Got God?

A short look at PBS's God In America

Got God?

What promises to be a deeply comprehensive look at the role religion played (and plays) in the shaping of the U.S. does so tediously. The painstaking approach of PBS's God In America is not what bothers as much as the pacing and the mind numbing flipping back and forth between talking heads and images. Talking heads and images. Talking heads and … zzzzzzz.

The images are compelling and the talking heads expert (they’re all academics). But one wonders what the impact would have been if a little bit of fire would have been infused in the delivery of this otherwise compelling subject.

A joint venture of The American Experience and Frontline, the six-part series is thoroughly researched and expertly delivered. But it doesn’t really perk up until it delves into the personal, as in referencing the private journals of President Abraham Lincoln where he grappled with the meaning and purpose of the Civil War, and later in episode four, when it examines the rise of evangelism against one woman’s fight against school prayer, and onward into how religion infused the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King.

A challenging project, this one fails to capture the attention beyond the most devoted religious or history scholar.

God In America airs Oct. 11, 12, and 13 on PBS. Check local listings for airtimes.

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