Courageous the Movie – Is it ‘Profitable’ for Christians?

 "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Courgeous – The Movie


When the movie Courageous first hit theaters last October, I got what we call The Wartburg Tingle. It was a nagging feeling that there is more going on with this movie than meets the eye. I did some cursory research at the time and didn’t find anything alarming. That has since changed…

Father’s Day is quickly approaching, and before you rush out to buy the Courageous DVD and the accompanying paraphernalia — the books (yes, there are several), the Courageous Bible study, the cap, the tee shirts (several styles including some for women), the desk calendar, etc. — to honor dad, you might want to consider the contents of this post. Yes, it’s the Disney marketing phenomenon Christian-Style. That was the first red flag.

Before launching into our investigation of Courageous, I want to emphasize the fact that my family has “supported” the Kendrick Brothers / Sherwood Productions by purchasing their DVDs, namely:  Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous.  I have watched them ALL.  As our readers know, I am all for family values. I have tremendous love and respect for my husband, and I am overjoyed that my daughters are pursuing their faith into their adulthood.

Here is the pressing question regarding Courageous:

Is this simply a reminder that husbands and fathers need to step up to the plate for the spiritual well-being of their wives and children (which is true) or is this an AGENDA that goes far beyond what appears at face value?

For those who haven’t seen the movie, it is about four law enforcement officers who are at various stages in their lives and faith. There’s a lot of action, and it culminates with a public ceremony involving these men who resolve to be the godly husbands and fathers (more on that in an upcoming post).

Take a look at the Courageous movie trailer.

In the wonderful age of the internet, you can probably imagine the plethora of information available regarding Courageous, much of it extremely positive. As I sifted through it, I found a review over at The White Horse Inn that reflects my sentiments. It begins with this:

“Courageous rejects nuance and the cross-bearing pilgrimage of the Christian life for artificially neat resolutions to the prayers of its one-dimensional characters. Sherwood continues to make films with God functioning primarily as a tool for our lives—whether he’s helping us win football games, repair our struggling marriages, or helping us find a job within seconds of a cry to the heavens. Brief, passing references to the gospel are only seen useful to convert a skeptic, who in a few tearful seconds somehow embraces the faith. Despite all the sermonizing dialogue—the story’s form and emphatic message has all of its focus on us and our accomplishments, not Christ and his work for us. In what could be page out of a John Eldridge book, the “manly” vocation of police officer is used as the icon of fatherhood. Violent shootouts and car chase stunts ensure being a godly dad also looks as glorious as possible. Even the poster image calls to mind the slow-motion hero shot popularized by Michael Bay. As for the women, they are given little to do than look on approvingly.

The result is that Christians and their “good works” become the message, overshadowing Christ and the gospel…While surely produced with good intentions, Courageous is likely to further entrench the misguided culture wars and bring harm to the Christian witness in the world…

Thankfully, the church has good news that far outpaces the takeaway of this story: an announcement that God has reconciled sinners to himself through Jesus Christ. The gospel pulls us out of our fragile self-worth built on performance and centers our identity on God’s love for us in Christ… Christ was courageous for us when we were not. This is the good news that changes everything.”

Several months AFTER Courageous was released to an unsuspecting public, a huge RED FLAG appeared. Take a look.

Move Over Oscars: San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival Announces 2012 Jubilee Winner and Gives America’s Largest Cash Prize to ‘Courageous’

“The ‘Best of Festival’ Jubilee Award — with its $101,000 cash prize — went to Courageous, the fourth feature film produced by Sherwood Pictures and the Kendrick Brothers. This cash prize is the largest to be given to an individual filmmaker at an independent film festival in America.

“Courageous is arguably the most successful independent Christian film with a distinctively Evangelical worldview in the history of the cinema,” said Doug Phillips, president and founder of the SAICFF. “With the DVD hitting #1 in sales its first week of release, more than 34 million in box office receipts, and wildly enthusiastic audiences, the Kendrick Brothers have made their mark in history and proven to the world that Christian filmmaking has come of age.”

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF). It was launched in 2004 by Doug Phillips / Vision Forum. If you are have never heard of Phillips (son of Howard Phillips) and his “business”, please search our website for more information. I heard Doug Phillips speak at the NCHE Conference in Winston-Salem in 1998 (when I was a homeschooling mom), and that was the year he began Vision Forum. I had no idea what was coming at the time… Doug Phillips and his ilk are radicals in their Christian ideology, and it is my deep conviction that they are causing tremendous harm in Christendom.

Getting back to the SAICFF (hosted by Phillips & Co.), the Jubilee Award has been awarded annually. For example, the 2007 winners were the Gunn brothers who hail from Scotland and produced The Monstrous Regiment of Women. If the Gunns sound familiar to you, perhaps it is because they recently produced the movie Indoctrination which we discussed here at TWW in a post entitled: Indoctrination and the Blame Game.

Just how entrenched are the Kendricks with the Doug Phillips / Vision Forum crowd? Well, several months ago Stephen Kendrick spoke at the Teach Them Diligently homeschool conference, along with other notable speakers including: Doug Phillips, Voddie Baucham, and Ken Ham. I don’t know about you, but that speaks volumes to me!

I wondered how long the Kendrick brothers had known Doug Phillips, and I didn’t have to look hard to find an answer. According to the SAICFF website:

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — September 26, 2008 — Fireproof co-producer Stephen Kendrick has agreed to rejoin the Christian Filmmakers Academy (CFA) for their fourth annual filmmakers bootcamp which will be held in San Antonio, Texas, on January 5-7, 2009. Kendrick — who last year gave Academy students a behind-the-scenes sneak-preview of Fireproof, the Kendrick ’s feature film which hits 850 theaters nationwide today — will share with students at the 2009 Academy in-depth production insights as well as other lessons learned in making a successful independent Christian film.

“We are pleased to have Stephen Kendrick join us once again for our Christian Filmmakers Academy,” stated Doug Phillips, founder of San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival and the Christian Filmmakers Academy.

Two years earlier (when Facing the Giants was released) they addressed the Christian Filmmakers Academy at its bootcamp.

Also, you might be interested to know that the Duggars were involved in the running scene toward the end of the movie.

Getting back to the title of the post – Is Courageous (the movie) profitable for Christians?

You be the judge. We will be discussing this Courageous phenomenon next week, so stay tuned…

Lydia’s Corner: Daniel 6:1-28 2 Peter 3:1-18 Psalm 119:129-152 Proverbs 28:21-22


Courageous the Movie – Is it ‘Profitable’ for Christians? — 212 Comments

  1. I roped my husband into going to that movie with me on Thanksgiving Day, and it makes me sad every time I think about it. My husband was a good dad, but he wasn’t like the dads portrayed in the movie, and I hated that the movie dumped a lot of undeserved guilt on him.

  2. Kathy,

    It gets worse… Wait til we discuss the “Resolutions” that are featured at the end of the movie. That, more than anything else, has infuriated me. And don’t think that the resolution is just for husbands. There is one for wives, too.

  3. Until recently, my excuse for having not seen Courageous was that it just sucked as a movie. The connection with one of the Dougs (I can’t keep them straight, but does it really matter, when their beliefs are similarly abominable?) is worrisome. Many of the families with young children in the church I attend go crazy each time this group releases another “wonderful” “Christian” movie. If their future films come with a more overt patriarchal influence, I fear for my not-currently-crazy conservative evangelical but somewhat naive and impressionable brothers and sisters.

  4. All the smart stuff aside – the acting was horrible. All of those Christian movies – Facing the Giants, Courageous, Fireproof, etc. have horrible, horrible two-bit acting in them.

    That’s enough for me to stay away.

  5. I would rather be forced to watch the entire Final Destination series in one sitting than any film being this heavily promoted by VF. Come to think of it, the theology of the Final Destination movies is probably sounder than these VF-linked movies. After all, “You cannot escape death” is actually a true statement (please insert appropriate 1Cor 15:51 caveat here).

  6. I saw this movie at the church I attend and was shocked at how the man was shown as the boss and the wife or female daughter was just to do what he told them to do. I do not plan on attending any more movies like this. I felt like whoever made this movie had a copy of the 2000 BF&M on hand as this “movie” was being made.

  7. Yo Deb
    I think you and I should do a movie called Advantageous in which we explore the money made on selling TShirts and mugs associated with this stuff.

  8. Josh

    You said “The connection with one of the Dougs (I can’t keep them straight, but does it really matter, when their beliefs are similarly abominable?)” Me, too!!!! I can’t keep them apart.
    At some point, they will give the men both a staff and a robe to wear to “subtly” point out their vaunted positions.Sometimes we Christians look a bit silly.

  9. That Bad Dog

    I love it-Final Destination “You can’t escape death.” The Courageous gang’s motto “You can’t escape Doug.”

  10. Dee,

    Courageous has a subtitle: Honor begins at home.

    Our movie could be Advantageous: Selling 21st century indulgences to unsuspecting victims

  11. mot
    Tim Challies does not believe a woman can read the Bible out loud in church. So, if this movies is shown in church, will they dub the lines that are spoken by women?

  12. Dee and Deb,

    Are you going to discuss the father/daughter date scene? I didn’t (and won’t) see the movie but I heard about that scene. Classic Gothard, from what I understand. Purity ring and all that jazz?

  13. Thanks for this review, Deb.

    Courageous? More like Outrageous.

    We will not see the movie. I saw the VF connection when it first came out and that was enough for me. I also had read that the Duggars had a role in it and knew they were tight with Phillips.

    Want to keep the patriarchy exposure to a minimum for our son.

    It was hard at first for me to keep the Dougs apart too, esp. since their Christian businesses (not ministries in my mind) are FV and VF. But since I have read about Wilson and his many scandals, it has been easier for me to keep them apart.

  14. Glad to see the blog is working again!

    I knew this movie was a patriarchy puff piece but I hadn’t actually seen the trailer till today. My thoughts after seeing it were 1) I don’t have to see the movie now, because they already told me the entire plot AND the ending in the trailer; and 2) it is SO OBVIOUS that VF practically made this movie. It’s my understanding that they published study/companion materials concurrently with the original release – which means they were behind the scenes from the beginning, or else they wouldn’t have been able to produce that stuff in time. Some of the homeschool dads I know purchased “Resolutions” and signed them. Barf.

    Is it true that there’s a “guarding your daughter’s heart” moment in that daddy-daughter date scene? And didn’t Cole Porter already write a song called “My Heart Belongs to Daddy”? ; )

  15. Diane,

    Oh, so that’s why people mix up the Dougs. Thanks for pointing out the FV – VF connection.

