June 28 at 10 on HBO
This documentary is shocking in its brazen determination to prove that celibacy is destroying the Catholic Church—causing clergy to flee in record numbers and devastating thousands of kids who’ve been sexually abused by their priests. Director Antony Thomas interviews a pedophile priest, a woman impregnated by her pastor, young abuse victims, and lapsed clergymen—not to mention neuroscientists and psychiatrists. Some of the most poignant footage is of Romanian girls surrendering themselves to a convent, still a refuge from hardship in some countries. “Unlike any man, God is perfect,” says one pudgy-faced novice. “He never lies.”
WIDE ANGLE: SUICIDE BOMBERS
July 1 at 9 on PBS
Another glimpse of intense religious belief, this doc features interviews with three jailed Palestinian teens who tried and failed to be suicide bombers, plus two young men who made bombs for a bloody bus attack. In measured tones, one 18-year-old would-be martyr admits he wanted to go to paradise because “there I get all I want. I get to be with 70 virgins. Here our life is full of problems. Israelis enjoy their life, they go out at night, they have cafés and nightclubs, they travel all over the world. We can’t even leave Palestine.” The bombing mission was his first trip outside Nablus since the start of the intifada; overwhelmed by this glimpse of the outside world, he decided to go home. Others in the film are far more focused, explaining how little they have left to lose. Israeli vengeance—the horrible tradition of destroying the family homes of suicide bombers—means little to them in the face of divine reward. Suicide Bombers doesn’t offer any new ideas, but it does give us a chance to hear these young men put their actions in context.
THE N WORD
July 4 at 9 on Trio
This hour-long program gathers a fine cast of academics, actors, and musicians (from Ice-T to Stanley Crouch, Chris Rock to Randall Kennedy) to discuss the history and ramifications of one of the most troublesome words in the English language.