Tuesday, May 19, 2015
"Little Hope Was Arson": how the lives of two young men on the Bible Belt unravel
“Little Hope Was Arson”, by Theo Love, is a rather tragic documentary about the demise of two young men in East Texas. It does present the police work, but it plays up the human element and down the sensationalism, compared to, say, a Dateline crime episode.
Early on New Years Morning, 2010, a Baptist church in Tyler was burned down, shortly after a New Year’s Eve gathering. Nine more churches within a 40 mile radius would burn, with the fires started with some degree of “skill”.
A break would occur when a female dispatcher with a sheriff’s department would learn that her brother could be involved. Eventually, two young white male suspects emerged. One of them had been an outstanding teen and taken church seriously, but mysteriously drifted into drugs once in college. The defendants seem to have little motive other than compulsive behavior. But one of the defendants, from prison, seemed to resent the self-righteousness of some “Christians”.
The film, consisting mostly of interviews, does explore some of the values of the Bible Belt. One woman talks about the idea of a Bible verse for every problem (like a toothache). But she also says she wouldn’t turn in a family member to the law, because that would be snitching.
Both men would, after guilty pleas, get concurrent life sentences plus extra time to make parole difficult.
The official site is here (Orchard Films). I watched it online at Netflix.