    Here are TWW Cliff Notes:

    Doug Phillips (DP) = Vision Forum = Texas

    Doug Wilson (DW) = Federal Vision = Idaho

    The Bible says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). He wasn’t talking about either of these visions – Federal Vision or Vision Forum!

  16. Yipeeeee-I found out why they call Vision Forum, Vision Forum. They even used scriptures… and I think he just called me a blasphemer. 🙂

    “Our name – The Vision Forum – points to our desire that the Lord would use this work to be a forum for communicating a vision of victory to Christian families,” he said, adding to the goal substance. “Not surprisingly, the scriptural warning against such hypocrisy is specifically given within the context of the family. If we have not taught our wives and daughters to love children and be `keepers at home’ then we are `blasphemers’ (Tit. 2); if we have not trained our men to be providers, then we are `worse than infidels’ (1 Tim. 5).”

    A vision of victory—dominion anyone?

  17. Diane,

    Thanks for tracking down the meaning of Vision Forum. I can’t believe I’ve never researched that.

    Dominionism, no doubt!

  18. anonymous
    I read some statistics recently that seem to indicate that those who do the purity ring, abstinence vows thing (confession-my girls did that) have virtually no change in behavior than those who do not.

  19. @ Diane:

    As usual, Doug’s exegesis is off. The only people in 1 Tim. 5:8 who are singled out as “worse than infidels” are the people who don’t provide for their families. There’s nothing about training in that verse at all, let alone applying the infidel label to those who slacked off in training other people. Also, later in the same chapter it says this (v. 16, emphasis mine): “If any believing man OR WOMAN has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.” So apparently, according to the Bible, women can provide for their family members too.

  20. I am a long-time homeschooling mom – 20 yrs. I know the full-quiver, patriarchal movement, courtship/anti-dating movement, purity ring, I Kissed Dating Good-Bye, Modesty, Creationist stuff. I dabbled in some of it in various degrees. We are beginning to see the fruit of this lifestyle as our children are now adult and starting their adult lives on their own. There is not a good “success” rate with this lifestyle, especially if it was extreme. The controlling environment that is so prevalent is backfiring in a lot of families. I’m seeing more and more people “come out” and want to have nothing to do with it.

  21. If a man could watch this movie as entertainment and walk away from it inspired to have a better relationship with his family, I think it could be profitable. My husband and I watched it, had some good laughs, appreciated the emphasis on fathers becoming more involved with their families… and practically celebrated when it won the film festival instead of some wanna-be cowboy movie. (What IS it with VFers and cowboys?!)

    That said, the father-daughter purity ring scene was tacky – there is just not a way to present this idea and not sound tacky. And I was disappointed after watching the movie to find out about all the associated paraphanalia. I should have known because they did that with Fireproof. Whatever you take from the movie, the “extra” stuff to sell is NOT profitable. It is either a waste of money because you won’t use it, or it will harm your family if you take it seriously. “Resolutions”? Or, after Fireproof, “the love dare?” I thought Christians had already figured out that real life doesn’t work like it does in the movies. Let’s not put that expectation on ourselves or our families.

    As with any book a Christian reads, or movie a Christian watches, it needs to be kept at arm’s length. Same goes for any sort of para-church ministries, like VF. No matter how much you like about a ministry, keep a safe distance!

  22. Jan, I’m still waiting for the father-son purity ring thing. Somehow I think it’ll never catch on. (semi-humour alert)

  23. I just can’t stand Facing the Giants. The moral appeared to be “If you have faith and patience, God will give you everything you want.” That is not Christianity.

  24. Are you kidding? Jewelry is totally manly, especially when purchased in large quantities. And especially especially when set with Biblical stones like sapphire, lapis, topaz or ruby!

  25. The point of temptation is that it’s tempting. It says ‘do this even though you know you shouldn’t.’ The problem isn’t that we don’t know we shouldn’t, because we do. That’s part of the premise. It wouldn’t be much of a temptation otherwise. A vow or ring doesn’t have the power do anything beyond reminding someone of that wrongness–a reminder that we don’t need in the first place.

  26. I am going to have to respectfully disagree with this post. While these movies definitely have a cheesy quality to them and certainly don’t stack up with Hollywood movies, I am a fan of any family movie that promotes good character and doing the hard/unpopular thing with integrity. Yes, purity rings and resolutions make me throw up a little in my mouth, but I think that it is the responsibility of every viewer to realize that these movies are to entertain and inspire not to be used as a worship tool or a life model. I do however, agree with your point that the focus is too much on the characters strength and God is their tool. That is a big flaw, but with so much immoral behavior rampant in our culture, it is inspiring to see strength of character. In the football movie, it was very touching to see the older gentleman praying the halls of the school and it’s something every believer should consider doing in some way since our youth are facing unprecendented pressures and need all the prayer they can get. I know her books can be corny and are only fiction, but Karen Kingsbury’s Above the Line series looks in to the Christian film making industry and how hard it is to stay close to your convictions and produce quality entertainment.

    Also, I don’t know if it’s the case with these movies, but sometimes directors have no control over the marketing crap that is released and I believe it is more a problem with christian bookstores and the like. Not a Christian movie, but I believe JK Rowling fought pretty hard to hold the marketing frenzy at bay in the early years of the HP franchise. And marketers have exploited every Christian craze, i.e. The Passion of the Christ nail necklaces, WWJD bracklets, corny t-shirts, and all the Purpose Driven Life paraphernalia. I was a new convert to Protestantism, (from Catholicism), when Purpose Driven Life came out and while the paraphernalia and push from the churches made me sick, I was still able to glean a lot from the book itself. However, I can’t stand when any book is promoted from the pulpit and made a mandatory church study, cough cough “Real Marriage” cough. subtle right? 🙂 If I could see through all the junk as a teenager; then I think a lot of people can as well. And if they can’t, they need to pray for more discernment. Also, the marketing teams will just keep producing what sells.

    As for the gender issues, I actually see a big difference in how Courageous portrayed gender roles as opposed to the Calvinistas. The actors in the movie did what was hard and what was right when it was not adventageous to them. The Calvinistas, on the other hand, seem to love the perks of being the king of the castle but not the cost and the responsibility. I also saw so much strength and faith in the wife whose husband was looking for work. There is great strength in prayer!

    Not sure if all of this makes sense, but I would caution people from dissecting everything Christian. Correct me if I am wrong, but this site is more about protection, awareness and a refuge from the authoritarian churches. I think posts like this go off course and may go in to harmful territory of looking for trouble. I am not trying to be argumentative, but I think these movies do a lot more good than harm. On the other hand, the previous two posts were right on point and were of great comfort to me!

  27. Mot,

    Lol. By the way every time Tim Challies or Justin Taylor is mentioned as a prominent YRR leader it cracks me up a bit. They were simply some of the first bloggers from a YRR perspective and they are ushered into the spotlite. JT is a self promoting “bishop” type figure in my opinion. He offers an interesting insight into the YRR world. Years ago I was encouraged by his blog, now it kind of freaks me out a bit. It seems like he has become more and more dogmatic, not open to disagreement with his positions, and a bit of a gossip with regards to the failings of non-

  28. One thing you touched on a couple of weeks ago is workshops and conferences also lies with movies, they all rely on messages and methods in deliving messages and lack the mode formative mentoring.

  29. …those who do the purity ring, abstinence vows thing… have virtually no change in behavior than those who do not.


    I find that completely unsurprising.

    I’d like to know what the motive is from the patriarchy point of view. I mean, obviously they want their daughters, and I assume their sons also, to observe the Christian teaching of abstinence before marriage. But what is the pledge to the father (small f) all about? Why? Do they believe there is something intrinsic to a vow of a young lady to her father that is going to cause some kind of power to enter the equation to make the vow a reality? Or do they want to highlight the principle of submission to the father? What are they really trying to do, and why? Especially since, as you cite, there is no difference in outcome regarding the stated objective (abstinence).

    Also, why is there such a vow for daughters but not for sons (at least, as far as I know there isn’t)? Are boys/young men somehow more holy or something that they don’t need to make a vow of purity? Really, it seems to me, given the stereotype of male promiscuity, that the target of a vow for se*ual purity would be the boys, not the girls. What is the male counterpart to this? And if there isn’t one, why not?

  30. A vow or ring doesn’t have the power do anything beyond reminding someone of that wrongness–a reminder that we don’t need in the first place.

    ^ That.

  31. Angry Turtle

    Great to hear from you! I’m gonna check out your collection again, and I may be ordering one of your pieces of jewelry. 🙂

  32. Julie Anne
    I, too, am seeing more and more people questioning these assumptive practices. For example, I know a youth minister who was absolutely convinced that if you teach YE creationism, families attending all youth activities, certain Bible studies, etc, you would raised “perfect” kids. Now, in his own family, they have had serious rebellion. And this was the guy who supposedly knew how to do it.Calvinistas are an odd bunch. They talk about total depravity but have the “programs” to make it go away, don’t they?

  33. Men’s job is only lead in marriage, church, and – according to some – the business world. Women get to have responsibility for staying pure. Ain’t ‘equal but different’ grand?

  34. Ok Angry Turtle, your jewellery is definitely manly and really fantastic (especially the opal, which are my favourite stone).

  35. Angry Turtle and all readers
    My friend here is a young, budding entrepreneur. You can see his stuff at our link called Friend’s jewelry store.

  36. Sleepless
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I think it is important to understand that we are questioning the underlying assumption of the movie, not the superficial basis of it. Take Alice in Wonderland (a personal favorite). Interesting book, fun movie. But, the intent of Lewis Carroll was not a fairy tale. It was a jab at the royalty/class system in England. In other words, it was meant for much more than entertainment.

    The movie is merely a representation of some underlying assumptions. The more you understand those who produce it, the more you understand what they are setting out to accomplish. It is not merely “good dads” and nice movies. Could it be that these producers are into patriarchy, stay at home daughters, dominionism, etc? That is what we want to explore. One thing that might be of help is to do some reading about the people behind this film. you might find it interesting.

    Be very cautious in thinking that Calvinista gender roles are more restrictive than those behind Courageous. Some of these folks are Calvinistas on steroids.

  37. Casey
    You are smarter than me. I had to look up “mode formative mentoring” and I am still not sure what it means. Does it have something to do with integrative attainment of knowledge so that the student evaluates instead of just spitting back info?

  38. sleepless-

    you said “I am a fan of any family movie that promotes good character and doing the hard/unpopular thing with integrity. ”

    I understand this sentiment…but you have to understand that you are being marketed. I’ve had a front row seat at how this works. Convince Christians their moral values are under attack by Hollywood. Convince Christians to make a “stand” and show those moral bigots in Hollywood that people want movies with “family values”. Provide promo materials and marketing…errr…. I mean sermon tools for pastors to “suggest” to their flocks that they need to get behind this movie.

