According to our current administration, America is “no longer a Christian nation,” at least not exclusively. Instead, we have morphed into all things to all people – a mix of Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Mormon, and non-religious, with a hint of Christianity tossed in for good measure. This revelation comes as a surprise to many who still believe that America’s foundation is and has always been rooted in Judeo Christian values. And, from the number of faith-based films making their way to the big screen, it appears Hollywood missed the memo as well.
The list of movies with a Christian focus continues to expand, including the most recent, Son of God and God’s Not Dead and, upcoming releases, Noah, Heaven is for Real, A Matter of Faith, Exodus and Mary, Mother of Christ. While these films may not be considered blockbusters, the movie industry definitely sees them worthy of attention as most are being produced through big studios, such as Sony Pictures, Lionsgate and 20th Century Fox. Jonathan Merritt (http://bit.ly/Kopq6E), a frequent contributor to USA Today, asserts that 2014 may very well be “The Year of the Bible” as the movie industry puts forth stories drawn directly from the Bible stories many of us heard as youngsters.
Having seen a number of Christian based films, I can certainly agree with the critics that many of them give new meaning to the words “B movie.” I did not; however, have this same experience when I went to see God’s Not Dead. Truthfully, I generally go into these movies with somewhat low expectations and rarely am I disappointed. This time around, I was pleasantly surprised. I saw the movie at a Regal Cinemas theatre, in one of the larger auditoriums. The theatre was packed with only a few seats available down at the lowest level. Throughout the movie, and especially at the end, there were several instances in which the audience erupted in spontaneous applause, freely offered affirming comments and, at the close of the movie, it appeared as if many actually took up the challenge of texting/emailing their contacts the message, God’s Not Dead. There was a genuine sense of connectedness and camaraderie present amongst, what was otherwise, complete strangers. Somehow, in the midst of the story line, we all shared a sort of kinship and familiarity with one another.
In truth, I found the movie, God’s Not Dead, to be one of the more inspiring and heartfelt movies I have seen in a long time (and I go to see a movie at least once a week). I left the movie with a renewed sense of faith and connection to the Christian community. In fact, it made me wonder if the Christian church, as a whole, is somehow missing the point. How is it that a body of apparent believers can go into a movie theatre, watch a film with a bunch of people who have no connection whatsoever, and emerge from it feeling as if we’ve somehow come together in “worship?” More importantly, why is that not happening every Sunday in churches all over the nation?
To critics who argue that this movie is riddled with stereotypes or that it is filled with a bunch of disconnected plot lines that have nothing to do with one another, I have to wonder what the point of contention actually is. Aren’t all movies riddled with stereotypes? Consider James Bond films that cast women as nothing but sex objects there for the sole purpose of fulfilling the man’s desires. Take a look at the Rambo movies that cast men as macho, muscle bound entities whose primary purpose is to prove that their manhood is somehow tied to their physical strength. What about Disney films that, among other stereotypes, tout women as helpless and weak in need of a man to save them from the doldrums of the life they cannot seem to escape? The list of stereotypes perpetuated on the big screen are innumerable, including everything from racial stereotypes to education stereotypes to gender stereotypes to cultural stereotypes to socioeconomic stereotypes to… you name it. As to the seemingly disconnected storyline, it’s true that there are a lot of different plot lines happening at once, but as with all movies, there is a common thread that points to the overall intent of the film. I believe this is a genre of film coined almost a decade ago, called hyperlink cinema, that is, multilinear storylines that all connect to some underlying theme that unfolds as the movie progresses. It may be the case that some people who see the movie, quite simply, just don’t like it… maybe because it has an overtly Christian or spiritual message, maybe because the genre used seems to weaken the plot, maybe the quality isn’t up to their standard of excellence, or maybe it’s just easier to be critical than it is to highlight the positives.
In the midst of proclamations that America is no longer a Christian nation, we see the emergence of more and more films declaring the truth of a God that defies human understanding. I, for one, stand proud in my faith that God is very much alive and preparing His kingdom for those who believe. If you’re seeking affirmation of your own personal walk of faith, God’s Not Dead is a must see film!
Please share your own thoughts on the movie…