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The Religious Wrong


Every once in a while, a movie grabs my attention like a suction cup latches to a clean surface and my mind gravitates to the plot, backdrop, and characters whenever I am idle. Unorthodox on Netflix is my latest "grip". I won't spoil the story for you other than to say what is known: it is a dramatization of Deborah Feldman's rejection of her ultra-conservative religious community in New York.

My reaction to Unorthodox is heightened by the loss of control brought on by the Covid pandemic. An invisible force has altered our lives in dramatic ways, constrained us to our homes, cut off in-person contact, crashed the economy, and brought financial havoc. Thanks to social media and a 24x7 news cycle, we are inundated with facts, half-truths, and fiction about the disease and its aftermath. It takes effort to sort through the accuracy of what is floating in ether. The bright spot is that we know this loss of control will eventually end and we will go back to our regularly scheduled lives, hopefully sooner than later.

Now imagine, if someone else's rules, thought, and words framed your reality for the entirety of your life. I suffocate just thinking about it! The extreme right in Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism deliver the same end result: men driven by a distorted reality, who surround themselves with a coterie of brainwashed and bullied promoters of their truth. Minds are smothered with force, all in the name of God.

When Feldman was asked to respond to the patriarchy from which she fled, her response was striking. It wasn't just the patriarchs from whom she fled, it was the torment from the women in her life that drove her out. Together, they enforced the black-and-white tone that defined her existence, despite the fact that stolen moments with books she smuggled from her local library insisted on a world in vivid color.

Watch Unorthodox to be reminded that the intolerant religious right is always wrong, no matter the flavor.


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