    I could go on, but I hope you get the picture. Money is a big factor. Sell people that they’re making a “stand” while raking in the money. Besides the makers of these films, Hollywood still makes plenty of money since they own the distribution of the films and the DVD distribution (pretty sure Sony/ BMG owns the Christian distribution on this film).

  39. Eagle

    Though I actually really do enjoy these movies and find them a good source of clean entertainment, I understand what you mean about them not being grounded in reality. (Of course neither are most secular movies). They are a reflection of the idealism so popular in certain Christian movements. Idealism is the foundation (I think) of many movements that end up hurting people. It is a complete inability to accept that we live in a broken world and not everyone lives in an ideal situation. Not everyone is just a step or two away from the perfect, godly life if they would just pray, have faith and do a, b, c and it is INCREDIBLY hurtful for people to suggest this to those who just need rest in Jesus. It is a tragedy to me that the weary just keep being given more “to-do’s” and not being offered a place to rest, and the broken are not being offered the healing power of grace – that is why I am thankful for this blog.

    I have been slowly beginning to understand this thanks to TWW and the tragedies in my own life. I used to be a VERY black-and-white thinker. Your 3rd point hit home for me, for reasons other than infertility. I’ve lost children to a serious genetic defect (also have healthy children). My last loss is painfully recent, yet I can’t shake the pressure (some of it self-imposed, admittedly) to “continue in obedience” to “be fruitful and multiply.” It is usually not spoken, but sometimes it is – these “encouragers” know full well that if I continue having children, I will likely have more suffering to watch and loss to endure. But in many ways, the unspoken pressure is worse. At least with those who come directly to me, they will look me in the eye and TALK to me, and I can pinpoint manipulation or misguidedness and recognize that they are not trying to be unkind. I honestly don’t think they realize what they’re doing: putting their “rule” on such a pedestal that promoting it becomes primary before showing love (offering rest/comfort). I think they really think they are being loving. I am thankful that God has been working in my heart to release me from hardline QF doctrine – it allows me to graciously receive what these people are saying to me, process it, and then set it aside without anger or guilt.

    I’m sorry if this is too personal – I always feel bad sharing my losses because usually no one knows what to say to me. I just wanted to illustrate how idealism can blind well-meaning people to the reality of brokenness. There is no formula that will perfect every situation.

  40. Hi Ladies,

    Great to have you back.

    First, let me freely admit I haven’t seen this film.

    I have sympathy with both sides of the argument here. On the one hand I accept Sleepless’ view that it is good to have family fare that does portray family life in a good light. I think also we have to take the genre of the film into account. If it is meant to be entertainment at a non-too-deep level, then we would expect the happy ending. In a reply to his critic J B Haldane, C S Lewis wrote about the “happy ending” (not his words) to his sci-fi series that it was appropriate to the sort of “light holiday fiction” that he was writing.

    On the other hand, when I hear of scenes like the purity ring, then I am a bit concerned (to put it mildly) given that this concept seems at best extra-biblical and at worst perverse and possibly a cause of other problems, especially so if people are going to produce study materials based on this film.

    As one of the posters here has remarked, Left Behind was marketed as fiction but there was a serious underlying intention to get Christians to opt into the worldview and theology put out by Tim LaHaye. From what Dee and Deb are saying, it sounds like this film is a similar sort of beast.

    Doing any sort of Christian art is difficult, as the artist runs the risk of being labelled either trashy and superficial or too highbrow. I think there is a danger that one can approach producing art too self-consciously as a Christian (rather as the Soviets used to do with “socialist realism”) and end up with something that is rather forced or heavy-handed.

  41. LOLZ. I cannot believe that they actually have the gall to use the term “film festival” re. their screenings of bad propaganda movies.

  42. is a wonderful resource re. Dominionism, Third Wave charismatics, etc.

    Their 2008 series on the Third Wave movement *really* helped me to put the pieces together re. That Church (the one that booted me) and their involvement in that form of dominionism/phony theology.

  43. Indeed, Hester. And 5:8 do not speak specifically of men either – the Greek has no word in it to denote a gender – he and his in English is generically used to make sense of the text, but there is no gender in the Greek manuscripts.

  44. Pam: Right now, at VF, it’s not cage-fighting. It’s manly treks through the Amazon and the Arctic frontiers (or something like that). I think it’s called the Hazardous Journeys Society. Another form of what I call “cowboyism.” They love cowboys! Dads and sons exploring the wild, tossing each other over ice cliffs and being followed around with fancy cameras so they can re-sell the entire adventure on DVD to those not rich enough to experience it first-hand. I believe it was heavily advertised at the SAICFF. The trips cost an arm and a leg. Because these single-income, 8-kid families have chunks of cash laying around, right? The man is out of touch with the families his ministry “ministers” to.

  45. Koyla

    As I stated in the post, my family has supported the Kendrick brothers by purchasing their DVDs. Until recently, I thought they were doing a good thing. Recently, it came to my attention that there is an agenda. I am alarmed by what I have discovered, and I will be presenting our findings in upcoming posts.

  46. They don’t plan to. They expect God to beam them up and end the world before anything bad could personally happen to them. “It’s All Gonna Burn.”

  47. As one of the posters here has remarked, Left Behind was marketed as fiction but there was a serious underlying intention to get Christians to opt into the worldview and theology put out by Tim LaHaye.

    There are a lot of Christians who don’t realize Left Behind was fiction, but “History Written in Advance — This Is How IT WILL HAPPEN!” Frank Peretti had to stop writing his Spiritual Warfare thrillers (great concept, uneven execution) because he had too many fanboys thinking they were nonfiction, basing their theology and worldview around them, and acting on it.

    I think there is a danger that one can approach producing art too self-consciously as a Christian (rather as the Soviets used to do with “socialist realism”) and end up with something that is rather forced or heavy-handed.

    I’ve said similar many times. There really isn’t much difference between producing art in the old Soviet Union and producing Official Christianese Art. Ideological Purity or Gulag. Propaganda for The Cause or Gulag. Party Line or Gulag. And your Brother or Sister in Christ could be the NKVD informant.

    When the subject came up on Internet Monk years ago, someone answered me with “The difference is Stalin could kill your body, the Christian-Industrial Complex will kill your soul.”

  48. I agree with you, that’s why I said that they shouldn’t be used as a worship tool/Bible study. My point is that we are responsible as Christians for not buying in to the merchandise industry that can pollute an otherwise decent book/movie. This is the entertainment industry and not the church. I believe any time a church starts pimping a book/movie from the altar/youth group/life group other than the Bible, it is wrong but that doesn’t mean the book/movie itself is always wrong. It is more a symptom of our tendency to worship the proverbial golden calf than a problem with the movies themselves. For example, I am a singer and I know that if I ever “hit it big” and got signed I would be giving up a certain amount of control whether I was in the secular music world or the christian music world. I am whole heartedly agreeing that there can be just as greedy people in the christian entertainment industry as the secular. I would actually prefer to be a secular singer. I’ve heard celebrities say they had no idea all the merchandise garbage that bore their name or resemblance. So perhaps, the producers of these movies had little control over the merchandise garbage. We can’t always throw the baby (material) out with the bathwater (idol worshipping tendencies).

    Also, since we don’t know each other personally it’s hard to know where I am coming from. But I actually have slightly more atheist/non-religious friends than believing friends. I live in Seattle so it is a very different culture here than in other parts of the country. I double majored in Sociology and Family Studies and was often the lone conservative Christian in my classes. I have always been too Christian for non-Christians and too secular for Christians and I am ok with that. Too feminist for some and too comp for others. I value my atheist friends’ opinions and we have some amazing mutually challenging conversations. I like living in the tension of not being surrounded with like-minded people. And yes, I would never imply that they don’t have strong morals, so please don’t read too much in to that.

  49. Also, I said, “I like ANY family film” I didn’t say just Christian films. 😉 I watch a lot of movies…a lot…just this week I have seen, “Gone”, “Man on a Ledge”, and “Snow White and the Huntsman”. I deal with debilitating chronic illnesses/pain and I have a lot of forced down time. But I am an adult and my husband and I watch these after my son goes to bed. What I am concerned about is programs for us to watch as a family. I watched WAY to many inappropriate things as a child/teenager and I want to protect my kids from that as much as is rationally possibly. He’s only a toddler now but we are very cautious about what he watches and will try to always be that way. Yes, he watches secular cartoons like mickey mouse clubhouse and some disney movies but we try to limit them. He shouldn’t watch any tv at all at his age, but I find that impractical for us. I take inspiration from everything around me, whether it has the Christian stamp on it or not. And I try to filter everything I watch through Scripture as I have fairly extensive bible knowledge. Maybe I play with fire too much with the secular world, I don’t know…

  50. Re: Sleepless’ objection that the film was okay as long as it wasn’t used as “worship tool” or “life model.” The whole plot of Courageous revolves around adoption of more responsible Christian manhood/fatherhood (thus the Resolution they all sign). So yes, it is unabashedly presenting itself as a “life model” – and judging by the Resolutions that were flying off the shelves after the film’s release, marketing that “life model” very successfully. In light of the purity rings and the Kendrick brothers’ long-standing connections to VF, one can safely say that it’s Doug Phillips’ “life model” that’s being sold. And I cannot support that. In my view, there are SO many other sources of good role models for young men, without overtly patriarchal roots, that Courageous is simply superfluous and unnecessary.

  51. As you or Deb have mentioned, our motives are never 100% pure so maybe they have do an agenda, but we don’t have to buy in to it. I would just caution bringing unnecessary criticism to people that, from my vantage point, are working hard to provide quality entertainment. If they were involved in a scandal or doing something blatantly harmful (I know that is subjective), then I think that would be different. For me, I watch one of their movies and think, “Oh that was inspiring, that had a good message, next.” My family/friends always discuss movies/books/pop culture but try to keep it in it’s appropriate place. I realize a lot of people don’t think this way and are very obsessive about anything with a Christian stamp on it.

    And as mentioned above, I analyze things based on my sociological background and have dissected many a movie/book for it’s multi-faceted meanings such as fairy tales. Speaking of which, I was very disturbed by Snow White and the Huntsman. I am aware that it was more authentic to the Grim’s fairy tales and that they were cautionary tales to scare kids into obedience, i.e. don’t go in to the forest alone, don’t eat food from strangers, beware of predatory animals. But what bothered me was the occult imagery and witchcraft in Charlise Theron’s character. She went there for her role a little too much and if the eyes are the windows to our souls, I am concerned. The movie was clear on good prevailing over evil but I felt that the imagery was drawing from demonic inspiration. Am I off base here? Did any one else have thoughts on this movie?? For me, messing with the spirit world bothers me way more than sex, violence, or gender issues.

