Christian Filmmaking – Is There a Hidden Agenda?

"Alex and Stephen Kendrick will be speaking this year at the San Antonio Independent Christian film festival February 7-9th. This is a great event for families to watch tons of new Christ-honoring movies, documentaries, and shorts. Before this event is the San Antonio Christian Film Academy (February 4-6) designed to help train and network up and coming Christian filmmakers. If you want to be in or work on Christian Films in the future, we highly recommend these two outstanding events as a place to better learn how and also meet many of the leaders and aspiring filmmakers in the Christian film movement…"

The Kendrick Brothers on Facebook

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I remember being so excited when I first heard about the Kendrick brothers and their Christian filmmaking.  Flywheel (2003) was their initial movie, and it was filmed on a low budget.  Next came Facing the Giants in 2006, which I purchased on DVD and enjoyed watching with my family.  Then came Fireproof in 2008, starring Kirk Cameron.  I bought that DVD too and thought it was a wholesome, heart-warming story; however, I was bothered by the merchandising that went along with the movie – the Love Dare, t-shirts, etc. 

Then in 2011 the Kendrick brothers released their most successful film project yet – Courageous.  It was recommended by The Gospel Coalition crowd.  Justin Taylor and Trevin Wax wasted no time in endorsing the movie.  Sam Crabtree, executive pastor at Bethlehem Baptist, featured John Piper's review of Courageous on his blog.  Here is what Piper had to say:

“I watched Courageous with my wife and was thoroughly engaged. I like action, and I like reflection, and I like affection—explosive moments, wrack-your-brain moments, and break-your-heart moments. Rarely do movies combine them all. For me this one captured me. Does the movie preach? Well, it sure has a point. But about the time you think you might get preached at, a bullet may cut through your car door. I would willingly take anyone to see this film, assuming they can handle suspense. And I think the conversations afterward would not be superficial.”

Before the release of Courageous, I had become skeptical about the true motives of the Kendrick brothers.  The Resolution, which is the climax of the movie, seemed manipulative and brought to mind patriarchs ruling over their families.   I hadn't planned to buy the DVD, but my younger daughter did.  After watching it several times, I expressed my concerns in a blog post – Courageous the Movie:  Is it Profitable for Christians?  The merchandise being sold was incredible with books, Bible studies, framed certificates, etc.  Wal-Mart was even selling books related to the movie.

After all the hype and accolades, the Kendrick brothers attended the 2012 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF) and won the top prize of $101,000, which is to be used as seed money for their next film project. 

SAICFF was founded by Doug Phillips of Vision Forum.  As the Kendrick brothers have indicated above in a recent Facebook message, the 2013 festival is fast approaching.  It has become a forum for 'culture warriors', as some of the previous winners indicate.  For example, we have written posts on two of SAICFF participants in years past, specifically Colin Gunn who produced Indoctrination (see Indoctrination and the Blame Game) and the LeClerc brothers who produced Divided (please read "Divided" – A Review , "Divided" Lives Up to Its Name and Family-Integrated Church Wrap-Up).

As the Kendrick brothers have indicated, the 2013 Christian Filmmakers Academy begins next Monday.  It is described as "A Technical Boot Camp for Aspiring Culture Changers" and costs a whopping  $595/person / family rate if $525/person or $295/home if the three-day event is live streamed. (link)

In addition to Stephen Kendrick, the faculty includes:  Doug Phillips, Geoffrey Botkin, Isaac Botkin, Benjamin Botkin, the LeClerc brothers, Tryg Jacobson, and Colin Gunn, among others. 

It is noteworthy that the first winner of the SAICFF was Colin Gunn's documentary The Monstrous Regiment of Women

Unbeknownst to us, the Kendrick brothers have been rubbing elbows with Doug Phillips and the Vision Forum crowd for a number of years.  Here is a blurb about the 2009 Christian Filmmakers Academy in which the Kendricks participated. 

How does a fringe group like Vision Forum move mainstream?  

Their association with these filmmakers gives us some indication of their agenda and the method they are using to influence an unsuspecting audience.  Let's take a closer look at what Vision Forum adherents promote:

No birth control of any kind (militant fecundity)

Quiverfull

Homeschooling

 Patriarchy

Stay at home daughters

No college education for daughters

Hyper-Calvinism

Young Earth Creationism

Family Integrated Churches

Those are just some of the beliefs that are proclaimed by Doug Phillips and his ilk.  Is it any surprise that women have subservient roles in Fireproof and Courageous?  Now you know why… 

There is quite a difference between the movies this crowd puts out and the documentaries produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, for example.  The filmmakers affiliated with Doug Phillips have a not so secret agenda which is becoming more and more apparent.

In the video clip below, you will hear Stephen Kendrick mention his friend Geoffrey Botkin.  Botkin and his sons figure prominently at SAICFF and the Christian Filmmakers Academy.  If you have been with us for a while you may remember that last name.  Several years ago we reviewed a book written by Geoffrey Botkin's daughters and published by Vision Forum called So Much More.  Here is an excerpt from our post Sisterhood of the Stay-at-Home Daughters

The Botkin sisters take great pleasure in explaining that they are teenagers at the time they are writing their masterpiece.  So much wisdom at such an early age…  Here's what we learned from reading the book cover to cover:

Daughters are to be their father's "helpmeet".  What?  We thought that was the wife's role!  The Botkin sisters advise daughters to remain at home until they marry and help their father achieve his life's mission.  Where is that in the Bible?

Daughters should be homeschooled and should NEVER attend college!  The Botkin sisters warn young ladies that if they enroll in college, they will be defiled.

Daughters are to build up their brothers who will be the next generation of “manly men”.

Daughters are to be submissive and have a quiet spirit.

The climax of the book occurs when the Botkin sisters gleefully explain that they promote the Quiverfull Movement and that they plan to have as many children as possible when they get married.

This family has inspired the naming of a troubling condition known as Botkin Syndrome.  We recommend a website called Overcoming Botkin Syndrome that aptly defines that condition. 

"Botkin Syndrome" describes the emotional, psychological, spiritual, and sometimes physical effects manifested by children who have been raised under the so-called Biblical patriarchy theology, a Quiverfull mindset, and other such religious paradigms that promote authoritarian parenting… 

Under the Botkin Paradigm, all members of the family orbit around the family leader, the husband/father.  Each person within the family must “serve the vision” of their household patriarch and his “vision” for the family.  Boys follow their father’s wishes while they remain under the family’s roof, though men are afforded much more liberty and freedom than are women.  In some homes, mothers are not permitted to teach or discipline sons once they reach the age of thirteen.

Wives and adult daughters (until given in marriage through the courtship process) must do the bidding of their father who approves of their activities.  Young women who do not have a male to oversee them or have a father who declines participation in the paradigm are advised to go out to obtain a representative male to serve as their covering and protector.  

Women and daughters are not permitted to work outside the home unless it is in the workplace of the father who provides both spiritual direction and lends physical protection to the family as well.  Women who work outside the home are likened to prostitutes whose “feet wander from home.”  All education must take place within the home through homeschooling, and adult women are not permitted to be trained outside the home setting.  Women are beings created for the use of men, and in some forms of patriarchy, women are defined as the “indirect image of God,” the ontological lesser of their male counterparts (of lesser essence physically and spiritually).

Fathers are venerated in the Botkin paradigm, and the entire system of patriarchy which is followed by many Quiverfull Families also fosters enmeshment and developmental problems, particularly for girls, though all of the family members suffer.

Before we started blogging we became alarmed by the Vision Forum crowd, and our concerns have only escalated as we have discovered the effects of Vision Forum and Botkin Syndrome on our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We have written a number of posts that provide some insight into this radical bunch.  You might want to check these out:

The Patriarchs Are Coming…

Doug Phillips – Homeschooling Guru and QF Proponent

Homeschooling Hijackers

Quivering Daughters – Hillary McFarland Warns Against Quiverfull

Is Sunday School Unbiblical?

What Are Family-Integrated Churches?

NCFIC, Vision Forum, and the Bottom Line

Do Birds of a Feather Flock Together in the Young Earth Crowd?

The Vision Forum crowd has a specific agenda, which is becoming patently obvious in the propaganda they put out through books, films, and websites.

A couple of years ago The Christian Post interviewed Lee Stanley who had some critical remarks for Christian filmmakers.  Here is an excerpt from the CP article:

"Multi-award-winning filmmaker, Lee Stanley, mostly known for "Gridiron Gang," starring Dwayne Johnson, wants Christian filmmakers to stop making overtly Christian films.

Stanley, who became a born-again Christian in his early 30s, recently spoke to The Christian Post about what it means to be a Christian who makes films and why Christian filmmakers need to stop neglecting the secular audience.

Stanley wrote in his autobiography, Faith in the Land of Make-Believe: What God Can Do…Even in Hollywood, 'We must create quality entertainment that reflects life as it can be – or should have been – without hitting people over the head with the gospel.' "

Stanley concluded by saying,

“Those that are going to be Christian filmmakers, you know who you are in Christ. Your first responsibility is to honor the Lord and His word, but don’t go out there swinging your Bible around because you are going to distance people.

“I am very opposed to our continually making Christian films for those that already believe, and too many of them ending in church basements.”

What we are concerned about regarding those aligned with Doug Phillips is that they claim to appeal to a wider audience.  However, we don't believe their agenda is purely evangelistic in terms of bringing people to the Lord.  All indications are they attempting to impose their peculiar set of beliefs on fellow Christians (see the VF list above).  Such films serve to catapult men like Phillips and Botkin into the mainstream.  Do people REALLY understand what they advocate? 

With the success of Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous, you can be certain there will be more films coming in the future.  The next time a Christian flick is promoted by groups like The Gospel Coalition or someone invites you to go see the latest and greatest Christian movie, do your research.  Look at it this way… if you ever attend a Michael Moore film, you can be sure that it will uphold Moore's agenda.  Likewise, filmmakers who are aligned with Doug Phillips/Vision Forum have a very specific agenda centering around patriarchy. 

Please, don't get fooled by the action-filled or cutesy plot.  Make no mistake…  These films are propaganda attempting to get mainstream to embrace their underlying values.   If your church is planning to feature or sponsor one of these movies, go to your pastor and ask if he understands its intent. 

So when the next big Christian movie comes out and you are asked to support it, be sure to do your homework and find out who is behind it.  Ask yourself – could there be a hidden agenda?  In all likelihood, the answer will be YES…

We leave you with Stephen Kendrick's acceptance of the Jubilee Award at last year's San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (first clip) and some additional remarks (second clip).

Lydia's Corner:  Deuteronomy 13:1-15:23   Luke 8:40-9:6   Psalm 71:1-24   Proverbs 12:5-7

Comments

Christian Filmmaking – Is There a Hidden Agenda? — 260 Comments

  1. Short answer to the question: yes.

    I hadn’t heard about Colin Gunn’s film so I went looking for it on Amazon. After reading some of the nearly unabashedly glowing and gushy reviews, I felt like I could be sick. This gal is definitely not a member of Vision Forum’s (or Gunn’s or the Kendricks’) target audience!

  2. To be honest, I really can’t stand the saccharine falsehood of Facing the Giants. The moral of the story appeared to be “God will give you everything you want as long as you wait and are faithful.” That’s just not true, and it sure as heck isn’t the gospel. Add a layer of clumsy, transparent attempts at Biblical parallelism and a weird and unrealistic idea of what a “revival” is, and you get a movie that I just can’t care for much.

  3. someone probably has an Elsie Dinsmore adaptation in the works.

    [barf]

    agenda: OF COURSE THEY DO. kinda goes without saying, imo…

  4. Did you say Phillips and Botkin? *if* and that’s a big *if* – – I ever see any of their movies, it will be with the explicit intent of viewing it for blog material. I will notebook paper and pen handy.

  5. It kind of kills me that these guys claim they’re running a film festival. Most good film festivals have artistic merit as a very important criterion.

    Not so these folks. They pretend to be one thing by using the labels “film festival” and “filmmakers.” I find their spin on these words to be like others’ spin on “gospel,” etc.

  6. Never seen any, never intend to. But I have strongly complementarian friends who are as innocent as the day when it comes to this stuff. It ticks the box marked Christian, and it ticks the box marked male leadership, and they don’t look any deeper. Most of them have never even heard of patriarchy. But of course, I’m a known egal, so MY viewpoint is suspect anyway!

    But then I don’t like my art to be preachy, even when I agree with the message. I strongly believe that the role of the Christian artist is to tell the truth, whatever their subject matter — the truth about life in its glory and misery and complexity. And deep, heart-wrung, finely crafted fiction can be one of the finest ways of telling the truth.

  7. Well, where does one start? :)

    First of all I note that this “film festival” is billed as “a great event for families to watch tons of new Christ-honoring movies, documentaries, and shorts.”

    Families only, huh? Singles, the widowed, and the divorced need not apply.

    Second – what on Earth qualifies Phillips and Botkin to serve as “faculty” of a film school or judges of a film’s artistic merit?

    Third – my dear Deb, if I may make a gentle suggestion, in your list of harmful fringe positions of VF I’d add in that they consider life-saving and necessary surgery for ectopic pregnancy equivalent to abortion. A murderous, mysogynistic, hateful official position if ever there was one.

    Thank you so much for pointing out the connection between VF and this “mainstream” Christian artist, however. It’s so important that this be exposed.

    Yesterday on the BC thread, many of TWW’s non-American posters were pretty surprised by how these fringe positions in American evan are rapidly becoming or simply ARE the norm.

    I believe it was Haitch who expressed surprise that birth control is even “debated” among American evangelicals. My sad answer is that our U.S. evangelical normative default position/doctrine is indeed growing more radicalized by the day, and it’s through vehicles such as VF’s so-called “film festival.”

    These people must be outed!

    Finally, I’ll be up front in saying that personally, if film or art or music is labeled as “Christian” that is a guarantee that I will flee in the opposite direction, and I have always done so.

    There are a lot of folks who gain immense pleasure from contemporary Christian art, music, and film. I do not wish to make any judgements as artistic sensibilities are so very subjective, it’s simply that my tastes are my own, they are different and that’s that.

    I do appreciate the Christian artists like Lee Stanley who get out there and debate and challenge the artificial construct of the separation of art into “Christian” and “secular” spheres. And I do agree with many of his positions. And again, I’ll continue to avoid any film or television in particular that advertises itself as “Christian.”

  8. @ Rafiki:

    Finally, I’ll be up front in saying that personally, if film or art or music is labeled as “Christian” that is a guarantee that I will flee in the opposite direction, and I have always done so.

    Thanks for this – it’s very much my own take.

  9. I haven’t seen any of the movies mentioned, but I agree with what Lee Stanley says about movies that preach only to the choir. I think that Robert Duvall’s film, “The Apostle,” (1997) is one of the rare ones that draw secular audiences as well simply because it’s a good film with very talented actors. It was an odd feeling sitting in a crowded Washington, D.C. theatre, and watching a movie that dealt with Christianity seriously and honestly, and without any groaning from the audience. The main character was a highly flawed man, but it showed how God can use such people if they remain open to His leading.

