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Texas filmmaker tells how he lost faith

July 15, 2011

Filmmaker George Ratliff, a Texan (from the Panhandle, no less), talks about his new movie “Salvation Boulevard” and how he lost his religion at 19 in this Q&A with the Wall Street Journal. The star-studded film is based on the Larry Beinhart book by the same name and involves a corrupt pastor, a megachurch and Dead Heads turned born-again Christians.

WSJ’s Joe Morgenstern gave it a terrible review:

The movie transforms a dim idea—”Elmer Gantry” lite—into comedy that’s dead in the water and as dull as it is broad.

But the awakening moment Ratliff describes in this interview is quite interesting. He was working at a Young Life camp when he began to call into question some of his most deeply-held beliefs. I am always curious about how people come to these realizations. I think they are often harder to describe than the conversion to religion. This is how it went down for Ratliff:

 One day, I was peeling logs alone in the snow, and I was laughing to myself because I remembering how my older brother used to tell me absolute bullsh– and I would believe him, because I was such a gullible kid. He told me my real name was “Zsa Zsa” and there was an axe murderer named the same things, and that’s why I was called George. So I was laughing, because I started wondering about how many other things that I believed were true were actually just tricks my brothers were playing on me. I started identifying several things that I still held true that were probably just stories. So had this very zen experience that winter where I realized I knew nothing. Everything I thought I knew, someone else had told me, and they weren’t very reliable. That led to my not being a religious person, because I didn’t trust that narrative. I started from scratch at 19.

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