  52. So, my new church (been going for almost 2 years now, after years at Dysfucion Central, followed by a few years of detoxing, church-free) has shown the movie twice now, is spending a month of sermons based on it, and is having small groups using all the materials.

    It’s an Assemblies of God church, which is very pro woman in general. To anounce the small groups, they had 3 men doing something of a skit — they were sitting together, knitting and crocheting, and chatting. Judging from the words they said, their point seemed to be that they could be all-man, responsible and NOT the deadbeat dad of the stereotype, while at the same time not being pigeonholed into other stereotypes (perhaps like he-man cage-fighting), hence the knitting and crocheting.

    I’m a little puzzled. I haven’t seen the movie, on purpose — does the movie have a scene where a male character(s) are doing something counter-stereotypcial like knitting/crocheting?

    My impression is that the movie and materials DO suggest he-man masculine stereotypes as the ideal. Or, at least they don’t quite encourage a define-at-will masculinity.

    Anyway, guess I will find out in the coming weeks. I’m very wary. It’s very hard to imagine a church without all sorts of machinations going on behind the scenes.

  53. Damn it. I wanted to use that word as something that meant truly biblical, not ‘biblical’.

    Now I’ll just use the word Spirit-led. After all, these guys and their theology is definitely not Spirit-led. If they ever call themselves that, they’re just plain lying.

  54. Blegh! I like hanging out with my dad but the idea of a ‘date’ with him is very very creepy.

  55. I think it’s a power display of male ‘headship’, like the dance of an alpha male. An attempt to dress fathers up as ones who are so important and powerful that they ‘own’ and ‘guard’ their daughter’s purity via her pledge to him. Because, apparently, she can’t handle it herself. Women are whores doncha know? We need men to make sure we don’t get tempted…by men. (Huh.)

  56. Diane: That’s the worst scripture twisting I’ve ever ever seen. Still, what else can we expect from Doug Phillips? The entire theology of VF is based on twisted scripture.

  57. Anne,

    Both Dougs should be avoided, imo.
    I will be very interested, Dee/Deb, to read your posts about these characters in the future.

  58. First of all, Jan, your story is so sad. I pray that you can be around other Christians who can encourage and just hug you instead of judge or put expectations on you.

    Also, as far as idealism leading to hurt – maybe people are idealistic to avoid the pain of life. But either you face reality and feel hurt, or you can get hurt chasing Christian pipe dreams.

  59. They are easy to google, Mara. I posted some links before here for Dee. I will post one to get you started if you like–this is all public. You will find some blogs discussing him as well; realizing there is much animosity there… so taking those with a grain of salt.
    Actually-I will give you 2 links (one has several parts):

  60. I have some friends who have genuinely taken vows of purity before the Lord and have worn a purity ring as a physical symbol of their dedication. There isn’t anything wrong with wearing a purity ring. Things get weird when such a vow is forced and/or there is an undertone of patriarcy.

  61. I know Sergius Martin George has ably riffed on the Vision Forum already, but would I ever love to see some sort of two-headed Doug and his “Federal Vision Forum” on the Steam Tunnel Pilot.

    Not that I’m hinting or anything.

  62. Whoops, I mean to say: “Sergius Martin George has ably riffed on the FEDERAL VISION already…” – I’m getting mixed up, too!

  63. Eagle,

    I would respectfully disagree with you and say that every human being’s morality is derived from their creator; that it is written on their heart, but humanity is fallen and also tends towards selfishness and evil. This is why certain axiomatic values are embraced throughout nearly every culture worldwide: murder is bad, family is good, honor, structure, unity, ect. So in that sense, one does need God to have morality. I would agree with you that one does not need to be a professing Christian to display morality.
    I believe when Jesus reigns on the earth, we will do the right things for the right reasons because we will be full of love. It will not be about a rules list, nor should it be now.
    Are you a Christian? (I ask that curiously based off of your comment. I’m kind of afraid that you’ll be like “of course I am” and then I’ll sound like a jerk.)

  64. “… I felt that the imagery was drawing from demonic inspiration”
    ” For me, messing with the spirit world bothers me way more than sex, violence, or gender issues.”

    I’ve only seen the trailers, but I totally agree with you and got the same vibe.

  65. Christian here! I expect persecution to increase greatly in the next 10 years. I expect that Christians will suffer through the darkest days of the world along with non believers; that the rapture happens after the tribulation. Also, I believe this is because God loves all and desires that all would come to know Him so He does not leave them wittness-less. It is not happening in North America, but check out Voice of the Martyrs’ website. There is persecution as intense as Nero’s happening right now to people. I am also aware that other faiths are persecuted and that racial minorities are being exodused and sometimes methodically eliminated (mass murdered) right now.

  66. The thing that bothers me most about Courageous is when the main protagonist Adam Mitchell says: “There is so much in scripture about being a father, I never took time to look it up.” There are virtually no scriptures with instruction on how to be a father. The Bible teaches about living a Spirit filled life of intimate knowledge of the Lord. We do things the right way because we are full of Him, therefore full of love; Not because we adhere to some list, derived from vague statements made within a cultural context in the Bible. Sorry to break it to you Patriarchs: there is not set of “Biblical” instructions on how to be a father; it’s simply not there. If you find it, you’ve proof texted it or read it in.
    Other than that mumbo jumbo, Courageous was entertaining and had some really good content. Best quality yet by these dudes.

  67. Sorry, I’m still a little confused between the old way of posting and the new way, I’m thinking of Arce’s comment. There’s pluses and minuses with both. With the old way I used Control + F to find the comment that someone posting later was referring to, but now I have to re-read all of the posts to pick up new comments that were entered as a ‘reply’. We’ll work it out.

    Jan – what FormerCLC’er said – finding good people that you can be around.

    I read Anon1’s link to patheos dot com re: tear in my eye and then I got stuck into their other links and reading about the Quiverfull movement and emotional incest and the Botkins family etc. Just wow. I’ve just spotted TWW posts in 2010 so I’ll read up. So that’s half a day gone !

  68. ‘Hazardous Journeys Society’ sounds like something out of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. But what about Cowboys for Christ as a nice catchy name – has a certain ring about it, doesn’t it?

  69. FWIW, the girls in my youth group (15-ish yrs. ago) who had purity rings were the ones w/active sex lives.

  70. Another reason is because in Patriarchy the women are responsible for how a man thinks of hismelf. It is very much like Islam. The woman is the one responsible if he is turned on to her. She is responsible for his success in how she submits to him and treats him and makes him feel good about himself The similarities to Islamic culture are chilling.

  71. Elastigirl –

    How do you feel about sermons shaped around a movie?

    I’ve not seen the movie either. Didn’t really pay much attention when it was out. There does seem to be something odd and just not sitting well with me when I hear about teaching around a movie.

  72. This just happens to be the plight of Christians wanting to be faithful to Scripture and “normal” (in the biblical sense :)), right? Not only do we have to deal with the secular culture trying to destroy the family but we have to put up with strange concoctions of doctrine from those inside the “family.”

    The thing that scares me to is that they are doing “bootcamps” (whatever happened to simply holding a class or seminar?) for future filmakers? You mean we are going to be inundated with more of this subpar aesthetic and moralistic teaching?

    When it comes to Christian/church aesthetics in America and the lack thereof, it’s too bad that the ideas of Zwingli and Calvin won out over Luther. The church has suffered from it.

  73. “… I felt that the imagery was drawing from demonic inspiration”

    Sleepless, I come from a background where “…I felt that…demonic inspiration” was usually a false accusation, and the definition of “occult” was played fast and loose. I’ve been in too many situations where “demonic feeling” was Christianese for “Beware Thou of the Mutant.” Whenever I hear anything along those lines, I require the burden of proof to be entirely with the one making that accusation.

  74. The difference is these movies are being used as a worship tool, Bible study material in some cases. They year I got baptized the Left Behind movies were the rage. Some of the guys I knew in Crusade wanted to do a Left Behind Bible study.

    Ah, yes, when Left Behind became the 67th-to-88th book of the Bible, superseding the previous 66. (Just like Late Great Planet Earth did in the Seventies…)

    And in Christian Bizarro World, they can get antsy about anything unless it has some sort of Bible Study tie-in. A couple years ago, my writing partner told me about a decent adventure novel pubbed by some Christian imprint that included a Bible Study Guide for the novel as an appendix. Like storytelling or moviemaking or anything has NO value unless it’s used for a Bible Study. What’s Wrong With This Picture?

  75. And marketers have exploited every Christian craze, i.e. The Passion of the Christ nail necklaces…


    Somebody get Parker & Stone on speed-dial — that belongs on South Park!

    (Or if you can’t get Parker & Stone, drop a line by Internet Monk. I don’t think he’s been freaked out by the Jesus Junk scene since the one about Christian Sex Toys. And before that, when I pointed out “Praise Ponies”, i.e. Christianese My Little Pony knockoffs.)

  76. When do they start ensuring their Purity (TM) with FGM, burqa, locked harem, and Honor Killing? “Al’lah’u Akbar…”

  77. See above. This is the exact same rationale used by X-Treme Islam to justify FGM, the burqa, Honor Killing…

  78. I can’t hear the term “father-daughter date” without the phrase “Incest Is Best” coming to mind.

  79. A vow or ring doesn’t have the power do anything …

    Unless you’re Green Lantern, and that’s kind of doubtful.

  80. The ‘Best of Festival’ Jubilee Award?

    Don’t we have enough of the “Christian” versions of whatever the world has in our Evangelical parallel subculture? Now we have our Christian Oscars?

    We’ve got Christian colleges, Christian rock concerts, Christian book stores, Christian science (with a small s), Christian theme parks, Christian museums, Christian coffee shops, Christian celebrities, Christian psychologists, Christian Youtube, etc. etc. etc.

    What’s next? Christian politicians and Christian lobbies fighting for Christian political interests? Then what? A Christian country with a Christian Army storming the world? Somebody shoot me when that happens. Make sure it’s a Christian gun.

  81. FGM does *not* equal “an Islamic practice.” There are lots and lots of African Muslims who don’t do anything of the sort, and a fair number of Egyptian Christians who do.

    Some people in W. Africa have tried to justify it via religion, but there are others who say it is totally counter to Islam.

    It is also practiced in Ethiopia (one of the most radical forms, in fact), and Ethiopia is a predominantly Christian country.

