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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Pope, Dalai Lama in TV special on spirituality

December 24, 2007

BY KATHY BLUMENSTOCK
The Washington Post
December 21, 2007

Filmmaker Jules Naudet happened to be in the World Trade Center early on
the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, shooting footage for a documentary on
firefighters. When two hijacked jetliners slammed into the Twin Towers,
Naudet, "just knowing my life was shortly to come to an end," asked
himself "very existential questions, like, 'Why am I here? Why me?'" he
said. "It's very common for people facing death to do this." Six months
after the terrorist attacks, Naudet and his brother Gedeon had produced
the landmark documentary "9/11," but both longed to do something more.
"In God's Name," a two-hour exploration of faith, spirituality and a
search for life's meaning, is the result of their quest (airing Sunday
at 9 on CBS/2).

"With these questions still in the back of my mind, who better to ask
than these great religious leaders who should have the answers?" Naudet
said. "So we had the idea to take a journey to meet all of them."

"A very personal approach"

The brothers' global trek yielded 180 hours of footage and included
visits to Egypt, England, India, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Russia and the
Vatican, as well as Illinois and South Carolina. The Naudets chose a
dozen spiritual leaders - including Pope Benedict XVI and the Dalai Lama
- willing to express their own thoughts on faith, hope and tolerance,
and to speak about the violence in today's world.

Taking what Jules Naudet calls "a very personal approach," the
filmmakers used sound, images and interviews to illustrate examples of
daily faith by the 11 men and one woman.

"Much more than showing a great leader on a big throne, we wanted to
look at them as individuals," he said. "A grandfather playing with his
[grand]- kid, a guy walking his dog. People of different faiths might
look at them and see someone like them who prays." Naudet said the
program shows that "the commonality between all the faiths is compassion
and understanding."

"The lesson we learned from this journey is that we have so much more to
be united by than to be separated by," he said.

Meticulous translations

Susan Zirinsky of CBS News, who also worked with the Naudets on "9/11,"
served as the program's executive producer.

"There is something interesting in the people themselves and how they
have become these spiritual leaders," she said of those in the film.
"None believe themselves to be the bodies of God, but they are so deep
and so smart and relate to the common man.... In their remarkable innate
ability to communicate, there is a pied-piper aspect to all of them."

Zirinsky said a crucial element in producing the documentary was the
meticulous English translations required for most of those on camera.
The voices speaking the words of the leaders, she said, all have accents
that are accurate for each particular country or region.

The show's airdate, two days before Christmas, is coincidental, Zirinsky
said. "But around the holidays, people's mindset is a little more
introspective," she said. "They are willing to settle back and look for
something in a bit of a different light."

Viewers may be familiar with some of the religious leaders spotlighted,
but Jules Naudet said choosing the participants was daunting.

"We went with major faiths, and even there had to limit ourselves," he
said. "We tried to do only those with 60 million [followers] and above.
And it was hard to find some people, because for certain religions,
there is no clear hierarchy."

"I did get answers to my questions," he said. "I got 12 sets of
answers." Naudet said producing the documentary changed his outlook. He
said the program "might open a few eyes and raise a few eyebrows."

"When you look at the world and what's happening, it's easy to become
very pessimistic," he said. But after meeting the spiritual leaders, "I
was left with a lot of hope for the future."
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