Global acts of terror in our post-9/11 world have catapulted the issue of religious intolerance to the forefront. Can we ever achieve reconciliation between each religious sect, and avoid the bloodshed that arises from the most radicalized interpretations of their beliefs? Even among the most modest believers, the clashes between religious affiliations too often inspire division, conflict, and incivility. The riveting three-part documentary series Children of Abraham travels the globe to speak to various figures in the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities, and attempts to find common ground within the gospels they live by.
The film's host, a devout Catholic named Mark Dowd, attempts to construct this reconciliation by calling upon the lessons of a religious icon shared by all three faiths: the prophet Abraham. Deemed by Dowd as an "inter-faith superstar", Abraham was anointed by God as the uniting leader of all nations of the world for his unfailing faith. Conversely, Abraham's story may also point to the current scourge of violent extremism. For these terrorists, violence represents the ultimate act of devotion. From their perverted mindset, justification for the carnage they inflict can be found in God's command that Abraham sacrifice his only son.
These concepts and many others are explored in this wide-ranging documentary. The first section traces the origins of Abraham and the ambiguous passages of religious text that allow for such discrepancies in belief. Part two opens in Jerusalem, and tours the sacred sites where all three religions often converge and fight for access. This final part of the film is perhaps its most compelling as we're placed inside the confined walls of a state prison. There, a convicted killer outlines his reasons for targeting a Mosque.
The filmmakers do not focus solely on the differences that continue to divide persons of various faiths. It also offers inspiring portraits of those who work to foster welcoming environments of harmony and integration.
Travelling from Egypt to Bosnia to the deeply polarized Palestinian city of Hebron, Children of Abraham is a hugely ambitious exploration of age-old questions that continue to perplex and fracture large segments of our global society.