  82. It troubles me a great deal that “purity” is equated with no sex.

    I know of real-life stories (men and women) who simply could not turn off the “sex is a sin/impure/etc.” tape in their heads after they got married.

  83. Folks… I would have thought that, too, at one time. Watched the trailer tonight, and while I agree that some of the imagery seems dark and disturbing, it is a fantasy movie… and the queen in the Brothers Grimm version is really evil.

    It seems to me that the real evil depicted in the film (as far as I can tell after seeing a 2-minute trailer) is what comes from the human heart itself.

  84. Shades of John and Stasi Eldredge and their emphasis on movies as sermon material!

    Their all-time worst has to be telling readers to picture themselves as the character Rose in “titanic,” with *Jesus* as a stand-in for loverboy Jack. (No, I am not making this up – I wish I was. I find it extremely creepy and disturbing, as with much else that the Eldredges have written.)

  85. You’re right that it is a cultural, rather than a religious practice, but I think HUG is right that it is rooted in ultra patriarchal, women-are-impure-temptresses mindsets.

  86. But… how do you explain the fact that in most African cultures (including W. Africa and Egypt), it is *women* who perpetuate it? (In those cases, it’s mainly the least awful form – excision – though God knows, “least awful” isn’t saying much.)

  87. Also… it reminds me of foot-binding – again, a practice that was perpetuated by women in China, though the whole patriarchal thing very much applies in that case.

  88. Jan, I am so sorry for your pain. May you be deeply blessed and comforted in the unchanging safety of Jesus’ compassionate, warm, loving embrace.

    I am always blessed by the words of my favorite hymn and I offer them to you: “I heard the voice of Jesus say – Come unto me and rest – Lay down thou weary one lay down, thy head upon my breast – I came to Jesus, as I was, weary and worn and sad – I found in Him a resting place and He has made me glad.”

  89. ^Pam @9.55am, yes, definitely. And for me, their really strong focus on women being virginal before marriage with less emphasis for the men, ain’t that grand. I know that for a female to wear white at a wedding is mostly thought of as traditional now, but when you look at the actual meaning and roots of it, I just see another patriarchal symbol of a woman having to declare publicly her sexual purity. As I understand it, it used to be for property rights, and now I see it as a community focussed on and demanding sexual compliance. If they were really serious about symbols and meaning, the groom would wear a white suit also. Anyhoo, I would love to see women wearing all the colours of the rainbow when they get married – and not white !

  90. anonymous @9.40am, brilliant questions, I look forward to reading the answers. I went to a co-ed boarding school where the girls were locked up basically, and the boys were given the run of the many large grounds. I nearly went bonkers at this loss of freedom. I tried to gain answers as to the inequity – the only response I could seem to get was ‘girls can get pregnant’. I’d guess this might may be a subconscious reasoning in the patriarchal purity ring camp for the strong focus on the girls/women.

    PS I’m still freaked out by reading about the father-daughter camps where the daughter shaves her father. I think so many boundaries have been crossed by this movement.

  91. Angry Turtle, I checked out the jewellery – it’s fabulous. I am really fussy about settings, and yours hit the spot for me. And that Ethiopian opal has my name on it, sorry Pam ! (just joshing)

  92. Well, patriarchal attitudes and actions aren’t only perpetuated by men. I don’t think that changes the fact that those practices come from a worldview that sees women as inferior.

  93. Oh man. I avoid Christian movies for the same reasons others have listed – they are cheesy, have poor production values and hardly reflect reality. Why do movies have to be defined as either sacred/secular? I found far more spiritual meaning in watching ‘The Tree of Life’ than I believe I would have in any so-called Christian movie.

    It’s the same with Christian books. I read a few some years ago and got increasingly frustrated, before I realised that I didn’t need to waste my time on them. The people in those books didn’t behave like normal people. They were conveniently interrupted before saying a bad word, and plots were constrained by the didactic needs of the authors.

    C.S. Lewis said, “The world doesn’t need more Christian writers- it needs more good writers and composers who are Christians.”

  94. “What’s next? Christian politicians and Christian lobbies fighting for Christian political interests?”

    I’m pretty sure we already have those. Go read Talk2Action for about a week…

  95. What also kills me about this whole thing is that Doug Phillips can afford to dish out $100,000 at this film festival EVERY YEAR. That’s a LOT of Elsie Dinsmore books and Beautiful Girlhood dolls.

  96. Hmm, Late Great Planet Earth– one of the more Bizarro moments I had in college was when a guy saw that book (my roommate’s) and said, “Great book! I got saved reading it!” Before that moment I couldn’t have guessed the guy was “saved”. He was very artistic, and liked plenty of wine, women, and song, and would show off his conquests in his “artistic” photos. So I guess he was a “Christian pornographer”…. Just like a Christian blog writer, according to Mr Mellinger…

  97. Hester

    That was my initial thought, too. However, I think there is a fee to participate, so I would imagine that covers a good portion of the prize money.

    There is a fishing tournament going on in the Morehead City/ Atlantic Beach area of North Carolina where my family has been hanging out this weekend, and everyone pays an entry fee. The prize for the winner is big! That’s why so many participate. I think the SAICFF may operate similarly. I’ll do some further research.

  98. I just watched the movie. While it attempts to touch on real life, it doesn’t. Jesus said that the way would be narrow, difficult, and few would find it. Being a Christian is difficult. In fact, its impossible without the power that God gives. I had a man tell me one time that he found being a Christian easy. I reminded him what Jesus said. This movie is yet another example of “American Christianity.” It only works here. In any third world country, it won’t sell. The real world is just not that easy.

  99. Elasti –

    Despite what I said above, I will add that God is amazing and it’s quite possible (and probable) that will speek to you; even if you don’t agree with what a teacher/preacher is “unpacj

  100. That went off before I finished. Sorry.

    . . . that He will speak to you; even if you don’t agree with what the teacher/preacher is “unpacking” for you.

    I’ve sat through many sermons that were going no where buy God still to spoke to me 🙂

  101. Thank you MM. I love that hymn as well – I was singing it all day yesterday actually. It means more to me than it ever did before.

  102. Thank you, FormerCLCer. I am thankful that I do have many people like this in my life who will encourage me in whatever my husband and I decide about the future of our family (whether or not to have more children). More and more are quietly coming to either my husband or myself and kindly encouraging us to pray about our decision and to seek the Lord’s guidance – their reassurance that we DO have a decision to make is soo refreshing, after I am so used to hearing (and believing) that we have no say in the matter since “God is sovereign over the womb” and “He won’t give you more than you can handle.”

    That is an interesting point about idealism. Ideals, black-and-white rules – both relieve one of the duty to “bear one another’s burdens” and “mourn with those who mourn.” They are a strong wall put around oneself against the harsh realities of living. They can’t see the hurting people on the other side, but they can still tell them what to do. In constructing their ideals, they don’t really consider the need for windows of exception because they really don’t think they will ever need them since they are being so faithful.

  103. Thanks Haitch. I agree the stories at that site are so tragic. I was absolutely shocked when I started reading there last year.

  104. Maybe instead of being “in the world but not of it,” we’re using all the world’s stuff as an escape route. 🙁

  105. I was being sarcastic.

    My non-Christian friends and acquaintances ask all the time if being a fanatical rightwinger is a prerequisite to being becoming a Christian. Evangelicalism has sold its soul and moral vision to conservative politics.

    From what I have read, the film does not veer into culture war rhetoric. That is a plus.

  106. Oh, ok. I guess I shouldn’t assume everyone on here is 🙂 I’m glad you find some solace in this blog; I do too.

  107. PS I’m still freaked out by reading about the father-daughter camps where the daughter shaves her father.

    Every time I hear about that, I have a flashback to an Eighties music video — the banned one to “RELAX!” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

    There were five or six videos made for that song; only one of them — the straight performance video — was shown on MTV. The others were all set in an S&M Gay Bathhouse, and one night USA’s Night Flight (the video equivalent of an underground FM station to MTV’s Top 40) showed them ALL back-to-back in a “midnight madness” screening. (A YouTube search should bring them up…)

    The relevant scene in the banned video was a background scene of some Baron Harkonnen type being erotically shaved by a BDSM leather boy. THAT is what pops up when you say “father-daughter camps where the daughter shaves her father”.

    — Frankie Goes to Hollywood, “Relax” (from memory)

  108. Could have been worse, Numo.

    Instead of Rose & Jack, he could have used Bella & EDWARD (sparkle sparkle).

    (A lot of Christians DID back Twilight despite its holding up an abusive situation as TWU LURVE because “Bella & Edward wait until marriage.” And a lot of current Christianese music these days is “Jesus is My Edward Cullen (sparkle sparkle sparkle SQUEEE).”

  109. Ideals, black-and-white rules – both relieve one of the duty to “bear one another’s burdens” and “mourn with those who mourn.” They are a strong wall put around oneself against the harsh realities of living. They can’t see the hurting people on the other side, but they can still tell them what to do.

    Same dynamic as a Good Little Bureaucrat always Following Procedure while you slip inch by inch from Lawful Neutral through Lawful Stupid into Lawful Evil.

  110. Jan @ Sun 5.32pm. In my readings yesterday, I found a stand-out quote about the ‘in the world but not of it’ concept – that they’ve actually retreated altogether. Perhaps all the linked products and hyper-marketing are then reflective of that. I couldn’t agree more strongly with JJ’s post on CS Lewis: “The world doesn’t need more Christian writers- it needs more good writers and composers who are Christians.”

  111. Yikes!

    You’re right, it *might* have been their 1st choice were they writing those books post-Twilight marketing phenom.

    And I’d guess that “Do I dazzle you?” might be seen as a good pick-up line by some in the patriarchal crowd.

    (imo – from what little I know of these books and movies – Edward is stalkerish and creepily controlling, so…)

  112. Jan, I wouldn’t dream of giving advice or interfering, but I have never heard that expressed before, ever, the ‘God is sovereign over the womb’ thinking. Thanks for sharing as it makes a lot more sense to me now. I’m someone who is ‘deliberately barren’ – quite a revolting term isn’t it ! Not because of career or anything, just my choice. So we are on opposite ends of the spectrum. I sort of half-laugh at the term, as a few years ago one of our ‘no filter from brain to mouth’ politicians levelled it at our Prime Minister as a term of derision and scorn and shame. It was an odious attack that a man would never have to bear (but I think it had the reverse effect and she got some political capital from it though). If I ever get to sit next to him on a plane he’s going to cop an earful (and I have a long memory).

  113. You know, I’m seeing so many thought-provoking quotes lately by CS Lewis. I have yet to read anything by him other than the Narnia series. I’m thinking that needs to change! 🙂

  114. Not everyone is just a step or two away from the perfect, godly life if they would just pray, have faith and do a, b, c and it is INCREDIBLY hurtful for people to suggest this to those who just need rest in Jesus.

    i.e. “Five Fast Praise-the-LOORDs Will Fix Everything” syndrome.

    There was a guy in one of the independent Fellowships (TM) at my college who was like that. I so wanted to be on hand when he got into a mess Five Fast Praise-the-LOORDs couldn’t get him out of and parrot his previous Godly Discernment (TM) right back to him word-for-word.

  115. Oh, man. I was involved during Hal Lindsay’s heyday in the Seventies, and that “History Written in Advance” was THE 67th Book of the Bible, superseding the other 66 completely. I remember Bible Studies with nary a Bible in sight, only Late Great Planet Earth studied chapter-and-verse. I remember Bibles only 3 1/2 books long: Daniel, Revelation, the “Nuclear War Chapter” of Ezekiel (the 1/2) and Late Great Planet Earth.

    I remember Lindsay’s idea that all the plagues of Revelation were nuclear weapons effects described by a 1st Century man who saw The Future and The End like a movie and the Christians For Nuclear War attitude it bred. “SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE!! SCRIPTURE!!!”

    “End Time Prophecy is being Fulfilled Even As I Speak! We Might Not Have a 1978!! Or Even a 1977!!!” — “child evangelist” of the time

    It is now 2012.

    “What a long, strange trip it’s been…”
    — The Grateful Dead

  116. numo,

    Back when I was still into fundagelicalism, I saw a demon under every rock too. If you went and saw Close Encounters, the elders would have you under questioning faster than you could say Tituba. I am sooooo glad to be free of all that horse-malarkey now. I think I’d rather see Snow White and the Huntsman if faced with a must choose between that and Courageous.

  117. And…we’re back to the ‘new and improved old-style’. Looking good I think. Some of the comments that were part of the ‘reply’ style now hang differently and will make for some confusing retrospective reading, but only in this post. I can see I’m all over this post – it’s because I have an essay to write and I’m procrastinating !

  118. Haitch,

    I have enjoyed all of your comments. I was at the beach this weekend with my family and followed the dialogue via my IPhone. I wish I could have commented more. We are staying on this topic tomorrow and Wednesday, so there will be more to discuss about Courageous.

  119. Something changed in comments. Comments were grouped into threads as of this morning, but now it is just one string of comments. So it is hard to tell if a comment is an opening post or a followup in response to another comment.

  120. David C

    Before we experienced technical difficulties, our comments appeared chronologically. As the co-host of this blog, it is so difficult to respond to comments that are strung together under an earlier comment. Over the last week, Dee and I have had to sort through all of the comments looking for more recent responses.

    If we were getting a dozen comments per post, stringing comments would make sense, but now that we get many comments, the only way we can maintain our sanity is to have the comments appear chronologically.

    Sorry for the change, but it is absolutely necessary for us to manage the comment section. Hope you understand our dilemma.

  121. @Haitch on the white wedding dress thing: if I ever get married I won’t wear white, I decided that years ago. Partly it’s petulance of ‘I don’t wanna do it just because I’m sposed to’, partly it’s that the ‘white virgin’ thing is kinda creepy, partly it’s because I love colour too much, partly it’s because I’m very pale and just look terrible in white.

    And on Twilight as some sort of idealised relationship for Christians to dream of, I don’t want no guy who breaks into my room to watch me sleep! Stay away from me, creepy stalker man!

  122. Lol @ Haitch June 10 6:59 PM. Yeah I guess we are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but before I got married I was a college-going, career-bound girl who was determined not to have kids when I got married. It would take wayyy too long to explain my turn-around. 🙂 I’m thankful I changed my mind – never imagined I could love being a mother as much as I do. Just difficult to unravel myself from the “birth control is evil in all circumstances and if you use it you either hate kids or aren’t trusting God” mindset – gets messy when I realize how many other beliefs it’s become intertwined with. 🙁

  123. @Pam, I believe Colleen McCullough got happily hitched at 47 so I figure what’s the rush? (no sarcasm, I think she’s cool). She’s definitely no compliant placid Bella.

    @Jan, I believe there was an attempt at non-permanent birth control for men a few years ago which was a painful thigh injection every few months (?weeks) where they had to limp around for a while afterwards. Personally, I thought this was brilliant (snicker), but yeah, they figured that the compliance wasn’t going to be that great.

  124. So many great comments on this thread!

    @Pam at 1:23 am
    “Jewellery isn’t manly, though. Maybe if it was father-son cage fighting for Jesus shirts?”
    Why, of course jewellery’s manly – just ask Mark Driscoll. Ain’t nothing more manly than a shell chocker necklace. 😉

  125. @Pam and Haitch

    Pity you’re both in Australia, because I’d love to have coffee with you two. 😉 We’d have a lot to chat about! The symbolism in traditional weddings is disturbing, once you start thinking about it. A father ‘gives away’ his daughter, passing her on to the groom. Where’s the mother in all of this? And the groom’s parents?

    How about the couple walking in together, as the free adults they are, with the support of their families?

    Maybe I overthink these things. But if I ever get married, I don’t want the ceremony won’t be full of patriarchal symbolism!

  126. @Numo, HUG, Haitch, and Pam

    Yup, Edward is a creepy stalker, and Twilight plays right into the purity cult:
    Bella is a weak, easily-swayed girl who is drawn to Edward’s beauty. Edward’s never wanted (to devour) a human like he’s wanted Bella. He has to be careful, though, because he might not be able to control himself around her. As a man (vampire), he is inherently dangerous. But Bella poses no threat to Edward except that she is a temptation. She’s certainly no intellectual threat to him (after all, there must be a reason that he can’t read her thoughts!).

  127. @Numo

    You said “And I’d guess that ‘Do I dazzle you?’ might be seen as a good pick-up line by some in the patriarchal crowd.”

    Have you seen this?

    Some of them are amusing, especially as a parody of the creepy, warped Christianese prevalent in the courtship/purity/modesty camp.

  128. @Anne

    Thanks for mentioning ‘The Weight of Glory’. I’ve just found a transcript and will read it now.

  129. @JJ,

    I’m choosing to find that hey Christian girl tumblr a hilarious parody, because if it’s genuine, it’s really creepy and horrible.

  130. @ JJ:

    Twilight probably has “purity” overtones because Stephanie Meyer is Mormon (quite socially conservative). Others who have analyzed the book say that it’s really a thinly-veiled allegory for Mormon theology. Thank goodness it doesn’t actually have any real literary value.

    On a lighter note, I bet the books would shrivel up and die if the librarian hung braids of garlic in the young adult section.

  131. So we’ve gone from Courageous the movie to Twilight, I see what you did there ! Interesting Hester, I didn’t know that.

    @JJ on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 05:02 AM – I believe in Scandinavia the bride enters the church (or other wedding venue) without her father and walks ‘unassisted’ down to the groom.

    So … an Edward Cullen-less bride wearing many colours in Scandinavia, got that sorted now.

  132. @HUG Sun Jun 10, 2012 oooh yeah I remember Frankie Goes to Hollywood “Relax” shaving scene. Now don’t encourage Mr Sopwith…nooooo !

  133. Lindsey wrote:

    All the smart stuff aside – the acting was horrible. All of those Christian movies – Facing the Giants, Courageous, Fireproof, etc. have horrible, horrible two-bit acting in them.
    That’s enough for me to stay away.

    Back in local SF litfandom in the Eighties, we used to say “It’s Christian(TM), it’s gonna be Crap”.

  134. Hester wrote:

    @ JJ:
    Twilight probably has “purity” overtones because Stephanie Meyer is Mormon (quite socially conservative). Others who have analyzed the book say that it’s really a thinly-veiled allegory for Mormon theology.

    Somewhere on the Web there’s an analysis on how Edward Cullen’s descriptions closely match that of a famous statue of Joseph Smith.

    Thank goodness it doesn’t actually have any real literary value.
    On a lighter note, I bet the books would shrivel up and die if the librarian hung braids of garlic in the young adult section.

    I don’t think garlic affects Sparklepires. I don’t think Sparklepires HAVE any weakness. That would go with a Pet Super-Race; I’ve seen the pattern too often among Furry fanboys.

  135. JJ wrote:

    Why, of course jewellery’s manly – just ask Mark Driscoll. Ain’t nothing more manly than a shell choker necklace.

    Never mind the spare tire under the Mickey Mouse T-shirt. And the Kewpie-doll faux-hawk. “I CAN BEAT YOU UP! I CAN BEAT YOU UP! ARMORBEARER! BEAT HIM UP!!!”

  136. Jan wrote:

    Maybe instead of being “in the world but not of it,” we’re using all the world’s stuff as an escape route.

    Except we stamp a Bible Verse (or its Zip code) on it and call it Christian(TM). Just as you can go from birth to death in some parts of Los Angeles without ever needing one word of English, so a born-again can go from Altar Call/Sinner’s Prayer to Homegoing/Rapture without ever needig to sacrifice any piece of Pop Culture:

    Testamints — Just like Altoids, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!
    Praise Ponies — Just like My Little Pony, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!
    GodTube — Just like YouTube, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!
    Christian Chirp — Just like Twitter, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!
    Seek and Find — Just like Google Search, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!
    Johnny Hammer — Just like Justin Bieber, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!
    Strategic Spiritual Warfare — Just like Working Magick, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!

  137. A Public Service Annoucement

    There are two new LINKs in the comment section.

    The Reply LINK takes the name on the current comment and copies it down to the new comment as a link back to the old comment. Using this makes it possible for people to follow the conversations back up and understand them better.

    The Quote LINK does the same Reply but also copies down and highlights text from the old comment. All of the text if you just click the Quote link. Or just selected text if you’ve selected any text before clicking the LINK.

    Please don’t click Quote on long comments without trimming them.

    If you look up a few lines you’ll see HUG already figured most of this out.

    Thank You

  138. Oh my goodness Headless Unicorn Guy… I didn’t know about any of those “Christianized” things except the Testamints. How embarrassing! Slapping a “Christian” label on things seems to cheapen both Christianity and the Christianized thing somehow.

  139. Jan wrote:

    Oh my goodness Headless Unicorn Guy… I didn’t know about any of those “Christianized” things except the Testamints. How embarrassing! Slapping a “Christian” label on things seems to cheapen both Christianity and the Christianized thing somehow.

    First of all, I did NOT make up anything in that list.

    Having separated Christianese knockoffs of everything in pop culture is called “being of the world but not in it.” There’s a video somewhere on YouTube about Christian(TM) TV that has to be seen to be believed (especially the Christianese Gangsta Rappers and Workout shows with Witnessing(TM) and Edifying(TM) every other line), but I can’t find it anymore or I’d post a link.