    I wrote a review of it for my congregation. One person, who hadn’t seen it, was outraged that I praised a movie in which an ostensibly Christian character assaulted someone. His was an example of the attitude that keeps “Christian” movies in the Christian ghetto: Make sure there is nothing in the film that might possibly offend the most picky believer.

  10. @ Rafiki – “Finally, I’ll be up front in saying that personally, if film or art or music is labeled as “Christian” that is a guarantee that I will flee in the opposite direction, and I have always done so.”

    That’s my response too.

  11. @ JeffB:

    Jeff, “The Apostle” was a great film (for me, Robert Duvall could put on a tutu and dance with a chimp and his performance would be compelling, moving, and nuanced! I love him. :) )

    A bit more recently, were you aware of the Pharisaical “controversy” regarding “The Blind Side?” Seems that there were complaints that a film that had a few 4-letter words was being sold in some of the major “Christian” bookstore chains:

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/19/the-blind-side-too-hot-for-christian-bookstore/comment-page-11/

    Perhaps Christian bookstores need to start carrying industrial strength Gnat Strainers (TM)?

  12. Topical! I saw Blue Like Jazz a couple of nights ago here in Melbourne.

    It was released in the US back in August, but is just about to have a limited release here in Australian.

    It was directed by Steve Taylor (that Steve Taylor), and it’s definitely a challenging movie. I really enjoyed it, and want to see it again, but I’m surprised that it didn’t get roundly damned by the Calvinistas.

    I mean, it’s got swearing, drinking, lesbians, Atheists, and no clear gospel presentation, and it doesn’t wrap everything up with a nice “everyone gets saved” bow.

    What kind of Christian film is that???

    After all, when Jesus spoke his parables, he always wrapped them up neatly, then explained them to everyone in case they misunderstood… right?

  13. Rafiki wrote:

    Finally, I’ll be up front in saying that personally, if film or art or music is labeled as “Christian” that is a guarantee that I will flee in the opposite direction, and I have always done so.

    I haven’t always done so, but I very rarely listen to “Christian” music these days, and never watch the saccharine sweet, everything gets fixed by the end of “Christian” movies. Movies that start with the destination and build the plot backwards, then drive it home with a sledgehammer?

    Yeah, thanks, but no thanks.

  14. I do very much love the fact that as Hollywood has reduced the majority of its commercial output to remakes and endless sequels of comic books, the U.S. cable nets from HBO to Showtime to FX have been putting out some truly incredible, creative, captivating dramas.

    In no particular order, I love love love the following:

    1) “Treme”
    2) “Homeland”
    3) “Justified”
    4) “Luther” – on the BBC

    Woe be to anyone or anything that interrupts me during these programs! :)

    They are visually beautiful and filled with characters with whom (at the risk of sounding like I’m anti-social)I have a strong emotional investment. Characters who are imperfect, flawed, struggling, dark, joyful,loving, funny, wicked, conflicted, redemptive and so very very interesting.

    For about the last 7 years I really haven’t lived where I can go to the movies, although I do catch some when they are generally released.

    However, there are a few films – one from the U.S., one from South Africa, and one from Germany – that are standouts for me for the same reasons I noted in the television dramas:

    1) “The Hurt Locker” – there are scenes in this film that are so very very real to my own experiences. I can’t wait to get my hands on “Zero Dark Thirty”;

    2) “District 9″ – yes, there are aliens, explosions, and blood-n-guts galore which might make one think it’s just a sci-fi thriller, but at its heart this is a very very well-conceived and smart politica/historical commentary about South Africa with a moving and sweet love story thrown in for good measure.

    3)”The Lives of Others” – about the East German experience during communism and the Staasi era. Probably the most compelling film about totalitarianism and its evil legacy ever, with an ending that is breathtaking in its redemption.

    Now all of these that I’ve mentioned are definitely for adult audiences,and not sensitive adult audiences – and none of them are for the kiddos.

    I really do feel for parents as there is not a lot on offer as far as “family fare” is concerned that doesn’t make one check your brains and humanity at the door, excepting most Pixar releases.

    Bottom line, if a “Christian” film maker ever makes a film that approaches the depth and creativity of some of the dramas I’ve listed here, I might – MIGHT – go see it.

    But honestly? If they slapped the “Christian” label on it, no matter how good, I’d still likely not go see it. So my advice to Christian filmmakers – just make good films and forget the polarizing religious lables, mmmkay? :)

  15. The challenge of being a Christian who happens also to be an artist is to produce work which is authentic, without either compromising one’s own convictions or sugar-coating and anodising the work itself to the point where it becomes either sinister or laughable. Even the greatest artists such as Dostoyevsky have struggled with this.

    Also the danger of producing art that specifically promotes one’s own convictions (or ideology) is that it runs the danger of becoming just hack work, ie it doesn’t matter how bad the work is as long as it meets the Party line. I’m thinking of films and other work produced in the Communist era. Some of it managed to be good, but I’m sure a lot of it was just preaching to the choir. And in the USSR it all had to run through the censor for politics as well as other concerns.

    Likewise Goebbels’ last film, ostensibly about the siege of Kolberg in 1807, is supposedly really an exhortation to the defenders of Berlin in 1945.

    Rafiki, I enjoyed “District 9″ as well.

  16. @ Kolya:

    Kolya wrote:

    Even the greatest artists such as Dostoyevsky have struggled with this.

    Kolya, when I wish to read “Christian” literature or listen to “Christian” music I am drawn again and again to the classics(particularly the Russians) precisely BECAUSE of the artist’s struggles, which flow through the work.

    And I could go on and on and ON about “District 9″ which I won’t do here. :) It really blew me away on so many levels, and I have a deep affinity for South African history and experience which it centers on so brilliantly.

    I’ve even thought about participating in one of the many fan petitions online clamoring for the “District 10″ sequel.

    Come on, Christopher, it’s been over 3 years, surely you should have returned by now???? :)

  17. Deb

    This is a post that needed to be written. Good job. Folks should show this to their friends and family to help them understand the agenda behind the film.

    I find the presence of Botkin troubling. I am not the first to say that his relationship with his now adult daughters is a little weird. Might I point out that neither are married which is odd given that the Botkin is sooooo admired in these little circles. Don't think I am blaming the daughters. In their system, it is the father's role to find them their new helpmeet. He seems quite content to let them stay under his roof, caring for his needs. This is totally weird.

  18. Does Christian filmmaking have an agenda? You bet it does. Thank goodness most of it is so bad that its agenda will not make any inroads outside the people who already agree with it.

    Their “film festival” seems to be little more than Dougie handing out massive sums of money (which I’m sure he got by hoodwinking parents with VF) to his associates / buddies. And I’m sure if one of Doug’s sons made a movie, he would have no trouble handing the money to him either. But it’s not nepotism because they’re Christians.

    And I will state publicly now that if there is ever an Elsie Dinsmore film, I will see it for the express purpose of mocking the crap out of it. Just like I read Twilight only to write sarcastic notes in the margins and draw sparkles around every occurrence of the word “Edward.”

  19. I can't listen to most Christian music either, which seems very bland to me – all the same, no meaning, no imagination. And Christian films are very similar as well. Come to think of it, most churches are the same – but that's a whole 'nother discussion!

  20. @ Dee:

    Well, if the Botkin sisters ever got married they would have to 1) leave Geoff’s house and 2) start having kids and stay at home raising them. This has the potential to lose VF massive amounts of $$$. Ergo, it’s my prediction the Botkin sisters may never get married.

    This is also the same reason I truly believe that if they ever did get married and one of them got an ectopic pregnancy, that Doug’s public proclamations would be ignored and said pregnancy would be secretly ended and never mentioned. It’s just stupid to let the goose that laid the golden egg die. I know this makes me ridiculously cynical, but it wouldn’t be the first time a public religious idol violated all their “principles” behind closed doors. Plus if they actually let one of them die and word got out how it happened, they would have to own their extreme position and watch every mom who’s ever had an ectopic stop buying their products. $$$ makes the world go ’round!

  21. @ dee:

    Dee, I find what the Botkins advocate is beyond troubling and weird. I think they espouse a hateful and enslaving ideology for women, period.

    I cannot imagine any normal man who would wish to marry into such a cultic group.

    Deb, again, I REALLY appreciate this topic and your exposure of the VF influences in what many U.S. evangelicals believe are “mainstream Christian” productions.

    There is NO WAY this stuff is “mainstream.” NO WAY.

  22. Tikatu

    I wrote my first review on Amazon for Matt Redmond's book (I think I did one on some boots once). He did not ask me to do so and my comment was heartfelt. I suspect that most of those gushing reviews are done by the friends of Vision Forum.

    Yesterday I had some fun. I went over to the reviews for Mark Driscoll's new book Who Do You Think You Are? I do not think I have laughed so hard in a long time. I really mean it.These reviews are written by normal people.  At one point the discussion centered around Mars Hill and whether it was Driscoll or Bell who was the pastor. People kept trying to answer the question but new people would keep asking. So, one guy chimed in "Hey, I just discovered there is a planet called Mars. What's up with that?" I left him a comment and thanked him for my laugh of the week.

  23. Warwick

    I believe that the movie, based on the book, was supposed to show one man’s disillusionment with Christianity and his journey to attempt to work it out. It is not supposed to be an evangelistic film. Here is part of a review of the movie from Amazon link.

     “Don (Marshall Allman, True Blood), after discovering that his mother is having an affair with his youth pastor, flees conservative Texas for the most radical place he can find: Reed College in Portland, Oregon. As he navigates romantic disappointment, civil disobedience, a lesbian best friend, and lots of alcohol, Don tries to not only hide his Christian background but repress his religious yearning–which only leads him to flounder until, after struggling through confusion, lashing out, and even humiliation, he reaches some equilibrium. Adapted from the memoir by Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazzis an odd movie, episodic and muddled in some ways, squeezed into moviemaking formulas in others, and there are some sequences (such as Don imagining himself as a rabbit chasing a sexy carrot from Texas to Portland) that aren’t going to make much sense to anyone who hasn’t read the book. The greatest strength of Allman’s performance is that it doesn’t soft-pedal Don’s disillusionment; his desire to escape his upbringing feels genuine, and the movie’s conclusion doesn’t seem predetermined.”

  24. Rafiki

    Thank you for your review of some shows. I plan to record some of them after reading your thoughts. Homeland sounds great. i am in the process of working myself through Downton Abbey and living it.

    I loved District 9 although it kept me on edge more of the time. The intent was quite clear for which I am grateful Sometimes I have trouble getting the “deep” meanings and will consult Google to catch stuff I missed.

  25. Hester

     “draw sparkles around every occurrence of the word “Edward.” A great laugh to start my day!

  26. @ dee:

    Dee, O Blog Queen, I love that you loved “District 9.” :) Here is a link to Cape Town’s wonderful District 6 museum, to give you some additional historical references: http://www.districtsix.co.za/

    “Homeland” is an amazing thriller, and an adaptation of an Israeli TV series.

    As a southerner, you may really enjoy “Treme” which is about post-Katrina New Orleans. My fifth-generation best friend from N.O. really adores it and feels it’s mostly on point regarding the city’s culture, politics, governance and of course the music.

    “Justified” is another wonderful show set in KY and based on characters first introduced in an Elmore Leonard short story. I read an interview with Leonard where he stated he feels it’s the best TV or film adaptation of his writing.

    “Luther” – U.K. crime drama. Lead actor Idriss Elba is a POWERHOUSE.

  27. Rafiki wrote:

    @
    “Justified” is another wonderful show set in KY and based on characters first introduced in an Elmore Leonard short story. I read an interview with Leonard where he stated he feels it’s the best TV or film adaptation of his writing.

    “Justified” is set in Harlan County, where I was born.

  28. “Then came Fireproof in 2008, starring Kirk Cameron. I bought that DVD too and thought it was a wholesome, heart-warming story;”

    I’ve never seen it, though I know it’s on netflix. My coworker raves about it.

    As a divorced man (who filed for divorce and believes it was biblical), this looks like a triggerfest for me, unless I’m misunderstanding the point of the movie. It seems to be about a 30 day love dare that magically saves a destructive marriage?

  29. Julie Anne

    If you are referring to the boots review, it really was a review on boots. I told you I was fashionable.

    Years ago, if you bought a product from Amazon, they would send you an email to review the product with quick check off boxes. So, I did a review on boots which I did not remember until I reviewed Matt Redmonds book. I clicked on my name and saw I had done such a review although I had forgoten about it.

    I do not have time to wrtie reviews for little items these days although  when I buy stuff on Ebay I try to do it since some people are struggling to make ends meet with their Ebay sales.

  30. I didn’t really like Fireproof although that probably had more to do with the fact that I find Kirk Cameron annoying. Generally, I find the deliberately “Christian” (as HUG would say “TM”) films are trying too hard, not terribly artful, and not even much fun to watch. My favorite movie with a religious theme is “Leap of Faith.” I also like BBC’s “Rev.” and CBN’s “Little Mosque on the Prairie.” In my mind, most of these “culture changers” need an excuse to do whatever it is they wanted to do, but with a “Christian” slant.

  31. I just watched the trailer for The Monstrous Regime of Women so I could remind myself what that documentary was all about again. I will admit I do think Phyllis Schlafly is a bit of nut, but as I heard her speak at the beginning of the trailer? Honestly, she pointed out the projection they are using.

    I’m going to quote here, but use opposite terms that she used against Feminism. Tell me if you don’t see some projection going on in their propaganda!

    The problem with Patriarchy…I think the principal problem is the cultivation of an attitude of victimization. Patriarchy tries to make men believe that they are victims of a oppressive female dominated feminized society. And they really wake up in the morning with a chip on their shoulder.

    Hmm. Yes, I replaced at key terms they target like ‘feminist’ or women in general that don’t believe as they do with their own keywords of their movement.

    This epiphany just jumped right out at me this morning. They do wake up every morning with a chip on their shoulders that feminist’s are trying to feminize their world…and thus oppress them.

    Artist’s that don’t accept this theme of victimization don’t have a chance. They must adhere to the propaganda.

  32. FYI – Kirk Cameron and Doug Phillips are good friends. I wouldn't be surprised if Phillips is the one who introduced Cameron to the Kendricks when they did the casting for Fireproof..

    Kirk Cameron was involved with a documentary called Monumental which got some recognition at last year's SAICFF. Cameron is very involved with the Vision Forum agenda.

  33. Rafiki wrote:

    @ dee:
    Dee, I find what the Botkins advocate is beyond troubling and weird. I think they espouse a hateful and enslaving ideology for women, period.
    I cannot imagine any normal man who would wish to marry into such a cultic group.

    I was just reading a blog post last night written by a man who was raised in this. (Our beloved HUG even left some comments) http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/2012/03/why-courtship-fails-a-males-perspective/
    It seems to not be a very effective system for finding a spouse. This make it all the more perplexing that VF would promote a film bashing singles.

