the Bible.
Living among Palestinians changed Speakman's perspective.
"A lot of our stereotypes of who the Palestinian people were," said Speakman, "were kind of broken down."
Speakman said their time in the Holy Land was also framed by the end of the Oslo Accords and the beginning of the Second Intifada (Uprising), which was very violent in the beginning.
He saw intensification of checkpoints, living under curfew and so on.
"I started looking at alternative ways of how to view the situation – politically, historically, I learned a lot, but I think most importantly as a follower of Jesus – different ways you can view this situation theologically," said Speakman. "A position that doesn't favor one people group over another, but seeks justice and reconciliation and a solution for all people as God would want that to happen."
When Speakman moved back to the United States in 2003, he saw that many people didn't have a real understanding of what was happening in the Middle East. Christians, at least, had more of an ideological understanding, he said.
Speakman intended to put together a 20-minute orientation film for church groups getting ready to travel to Jerusalem. The project morphed into a feature-length documentary featuring interviews with Stephen Sizer, Gary Burge and other experts on Christianity's role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"The film itself is just looking to put another piece of the puzzle on the table in this discussion of Israel and Palestine," said Speakman, "especially within the American church."
Watch the interview with Speakman at vimeo.com/skype-porterspeakmanjr
Visit Speakman's blog at PorterSpeakmanJr.com/
Learn more about the documentary at WithGodOnOurSide.com
Watch other EthicsDaily.com Skype interviews at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily