Mercurial Christian eco-activist will not be attending Saturday night's screening of Wiebo's War, the subject of NOW's cover story this week.
In a personal note sent to me and copied below, Ludwig implies - the language is a little elliptical - his distress that filmmaker David York cut from the film footage featuring discussions about Ludwig's faith and York's atheism. I've also included here excerpts from the original letter sent from Ludwig to York explaining why he cannot make the trip. Both illustrate Ludwig's complexity - equally passionate about the environment as he is about his God.
York is unhappy that Ludwig claims he was silenced by York. For one thing, these religious differences are pointed out early in the movie, when Ludwig asks York how an atheist can make a film about someone like Ludwig, whose inspiration for his eco-activism comes from his Christian beliefs. And, he adds, any more coverage of Ludwig's attempts to convert York would not have been good for the movie.
"From a filmmmaking perspective, it never went anywhere," York says, in a conversation I had with him after he got Ludwig's email.
"We had many many conversations about religion over the two years that I filmed there. Where they tried to make me see the world their way and to accept the existence of God. The fact is I'm a non-believer and this was a huge obstacle for us to overcome in our dialogue."
At a certain point during the shooting, Ludwig asked York to leave the Trickle Creek compound because, as York said in my original interview with him, "Over the course of the first half of the shooting, he withdrew from the project. He always said he cared more about my soul than he did about the film and he and his family grew increasingly frustrated with my inability to see the obvious existence of god and his gifts."
But York isn't exactly shocked that Ludwig decided not to get on the plane.
"It comes from deep unease about media," York says. "He wants his environmental message to get out but he sees most of us in the secular world as damned and that's it's hopeless to talk to us. When he withdrew from the film he said, "I'm pulling the ladder up to the ark."
From Ludwig to me:
I‘m enclosing an e-mail to David York, as director of the documentary that will be showing on us (Wiebo's War) for your information, given that you had the exclusive interview with us to date. I will not be taking or seeking any other media interviews given that I have finally come to the decision (awkwardly, a bit late) to disconnect, reasons for which are more fully explained in the enclosed e-mail to David. I have no quarrel (as the e-mail to David indicates) that this gets out to the public, though it is intended more directly for David and as such assumes things that the public is not privy to, not having access to the many intense discussions that took place here with David and his crew: about who we really are, what our world and life view is really all about and how we, therefore, also see the real problems and the real solutions with respect to our long-standing conflict with oil and gas. David took pains to silence that in his film by studiously avoiding that footage. Hope you can work this out graciously with your planned publication of this event in your "Now" magazine. Perhaps you could send me a copy, I'm not familiar with the publication.
Excerpts from a letter Ludwig sent to to York:
What can I say to get you to understand why it is getting pretty foolish for me to think that I can continue to work with you on such an intimate basis as this engagement will be requiring now when others whom I have not yet met and about whom I know so little are going to be involved?
Not that I mind being taken for a fool, now and then. No, this is not about me and not about you either. That's the problem! That's exactly where we differ so radically. Where, as I said, we are not on the same page. Well, maybe a little analogy would help you understand:
Suppose I get to your house and I act as if I have no idea that you even exist. And I relate to your wife and children as if they don't even have a husband or father respectively. And I sit down and talk to them trying to convince them, honestly mind you and sincerely, mind you that they should stop hallucinating about the fact that a person like you even exists, that they have no way of proving that. And whatever evidence they put forward to convince me I discard as beyond reason, beyond their capacity to be certain about. How would you feel, David, if I did that? And let's play along a little bit.
Let's suppose that I arrive and acknowledge your presence and I look at your children and I talk to them about their father that you are playing that game with them about their Father in heaven. That you are trying to convince them, despite the evidence, that He isn't around as far as you are concerned, that you are the only father they have in the whole universe (His house) and that as far as the Scriptures and the evidence of the creation demonstrates, you are talking like a fool. How would you like that, David? And would you like it if I did that on your dime teboot? That is a pretty awkward scenario, isn't it?
Come on, admit it. Admit that you don't leave me much choice other than an awkward silence. And you know that I'm not cut of such cloth, as a man of the cloth, as they say. No, I have responsibility before God, to speak the truth, though I am advised not to answer a fool according to his folly. For that reason, I have chosen to leave it at this, David. You have heard plenty from me and you feel no shame in publicly (on film) to this day declaring that you are still an atheist. It would be foolish for me to continue with you and your ambitions also in the promotion of this film.
The same thing applies to the environmental concerns of the film. It is useless to talk about these concerns without saying a word about the cause of our environmental troubles today, namely, the spiritual rebellion of our time living as if we are not accountable to the Creator of the world, the man of the House. As Isaiah says, "The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants because they have transgressed the Creator's laws, violated His statues, and broken
(more scripture quoted here)
I just dashed this off to you in a "stream of consciousness", sort of way. It would require more explanation for a stranger to understand where I am going with all of this. But, we have talked before about a lot of these things and their implications, also for the environment...
Let me just say this in closing, What does it profit a man to rescue the whole environment and yet lose his own soul? Think about it! You still want me to come? And be a fool for you?