  34. Deb: I was just thinking about Kirk Cameron. It used to be Way of the Master with Ray Comfort and then it broadened to homeschooling with Voddie, Phillips, Ham, etc. He has drunk the HMK – homeschool Movement Kool-Aid. I hate to be a cynic, but the connections seem to be a good indicator of the agenda.

  35. @ dee:

    Dee–I went to see District 9 with some folks from the old church and I was sitting next to a guy I really liked. Well…that was short lived. He was so skeezed he kept jumping and wrapping his entire body around me, legs included, eyes squeezed shut. Now, that normally would be A-OK, but come on dude? Really? I was so not into him after that. AND he ate all my popcorn and drank my water. I was done. I saw my future before my eyes of going downstairs with a bat when there was some disturbance in the night that woke us up.. Naw, I’ll pass.

  36. There’s nothing hidden about Christian Filmmaking Agenda. Scare ‘em into the Altar Call Ending, sell that Fire Insurance! All propaganda to make those converts!

    A year or two ago, Internet Monk covered the subject of the abysmal quality and propaganda trumping storytelling of Christian(TM) movies. And somebody weighed in with a secondhand “private revelation”, i.e. claim of a direct message from God.

    Coming from a church whose favorite form of flaking out is “Mary Channeling”, I am very skeptical of claims of private revelation, especially when said private revelations go public as compulsory. But this one sounded different.

    The claim was that Christians had done such a bad job with Christian(TM) media that God was withdrawing his mantle from Christian(TM) writers, artists, publishers, and moviemakers and was placing it on secular mainstream writers, artists, etc. (“Mene, Mene, Tekel, Uparshim…”) Henceforth secular artists would start saying what God wanted said in their creative works. (And after encountering My Little Pony derivative fanfic and fan comics with more echoes of the Gospel in them and than Courageous, Facing the Giants, and Left Behind combined (never mind The Omega Code), my skepticism on this subject is going down.)

  37. Hannah

    What a clever comment. 

    The problem with Patriarchy…I think the principal problem is the cultivation of an attitude of victimization. Patriarchy tries to make men believe that they are victims of a oppressive female dominated feminized society. And they really wake up in the morning with a chip on their shoulder.

    Hmm. Yes, I replaced at key terms they target like ‘feminist’ or women in general that don’t believe as they do with their own keywords of their movement.

    This epiphany just jumped right out at me this morning. They do wake up every morning with a chip on their shoulders that feminist’s are trying to feminize their world…and thus oppress them.

  38. Garland wrote:

    To be honest, I really can’t stand the saccharine falsehood of Facing the Giants. The moral of the story appeared to be “God will give you everything you want as long as you wait and are faithful.” That’s just not true, and it sure as heck isn’t the gospel.

    My Little Pony has more depth than that.

    But then, in local Eighties SF fandom, we had a saying: “It’s gotta be Christian(TM). Look how shoddy it is.”

    P.S. Facing the Giants, Omega Code II: Megiddo, et al actually have a name for their genre in the mainstream: “Christploitation”, a contraction of “Christian Exploitation.”

  39. Jeff S wrote:

    As a divorced man (who filed for divorce and believes it was biblical), this looks like a triggerfest for me, unless I’m misunderstanding the point of the movie. It seems to be about a 30 day love dare that magically saves a destructive marriage?

    And causes the barren wife to get pregnant, and a new red truck for the faithful Christian man. Everything breaking their way completely after the on-his-knees Altar Call Rededication scene near the end. Nobody has mentioned any unicorns farting rainbows or free ice cream, so they at least had some restraint.

    There’s a reason I’ve been devouring lotsa My Little Pony fanfic and fan-made videos this past year. The creative output coming out of Bronydom is just staggering; and as I said above, it can go into a lot more depth than you find in Official Christianese media.

  40. Pingback: Christian Filmmaking Examined UNITED STATES

  41. There is a discussion ongoing at sgmsurvivors about Chad Mahaney’s alleged drug use and cover up. Such events in families of other pastors were cause for the pastor to step down. As well kids being expelled from cls for much lesser reasons.

  42. Deb wrote:

    Kirk Cameron was involved with a documentary called Monumental which got some recognition at last year’s SAICFF. Cameron is very involved with the Vision Forum agenda.

    Kirk Cameron (AKA GCAAT/Greatest Christian Actor of All Time) is also completely neurotic even by Hollywood standards. Will only act in Official Christianese movies (and Ray Comfort YEC banana videos), hid in his trailer while shooting Left Behind because he heard there were some HEATHENS on the set crew and didn’t want to lose his Salvation by cross-contamination, insists his wife be stand-in on any kissing scene “to prevent Adultery”, poster boy for what my church calls “Excessive Scrupulosity” (a form of OCD).

    Slacktivist wrote of this a year or two ago between volumes in his page-by-page snark of Left Behind: The Neverending Series. He postulated that Cameron had been catechized in a church which defined “holiness” primarily in NEGATIVE terms, i.e. Holiness/Godliness/Christian = THOU SHALT NOTs. If he was also an adult convert coming out of Hollywood, this would have added additional guilt baggage.

  43. turtle wrote:

    There is a discussion ongoing at sgmsurvivors about Chad Mahaney’s alleged drug use and cover up. Such events in families of other pastors were cause for the pastor to step down.

    But he is the Son of The Humble One, Crown Prince to the throne of SGM.

  44. “Alex and Stephen Kendrick will be speaking this year at the San Antonio Independent Christian film festival February 7-9th. This is a great event for families to watch tons of new Christ-honoring movies, documentaries, and shorts…”
    *****************

    my instant reaaction: why in the world must “christ-honoring” equate to christianese language, a bible, and explicit depiction of christian culture???????

    gag reflex, happening yet aGAIN (!)

    oh, the unintelligent narrow-mindedness makes my blood boil. The smell of disinfectant….

    i’ll tell you what christian movies are: velveeta cheese.

    Taking honest raw materials (at least one of them, milk) and running it through a battery of processes to come up with american cheese, then running that through yet more processes to finally yield something called “velveeta” sitting there in the bottom of the test tube.

    Kendrick Brothers films and christian films take honest creativity and subject it to so many forces that beat the living daylights out of it.

    The raw material of creativity is so overprocessed that a pure story becomes utterly boring. All edges removed.

    Creative honesty is so processed out that what you end up with is propaganda.

    Merriam Webster online:

    propaganda:
    2) the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person

    3) ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause; also: a public action having such an effect

    Story-telling is what it is. Not all stories are pretty, sweet, happy, clean. Story-telling is about life, in ALL its shades (not only the Christian brand shades). Honesty in story-telling doesn’t force a plot or strip characters of who they are for any reason (religious, political, commericial).

    What does Christ-honoring mean, anyway??? I’d say struggle through something life-taking that results in something life-giving. Hundreds of films do this so very well, with creative integrity intact.

  45. elastigirl wrote:

    Merriam Webster online:
    propaganda:

    The source of the word is Latin for “propagation”. In the Catholic church, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (“Propaganda Fide”) is the church department in charge of missionaries and making converts. Propaganda originally meant media and “outreach” whose purpose was making converts.

  46. A slight peeve of mine is the use of just the word “Homeschooling” to describe the approach which Vision Forum or other patriarchal groups have on educating their children.

    Even the label “Christian Homeschooling” would be a disservice to the people who use something like Sonlight brand materials and have never heard of Vision Forum. “Patriarchal Homeschooling” would be closer to the truth. Or “Fundamentalist homeschooling”. Something, anything, to differentiate between their particular view and rest of the varied world of home education. Homeschooling is not a concept limited to Christianity.

    For example, we don’t label them as “Food Conscious” or “Healthy Eaters” even though they promote a particular view of food.

    http://www.visionforumministries.org/events/food/

    “In food we see the love of Jesus Christ for His Church, the wisdom of God as Creator, the mercy of the Lord on the sons of men, and a vehicle for structuring and organizing the life and dominion labors of mankind.”

    We need to continue to make the point that they have a particular “vision” of Christianity which they layer on every conceivable (no pun intended) area of life.

  47. @Heather –

    I just clicked over to the VF food event link. My goodness – “the biblical doctrine of dominion”?

    (A) When did the care of the earth become a doctrine? It is scary that EVERYTHING these people do is viewed through the lense of “dominion” – or, more accurately, “domination” – so no wonder that extends to film making.

    (B) It is not much like Christ, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!

    Now there’s a doctrine that is life-giving.

  48. “…the 2013 Christian Filmmakers Academy begins next Monday… “A Technical Boot Camp for Aspiring Culture Changers”

    In addition to Stephen Kendrick, the faculty includes: Doug Phillips, Geoffrey Botkin, Isaac Botkin, Benjamin Botkin, the LeClerc brothers, Tryg Jacobson, and Colin Gunn, among others.
    ****************************

    Why have ideologues as presenters at a technical workshop?

    And why pay $600 to hear them merely spout their thoughts??

    This is about propaganda film-making. Honest art, creativity, and story-telling have nothing to do with this.

  49. Finally listening to Kendrick’s comments: “God wants men to represent Him well to children.” Yes, and women too, Stephen. Women are to represent God well by reflecting His image into the lives of children (among others). Ugh. I am so tired of these men telling women that we cannot be Christ-bearers, when Jesus Himself says no such thing. Rant over.

  50. Elastigirl,

    At least Velveeta with Rotel tastes good over nachos. Courageous just made me gag.

  51. The only one of these movies I have ever seen is “Facing the Giants”, and that because it was playing on a tour bus when my husband and I went with a group to Branson. We were distracted from any artistic merit the film might have had by two large holes in the plot. The two schools playing in the state football finals would never have met in real life, because all fifty states have High School Athletic Associations that place schools in divisions according to their size, and each division has its own playoff. The small Christian football team would have been in Division 2 at best, possibly even Division 1, while the “giants” would have been in Division 5.

    Second of all, the mix-up over the pregnancy results should never have occurred (when the wife was at first told she wasn’t pregnant and then it turned out she was given another patient’s results), because medical offices use at least two identifiers to make sure they have the right patient (usually whole name and birthdate). I am fairly sure that no one else in the entire state of Louisiana has the same last name I do, and I still get asked for my birthdate at my doctor’s office and my address at the drugstore to make sure they have the right me. Although, since the drugstore is a large chain and someone from another state could be picking up a refill there while on the road, I guess it makes sense.

    If you make a point of isolating yourself from the real world as much as possible, I guess it is easy not to know these things. If you are a man writing about a woman’s experience, like getting the results of a pregnancy test back, you also may not know these things, especially if you are healthy and haven’t been in a doctor’s office lately. If these film makers are serious about wanting to make films that appeal to a general audience, they may need to 1) get out there and mix more and 2) get some feedback from women about women’s experiences.

    But then if they did that, they wouldn’t be their peculiar selves.

  52. “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.”

    I don’t know who to attribute this quote to, but it is relevant to several popular preachers of our day.

  53. Through a glass darkly wrote:

    (A) When did the care of the earth become a doctrine? It is scary that EVERYTHING these people do is viewed through the lense of “dominion” – or, more accurately, “domination” – so no wonder that extends to film making.

    I am not a fan of SF writer S.M.Stirling, but every time I hear a lot of talk about “Dominion” or “Domination”, I think DRAKA — a fictional society of Stirling’s where EVERYTHING centers around Power and Domination:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Domination

  54. Bridget wrote:

    “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.”

    “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance —
    BAFFLE THEM WITH B.S.!”

  55. Lynne T wrote:

    I strongly believe that the role of the Christian artist is to tell the truth, whatever their subject matter — the truth about life in its glory and misery and complexity. And deep, heart-wrung, finely crafted fiction can be one of the finest ways of telling the truth.

    @Lynne, I LOVE how you worded this. Couldn’t agree more.

  56. dee wrote:

    I find the presence of Botkin troubling… In their system, it is the father’s role to find them their new helpmeet. He seems quite content to let them stay under his roof, caring for his needs. This is totally weird.

    It all seems so terribly Austen-ish or Bronte-ish. My feeling is that he is not fulfilling the role of gospelly-gospel manly-man fatherly-father by finding his daughters a husband (hmm, should ‘gospelly’ have two L’s?)

  57. Heather wrote:

    A slight peeve of mine is the use of just the word “Homeschooling” to describe the approach which Vision Forum or other patriarchal groups have on educating their children.

    I found a way to say it in fewer words!

    It is not THAT they homeschool! It is WHAT they teach about homeschooling.

  58. elastigirl wrote:

    i’ll tell you what christian movies are: velveeta cheese.

    I think that’s being a little unfair to Velveeta cheese, don’t you?

    :)

  59. Coleslaw

    Welcome to TWW and thank you for pointing out the flaws in the film. I am sure that some of the writers believe that a good Christian football team with God behind them could slam any Division 5 team. Didn’t you know that God is sovereign over the results of a football game?  :)

  60. Through a glass darkly

    Women? Do you not know this is a patriarchy and women are to shut their mouths? Piper says that Christianity has a masculine feel. Women are just a side business.

  61. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    “Christsploitation” is a great term. That type of movie actually dates back even further than the ones you cite. I remember two, in particular, from the early 70s: A Thief in the Night (the Left Behind series’ skeevy, pornstache-sporting uncle) and If Footman Tire You What Will Horses Do? (the godless commies gone take over Amurica if we don’t git right and stop wearin mini-skirts to church — and, btw, here’s what they’re gonna do in graphic, R-rated detail if we don’t). Those movies didn’t bother to hide their agenda much either. Both are well worth checking out as comedies of the unintentional variety.

    One recent entry in the low budget Chirstian sub-genre that is actually worth watching for reasons other than derision is The Grace Card, a drama with Louis Gossett, Jr. about an African-American police officer and part-time pastor who is partnered with, and gradually befriends, a racist white guy. Good stuff

  62. Have any of you heard about movieguide.org? If you want a shock, a laugh, or to have one more thing to be irritated by, then by all means take a visit on over there. All you District 9 fans…it is given an “Extreme Caution” rating. http://www.movieguide.org/reviews/movie/district-9.html

    I grew up in church communities where this website was, well, it was basically our version of Rotten Tomatoes.

  63. @Dee – (BTW, that’s Glass, not Galls… LOL)

    Ya, sorry. I read my Bible, pray, listen to God, and then forget what these men are teaching. It always comes as a bit of a shock that people who are supposedly Christians can think like that.

  64. Coleslaw and kindakrunchy,

    Welcome to TWW!  I just got back from visiting with my college-aged daughter.  She wanted to get lunch at Chick-Fil-A, and I decided not to order anything.  Now your monikers are making me hungry!

    Love the Velveeta cheese/Rotel and nachos combo.  I think I’ll fix it on Sunday for the big game.

    Please continue to chime in.  :-)

  65. Deb – thank you for this post, I can share with people when I see “Courageous” sitting next to the TV. It was on Foxtel movie channel recently. Also was “Machine Gun Preacher” and “Higher Ground” with Vera Farmiga. Speaking of the latter – has anyone seen that movie? I found it most disturbing to watch. Warning – triggering.

    Going secular now (sorry) – Dee, maybe there should be a ‘movie recipe’ spot also?

    I like how Showtime, HBO etc are putting the $ into making qualities series. And the Beeb TV series ‘Sherlock’ with Benedict Cumberbatch of extremely high cheekbones fame is brilliant – movie length episodes (an hour and a half). When is series two EVER going to happen? Hurry up March 2013 !

    Treme – woop woop !
    Homeland – woop woop ! (just finished watching season two yesterday on moonlightmedia dot tv)
    The Newsroom is good if you feel bereft when West Wing finished.

    Then there’s the great communista movies – ‘The Lives of Others’ is amazing, agreed Raifiki. More humorous ones like “Mrs Ratcliffe’s Revolution” and “Goodbye Lenin” are great. The Edukators (post-communista) is wonderfully rebellious and quirky. And the 1996 ‘Children of the Revolution’ with the wonderful Richard Roxburgh.

    Speaking of Richard Roxburgh, I have to make a plug for a great Australian series, “Rake”. It won’t be in everyone’s taste, he’s a very naughty boy (just tell yourself he is partially based on a real character when you’re watching it !) And Matt Day is always fabulous…. will stop gushing now.

  66. @ Natalie:

    Well Natalie, at least it wasn’t completely “ungodly” – the review notes “no nudity but male alien in bright pink bra.”

    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

  67. Rafiki wrote:

    elastigirl wrote:
    i’ll tell you what christian movies are: velveeta cheese.
    I think that’s being a little unfair to Velveeta cheese, don’t you?

    I was going to say something about that, too, but declined. Big Queso fan here. That is a little insulting to Velveeta. :-)

  68. Through a glass darkly,

    I corrected your moniker in Dee’s comment.  :-) 

    Sorry ’bout that.  Glad you have a great sense of humor.

    Yep, I, too, ignore these ‘patriarchs’.  Every time they come to mind, I count my blessings for the wonderful man I married. 

     

  69. @Natalie –

    I used to look at (Focus on the Family’s?) pluggedinonline for movie reviews, understanding that their reviewers would count every “damn” as a negative, whereas that doesn’t bother me much. I finally said, “These people have serious problems, and I’m not going to visit their website anymore” when I saw the following posted in the “Other Negative Elements” section of a review: “Before a bath, we see young Ben (he’s about 7 or 8) wearing only a pair of underwear.”

    Okay, I know I am more lax about these things than many Americans, having grown up in a part of the world where it is not uncommon for children to run naked on the beach until they are 5 or 6, but come on… a 7-year-old in a pair of underwear is a negative element? Do they think that everyone is a raving sex maniac who can’t control themself?

  70. There are Christian films that are not terrible. I thought Second Chance was ok. It takes dome swipes at megachurches amongst other things.

    FYI – I have it on good authority that Velveeta is not a calvinist food product

  71. Deb,

    This was such a good post. Lightbulbs were coming on in my mind, especially when you posed the question “How does a fringe group like Vision Forum move mainstream?” Of course! Offer a large sum of money to people who are able to do it for them – film makers. It is interesting to me how the Kendrick Brothers’ films have evolved toward the VF agenda a little more each time… have they sold out to VF’s agenda in order to make more money? I don’t know. But it doesn’t look very good.

  72. @ Haitch:

    Oh Haitch, I think we’d be good “movie night” friends! :) I did get into “Sherlock” and have wondered when the next season will start again.

    Another post-communist German film that I loved was “The Baader Meinhof Complex” about the rise of the 1970s Red Army Faction.

    What a fascinating period of history – looking at the rise of left-wing terrorism as a murderous backlash against their parents generation who, after all, were the generation of “Good Germans” who went through de-Nazification and just tried to forget about it all.

    Of note was that one of the key women in the group was the daughter of a pastor, who was clearly radicalized by the legacy of the church’s near-absorption into the Nazi state (apart from brave dissenters such as Bonhoffer).

  73. Aaah, this whole debate reminds me of the years I was at art school & thinking about painting from a christian perspective…I am also one who generally runs screaming when the word ‘Christian’ is a prefix to any kind of art…I seriously fail to see why the hallmark of Christian art isn’t honesty & creativity, rather than banality & cheese. Franky Schaeffer’s diatribes on this always made perfect sense to me.

  74. Rafiki wrote:

    I did get into “Sherlock” and have wondered when the next season will start again.

    FYI for anyone who hasn’t seen it, “Sherlock” is pretty much the best thing on. It’s amazing, and anyone with Netflix who hasn’t seen it should definitely do so ASAP.

    As far as “Christian” movies go- I guess “The Blindside” doesn’t qualify as Christian?

  75. @Natalie and Through a glass darkly:

    If you want to see a “Christian” movie review site that makes those two look positively sane, check out capalert.com and its patented WISDOM review system.

  76. @ Heather:

    “Even the label ‘Christian Homeschooling’ would be a disservice to the people who use something like Sonlight brand materials and have never heard of Vision Forum.”

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Sonlight includes R. J. Rushdoony and Gary North (the foundational theologians in VF’s worldview) in their high school American government curriculum. I know this because we bought that year and those books are on my bookshelf. I just checked the website and they are still selling them.

    I’m not saying Sonlight is overtly Reconstructionist like VF (they’re not), but I think it was very unwise of the Holzmanns to include those books and I’ve yet to find out why they did.

  77. @ Chris C.:

    Wow. You’re right! This was in their review of Courageous-

    Impudence/Hate (I) – 83 out of 100
    The only matters of impudence and/or hatred found include encouraging abortion, coaching to deceive [Rom. 16:17 – 18] and teen disrespect of his father [Exod. 20:12].

    C-R-A-Z-Y!!

  78. Chris C. wrote:

    its patented WISDOM review system.

    Ooooo, this sounds intriguing. And likely Calvinista. Why?

    It’s like the movie version of systematic theology, or Wayne Grudem’s 837 easy-peasy steps for women to know if they’re lording it over their male “heads.”

    I mean, it must be good and have all the answers in black and white because it’s a SYSTEM! :)

  79. Beakerj wrote:

    I seriously fail to see why the hallmark of Christian art isn’t honesty & creativity, rather than banality & cheese.

    YES YES YES, This.

    & Rafiki, apologies for misspelling your name on occasion. Baader-Meinhof Complex – watched this and the films “Munich” and “Carlos” in the same week. Yeah. My generation seems to forget that more recent time in our history. I didn’t know about the pastor’s daughter link. I think that’s why I like the “Edukators” as a balance – it’s more quirkily rebellious with no bloodshed (they break into rich people’s houses and rearrange the furniture in a bizarre manner etc).

  80. PS Jeff S – I reckon I have figured out how Sherlock “done it” at the end of series one – it was so intriguing !!!!

  81. In theory, Sherlock will play in the fall of this year. Given its the BBC these things are subject to change. I also have some doubt the BBC has any idea when autumn actually occurs.

  82. Looking for You,

    Agreed! I think they have sold out, and it is the biggest mistake they could make.

    It is highly unlikely I will ever buy another Kendrick DVD unless something drastically changes.

    Glad you enjoyed the post.

  83. Haitch wrote:

    I think that’s why I like the “Edukators” as a balance – it’s more quirkily rebellious with no bloodshed (they break into rich people’s houses and rearrange the furniture in a bizarre manner etc).

    Wow- delurk and within 2 days a discussion on modern German film breaks out. Love the titles already mentioned, to which I’d only add “The State I am In” (Die innere Sicherheit) and “The Legend of Rita” (Die Stille nach dem Schuss.) Neither would probably pass the censor’s muster at the San Antonio Film Festival, but who cares.

  84. Juniper

    I will have you know that any Philly cheeses steak that does not use Velveeta msut remove “Philly” from in front of its name. It is a corrupted Philly Cheese Steak.

  85. Rafiki

    “no nudity but male alien in bright pink bra”   That has to be one of the funnier things I have read all day. “Little Billy cannot see the movie because the alien wears a bright pink bra.” Major ROFL.

     

  86. @ ConfusedButHopeful:
    Ooh, haven’t heard of them, I must follow up. Thanks. Along with numo’s recommendations of films made in my own country that I hadn’t heard of. I love Inuit and Scandinavian films too – anything with snow basically.

    Okay – you might be able to help me find a German film I’ve been looking for a while, and can’t find. It’s in German language with English subtitles. I saw it on SBS here (multicultural TV channel) within the last ten years, blowed if I can find the title. It’s a romantic comedy I think, a social worker type and a fully-brewed capitalist get it on. He’s got the BMW or Mercedes thing down pat. The film title is eluding me and driving me nuts !

    PS Feminist alert – the films “Potiche” (Catherine Deneuve and the fabulous Gerard Depardieu) and “Made in Dagenham” are awesome.

  87. @ Chris C. –

    Capalert’s review (“Courageous, not made by Hollywood, might be the finest film I have ever seen”) says it all, really. Wow, I just can’t help thinking there are too many Christians with not enough to do with their time…

  88. Natalie wrote:

    Have any of you heard about movieguide.org? If you want a shock, a laugh, or to have one more thing to be irritated by, then by all means take a visit on over there. All you District 9 fans…it is given an “Extreme Caution” rating. http://www.movieguide.org/reviews/movie/district-9.html
    I grew up in church communities where this website was, well, it was basically our version of Rotten Tomatoes.

    OK, this right here say VOLUMES. Overall they liked the movie “Tangled”, but they do have the following caveat:

    “There’s also a moral conflict that’s not quite resolved positively. In a way, it seems as if Rapunzel is rebelling against her mother. That’s because the wicked hag, who pretends to be her mother, is not that wicked. If she had been a little bit more mean, there would be no confusion about Rapunzel’s decision to disobey her or rebel.”

    IS NOT THAT WICKED

    (they mean her behavior toward Rapunzel from Rapunzel’s viewpoint, since we’d all agree that kidnapping and lying are wicked).

    Rapunzel’s mother is one of the CLEAREST examples of emotional abuse I’ve ever seen in a movie (and Rapunzel’s response of “I can’t believe I did this/I’m the worst daughter ever/this is the best day ever” etc. even makes the emotional abuse even more visible). The fact that they cannot clearly see how evil her behavior toward Rapunzel is shows just how mess up some people’s idea of family values is.

  89. dee wrote:

    Warwick
    I forgot to say Welcome to TWW.

    Maybe welcome back ;)

    I’ve been around a while, even commented a little bit a couple of years ago, but went back to lurking while life was pretty complicated.

    I agree that it wasn’t meant to be evangelistic – that was kind of my point ;)

    It’s a movie made by Christians, about faith that doesn’t ride on the fantasyland rails that so many Christian movies are built on…

    “Here’s a person who’s not right with God, and their life is falling apart. See them have a lightbulb moment. See them fall on their knees and repent. See everything become wonderful and beautiful in their life because they got right with God. Amen.”

    You may want to throw in a side story about the friend who sees this and gets saved too.

    That might actually happen for someone… somewhere…

    That story, however feels far more similar to the Calvinista ideal of “just do everything we say, and everything will go right, and if it doesn’t you’re obviously not right with God, and we need to find your secret sin”

  90. Wartburg Watch’s: ‘Recommended Values’

    Deb,

    Hey,

    If these films are indeed propaganda attempts to get mainstream America to embrace what is seen as possibly Vision Forum’s underlying questionable values, could you please explain to your avid reading audience what are Wartburg Watch’s ‘recommended values’ that should possibly be presented in future christian films so we may safely have a thoughtful contrast? This may also be of great assistance to those many people who also desire a future in Christian film making.

    Thankz! :-)

    Sopy

  91. Beakerj wrote:

    I am also one who generally runs screaming when the word ‘Christian’ is a prefix to any kind of art…I seriously fail to see why the hallmark of Christian art isn’t honesty & creativity, rather than banality & cheese.

    When are we going to be the ones STARTING and SETTING the trend instead of coming out with a bowdlerized/sanitized Christian(TM) knockoff of it around the time the original jumps the shark?

    In two Christian genre writers’ lists, I have always been a very vocal proponent of Going Mainstream whenever possible.

  92. Natalie wrote:

    Have any of you heard about movieguide.org? If you want a shock, a laugh, or to have one more thing to be irritated by, then by all means take a visit on over there. All you District 9 fans…it is given an “Extreme Caution” rating. http://www.movieguide.org/reviews/movie/district-9.html

    Oh, yeah. Ted Bear(sp?) and Movieguide. AKA the Christianese Sin-Sniffer’s Movie Reviews for Church Ladies, with every sniffed-out sin (real or imaginary) cataloged and counted. I remember it from when I was listening to Christian(TM) AM radio in the early Eighties.

  93. Beakerj wrote:

    I seriously fail to see why the hallmark of Christian art isn’t honesty & creativity, rather than banality & cheese.

    Because to engage honestly means acknowledging life as it really is outside our “Christian” subculture, and it’s hard to do that without getting dirty (metaphorically).

    You see Jesus engaging directly with those regarded as the scum of the earth by the Pharisees, and he got attacked for it. The church (by and large) has preferred to be the priest and the Levite walking by and pointing out how damaged and wounded the culture lying in the roadside is, but avoiding engaging… because that means getting dirty and involved.

  94. Rafiki wrote:

    elastigirl wrote:
    i’ll tell you what christian movies are: velveeta cheese.
    I think that’s being a little unfair to Velveeta cheese, don’t you?

    I was thinking that too. I like Velveeta.

  95. Chris C. wrote:

    A Thief in the Night (the Left Behind series’ skeevy, pornstache-sporting uncle) and If Footman Tire You What Will Horses Do? (the godless commies gone take over Amurica if we don’t git right and stop wearin mini-skirts to church — and, btw, here’s what they’re gonna do in graphic, R-rated detail if we don’t).

    While the former is a low-budget but sincere attempt, the latter was where I first heard the term “Christploitation”. It was the brainchild of a Baptist preacher named Estus Pirkle, whose film-making partner was described on a bad movie website as “the Ed Wood of Christploitation Flicks”. Other Pirkle flicks included “The Burning Hell” and “The Believer’s Heaven”; portions of both are visible on YouTube (search by title or “Estus Pirkle”). My writing partner is still out to get me after I sent him a YouTube link to “Believer’s Heaven” — it was the singing midgets; the singing midgets were what did it.

  96. Sopwith wrote:

    …could you please explain to your avid reading audience what are Wartburg Watch’s ‘recommended values’ that should possibly be presented in future christian films so we may safely have a thoughtful contrast?

    Paraphrasing an SF litfan urban legend about a Marion Zimmer Bradley rejection letter, “STOP LECTURING ME ABOUT THE FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS AND JUST TELL THE F’ING STORY!!!!!”

  97. @ Haitch: Thanks, all for the film titles – some I know, but others, not. (Like Edukators.)

    Will be hunting them down ASAP.

  98. Re. Movieguide (which I loathe): do these people not know what a semi-colon is? And how to use it?

    Sheesh.