    As a Brony, I discovered the “Praise Ponies” while trying to trace a rumor about My Little Pony being Satanic(TM) and Occult(TM). A couple months ago, I freaked out the guys at Internet Monk with the Praise Ponies. “HUG told us about these. I thought he was kidding. He’s not. God help us all!”

    Just as a rule-of-thumb, if you can describe it as “Just like fill-in-the-blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”, that’s NOT a good sign.

  140. Christian Chirp — Just like Twitter, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!
    At first I read this as “Christian Chimp”, then thought, well, that’s probably next!

  141. @ Deb:
    @ Deb:
    I was trying to “quote” HUG on that and over- “trimmed”. Maybe “reply” will look right.
    Christian Chimp will be my new “ministry”, helping ape-like folks to evolve in a “Christian” manner….

  142. Trailer for our upcoming movie, “Christian Chimp”:
    Feeling unevolved in your kids lives recently? Knuckles dragging down your walk? Struggling with banana addiction? Go see “Christian Chimp”! Learn how a father Chimpanzee signs a “resolve to evolve”, pulls himself up a half-rung on the evolutionary ladder, and becomes a “greater ape”! Coming soon to a theater near you. Brought to you by Stop the Devolutuon Ministries (TM).

  143. Jan

    We are a medical family so taking medication for many things is normal. You said “Just difficult to unravel myself from the “birth control is evil in all circumstances and if you use it you either hate kids or aren’t trusting God” mindset.”

    None of us would “trust God” if we had a bacterial pneumonia. Instead, we would take antibiotics that we created because people who were gifted in science researched and found them.In fact, isn’t taking that drug a way of thanking God for the meds? We have written about people who “trust God” to cure their diabetes and die refusing insulin. Benny HInn rallies are replete with people who “trust God” and die of cancer anyway.

    Just like the Internet can be used for good and bad, the same goes with contraception. If it used for promiscuity, it is bad. if it is used because a family believes they have enough children, then it is good. Also, if God can “plan” your family, He can send children in spite of birth control.(Surely God is stronger than hormones)!:)

  144. Christian Chirp! I love it.

    Back in the day, the church in the area offered an aerobics class for women. It was called “The Firm Believer’s Aerobics.”

    I took a quick peek to be greeted by the unforgettable sight of the room full of flawless Stepford wives frantically shaking and working up a sweat to Amy Grant’s “Sing Your Praise to the Lord.”

    If you are into yoga like I am, you may want to look up Christian yoga for a good laugh. The WWJD meditation is the best.

  145. As a filmmaker who is a Christian, I am always appalled by Christian “cinema”. I always find it to be trite, shallow, ideological, dishonest, and on and on. There are no great evangelical filmmakers, which I would argue is a result of the criminally ridiculous way that the church treats art these days. It encourages those with no sense of nuance, humanity, or indeed of cinema itself, while driving away those with potential. The last great Protestant filmmakers were Bergman (who, eventually, lost his faith) and Bresson. There are many great Catholic directors (De Palma, Scorsese, etc.) but they are not practicing Catholics in any sense. Of course, Christian art in general is in a sad state these days, and it is very depressing. Courageous is just another forgettable example of its decline.

  146. What I’m looking forward to is the Hollywood spoof called ‘Christian Movie’. Ha, just kidding (I’d be more likely to watch it than ‘Courageous’ or ‘Fireproof’, though!).

    The title of the movie ‘The Monstrous Regiment of Women’ comes from the John Knox tract ‘The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women’. He wrote it as a reaction to the rule of the Catholic Queen Mary. I’m gratified that it came back to bite him in the hind quarters when Protestant Queen Elizabeth ascended; a mere woman who was arguably Britain’s greatest monarch, greatest historical figure and greatest woman.

  147. Dave A A wrote:

    Trailer for our upcoming movie, “Christian Chimp”:
    Feeling unevolved in your kids lives recently? Knuckles dragging down your walk? Struggling with banana addiction? Go see “Christian Chimp”! Learn how a father Chimpanzee signs a “resolve to evolve”, pulls himself up a half-rung on the evolutionary ladder, and becomes a “greater ape”! Coming soon to a theater near you. Brought to you by Stop the Devolutuon Ministries (TM).

    Only one problem with Christian Chimp – referring to evolution. That’s going to lose a big part of your target audience.

  148. Caleb W wrote:

    As a filmmaker who is a Christian, I am always appalled by Christian “cinema”. I always find it to be trite, shallow, ideological, dishonest, and on and on.

    I find a similar problem with psychologists, ethicists (except the journal Christian Ethics Today and selected others, but clearly include Richard Land!, etc., etc. The language becomes almost rote, with no real understanding of the meaning of the biblical texts. It is no wonder than people who are active in church for years go to an event like an Emmaus Walk (not much walking, but a lot of talking) and find Jesus while there. They could give you the mumbo jumbo of their church, but had no relationship with the Savior, until they stepped out of their church environment into another, unabashedly Christian environment with people who spoke a different way.

  149. @ Pam:
    You’re right, Pam! (slapping forehead) Hmmm… What to do? I know– we’ll make it clear that Bonzo the Chimp is actually just protected from DEvolving into a gibbon by his firm resolve, AND the inspiration for his resolutions will be a trip to the Creation Museum and a providential chance meeting with Ken Ham.

  150. David C wrote:

    I took a quick peek to be greeted by the unforgettable sight of the room full of flawless Stepford wives frantically shaking and working up a sweat to Amy Grant’s “Sing Your Praise to the Lord.”

    I watched The Stepford Wives (2004) the other day and couldn’t get over the parallels between it and uber-complementarianism!

  151. Pam
    This week I am going to be discussing the latest little game of Ken Ham. It might surprise a few people.

  152. Caleb
    I am glad that are folks like you out there. I think the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is a fine example of demonstrating the Christian walk without jamming banal script down or throats. I have always thought of the Christian walk like that band of Hobbits and their assorted friends walking together through terrible circumstances toward a common goal.Frankly, more “Life Groups” should study that movie as an example of true Christian friendship.

  153. Dave AA
    I have a really disturbing story about Ken Ham that I will be posting later in the week. He is not a nice man.

  154. David C wrote:

    Back in the day, the church in the area offered an aerobics class for women. It was called “The Firm Believer’s Aerobics.”

    And then there’s that memorable Christian exercise program, “But for the Grace of God.”

  155. @ dee:
    Thanks Dee! You know, you are right. The Lord of the Rings was a fine example of artful cinema from a Christian perspective. Peter Jackson and his writing partners have said a number of times that they do not hold to Tolkien’s world view, but they tried to be faithful to it in their representation of his work. It just goes to show what possible when artists working in Christian traditions are not bound by the discourse of the Culture Wars. Sadly, it took excellent, avowedly secular filmmakers working with source material from a Christian who pre-dates the Culture Wars to accomplish this.

    I feel compelled to mention Andrei Tarkovsky as another great filmmaker working within Christian tradition (albeit in the Soviet Union: not an easy task). His beautiful films are full of strikingly profound represenations of and metaphors for faith and the divine that show an intellectual and spiritual depth unparalleled in much modern evangelicalism. His Andrei Rublev (about a medieval icon painter who struggles with faith), Solaris (not the George Clooney version 🙂 ), Nostalghia, and The Sacrifice are difficult but achingly beautiful films that reward repeat viewing.

  156. Caleb
    I come from a Russian immigrant family. I do not know Andrei Tarkovsky but I will now. Thank you!

  157. Just like the Internet can be used for good and bad, the same goes with contraception. If it used for promiscuity, it is bad. if it is used because a family believes they have enough children, then it is good. Also, if God can “plan” your family, He can send children in spite of birth control.(Surely God is stronger than hormones)!:)

    My take is that contraceptives themselves are morally neutral. I took them when younger to help with a gyn problem, and had to be ultra-careful about who I told, as the whole idea was met with painfully judgmental attitudes by some “Christians.”

    Many people automatically assume that someone taking meds that affect the reproductive system is using them for something “bad.” (Much like the blanket condemnation of condoms in some circles – people ignore the very real fact that they can prevent the spread of HIV – and less awful STDs – and thus potentially save lives. So where is the compassion and lack of “judginess” when it comes to this?!)

    [/end rant]

  158. @ Caleb W: I think this has a lot to do with American (evangelical) culture, and not much to do with Christianity per se, Caleb.

    But that’s just me…

  159. @ dee: I have found Tarkovsky to be an acquired taste… and I don’t always have the patience for his work.

    You may find yourself loving his films – or hating them. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a truly neutral reaction to them.

  160. Caleb W and Dee: I am not a fan of “Andrei Rublev.” At all.

    Maybe it has something to do with my having a background in Russian history? While I do appreciate the depth and intensity of Orthodox spirituality, there are things about it that … well, I will be honest and say that the Orthodox Church has historically been involved in some horrible anti-semitic beliefs and actions. (If you do not believe me, please start with Robert K. Massie’s book “Nicholas and Alexandra” and work backwards – in time – from there. There has been an extremely close relationship between the O. Church and the tsars, going way, way back.))

    But the same is true of Western European Christians, political alliances and power included. I guess I am on edge re. Orthodoxy in contemporary Russia and Ukraine due to the recent rise in active anti-semitism in both countries. (With supposed Christians in the lead.)

  161. Numo

    I knew a man who was involved in a Christian medical ministry. He became HIV+. He gave a talk in which he refused to tell people how he contracted it because he said that Christians should approach people as they are and where they are and not spend so much time judging past actions or assuming sinful behavior. I have heard that he contracted it through a blood transfusion but he refused to tell us. To this day, I remember feeling uncomfortable at the time, thinking it did matter. He taught me much by his stand. He passed away due to his disease, always challenging us to think about bringing grace, not condemnation.I grew because of him.

  162. @ dee: Wow… what an eye-opener! (I think he was right to *not* focus on how he contracted it, too.)

    What little I know re. the hundreds of thousands of AIDS orphans in S. Africa – and all of Africa – is so heart-breaking that I literally have to look the other way and not read coverage, because there is nothing I can do to directly help those children.

    There is a S. African movie – “Yesterday” – about a young mom with AIDS and her soon-to-be-orphaned daughter – that is supposed to be really good. It’s on my very long list of “movies to watch.” (I tend to get distracted by the shiny happy stuff as much as the next person, though…. so I’ve put off watching it for a long time.)

  163. Josh wrote:

    But for the Grace of God

    HAHAHA. Are you serious? How does this jibe with the 10th commandment?

    Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife …, nor his ass (Deuteronomy 5:21)

  164. Caleb W wrote:

    Of course, Christian art in general is in a sad state these days, and it is very depressing.

    You can thank the anti-intellectual bent in Evangelicalism for the steady brain drain. I don’t think we will see another CS Lewis as long as thinking for oneself remains a deadly sin in Evangelical circles.

  165. @ numo:

    You are right – the Orthodox church is deeply stained by its past (and I confess that I am ignorant on the topic. I’m sure you know much more), but I don’t think that is reason to deny the depth and frequent beauty of some of its artistic expressions like, say, Rublev. I would submit that Tarkovsky is at least worth mentioning as a great Christian artist, and his darker side offers an unfortunate opportunity to discuss the long, sad history of anti-semitism in ALL of Christendom. There are great Christian theologians who held morally reprehensible views, yet we still find value in them. The same grace is rarely given to art.

    The ambiguity Tarkovsky’s work (over meaning and, as you suggested, morality) is part of what makes great art great. We are forced to confront life and to think seriously about how we and our societies/traditions/religions, etc. relate to some of its fundamental issues – fall, redemption, sex, death, evil, good, justice, etc. In an imperfect (understatement) world, there are few artists who are purely good. Having said that, I hope that no one gets the impression that Tarkovsky films are full of anti-semitism. There are beautiful things and ugly things in each and we have to confront that reality.

    I also want to clarify that I do not think that Christianity is to blame for the state of its art – not at all. I heartily agree that American evangelicalism in the context of the culture wars has robbed Christianity of its artistic potential, as the depth of feeling and expression in early Christian traditions would suggest.

    And, finally, yes, I should have qualified my endorsement of Tarkovsky. He is certainly an acquired taste. His films are slow, difficult, and sometimes obscure. But, I think that it is worth trying one or two of them – that would be time better spent than watching the latest blockbuster (which has its place) a second or third time.

  166. @ Caleb W: I really didn’t mean to give that impression re. Tarkovsky’s movies (anti-semitism), but I have to admit that his depiction of what the Orthodox call “Holy Russia” (in Rublev) hit nerves for me personally – maybe because I grew up among people whose grandparents came from (often, *fled* from) villages in Russia, Ukraine and Poland?

    I have to admit that I do not really like Tarkovsky’s movies – at least, the ones that I’ve seen. i think that they are likely much more accessible to Russian audiences, since there seem to be many oblique (and maybe not-so-oblique) references to things that are part of Russian culture but not that of the rest of Europe.

    I think he is a very gifted director, but one whose work tends to be polarizing – kind of like Terrence Malick here in the US. (Whome I like a lot, fwiw.)

  167. @ Caleb W: I grew up Lutheran, so art was never an issue for me or my family – if anything, the arts (music especially) were/are very much encouraged.

  168. You are fortunate…I grew up “reformed Baptist.” There are no pictures on the walls in reformed Baptist churches! And “R-rated movies” are a no-no.

    I also respect your view on Tarkovsky…I know there are many who would agree. And I also love Malick. We need to start a film sub-blog on WWW!

    @ numo:

  169. I like movies, but am not a huge fan, but I do love music. I’ve had a few people over the years tell me a good Christian shouldn’t own non-Christian media. If I only had properly ‘Christian’ artists, I think that would leave me with maybe 5 albums. If I include albums that have Christian themes to at least some of it, I have maybe 15. Most Christian music I’ve heard is just really bad, so I don’t even bother investigating it any more. I never even started looking into Christian movies.

    But Sufjan Stevens’ Christian stuff is gorgeous:

  170. @ Dee:

    I’m reading Lord of the Rings right now! And yes, there are some very interesting parallels to Christianity in a lot of places. What makes the book so good is that it’s approachable on one level by non-Christians as good fantasy, but then at another level by Christians. (And all that without mentioning evolution or homosexuality once! Horror!) In poking around about the books I read that Tolkien had the Lord’s Prayer in mind as he was writing about Frodo’s struggles. Certainly gives a new perspective on the story.

  171. Pam wrote:

    But Sufjan Stevens’ Christian stuff is gorgeous

    He’s also done lovely versions of ‘Holy, holy, holy’ and ‘Come thou fount’.

  172. @ JJ:

    I’ve heard a few of those covers on YouTube, but don’t own those recordings. He also produced The Welcome Wagon, who are minister husband and wife lo-fi indie folk in a similar style to Sufjan’s Seven Swans album.

  173. Dee and Numo, thanks for sharing your thoughts on contraception. I too now see it as a blessing when used for right reasons, though it can be used for wrong reasons too. It is just hard wondering who is going to find out and tell me how sinful/selfish I’m being.

    Dee, your example of using antibiotics was interesting and I agree. You know, there are many families who simultaneously adopt “quiverfull” thinking and reject modern medicine (we never did). Antibiotics, vaccinations, hospital births, and C-sections are strongly discouraged. Natural/herbal healing and organic, from-scratch, whole-foods eating become a whole new list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for women already exhausted from having babies (at home of course) in rapid succession. It’s like if you want to prove you’re a real woman embracing your role, you have to do everything yourself. Everything. Obsessively healthy eating is almost idolized as a god that will save us from modern medicine. Did you know VF even has a Food/Health Conference coming up?

  174. A blast from the past?

    Sophie wrote:

    “The title of the movie ‘The Monstrous Regiment of Women’ comes from the John Knox tract ‘The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women’. He wrote it as a reaction to the rule of the Catholic Queen Mary. I’m gratified that it came back to bite him in the hind quarters when Protestant Queen Elizabeth ascended; a mere woman who was arguably Britain’s greatest monarch, greatest historical figure and greatest woman.”



        As per John Knox’s “The First Blast”, at the heart of the tract discourse, signifying to his scriptural satisfaction, that it is the exception rather than the rule that God allows a woman to exercise a position over the affairs of men, and that in his opinion, scripture bears this out in numerous places, the early church fathers concurring.

    Knox continued to point out that his main argument, even if stripped of the patristic citations, was fundamentally based upon the authoritative word of God, with some exceptions being dully addressed, as the following extracts from his tract clearly demonstrate:

    “First, they do object the examples of Deborah, and of Huldah, the prophetesses, of whom the one judged Israel, and the other, by all appearance, did teach and exhort (Judges 4; 2 Chron. 34:20-28).”

    “Secondarily, they do object the law made by Moses for the daughters of Zelophehad (Num. 27:1-12).”

    “Thirdly, the consent of the estates of such realms as have approved the empire and regiment of women.”

    His conclusion to these objections:

    “For God (being free) may, for such causes as are approved by his inscrutable wisdom, dispense with the rigour of his law, and may use his creatures at his pleasure.”


    “But the same power is not permitted to man, whom he has made subject to his law, and not to the examples of fathers.”


    “…that particular examples do establish no common law.”


    (that in the example of Deborah) “The causes were known to God alone, why he took the spirit of wisdom and force from all men of those ages; and did so mightily assist women against nature, and against his ordinary course; that the one he made a deliverer to his afflicted people Israel, and to the other he gave not only perseverance in the true religion, when the most part of men had declined from the same, but also to her (Deborah) he gave the spirit of prophecy, to assure King Josiah of the things which were to come.”

    It would appear in retrospect, that our Lord saw fit to strengthen the hand of the Reformation in a round about way, even thought Mary, as a Catholic Queen, caused to be destroyed much of the ground gain by the two proceeding reigns. Adding strength to Geneva, and raising up Protestant Elizabeth to the purple, more that compensated for the loss, as William Tyndale’s work became the Geneva Bible of 1560, later transformed for the most part, by English scholars into the Bible of 1611. Also, all of the English realm of Elizabeth’s time was spared the Papal designs through a papal bull of 1570 specifically released Elizabeth’s subjects from their allegiance, and from the mechanations of Phillip of Spain, which further strengthened the effects of the Reformation felt to this very day!

    It was the Geneva Bible that was later transported to Plymouth Rock here in America, in 1620 which was to become the foundation of American common law. William Blackstone believed that the basis for all of English common law was the Holy Scriptures. In fact, Charles Finney, as an attorney, saw so many Scripture references in William Blackstone’s Law Commentaries that he bought a Bible and came to faith.  Obedience to the law of God was certainly a standard understanding of Americans until the mid 1800’s when “positivist law” began to take over, denying the reality of God. 

    God’s ways are past finding out, are they not?

    With kind regards,


    Reference: John Knox – “First Blast”

    For further reading:

    Queen Elizabeth – “Elizabeth and the church”

    Language and law  – “Legal Text”

    Wm. Blackstone  – “[1] “ “[2]”

  175. Jan
    Her.Meneutics, the women’s blog over at Christianity Today had an interesting post hereon the problems associated with “perfect”eating.

  176. @ Caleb W:

    I’m thankful for that background, believe me! I stuck with it even while spending years in evangelical/charismatic circles, too… studied visual art in undergrad and then art history in grad school.

    “Andre Rublev” redux: I watched the 1st third of it last night, and will probably go for an equal chunk of it later tonight.

    I find that I’m disliking it less the 2nd time through, probably because I kind of know what to expect – a very meandering narrative, with many seemingly unconnected events. I had read so many references to this film’s “masterpiece” status… and was very disappointed in it. (I thought it would be like Eisenstein’s “Ivan the Terrible” – well, not exactly. ; ))

    The one thing that really *does* bother me is the animal cruelty that runs throughout the film. I don’t think any of that (and there’s a lot) is in any way justifiable. There *had* to have been ways to simulate some of it without harming any animals… and I guess that points to one of the flaws I think Tarkovsky has – that he seems (imo) to think that as An Artist, he is a bit above the common run of people portrayed in his films. (Maybe – as others have suggested – more like the bell-founder than the icon painters in the movie?)

  177. @ numo:

    I’m glad you had a chance to re-watch Rublev. I agree, the animal cruelty is inexcusable. And yes, it stems from the very high view of “the Artist”. From what I’ve read, though, that view of the artist is partly a product of going to film school in the Soviet Union when he did. That view of the self of the artist was really encouraged and can seem a little over-the-top to those of us in the non-communist West. People like Godard and Malick likely take themselves as seriously, but certainly don’t talk about it that way and, you’re right, don’t seem to feel ethically above the ‘common man’ as Tarkovsky did.

    He’s certainly an interesting character. I’m not sure which of his films you have seen, but to my mind he certainly matures in the 1970s and 1980s. Solaris is more free from the pretention of the artist and Nostalghia was a particularly moving film for me. Many people speak very highly or Mirror but I have yet to be able to find an english subtitled version of it here in Toronto.