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Peter T Chattaway

God's Not Dead 2

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I feel slightly ludicrous doing this, but while my throwaway comment is under scrutiny, let's try a thought experiment. 

 

Imagine you are Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon. You leave your lucrative careers in finance during the Reagan boom to follow your dream of writing movies for Hollywood. At first, it's tough going. Years go by without selling a script, although you've racked up quite a few of them. Faithful Christians, you begin to question what you believe to be your calling and God's will for your life. Finally, some of your stuff starts to get picked up: an occasional TV movie or a low budget genre exercise here and there--not enough to land you a big studio deal, but sufficient to put bread on the table. The Lord provides. You yearn to share your faith through a creative medium, but the Church doesn't seem to be funding film projects anymore, and that dampens your spirit a little. You pray for clarity, a renewed sense of purpose. Finally, a path appears. Pure Flix Entertainment, a Christian film company, is looking for experienced writers. They welcome you into the fold, embracing your talent. They don't even mind that you're Catholic! Suddenly, an idea for a film descends upon you as from above: a story that has both cultural resonance and commercial appeal. You pray that God's hand will be over the project, that your talent, such as it is, will be used powerfully for His purpose. The film gets made, and the audience responds wonderfully and amazingly to it, prompting lively debates and performing incredibly at the box office. It almost seems... miraculous. At long last, you feel as though you've found your niche. Your calling is reaffirmed, your prayers answered. Is it odd, perhaps, to think that there might have been some divine intervention here?

 

I'm not in the business of tracking the movements of the Holy Spirit in film culture, but if you asked the screenwriters, I'm sure they'd give credit where it's due.

Edited by Nathaniel

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Imagine you are Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon. 

 

 

I met K & S and did table interview (2 or 3 reporters 3 or 4 cast/crew) at set visit for Do You Believe?

If anything, they reminded me of quite a few people here--trying mightily to be charitable in the face of intense criticism, but bearing the psychological scars of a *lot* of pot shots. (Some legitimate, others a tad too gleeful for my taste.) I'm not a fan of either film (and have written about both, so I won't rehearse those arguments here), but I do find the personal nature of the constant mocking jibes of them  to be wearisome.

I didn't like the movie they wrote, but if I had to choose, I think I'd rather share a meal with either or both of them than half the people who excoriate them. 

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Just putting this here. A theologian I admire, Peter J. Leithart, wrote a brief piece called "Why Evangelical Films Fail," which recaps some of the points some of us have been making for years

 

Theologically speaking, character development is “sanctification.” A conversionist form of Christianity places less emphasis on sanctification than on conversion and justification. In films, that translates into drastic oversimplification of human psychology. For Evangelicals, there are only two sets of motivations, as there are two kinds of people: Saved and unsaved. While that is ultimately true, it is not the whole story.
Edited by Nathaniel

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Imagine you are Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon. 

 

 

I met K & S and did table interview (2 or 3 reporters 3 or 4 cast/crew) at set visit for Do You Believe?

 

If anything, they reminded me of quite a few people here--trying mightily to be charitable in the face of intense criticism, but bearing the psychological scars of a *lot* of pot shots. (Some legitimate, others a tad too gleeful for my taste.) I'm not a fan of either film (and have written about both, so I won't rehearse those arguments here), but I do find the personal nature of the constant mocking jibes of them  to be wearisome.

 

I didn't like the movie they wrote, but if I had to choose, I think I'd rather share a meal with either or both of them than half the people who excoriate them. 

FWIW, I sat directly behind these two gents during a Christian film festival last Sunday. They were presenting the prize for screenwriting (of course), and came across as professional and gracious in the midst of what proved to be a terribly amateurish and embarrassing awards gala. I really need to write an article on these guys. I suspect there's a lot more to them than their Pure Flix resume suggests.

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My first coherent response was the realization that PureFlix is making a living by bearing false witness against their neighbors, by demonizing and creating straw men out of atheists.  To judge by the Parable of the Good Samaritan (who is my neighbor?), Jesus wouldn't be pleased about this.