  99. @ Warwick Rendell:
    Happy to be dirty & involved! I can’t cope with the christian ghetto, & we don’t have it nearly as powerfully as the States…I’m just not that squeaky & shiny, in fact I have been described (by other christians) as so blunt I call a spade a spad.
    Oooops.

  100. deb: help me out here. i respect your opinion so.

    when i watched courageous (which for some unfathomable reason i’ve seen probably 5 times or so) i was actually shocked by the fact that the women weren’t just doormats. as i remember it, the men actually asked the wives for their opinions, the wives freely expressed them and the men listened to them! the last time i saw it, i actually commented on that specifically.

    but, then again, after all my experience with driscoll and the like, maybe i’ve set the bar really low and as long as you aren’t demanding sex like a caveman and telling the women to shut up in church you’re doin’ pretty good. ;)

  101. FormerCLC’er wrote:

    I can’t listen to most Christian music either, which seems very bland to me – all the same, no meaning, no imagination.

    i can’t STAND christian radio and most christian music. the unbiblical “beg-a-thons” lead me to sin to every time.

    and then there’s the music. happy, sappy, jesus fixes everything and i’m never sad, etc. GAG. that is just NOT my world.

    mostly, i listen to worship music, and even with that i’m VERY selective. some of my favorite worship songs are just bible passages, etc. put to music. and i really love the songs that dare to say that i might be sad and in misery, but i’ll still praise. (for example, the valley song by jars of clay). i also really like switchfoot.

    the problem with most “christian” media is the same problem i have with most christians: everything is black and white; there is no gray and there are no nuances or contexts to be considered. i don’t live in a world like that. that world is full of legalism and dos and don’ts and judging others and crushing people that don’t fit neatly into that simplistic world view.

    life is complicated and HARD and the more i know God the more i know that there is a whole lot i DON’T know for sure. there are lots of gray areas and that’s scary, but that’s real. life is nuanced and context matters and PEOPLE MATTER. these “christians” that run around like bulls in china shops clubbing people over the head with their black and white easy wrong and right rules make me want to scream!

    how can we be so brutal to PEOPLE THAT JESUS DIED FOR? JESUS LOVES EVERY SINGLE PERSON THAT HAS BEEN, IS AND EVER WILL BE ON THIS EARTH SO MUCH THAT HE DIED FOR THEM. let that sink in. how can we be so casual about hurting them?

    ok. maybe i got a little off topic there. :)

  102. Jeff S wrote:

    Natalie wrote:
    Have any of you heard about movieguide.org? If you want a shock, a laugh, or to have one more thing to be irritated by, then by all means take a visit on over there. All you District 9 fans…it is given an “Extreme Caution” rating. http://www.movieguide.org/reviews/movie/district-9.html
    I grew up in church communities where this website was, well, it was basically our version of Rotten Tomatoes.

    OK, this right here say VOLUMES. Overall they liked the movie “Tangled”, but they do have the following caveat:
    “There’s also a moral conflict that’s not quite resolved positively. In a way, it seems as if Rapunzel is rebelling against her mother. That’s because the wicked hag, who pretends to be her mother, is not that wicked. If she had been a little bit more mean, there would be no confusion about Rapunzel’s decision to disobey her or rebel.”
    IS NOT THAT WICKED
    (they mean her behavior toward Rapunzel from Rapunzel’s viewpoint, since we’d all agree that kidnapping and lying are wicked).
    Rapunzel’s mother is one of the CLEAREST examples of emotional abuse I’ve ever seen in a movie (and Rapunzel’s response of “I can’t believe I did this/I’m the worst daughter ever/this is the best day ever” etc. even makes the emotional abuse even more visible). The fact that they cannot clearly see how evil her behavior toward Rapunzel is shows just how mess up some people’s idea of family values is.

    OK, I’ve repeated all that, because Jeff S has given me an idea – I think there’s enough genius and creativity in TWW to do a movieguide.org type review of “SGM: the movie”. What do you think? (and what should this horror genre movie really be titled as?)

  103. To be honest, I’ve never watched those sorts of Christian movies because they always look terrible – obvious and simplistic plots, poor acting, complete lack of nuance and realism. The only Christian films that I’ve seen and recommend are Amazing Grace and Luther. What sets both of those biopics apart (and yes, I’m aware that they weren’t perfectly historically accurate, but I don’t want to get sidetracked with that issue here) is that they’re mainstream productions. Yes, they’re about famous influential Christians, and obviously religion is a major part of the storylines, but neither was about bashing the audience over the head with you-must-give-your-life-to-Jesus-NOW messages.

  104. “i really love the songs that dare to say that i might be sad and in misery, but i’ll still praise. (for example, the valley song by jars of clay). i also really like switchfoot.”

    Rachel, huge Switchfoot fan here. :-) I was thinking about Switchfoot as I was thinking about all this “media” stuff earlier. I have been listening to their music over and over lately… they capture so much of the Christian struggle… well, really, the human struggle… so well in their music, and since I am kind of a struggling Christian, their music really soothes my soul and makes me feel like my faith is something I can hold onto. But they are not a “Christian band.” They consider themselves secular, even though the individuals in the band are Christians. In my opinion, their music communicates (at least to me) on a much deeper, thought-provoking level and presents questions without immediately springing magical answers on you. Whereas a lot of Contemporary Christian music portrays an image of having all the answers… yet, in my opinion, is not very honest. So much of it is just fluffy words.

    Oh! Also wanted to say, my nickname “Looking for You” comes from their song Restless. I love it.

  105. @Rachel – I’ve only heard a little Switchfoot, but I’ve enjoyed it. You and I could probably listen to music together. I LOVE the songs that cry out to God honestly.

    I totally agree that life is difficult and not all nice and easy to tie into a neat package with a bow. Sometimes life just stinks. I once had a pastor (not at CLC) who had 5 steps for everything – if you do this you’ll have the most vibrant Christian life, etc. Turns out the guy was a narcissist and had psychological problems. I realized I should’ve known because life more often than not is hard, and not so easily solved.

  106. Regarding Christian music- I write, record, and perform Christian music. In fact, Dee has linked it here before (I am very grateful!)

    But one thing I noted when I was at my lowest point, there was no Christian music that I could listen to that spoke to me. It was all about overcoming and happiness, and when you are in the darkness and haven’t yet overcome . . . well you just aren’t touched by that stuff. So I remember listening to a few secular songs over and over again because they just spoke to me. That seems wrong- Christian music should be there for us in our seasons of pain, not just to tell us it will get better, but to empathize with our feelings.

    When the pastor of my new church found out I was a songwriter he told me “Jeff, you will never write songs the same way again” (he knows, because he experienced the early death of a spouse- he understands tragedy). So I resolved to write songs that described what the darkness felt like- songs of pain and songs of anger. That was hard because I’m generally a pretty hopeful and optimistic guy, so my music tends to be. But my pastor was right and I did write a few songs that were different from anything I’ve done before.

    And now I’m recording a new album- it’s an album that chronicles my emotinal journey “through the darkness” of being hurt by my church, the loss of identity I experienced trying to follow their doctrines, the anger I felt at their ability to dismiss me, the emotions of hardly being able to plug into faith at all, and then the joy of rebuilding a new, stronger faith than I had before- finally culminating in a call to others to help people who are where I was. Not just a personal peace, but a peace in service and community. There are still an awful lot of hopeful songs, but I think anyone who has been hurt and abused by the church will find empathy in some of the tracks as well.

    So here’s one guy, and I may only sell a handful of CDs, that wants to make Christian music that connects with people in the darkness as well as the light.

  107. Pam,

    I haven’t seen Amazing Grace, but Luther is one of my favorite movies.  I highly recommend it to those who haven’t seen it.

  108. @ Natalie:
    I don’t know if it was this site (I don’t think it was) but I remember one colleague gleefully showing me a Christian film review site that didn’t appear to like anything and seemed to find fault with the most innocuous or silly of movies, including things like Steve Irwin’s “Crocodile Hunter”.

    I do think sometimes people miss the point….

  109. elastigirl wrote:

    Kendrick Brothers films and christian films take honest creativity and subject it to so many forces that beat the living daylights out of it.

    The raw material of creativity is so overprocessed that a pure story becomes utterly boring. All edges removed.

    Creative honesty is so processed out that what you end up with is propaganda.

    These guys aren’t even good propagandists. If they were, they’d have studied and learned from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph des Willens and Frank Capra’s Why We Fight.

  110. Sopwith asks “what are Wartburg Watch’s ‘recommended values’ that should possibly be presented in future christian films so we may safely have a thoughtful contrast?” (to Vision Forum’s questionable ones)
    ******************

    honesty, love, kindness, respect, generosity, equality, treating people the way you want to be treated, helping those in need…

    minus the calvinistic, patriarchal overlays, or using it as a means to proselytize. Keeping it focussed on primary things.

    (but, i don’t think christian film-making is a viable notion, anyway. A majority of films are already about the values listed above. So, what would make a film decidedly “christian”, then? Does it come down to sanitized conflict and human behavior, beyond all recognition of reality?)

  111. @ Haitch:
    Baader-Meinhof Complex is an interesting and worthwhile film to me at least, partly because I remember the period when visiting Germany. In fact the figure of Gudrun Esslin is perhaps the most frightening one because she comes over as the real fanatic of the group, a woman corrupted from religious conviction to merciless ideology.

    Another worthwhile German film is Downfall, which raised some controversy because it dared to show a human side to Hitler, although it didn’t varnish the fact that at the end of the day he was still an evil and ungrateful tyrant.

  112. Have any other UK or Australian posters here seen any of the films mentioned? I don’t think we even got the “Left Behind” film with Kirk Cameron. Maybe there isn’t the sort of church network in the UK, or maybe I don’t move in the right circles ;-)

    I do remember being told however that friends from a youth group years and years ago were shown “Thief In The Night”. We do also get the Christian fiction genre in display in Christian bookshops, although even there a lot of the Christian bookshops have had to close, something they sadly have in common with a lot of other retail outlets in the Internet age.

  113. I know at least some of these films are available in Christian bookshops here in Australia, not sure how popular they are, though.

  114. @ Hester:

    Hester,

    I have bought bits and pieces from Sonlight and am familiar with what you describe. I couldn’t bring myself to buy these books! I am not sure how they use them in the curriculum but I am not going to spend that much money to find out.

    I have read John Holzman’s blog and I think he is becoming more aware of the nature of VF – http://johnscorner.blogspot.com/2009/01/are-you-being-treated-like-child-who.html

    I give Sonlight the benefit of the doubt because they have shown a willingness to air more than one side of an issue.

  115. Rachel wrote: “life is complicated and HARD and the more i know God the more i know that there is a whole lot i DON’T know for sure. there are lots of gray areas and that’s scary, but that’s real. life is nuanced and context matters and PEOPLE MATTER. these “christians” that run around like bulls in china shops clubbing people over the head with their black and white easy wrong and right rules make me want to scream!

    I am screaming with you Rachel! You summed up my feelings perfectly!

  116. @ HUG:

    “AKA the Christianese Sin-Sniffer’s Movie Reviews for Church Ladies, with every sniffed-out sin (real or imaginary) cataloged and counted.”

    We have a family friend who’s subscribed to Movieguide for YEARS (she has back issues archived in her house) so this is really funny to me personally. It didn’t take me long to figure out that magazine was pretty ridiculous after they called the Jim Carrey Lemony Snicket movie “dark and pagan”…and when I pointed out that there was no idol-worship (actually any religious references at all) in the film I was told that “pagan” had a special different meaning and I needed to look at Movieguide’s glossary.

    How good of a reviewer can you be if you write in such a way that simple words like “pagan” have secret meanings known only to initiates? Or do I need a Little Orphan Annie decoder pin?

  117. @ Heather:

    I do actually like Sonlight in general, aside from that particular year. Rushdoony aside, their selections for government/civics are heavily slanted toward Libertarianism so it was kind of annoying if you don’t subscribe to that philosophy. Their fiction book lists are really good though.

  118. My sister's film was shown at the festival a few years ago. She wouldn't have been able to have received the award by herself. Short answer: these people are nice, friendly, but they are very mistaken about gender roles and life.

  119. @ Juniper:

    Actually, the next season will start after they pull Martin Freeman out of the Shire, and Benedict Cumberbatch out of Erebor (the Lonely Mountain) — or maybe off the Starship Enterprise!

  120. I absolutely believe that there is an agenda in the ‘Christian’ filmmaking industry. When friends are promoting films and books and saying how much they are looking forward to it coming out and how ‘everyone’ should watch/read it because there are important life lessons to be gleaned from the films/books, you BET there is an agenda. And people are lapping up the Kool-Aid.

    Like an earlier poster said, if a film is specifically marketed as ‘Christian’ it is a good bet that I’d be running the other way. I’m at the point in my life now that if it carries the mark of Vision Forum, I’d be running and screaming.

    Eighteen months ago, someone gave me a Christian movie on DVD for my birthday. I still have not mustered enough motivation to watch it. It looks like a Christian version of “Groundhog Day” but without the artistry and subtlety.

  121. Hmm…interesting topic. I used to buy into the whole “Christian Culture” thing. I was raised in it. That’s part of why now, I have very little stomach for it.

    I remember they showed “Thief In The Night” at our church when I was about 12 or so. I had deep fear of being ‘left behind,’ and this movie intensified that a ton. In fact, one Saturday afternoon, I had been napping on the couch. I woke up and my parents and sister were nowhere to be seen. All quiet and the car in the driveway. I started to panic. I thought I’d been left behind. Turns out they were all upstairs napping, too. Having kids watch these movies borders on negligent.

    That wasn’t as bad as the one our church showed when I was three, though. Most of Billy Graham’s movie’s are pretty innocuous (or at least the few I’ve seen). But there was one they made in about 1966 called “The Restless Ones” that played a role in the religious twisting of my childhood. Not all of it was the movie’s fault. Part of it was the things I was experiencing as a child. Part of it was that no parent in their right mind should have let a 10 or 11 year old, let alone a 3 year old watch this movie.

    My mom was on the committee that brought the film in and so had all the leftover promotional materials – stationary with the movie logo, 8 x 10 glossy stills from the movie. I was fascinated with this movie and the promo stuff, so my mom let me have the stationary & photos.

    The gist of the movie is about a successful professional upper middle class family with one teenage son who gets caught up with ‘the wrong crowd – the Restless Ones.’ Part of that crowd is a teenage girl ‘old for her years’ who is an ‘instigator.’ Of course, the boy falls for her and is wanting to get her in bed and she is leading him on so she can get him to help her get away. Her mother is a divorced narcissistic alcoholic. Here’s the thing. This girl is portrayed as the temptation – the problem – not a victim. She ends up pregnant by an older man who was leading her on then ditches her and she tries to kill herself by slitting her wrists in a restaurant bathroom while the teenage boy is waiting outside. The movie ends with the boy and his parents getting saved at a Billy Graham crusade. The girl’s mother won’t listen to testimony and the girl is in the hospital, but we are never told how things turn out for her.

    Okay, wow. That still brings up some emotion. You see, the message that movie gave the little three year old me was that 1) girls are less important than boys, 2) girls get in trouble for having sex, not boys, and 3) suicide is a way out of the pain. The glossy stills my mom gave me included still shots of the suicide scene. Thus began a lifelong fascination/battle with suicidal thoughts. But I didn’t realize until a few years ago that this movie was an early source of these problems. As I began processing and unpacking the past, this movie began to nag at me until I bought a copy and watched it. As I watched, I started shaking and suddenly realized why I had always had an irrational fear of Billy Graham….

    I guess the point of this rambling rant is that as bad as these ‘Christian” movies are for the adults who watch them, they can have devastating effects on the kids who watch them with no filter or context or perspective to balance things with.

  122. Like many of you, I can’t stand ‘Christian’ films and novels.

    Yet spiritual nourishment can come from unexpected sources. I found Les Miserables particularly moving. Amidst all the doubts and struggles I currently feel about my faith, the film resonated with me. This piece by Peter Enns captures some of the reasons why.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2012/12/jesus-himself-would-have-bought-a-ticket-and-waited-on-a-half-hour-line-to-see-les-miserables/

  123. Rafiki –

    You have good taste! I also appreciate the “visually beautiful” aspects of Justified. Well, one aspect in particular… ;)

  124. Rafiki –

    You’re right: District 9 raises so many interesting questions. It obviously relates to significant political and historical issues concerning South Africa, and I also felt that it illustrated broader themes around how we treat those we view as different. Wikus first feels an ethical responsibility towards the aliens through a direct encounter which forces him to see himself in the alien’s position. Or, more precisely, he starts to see himself in the alien, or as the alien.

    It reminded me of similar moments in Super 8 and How to Train Your Dragon – very different films, but ones which also touch on empathetic engagement with ‘the other’.
    You might appreciate this article by Andries du Toit:

    http://asubtleknife.wordpress.com/2009/09/04/science-fiction-in-the-ghetto-loving-the-alien/

  125. @ Jeanette:

    “The glossy stills my mom gave me included still shots of the suicide scene.”

    ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

  126. kindakrunchy

    I am a fan of Veggie Tales The song “The Bunny” goes down in my book as the greatest song about temptation of all time.

  127. kindakrunchy wrote:

    So, if I said I liked Veggie Tales, would I be disfellowshipped here?

    De-lurking to proclaim my love for Veggie Tales! The thing is…most of the VF/Quiverfull families that I know do NOT. The phrase I have heard several times is “irreverant”. True Christian “meaty” life should be joyless and dour…didn’t you get that memo?

    I do take issue with Veggie Tales’ Ruth adaptation, Duke and the Great Pie War. It is completely focused on the Boaz character, who is played by Larry, and IMO misses the point of Ruth entirely. I also won’t let my kids watch Sweet Pea Beauty, because the message is weird…the pretty girl has to learn that if she is the prettiest on the inside, she’ll also be the prettiest on the outside, but she’s ALREADY the prettiest on the outside…and honestly, it’s just a little too much emphasis on “pretty” for me.

    But then I listen to the silly song “Gated Community” and all is forgiven.

  128. @Jeanette:

    Oh, wow…. I’m sad reading what you’ve shared. But thank you for exposing the subtle messages often embedded in Christian movies that go unnoticed by many and the harm they cause. Thank you for sharing the effect this particular movie had on you. :(

  129. @ JJ:

    Wow, JJ, what an AWESOME review by du Toit! Thank you for the link.

    For what you seeing is not just South Africa, but that South Africa that we think we’ve left behind, that we think we’ve forgotten … until you come across a reminder that brings it home to you so forcefully that you realise you’ve never left: Apartheid South Africa; State of Emergency South Africa; forced removal South Africa.

    This is at the centre of the extended set-piece that forms the heart of the first part of the movie – the long, chaotic sequence where the hired mercenaries and functionaries of MNU, the firm to which the government has outsourced the task of the ‘clean up’ of the ghetto, have their first encounter with the reluctant, soon-to-be-displaced Alien population.

    It is a cinematic tour de force; one of the most sustained and brilliant pieces of filmmaking I can recall seeing – but I wonder whether any of the movie’s international audience will even understand a fraction of what is going on here.

    As anyone who lived with any kind of political awareness through the eighteen years between 1976 and 1994 in South Africa will immediately see, what the film is doing here is to give you an almost obsessively focussed, insistently detailed account of the workings of the Apartheid state’s repressive apparatus as it existed during the regime’s most conflictual years.

    Apartheid repression was never just about violence. Instead, it was a strange and carefully composed mix of brutal force, racist anthropology, Foucauldian surveillance, and a curious, bureaucratic obsession with the appearance of due process and the rule of law.

    Every single thing you see in this scene – the harassed, edgy bureaucrats with their clipboards and their explanations; the ludicrous attempts to get the aliens to sign the consent forms prior to their removal to the tent town; the prowling military thugs; the constant threat of violence, spiralling out of control; the chaos and confusion – all of it is precisely how it all worked.

  130. StacieMao

    Welcome to TWW. especially since you are a Veggie Tales fan. Great assessment of the Duke and the Great Pie War. Incoming……..!!!!!

  131. @ kindakrunchy:

    Kinda, I’ll have you know that The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything are the best!!!

    I think author Eric Metaxas (known for his Wilburforce and Bonhoffer bios, amongst others) served as a writer for Veggie Tales.

    VT was quality stuff, seriously – I know a lot of non-evangelical families that adored it. :)

  132. Jeannette, as a young child I saw Thief in the Night. I would never let my child watch it. I’m a musician and the theme song is still stuck in my head 40 yrs later and I only saw the movie once or twice. It produced fear. This kind of fear makes one doubt their salvation and repeat that “asking Jesus into your heart” prayer again and again just to make sure you’ve got your ticket to heaven.

  133. I just have to delurk to say: Lana, I recognized your name right away. I’ve been enjoying your blog for a while now.

    Also…has anybody seen “Paradise Recovered,” a movie put out by Andie Redwine? It’s the story of a young woman escaping a hyper-fundie church/cult, and I understand it’s based largely on Andie’s experiences. I had some quibbles with parts of it, but I enjoyed it anyway. If she’d entered it in SAICFF, the folks there would have been horrified. (That’s a good thing.) :)

    Finally, I just stumbled upon a really good essay by a guy named Dale Fincher: http://www.soulation.org/freeatlast/2013/02/huckleberry-finn-spiritual-abuse.html. I don’t know anything about him, but I love his insights into a truly great story, which makes it kinda-sorta relevant to the subject here. A good story, not propaganda, makes a good book or movie. Twain wasn’t a Christian, but he sure had a conscience.

  134. Jeff S,

    Yes, Fireproof would probably be a huge triggerfest for you. I still regret going along with my mom and encouraging my brother to follow the Fireproof program to save his marriage. He was already depressed, distraught, and full of shame about the end of his marriage, and we added to that by sending him the movie and workbook.

    He attempted to work the Fireproof program, following many of the instructions. When nothing worked, it increased his shame and despair. Fireproof made things so much worse. In those early days of the separation and divorce, I was seriously concerned about his mental health.

  135. Last night there was a Christian movie playing on tv: No Greater Love. I only heard about 30 min of it and I was working on the computer, so it was basically background noise for me. But still, I heard the very strong complementarian push saying what the biblical husband and wife is supposed to look like, in addition to law-based religion with dos and don’ts scripted into the conversations. So now when I watch these movies, my focus will be: what’s the agenda? I would have turned it off except I was the guest.

  136. Does anyone know about this craziness??

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/2013/02/quoting-quiverfull-little-tiny-fetuses/

    Regarding his anti-contraception documentary Birth Control: How Did We Get Here?, Kevin Swanson says:

    "I’m beginning to get some evidence from certain doctors and certain scientists that have done research on women’s wombs after they’ve gone through the surgery, and they’ve compared the wombs of women who were on the birth control pill to those who were not on the birth control pill. And they have found that with women who are on the birth control pill, there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb. They’re just like dead babies. They’re on the inside of the womb. And these wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies."

  137. Wendy

    Oh my goodness-the stupidity of people in this movement!! Notice there is no reference. This guy is nuts.

  138. @ Wendy:

    That makes the second idiotic medical statement I’ve heard from a Christian in less than 24 hours. Last night a lady told me that her sister-in-law “made” her children autistic but now they’re “growing out of it.”

    Though that pales in comparison to the “fetus graveyard” theory.

  139. @ Wendy: Wendy, I'm sorry but that is just PATHOLOGICAL and SICK SICK SICK. I am disgusted and enraged by such nonsense and misogyny. Did this sick freak Mr. Swanson serve as an advisor to Todd Akin, that other proponent of hateful junk science?

  140. Here's the website for the documentary:  http://thebirthcontrolmovie.com/

    Peruse the website, and you'll find they're also partners with Vision Forum. But the BEST news:

    Birth Control: How Did We Get Here? is a semi-finalist in the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF)! Puke.

  141. If these folks didn’t have influence and weren’t hurting others, it would be comical. Wombs becoming fetus graveyards for lots of tiny babies? The “San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival”? I’d be amusing, if people didn’t actually buy into this ridiculous garbage.

  142. Dee,

    I bet the documentary features at least a few folks in the medical profession who, for whatever ludicrous reason, attempted to give validity to Peeples’ fetus graveyard claims.

  143. Hester and Rafiki,

    Bottom line is these folks despise science because it doesn’t line up with their (false) “gospel” worldview.

  144. Julie Anne wrote:

    Jeannette, as a young child I saw Thief in the Night. I would never let my child watch it. I’m a musician and the theme song is still stuck in my head 40 yrs later and I only saw the movie once or twice. It produced fear

    I was in Jr College when Thief in the Night was God’s Anointing. Already having a bad case of End-of-the-World paranoia (thank you Hal Lindsay), I took one look at the movie poster, figured it out (not hard with the pressure and endorsements I was getting from other End Time Prophecy types), and stayed as far away from it as I could.

    I did hear the movie caused a LOT of Christian kids to freak out, so you weren’t alone. I also heard after-the-fact of mandatory-attendance screenings to church youth groups (probably with Altar Calls afterwards).

    Then a few years back, I actually saw some scenes from Thief in the Night as part of a PBS documentary on the Christianese bubble. Three clips, actually. Here are my exact words when I did:

    1) That’s Thief in the Night? Looks more like Manos, Hands of Fate.

    2) Where’s Joel and the Bots? Shouldn’t Joel and the Bots be at the bottom of the screen?

    3) AAAAAAAGH! WE HAVE MOVIE SIGN!!!

  145. @ Wendy:
    I don’t know whether to bang my head or keep on laughing, which is what I did on reading this. In my mind I’m seeing the inside of these ‘sinners’ wombs as some kind of foetus filled bubblewrap, like sad dead frogspawn…

    What a big fat liar! What Doctor or Scientist ever came out with this crap? The same one that came up with the ‘legitimate rape’ never leads to pregnancy idea? Hello! Earth calling idiots, come in idiots…

  146. Julie Anne wrote:

    Jeannette, as a young child I saw Thief in the Night. I would never let my child watch it. I’m a musician and the theme song is still stuck in my head 40 yrs later and I only saw the movie once or twice. It produced fear.

    I assume the “theme song” you speak of is “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” by Larry Norman? If so, I keep reminding people that Larry Norman sang it as a tragic lament, not repeat not the gleeful triumph you find among today’s Left Behind fanboys.

    And I have another comedy-relief story regarding Thief in the Night — or rather, one of its sequels. (Like Left Behind, it was one of a never-ending series.) My writing partner (the burned-out preacher-man) told it to me, as an example of how NOT to stage a scene:

    Situation: Sometime during the Great Tribulation. A small group of characters are hiding out from the Antichrist in a wilderness cabin deep in the boonies when they get a knock on the door. One character (the only Heathen among the Christians) answers the door. When he opens it…

    A giant rubber scorpion stinger extends SLOWLY through the open doorway and nails the guy full in the chest. Guy clutches chest and goes down screaming and screaming and screaming. While he’s loudly flopping around, giant rubber scorpion stinger SLOWLY retracts back through the doorway, closing the door behind it.

    Cut to stock footage of galloping horses’ hooves while a voice-over solemnly narrates the verses from Revelation about the plague of demon locusts. (You know, the same ones Hal Lindsay said were helicopter gunships armed with chemical weapons and piloted by hippies?)

    Ever since, “giant rubber scorpion stinger scene” has been part of our vocabulary.

  147. Beakerj,

    The “legitimate rape” comment was actually made by Todd Akin, a Republican Senate candidate during the 2012 campaign. A Republican state House of Representatives candidate made the comment that “some girls rape easy”. In fact, we had several Republican lawmakers who made insensitive, outrageous, and cruel statements about rape.

    I had never heard so many comments about rape during a campaign season in my life. Which gravely concerns me.

    Why do these lawmakers feel the need to make such extreme statements? Is it because their base (of which I used to be a part), many of whom are conservative Christians, is becoming more and more extreme in their views on women and birth control?

  148. @ Wendy: In one sense, it’s a good thing that their bigotry and cruelty has been exposed for what it is.

    Of course, it would be best if it didn’t exist at all, but I think anyone considering voting for these fools has a right to know just how downright mean and primitive they really are.

    It’s like they’re envisioning the stereotypical depiction of a caveman clubbing a woman and dragging her off by the hair.

  149. Beakerj wrote:

    I don’t know whether to bang my head or keep on laughing, which is what I did on reading this. In my mind I’m seeing the inside of these ‘sinners’ wombs as some kind of foetus filled bubblewrap, like sad dead frogspawn…

    “Fetus Filled Bubblewrap”?
    “Sad Dead Frogspawn”?

    Don’t know about you, but those sound like good weird band names, right up there with “Fetuses of the Damned”, “Children of the Goats”, and “Steaming Piles of Fresh Produce” from Slacktivist’s LB snark blog.

  150. “Why do these lawmakers feel the need to make such extreme statements? Is it because their base (of which I used to be a part), many of whom are conservative Christians, is becoming more and more extreme in their views on women and birth control?”

    Nevermind, that Al Gore just demanded it from his private massage therapist in a posh hotel room. Perhaps it was part of a new entitlement program for democrat former VP’s :o)

  151. @ Wendy:
    We heard ALL about those here in the UK, & so much scorn & ridicule was pointed at the USA, & at the church due to them…what they say to me is that there are those who are losing touch with reality when it comes to do with anything to do with gender/sexuality/reproduction, to the point where they will come out with total twaddle, that none but the seriously self-decieved could possibly believe. It is the perfect example of agenda over truth.

    HUG: Ha! It’s been many years since I was asked to come up with a band name…I remember way back when, when I was a small British punk with spiky black hair & make-up like Siouxsie Sioux some friends used ot listen to a band called ‘Scraping Foetus off the Wheel’. Charming.