To be honest, my heart sinks a little whenever I hear that one of you guys has accepted a junket to promote their films, or claim that their films may in some way edify Christians.  I mean, it's swell that Konzelman and Solomon seem like nice chaps; I imagine that DW Griffith loved his grandkids and puppies.  But as moral beings, I would think our first priority should be to consider whether these films reflect the true state of our world and how they depict marginalized individuals.  (And this isn't Bangladesh or Saudi Arabia; as majority religionists in the US of A, Christians don't count as marginalized.)

Ah, I'm glad I got that off my chest... 

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Oh, lord. This literally doesn't happen. Teachers have been attacked for talking about Jesus in the classroom, but it's almost always in a way that obviously crosses ethical lines. I strongly doubt that the ACLU cares that a teacher can quote the Bible verbatim in answer to a student's question. Heck, teachers face more resistance (from teachers and lawmakers, not the ACLU) for teaching about Islam. 

Silence can't get here fast enough.

Edited by NBooth

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My first reaction is: Ray Wise is no Kevin Sorbo.

Ouch. Now I *really* don't want to watch the trailer.

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Nice! I'll go on a crime spree in the Prius and inspire the cops to get Priuses themselves. 

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Well, it appears that this time out, the writers want to address practical concerns about freedom of religion & religious expression, rather than a philosophical concern about the existence of God. 

What remains to be seen is whether they'll address those practical concerns in the same shallow, facile manner in which they addressed the philosophical one. 

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He's going to prove in court that Jesus is God? That's...a bit familiar.

 

 

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Joel Mayward wrote:
: Trailer #2: "I don't like to lose."

As I said on Twitter, I expect there to be a Kobayashi Maru reference in this film now.

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FWIW, my review.

If you see the film, stay for the post-credits tag. Rotten Tomatoes indicates there's a threequel coming up next year, though I don't know what their source is for that.

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Based on my recent attendance at a county commission meeting debating whether to pass a resolution opposing the SCOTUS gay marriage decision, I can safely say that the "Christians are persecuted" narrative is alive and well in the Bible Belt.  High points of the public remarks section of that meeting included a homeschooled teen comparing life in America to the Book of Esther.  It was also heartwarming to hear a local minister cite the Book of Romans to assert that gays are worthy of death.

On that note, I thought this SNL parody of the God's Not Dead franchise was spot on, while offering some clever social satire:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDDAa1If-u4

 

 

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Andrew wrote:
: It was also heartwarming to hear a local minister cite the Book of Romans to assert that gays are worthy of death.

Romans!? I could see getting that message out of Leviticus, but Romans!?

: On that note, I thought this SNL parody of the God's Not Dead franchise was spot on, while offering some clever social satire:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDDAa1If-u4

Sigh. For some reason SNL doesn't want its clips to play outside the United States.

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6 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

Andrew wrote:
: IIRC, the speaker read Romans 1:26-27, then skipped ahead to verse 32.

That is so wrong. So so so *so* wrong.

It would be laughable if it wasn't so sad.  

Peter, I believe you might know Brad Jersak, who lives in your area and recently entered the Orthodox Church.  I found some of his writings helpful as he clarified the conclusions I was coming to in regards to that text (and others.)  It is a profoundly different understanding of what Paul is talking about in his use of the word "wrath."  Ironically it actually reads him literally instead of placing previous held understandings on top of him. 

And it most certainly is not in alignment with that speakers interpretation.

For instance.

In this article, I will attempt to creatively apply a theology of the Cross or ‘divine consent’ towards a metaphorical reading of wrath back into those Scriptures that so repulse those who know God as love.

If God operates in the world by consent, we might see 'wrath,' not as the retribution of a wilful God, but as a metaphor for the consequences of God’s consent to our self-will and non-consent.

 

-

Or

I think I concede that the wrath and destruction passages of the OT present God as actively destroying people, because as Peter Enns says, "God lets his children tell the story." However, I believe Christ and Paul (but even some OT prophets) actually reframe the wrath. As some of the Fathers like John Cassian and John of Damascus say, to read wrath literally as God’s active anger is an anthropomorphism, a projection, an idolatry and ultimately blasphemy. Rather, they identify wrath as God’s consent to our rebellion and its consequences. The phrase they use is ‘giving over.’ 