  152. @ Wendy & Dee,

    These guys would pitch a major hissy fit if vasectomies started catching on out in evangelical land too. I wonder what kind of nonsense they’d come up with about vasectomies?

  153. @ Muff Potter: they already DO. According to Nancy Campbell (I’ve been to way more Above Rubies retreats than I would like to admit) a vasectomy is “cutting off the Godly seed” and will probably cause your husband to have a heart attack and die before his time. Someone at an AR retreat actually gave me a list one time of the health problems that can happen as a result of a vasectomy.

    Can we talk about the phrase “culture changers”? I am seriously irritated by the use of that phrase and I don’t really know why. What’s wrong with culture? And doesn’t it kind of…change all the time? Like, organically, and without the intervention of individuals?

  154. I just watched the trailer to the Birth Control Movie…What a bunch of hooey! Not one Bible verse quoted, but LOTS of appeal to tradition. Maybe it wasn’t done before simply because the medicine wasn’t available ’till about 50-60 years ago? The first (and possibly only) reason for sex is reproduction. How about a married couple who has children, but the wife’s health would be put in severe jeopardy with another pregnancy? What about an infertile couple?

  155. Hester wrote:

    @ Wendy:
    That makes the second idiotic medical statement I’ve heard from a Christian in less than 24 hours. Last night a lady told me that her sister-in-law “made” her children autistic but now they’re “growing out of it.”

    Whaaaa . . .???

    The person who said that is VERY ignorant as to the causes of autism!

  156. Wendy wrote:

    Does anyone know about this craziness?? http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/2013/02/quoting-quiverfull-little-tiny-fetuses/ Regarding his anti-contraception documentary Birth Control: How Did We Get Here?, Kevin Swanson says: I’m beginning to get some evidence from certain doctors and certain scientists that have done research on women’s wombs after they’ve gone through the surgery, and they’ve compared the wombs of women who were on the birth control pill to those who were not on the birth control pill. And they have found that with women who are on the birth control pill, there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb. They’re just like dead babies. They’re on the inside of the womb. And these wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.

    GOOD GOD!!! I'd like to know exactly WHO the doctors were that said that!

  157. First of all, I want to thank all the commenters for not saying that Princess Bride and Shawshank Redemption are their favorite movies – actually, for not mentioning them at all. I’ve heard too many believers rhapsodize over these films. They’re not bad, just extremely overrated.

    Rafiki (2/1,5:30AM) – Didn’t know about the Blind Side controversy. Not surprised. Just saw Zero Dark Thirty: Not as good as Hurt Locker, but very good, and much better than Argo, which will probably win the Oscar. The raid on Bin Laden’s compound is brilliantly done. I’ll add another plug for The Lives Of Others. Liked District 9 also.

    HUG (2/2,2:04PM) – Thanks for mentioning the immortal Manos, Hands Of Fate (translation: Hands, Hands of Fate). I only recently saw Thief In The Night. At least it has that nice scene of the only non-raptured church member being the pastor.

    In my opinion, these are some great films with Christian themes, though not necessarily orthodox ones. All non-English speaking: Ingmar Bergman’s “Winter Light” (1963); Carl Dreyer’s “Ordet” (1955); Robert Bresson’s “Diary of a Country Priest” (1951); and Roberto Rossellini’s “The Flowers of St. Francis” (1950).

  158. Wendy wrote:

    Hester and Rafiki,
    Bottom line is these folks despise science because it doesn’t line up with their (false) “gospel” worldview.

    I’ve been thinking (sometimes saying) this for years. The depressing thing is that a lot of it comes from a complete ignorance about science, and if you don’t have any starting reference points, you don’t know any scientists, and you’re mistrustful of anyone outside your little circle, then you’re easily duped to believe any crap about people who are Other to you. The image that comes across from those circles is of the evil mad scientist from a fifties B grade horror. It bears absolutely no resemblance to reality.

  159. A great movie, imo, is “The Doctor”…William Hurt. Anyone seen it? He learns kindness and empathy through his own suffering.

  160. @ StacieMao:

    “Can we talk about the phrase “culture changers”? I am seriously irritated by the use of that phrase and I don’t really know why. What’s wrong with culture?”
    ********************

    I agree. Culture may look less and less like the ideals portrayed in 1950s TV shows… but as has been mentioned a number of times in past posts, that ideal was far from reality.

    I like what I see in the culture at large. I like the trends I am seeing. I see increasing honesty, less pretend, a desire to understand people who are not like oneself and to embrace them regardless of the differences, people taking the initiative on their own to be good citizens of their community/the world, less self-centeredness, much more kindness. More personal responsibility for all these things.

    If culture doesn’t match the religiously prescribed lifestyle checklist and the “christian brand”, but does reflect things that are in line with God’s nature (like kindness, honesty, responsibility, brotherly/sisterly love)…. SO WHAT??

  161. @JeffB,

    “JeffB on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 06:11 PM said: First of all, I want to thank all the commenters for not saying that Princess Bride and Shawshank Redemption are their favorite movies – actually, for not mentioning them at all. I’ve heard too many believers rhapsodize over these films. They’re not bad, just extremely overrated.”

    Inconceivable.

    I am not sure we can be friends now.

    And the hairbrush song is the best silly song ever.

  162. @ JeffB:

    Yeah, I’ve seen Princess Bride and I don’t get all the hype…but then I actually read the book, which is hilarious and MUCH better than the movie. I apparently missed the memo about the Muppets too, since I think Monty Python is way funnier.

    @ kindakrunchy:

    Agreed about the hairbrush.

  163. @ Wendy & Pam:

    Yeah, American evangelicalism’s relationship to science isn’t always very comfortable. There’s so much crap peddled. For instance, my journey away from YEC began when I saw a pet theory of a homeschool teen track creationist speaker exploded…by old earth creationists. It made me doubt everything they said from then on. Then I discovered varves; realized that there were lots of things they never even addressed, like where oil comes from; and found out that their own studies to “debunk” carbon dating were coming up with nearly identical million-year-old dates to the control samples. (Plus I always loved cool extinct animals.) And consistently, the only answer they have to these things is to either ignore them or claim a grand conspiracy in which scientists en masse cover up evidence of a young earth.

    Once you have to resort to a conspiracy theory to solve your problems, you’ve already lost. It just became too tiresome to uphold the facade anymore. Definitely “much ado about nothing” when the age of the earth doesn’t actually affect any core Christian doctrines.

    As for the medical stuff – part of it I think comes from the fact that lots of these folks are really distrustful of psychology to begin with. Also contributing to the problem is the organic/homeopathic craze, which is rapidly becoming unquestionable orthodox dogma. It’s one thing to try to eat healthy and reduce the number of drugs you take, it’s another thing to make it a moral issue and/or come up with vast conspiracies about the FDA and Monsanto.

    So in the end, we can’t trust the chemists (they work for the FDA)…we can’t trust the biologists (they work for Monsanto and they’re hiding evidence against design)…we can’t trust the zoologists (they believe in evolution)…we can’t trust the geologists and the paleontologists (they’re hiding the evidence of a young earth)…we can’t trust the cosmologists and the physicists (they’re lying to us about the Big Bang)…and we DEFINITELY can’t trust the psychologists (they’re trying to brainwash us to be promiscuous atheists). Who’s left?

  164. “Fortuitous Filming:  Bridging The Gap?”

    HowDee,

    …stop lecturing and tell the &*%# story!?!

    hmmm…

    What story?

    What is the intended purpose of these ‘christian’ films? To entertain? To educate? To indoctrinate? To what?

    Do these movies really help explain that God loves us and has a great plan for our lives? 

    Do these movies further help explain that man is separated from God by his condition? 

    Do these movies then help in explaining that this separation can be ‘bridge’ by believing in Jesus? 

    Do these movies go on to explain that Jesus offers ‘eternal life’ to all those who call upon His name?

    hmmm…

    A video for Christian evangelism…

    …cup of tea?

    …cream & crumpets , please!

    (grin)

    “I came that thy might have life, and that life more abundantly!” -Jesus

    Yehaaaaaa!

    S“㋡”py

  165. OK- I must put my foot down about The Princess Bride. Saying it is “ok” is pretty much heresy in my world.

    Ok, I’m joking. Mostly.

  166. “Lights, Camera, Whoops…? Buttered Popcorn Summary”

    HowDee,

    Taken ‘prīmā faciē’ the following films can be described:

    Flywheel(2003): Used car dealer has a religious conversion experience and goes honest. The whole town goes nutz!

    Facing the Giants (2006): A football team motivated by their coach to believe they can win ‘under God’s guidance’. Courage under fire is restored!

    Fireproof (2008) : A Firefighter suffering from an acute case of selfishness commits himself to a 40-day “Love Dare”, a ‘real-life’ Christian devotional program designed to strengthen this guyz marriage.  AddaBoy!

    Courageous (20011): Men pledge ‘honor to God’ in every aspect of their family life. Then these men encourage other men to ‘influence their families for God’too!. yep, da whole dang town experiences da wonderful results! 

    …descriptìon is in the eye of the butter’er?

    Pass da salt?

    hmmm…

    no sweat!

    From whatz I can see Jesus’ gotz it covered…

    hahahahahaha

    S“㋡”py

  167. @ elastigirl:

    Exactly, Elastigirl. (The Incredibles is one of my all time favorite movies, BTW, and I think it definitely qualifies as a movie with a healthy moral perspective.)

    But the changes in culture in large part reflect the fruits of the spirit. Where’s the bad, here?

  168. A film I would highly recommend: Silence, which is based on a novel by Shusaku Endo.

    It is bleak, but it will make you think – and think again – about what it might mean to choose to save the lives of the innocent. (In this case, 17th-century Japanese Christians.)

    The political realities mentioned in the film were very real. I cannot condone brutality by anyone, though I am sure Endo’s novel is also, in some ways, an Eastern parallel to the events of the Inquisition (and other persecutions) conducted in the West. (Endo was Catholic, and a very fine writer.)

    The movie is available on Hulu.com and elsewhere around the web.

  169. LOL! Jeff S, you sound like my husband! He said he almost couldn’t marry me because I am not a Princess Bride fan. He was kidding of course… I think…

    There are many kinds of humor that fly way over my head. Princess Bride humor is one of them!

  170. Jeff S wrote:

    OK- I must put my foot down about The Princess Bride. Saying it is “ok” is pretty much heresy in my world.
    Ok, I’m joking. Mostly.

    There’s a big difference between mostly joking and all joking. :D

  171. Retha Faurie,

    Thank you for that important correction! I have made the necessary changes in prior comments so that no one gets confused.

    Kevin Swanson's view are very troubling to me, and I am disturbed that anyone would be influenced by his extremism.

  172. Rafiki wrote:

    “Luther” – U.K. crime drama. Lead actor Idriss Elba is a POWERHOUSE.

    I agree. I thought Elba was fantastic in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus too.

  173. I have been bothered by the ignorance of the “dead fetsuses in the womb” thing all day. Surely no-one is going to take that comment seriously? Especially women, being familiar with the process of and results of menstruation. Please tell me that nobody is listening to Kevin Swanson…

  174. @ Muff Potter: Elba’s a terrific actor. I stated watching “Luther” a few weeks ago, and found that, for now, at least, the scripts are too dark and violent for my taste. (Though i suspect I’ll go back to it later on…)

    The performances – Elba’s in particular – certainly are riveting! I’d love to see him in some Shakespeare roles; he certainly has the range and presence.

  175. @ Through a glass darkly: I wish you were wrong, but I fear not.

    Just like some of the politicians referenced earlier who were caught talking about things like so-called “legitimate rape.” (fwiw, I think *anyone* who says and believes such things is unfit for public office. Political affiliations don’t enter into it.)

  176. Hey all

    Been out of pocket last night and today. Will catch up in a couple of hours. Sorry-family birthdays, church ,etc.

  177. Searching wrote:

    Jeff S wrote:
    OK- I must put my foot down about The Princess Bride. Saying it is “ok” is pretty much heresy in my world.
    Ok, I’m joking. Mostly.

    There’s a big difference between mostly joking and all joking.

    +1

  178. Wow, I was not aware of the Quiver Full Movement. It seems like every generation has a new way of coming up with the exact same thing…

  179. Searching wrote:

    Jeff S wrote:
    OK- I must put my foot down about The Princess Bride. Saying it is “ok” is pretty much heresy in my world.
    Ok, I’m joking. Mostly.
    There’s a big difference between mostly joking and all joking.

    Bwahahaha! Indeed :)

  180. numo wrote:

    @ Jeff S: It’s just not my cup of tea.

    I know- I’m just paying. If I don’t divide over the doctrine of election, I guess I can let The Princess Bride pass . . .

  181. Ken Malfi

    Welcome to our blog. This generation has been rather busy coming with lots of new, yet old, ideas.

  182. @ Jeff S: heehee!

    I read the book around the same time that the movie came out, and liked it, though it was a letdown, after all the hype.

  183. Tim Burton’s “Big Fish” has some similarities to “Princess Bride,” and is much better. Ditto “Stardust.”

  184. Through a glass darkly

    I am sure there are some Christians who would grab onto a Kevin Swanson. I have been shocked in my travels how susceptible some Christians are to urban legends.

  185. Dee – In the Homeschool Movement, these types of urban legends are rampant. They are living in spiritually abusive environment with Patriarchy, no-talk rules enforced, etc. They are all pro-life and hearing Kevin Swanson say something like this will surely tug at the emotions of some unsuspecting woman who does not have critical thinking skills engaged. I lived in this environment. Women don’t have a voice. Common sense reasoning is squelched. Men like Swanson are using his position of authority in the homeschool movement to manipulate and push his agenda. This is a form of spiritual abuse. I’m calling it out as such on my blog today. I’m so upset at him. Ugh. I’ve also sent him an e-mail asking for names/references. I’ll let you know if I get a response.

  186. Julie Anne –

    Thanks for trying to contact Swanson. I would also like to know which doctors gave him that information and where they have written about it. It would be good to know IF Swanson never responds to you as well :)

  187. @ Bridget:

    I will definitely post if I get a response. I also asked decided to ask publicly on his Facebook page and took a screenshot (it’s on my blog post today). Here is what I posted:

    Do you have credible names/references for the quote yet? Kevin, you have a responsibility to come clean on this. If this was something you said to promote your birth control agenda, then shame on you. If you have spoke with credible doctors/scientists, please name them so that people can make informed choices. You said this publicly, you need to acknowledge the sources publicly. As a Christian and a homeschool advocate, you are doing a disservice to Christ and homeschooling by spewing rhetoric instead of facts. I will be happy to update my blog with references if you provide them.

    What this dude does not get is that there are other people who have left his “do-not-ask-questions culture.”. Kevin Swanson, meet Julie Anne Smith.

  188. Julie Anne

    Did you see that I found the recording of him saying this? It is in the article linked in my tweet. I am planning on dscussing this, along with urban legends, this week.

  189. I put a youtube of the recording in my post, Dee. And if you listen to the recording, it’s just full of more of that agenda. Blech. Looking forward to reading your article.

  190. Julie Anne and others interested in the Kevin Swanson “dead babies in the wonb” comment

    I  just contacted his office Generations and spoke with an administative individual. I left our contact info. She claims he is out of the office doign a conference. I suggested he might want to make a comment soon before he finds himself on the front pages of some newspapers. 

  191. Julie-Anne/Dee,

    I’m glad you two are trying to get to the bottom of Kevin Swanson’s statements. He is bearing false witness against many, many women (calling them murderers) who have used the pill by saying this. Somehow it’s okay for him to break one of the commandments to push his agenda though… unbelievable.

    This is where I begin to think that “sex education” in schools is a very good thing. Girls need to know what is happening with their bodies so they don’t get taken in by this sort of deceit.

    I know a lot of people who will latch onto this if they hear it and believe it unquestioningly. I guarantee you Swanson knows this… he knows women in this movement will believe him. Seriously. I’ve heard a LOT of “urban legends” passed around my old circles and have seen some extremely weird things done by people who believe them…

  192. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    And I have another comedy-relief story regarding Thief in the Night — or rather, one of its sequels. (Like Left Behind, it was one of a never-ending series.) My writing partner (the burned-out preacher-man) told it to me, as an example of how NOT to stage a scene:
    Situation: Sometime during the Great Tribulation. A small group of characters are hiding out from the Antichrist in a wilderness cabin deep in the boonies when they get a knock on the door. One character (the only Heathen among the Christians) answers the door. When he opens it…
    A giant rubber scorpion stinger extends SLOWLY through the open doorway and nails the guy full in the chest. Guy clutches chest and goes down screaming and screaming and screaming. While he’s loudly flopping around, giant rubber scorpion stinger SLOWLY retracts back through the doorway, closing the door behind it.
    Cut to stock footage of galloping horses’ hooves while a voice-over solemnly narrates the verses from Revelation about the plague of demon locusts. (You know, the same ones Hal Lindsay said were helicopter gunships armed with chemical weapons and piloted by hippies?)
    Ever since, “giant rubber scorpion stinger scene” has been part of our vocabulary.

    This sounds like a horror spoof. What about things like Reefer Madness? I was never exposed to these Christianese movies, but I have seen Left Behind and Courageous. Left Behind characters reminded me of the Scientology people I know, brainwashed, and Courageous bothered me a lot but I could nev talk about the negative aspects. It’s amazing the damage this misinformation is doing to people, and they don’t even know it.

    Being raised completely on 60s and 70s television, and an aficionado of movies of all kinds going back to the 1920s, I am offended by these people thinking I’m going to swallow ANY of this garbage. I mean, I know some Christians that eat organic and homeschool, I’m horrified these kids will need to unlearn the garbage that is going into their brains. If you give kids the whole truth and raise them to be discerning, wont they choose Christ?

  193. I love the Veggie Tales songs, my daughter and I spent many hours singing them with the Girl Scouts, I have never watched the cartoons. I probably wouldn’t be able to stomach them, since my more refined taste in cartoons runs toward Bugs Bunny, the marriage of Figaro.

  194. Bridget wrote:

    RC Sproul Jr. @ DefendTheSheep ???

    Bridget: My Twitter name is DefendTheSheep. I know it looks confusing. Here it is. You have to use shortcuts to fit the 140 character limit on Twitter.

    I asked RC: I’m trying to find info re:Kevin Swanson’s comment that birth control causes embedded embryos. Do you have a source for this?

    He responded: Am I correct in thinking you have been a touch hostile? Don’t have the answer but am surprised you are asking

    My response: How is it hostile 2 expect HS leaders 2 B forthright w/sources?Why R U surprised that I’m asking? bec I’m supposed 2 B silent?

  195. @ Julie Anne:

    Yes that is confusing! I thought that was a name he was using — Ha! Now you know why I don’t tweet — I can’t even read tweets correctly much less send them :)

    “Hostile” because you ask for sources? What a lame response.

  196. He just commented again. He’s diverting the subject back to my response on his earlier tweet: birth control, like abortion, is sexual bulimia.

    Here’s the latest:

    RC: I didn’t say your question was hostile. I asked if I am remembering correctly that you were hostile earlier

    Me: U were hostile 2 women w/that BC remark.Many peop were offended.But why RU surprised that I’m asking? Don’t U want 2know source?

  197. EXCELLENT JULIE ANNE FOR GOING AFTER KEVIN SWANSON!!!!!!!!! I wish Christian homeschoolers had the balls to actually self-police their own community. They’re so afraid that it will make them look bad in the public eye that they try to hush up and/or distance themselves from all the problems (i.e., Adam Lanza and Nehemiah Griego).

  198. Julie Anne wrote:

    RC: I didn’t say your question was hostile. I asked if I am remembering correctly that you were hostile earlier

    Me: U were hostile 2 women w/that BC remark.Many peop were offended.But why RU surprised that I’m asking? Don’t U want 2know source?

    The guy must think that you are in “The Monstrous Regiment of Women.”

  199. @ Julie Anne:
    Hmmmmm . . . I think he realizes that the word “bitter” is no longer acceptable. Is “hostile” the new word du jour?

  200. @ Looking for You:

    You are exactly right that many Christian homeschool kids get horrible (or no) sex-ed. Abeka’s health curriculum left the reproductive system out of its human anatomy chart completely. It also left out the urinary system, since there’s certain organs at the end of the male urinary tract that can’t be shown. And yes, that means there were NO KIDNEYS on the human anatomy chart! (They buried them in the section on UTIs instead and then stopped the urinary tract at the bladder.)

    They did cover STDs, but pretty much said that you get them by “disobeying God” and took time to point out that AIDS started in gay men. Transmission by blood transfusion was an afterthought tacked on the end of the section.

    Their section on fetal development was in-depth but they never explained how the baby got there. They NEVER explained the mechanics of the sex act or sex organs, at least not that I remember. You will NEVER hear technical sex terms in a Christian health curriculum. (Jay Wile had a fairly frank explanation in his human anatomy course that used all the right terminology, which I applaud him for even though I’m sure plenty of parents skipped it, but that’s a science curriculum.)

  201. @ Hester:

    By covering (not) sex education the way they do, many homeschoolers end up making the sexuality of mankind to be a bad and/or dirty thing instead of part of God’s creation and plan. I know that is not their intent, but it is the result when you don’t talk openly about what is common to everyone. The human body is amazing and is nothing to be ashamed of. Just teach the facts at appropriate ages.

  202. I just forwarded Swanson’s comments to Talk2Action along with appropriate documentation and links to his website, the birth control movie website, and Julie Anne’s blog. We’ll see if they pick it up.

  203. I think this makes me officially a homeschool turncoat…?

    Well, I was born in the same town as Benedict Arnold. ; )

  204. RC and I have still been tweeting. I’ve given him the link to Swanson’s broadcast and also the gist of Swanson’s words in the limited space allotment on Twitter. Here is his last tweet to me:
    He’s my friend. We are in the movie. Doesn’t mean I remember all he said, or know his sources. Maybe I’ll ask him Thurs

    I’ve thanked him for checking into it for me.

  205. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    I did hear the movie caused a LOT of Christian kids to freak out, so you weren’t alone. I also heard after-the-fact of mandatory-attendance screenings to church youth groups (probably with Altar Calls afterwards).
    . . .

    1) That’s Thief in the Night? Looks more like Manos, Hands of Fate.
    2) Where’s Joel and the Bots? Shouldn’t Joel and the Bots be at the bottom of the screen?
    3) AAAAAAAGH! WE HAVE MOVIE SIGN!!!

    I attended one of those mandatory screenings as a teenager. On the mandatory youth group meeting calendar, it fell after the burn-your-rock-records guy but before the ex-football player turned evangelist with poorly concealed rage issues. At the next “Fall (NOT Halloween because that would be satanic) Costume Party, I went as a UNITE storm trooper, complete with fake porn stache. It was an early sign that I was not completely down with the Southern Baptist program. I now actually own copies of both it and Footmen, and like to watch them the exact same way the MST3K guys watch Manos or Troy and Abed from Community watch Kickpuncher.

  206. @ Hester: Good for you!

    I’ve corresponded with them off-list from time to time. The thing is, I don’t have any juicy stories to tell them. I mainly thanked Rachel T. for her tireless work on NAR/Dominionism, since that was what helped me *finally* be able to put the pieces together re. various things I’d been around (long-term) in several churches. it was nice to finally know that I’d really seen and heard what I thought I’d seen and heard (and been told to do, but mostly, I ignored the program).

  207. “Faith: Hidden In Plain Sight?”

    HowDee,

    The hidden agenda in “Facing the Giants”  is not so hidden it is, as far as I can tell:

    1. “Trust God.”
    2. “Live a life of prayer”
    3. “Honor God in all you do.”

    Sounds like good advice ta me.

    Now, it has been said:

    “The implicit theology of this movie is ‘a theology of glory’, in particular, that of the ‘prosperity gospel’ (if you really, really have faith, then God will bless you with success and material prosperity). It lacks true Christian theology, the theology of the cross.”

    What can I say? 

    …for time would fail me to tell of the Bible Folk such as Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”  -Hebrews 11

    “When you go through suffering do everything right and all will turn out right. YEAH right…” -Eagle

    huh?

    “And all these Bible folk, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.  -Hebrews 11

    hmmm…

    Patience, young grasshopper, God is forever faithful to His promises. 

    (grin)

    Sopy

  208. numo wrote:

    Reefer Madness was funded by a church group…

    Why am I not surprised?

    It has ALL the shticks of a Moral Panic Important Message(TM) Movie done by Activists(TM). You saw similar about D&D back around 1980.

  209. Hester wrote:

    Their section on fetal development was in-depth but they never explained how the baby got there. They NEVER explained the mechanics of the sex act or sex organs, at least not that I remember. You will NEVER hear technical sex terms in a Christian health curriculum.

    My sex ed was similarly lacking, but for different reasons. Most of it I learned from speed-reading encyclopedia articles, as I couldn’t get a straight answer from Mom or Dad. I still remember my moment of epiphany in my teens. To wit:

    1) Sperm & Egg must come together to fertilize.

    2) There is only one route for the sperm to get out of the male. (“And the white stuff goes round and round, and it comes out HERE…”)

    3) The sperm has to be well up the birth canal to say “Hi!” to the egg.

    4) Insert Tab A into Slot B — That’s IT? That’s the Big Secret?

  210. Dee:I wondered if you & Mr Dee might know some Christian ob- gyn Doctors & Surgeons who want to have their say on the ‘graveyards of tiny babies’ debacle. Seriously, we need to slash & burn this kind of rabid untruths from other Christians because it brings ridicule & scorn in abundance, & quite rightly so. It can be hard enough to explain to people why you believe without having to dodge so many tiny straw babies…

  211. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    If I’d not been told it HUG, I’d never have believed it…Have you ever gotten over the shock? I have a mental picture of you with permanently raised eyebrows since adolescence :)

  212. @ BeakerJ: Have you ever read Frank S’.s Calvin Becker trilogy – or, at least, Portofino and Saving Grandma?

    Because you kind of described his principal character’s outlook – permanently raised eyebrows and all. (Calvin both is and isn’t Frank when he was, oh, say 10 or 11 – but he’s a very sweet kid.)

    btw, I did NOT like Zermatt. it’s dark, but I have a feeling that Frank needed to write it. Portofino and Saving Grandma are mostly hilarious and wise. Calvin’s not-so-secret crush (English girl Jennifer, whose family vacations in Portofino and uses the same beach as the Beckers) is one of the best things about the books.

  213. @ HUG:

    My sex-ed was just fine because it was conducted sensibly – my parents weren’t psycho about it. To be perfectly honest, I think it started with Wild Discovery (before that show was cleaned up a bit to avoid showing things like baboons mating on the hoods of cars, etc.). You love animals as a kid so you watch the show and eventually put two and two together… The health curriculum was a technicality I had to fulfill to get my diploma. I knew it was stupid when I got it and complained vociferously through the whole thing.

    I mean, seriously. They explain leprosy in graphic detail but NEVER HOW SEX WORKS.

  214. Because the average white American fundamental Baptist is more likely to get leprosy than have sex…?

  215. So glad you are making and keeping Vision Forum and the Kendrick brothers association public!

    A few things from my years of watching these people:

    Everything is not always as they make it appear. In fact, there is downright deception. My guess is that the people in Kendricks’ church have little to no knowledge of the true teachings of the patrioentric movement. I can’t tell you how many people I meet all the time who have only looked at the Vision Forum catalogs or heard Phillips speak at a homeschooling convention and think this is all great because they haven’t peeled back the layers.

    The Monstrous Regiment of Women is an example of how devious these people can be. Featured in this film are Phyllis Schafly, Carol Everest, and a woman whose name I don’t recall, but she is part of the faculty of a Scottish University. I was left scratching my head as to why these three women would be part of a film project that was being used to make a case for the “role” of women that certainly didn’t reflect how these women live their own lives. I contacted Carol Everett directly and exchanged e-mails with her to learn that the Gunn brothers obtained the video clip of Everett from some news source and she had not only never heard of the Gunn brothers but had never heard of the movie that featured her! Once she realized who they were and how her message was being used, she was furious.

    I also spoke with Schafly’s then assistant who had a similar story in that they had no knowledge of the film or the Gunn brothers and surmised that a similar thing had happened in their situation. A friend of mine also exchanged email with the Scottish professor who had not yet seen the movie but had been interviewed for it and had been led to believe that it was about the life of John Knox not an apologetic for patriocentricity. I haven’t exchanged any e-mails with the Kendrick brothers, though I did approach them via their FB page after Courageous and expressed my concerns about their affiliation with Phillips.

    At this point we can only assume that they embrace at least part of the FV agenda, if not all of it. Their association with Botkin is over the top alarming as well. These are men with a misogynistic and dominionist agenda that is spreading throughout the entire evangelical world. And it appears to be coming in through the back door of the Kendrick brothers. Dee and Deb, would you be willing to contact their church to see how aware the congregation is of this agenda?

  216. I’m not sure why in so many posts Young Earth Creationism and Ken Ham are brought up as though either one is inherently evil.

    I get that some of you here feel that some YECs make YEC into a top-tier, divisive issue, but – I feel at times, it goes beyond that – in the original post, on this page, for instance, YEC is lumped in with several other issues and topics that don’t have anything to do with YEC.

    I myself am YEC, but I don’t agree with or endorse everything on that list. I do not oppose birth control. I don’t agree with or support Quiverfull, keeping daughters at home/ not permitting them to be college educated, etc. I strongly oppose those things.

    It bothers me to see that YEC continues to be conflated with, or made the equivalent to, hyper calvinism, quiverfull, etc. Not all YECs are hyper calvinists, anti college education for women, or are quiverfulls, etc.

  217. Daisy

    I believe that Ken Ham is one of the most divisive men in Chrisitianity. I have no problem with you believing in YEC although it is scientifically indefensible but theologically OK.

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