 

-

 

In other words.  The idea of putting gays to death is an obnoxious understanding of that text and a blasphemous view of wrath whereby they are projecting their own views on to the text and on to God.  What the text actually does is ultimately leave us with the view of interacting with compassion and kindness, just as Christ himself interacted.

 

This reminds me of a post someone recently wrote on one of my friends Facebook feeds.  " As Christians, we must always stand in the GAP. Just like those who prayed for mercy to stop the wrath of God from annihilating the Jews for their disobedience."

 

I mean fe*ck.  That's horrible.  She was basically saying that God caused the holocaust and then only relented and showed mercy because Christian prayers appeased him thus allowing him to show mercy.

It makes the mind reel.  The wrongheaded thinking there.

 

I do think that in some circles Christianity is under fire (persecution in North America is too strong of a term - persecution is what has been happening in the Middle East, etc.), but sometimes its legitimate, like when Christians say some of the crazy talk mentioned.  They were responding from a fear of persecution in ways that would make many people resist them all the more.  

 

 

Edited by Attica

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Just read the following and I think it might be fitting.  I've said for awhile that the Bible, at least in part, can act like a mirror, reflecting ourselves.  That's not to say that it can't teach and grow us of course, but we must be cautious to grow towards that which aligns with the Holy Spirit, or is led by the Holy Spirit.

 

Anyhow.

Luke 4:18-19): “The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me. He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, and to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.”

But Jesus plays fast and easy, as they say, and quotes selectively! He appears to have deliberately omitted the last line—” and the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2b)—because he does not believe in a God of vengeance at all.  Jesus knows how to connect the dots and find out where the text is truly heading, beyond the low-level consciousness of a particular moment, fear, or circumstance.

He knows there is a bigger arc to the story, one that always reveals a God who is compassionate, non-violent, and inclusive of outsiders. (Such passages are already found in the Hebrew Bible!)  He knew how to “thin slice” the text, to find the overall pattern based on small windows of insight.

He learned from Ezekiel, for example, that God’s justice is restorative and not retributive.  God punishes Israel by loving the Israelites even more! How did we miss that one?

We can only safely read Scripture—it is a dangerous book—if we are somehow sharing in the divine gaze of love.  A life of prayer helps you develop a third eye that can read between the lines and find the golden thread which is moving toward inclusivity, mercy, and justice. I am sure that is what Paul means when he teaches that we must “know spiritual things in a spiritual way” (1 Corinthians 2:13).

Any “pre-existing condition” of a hardened heart, a predisposition to judgment, a fear of God, any need to win or prove yourself right will corrupt and distort the most inspired and inspiring of Scriptures—just as they pollute every human conversation and relationship. Hateful people will find hateful verses to confirm their love of death.  Loving people will find loving verses to call them into an even greater love of life. And both kinds of verses are in the Bible!

 

 

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Attica wrote:
: Peter, I believe you might know Brad Jersak, who lives in your area and recently entered the Orthodox Church.  

I've never met him, but I know *of* him, and we have mutual friends.

Re: the Romans passage, my objection to it being used that way doesn't hinge on the word "wrath" at all. Rather, it hinges on how it's a bad reading of what the text is actually *saying* about homosexuality etc.

Paul says people committed idolatry and were given over to "shameful lusts"; when Paul says "they received in themselves the penalty for their perversions", it is the *idolatry* that is the "perversion"; the "penalty" is the lust (including, but not limited to, the same-sex kind).

And *then* Paul rattles off a whole list of *other* sins -- including gossip! -- that deserve "death". The thrust of the entire passage is that Paul starts by listing some practices that he knows his Jewish-Christian readers already think of as something that Those People commit, and then he lists some practices that he knows his readers commit and says *those* practices deserve *death* -- and then he segues right into Romans 2, where he says his readers have no basis for passing judgment on other people, for in doing so they judge themselves and show contempt for the riches of God's kindness, tolerance and patience.

To skip right from the "shameful lusts" verse to the "death" verse without acknowledging all the verses in between, in which Paul turns his finger around and points at Us instead of Them, is just wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

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