Thinking Out Loud

April 6, 2018

Faith Films: We’ve Been Here Before

At risk of this becoming a one-note blog/site, with me constantly gushing over the Christian-themed films currently available, I want to simply point that we’ve been down this road before. The chart below, from Box Office Mojo, as posted in this 2014 article at Grantland, shows that in the Winter/Spring of that year, we had four major faith-focused titles in the space of 48 days; a situation not dissimilar to where we find ourselves this year.

 

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April 5, 2018

Mercy Me! This is a Popular Movie

We continue our series of better-late-than-never movie reviews. Think of this as being an early review for the DVD release.

…So it turned out that I had a pass for I Can Only Imagine that I didn’t know I had. Going through some review books on a table, suddenly, there it was. I called Mrs. W. (whose birthday is today, BTW) and said, “Drop everything! We’re going to a movie.”

Okay, here’s the spoiler:

A guy in a band writes a song which becomes very popular.

Didn’t see that coming, did you? Okay, maybe you did. The plot of the movie is somewhat of a given, and the movie begins with a documentary style introduction which thankfully is mostly abandoned once the story starts to roll. So on the surface, this is a film about a song. A film anchored in a real-life story which takes place in recent history.

However, great songs are, nine times out of ten, born out of significant, intense, great experiences. There’s often a story behind the song, and the better the song, the better the story.

Furthermore, many of the songs we like are born out of a great deal of pain on the part of the songwriter. Even a song which on the surface appears to be a joyful (if mellow) composition anticipating the celebration which awaits us in eternity.

…This movie has had a very strong reception in North America. When we arrived at the cineplex and asked the ticket taker which theater it was, she just pointed and said, “Follow the crowd.” Greater success of faith-based films has allowed for larger budgets which translates into better quality.

The casting is great. The movie’s Amy Grant, while admittedly not the singer herself, is quite convincing; my own buy-in on her character is an example of the film’s credibility.

This isn’t Biblically based in the sense of Paul, Apostle of Christ but this contemporary story has had great impact on those who have seen it. I think it’s an example of God is using the large volume of Christian films currently available to reach all types of people.

J. Michael Finley as Mercy Me’s Bart Millard


Thanks (again) to Graf-Martin Communications in Canada for an almost-missed opportunity to see I Can Only Imagine.

March 29, 2018

Paul, Apostle of Christ

Luke (to Paul) – “There are men, women and children who will never meet you. There must be a handwritten account of your life.”

I’ve mentioned the film, Paul, Apostle of Christ several times, but now that we’ve seen the picture, I wanted to share some additional thoughts.

Like many others, I was expecting a movie based on the Book of Acts. While the stoning of Stephen, Damascus Road and Paul and Silas singing in prison were covered in a flashbacks, there were no shipwrecks and no one bitten by snakes. In many respects this is its own film.

But that’s as far as I want to take that because, despite a somewhat original screenplay, I found the film to resonate with the Bible at every turn. Rather than draw on Acts specifically, the film draws on all that Paul wrote and at no point did I find myself saying, ‘Paul would never say that;’ or ‘Paul would never do that.’ There were scenes of, ‘That’s not in the Bible;’ but playing that game was part of the fun, although I use that term loosely, this is a very sobering film to watch.

Of course, such script liberties might confuse people unfamiliar with the original text; people who would never think that a particular scene in the movie isn’t canon. (I wondered if I might myself, a few years from now, be in a discussion and start quoting a particular occurrence before realizing it was part of a fictional movie.) Hopefully, they are driven to read Acts for themselves.

In many respects, the movie could be called Luke, Apostle of Christ. Luke’s drive and determination to document all that is happening around him, and to get copies of that story out despite the danger the early church faced with travel is, well, inspired.

The scenes of early Christians suffering and dying for their faith were powerful. It’s a movie well-suited to watching during Lent. A few times I thought of the identification with Christ’s suffering for us. However, those who feared a certain goriness (because one actor was also in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ) needn’t fear that this is equally extreme if attending the film, though it’s definitely not for children.

The cinematography was excellent. The movie’s arrival in the middle of a 20-day period when three strong faith-based films were releasing is unfortunate, but I recommend making time for this one if it’s still playing in your area over the Easter weekend.

 

Thanks to Graf-Martin Communications for arranging passes for this film.

October 3, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Well they don’t build megachurches like this anymore… This is the First Church of Christ, Scientist (i.e. Christian Science) in Boston in a 1907 photo at Shorpy.com.

To begin this link list, you need a blank piece of paper.

  • Let’s start out with something completely different. Without clicking through… One of the best selling Christian books of the past 20 years has been The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Name the five languages without peeking.
  • How about another top five list? Again, without clicking, what’s your guess as to the top five churches in the United States by attendance. It’s about 3/4 of the way down the page.
  • Finally, before you click that link, what do you think are the top five Bible verses searched for at BibleGateway.com? Oh, and the one you think is number one, actually isn’t.  [More on that subject with our People’s Bible page sample.]

The regular links

  • If you lead a small group, here’s a YouTube channel you should know about while it lasts, because when it comes to small group discussion-starter videos, Zondervan is giving away the store.
  • Is the window on religious freedom in Russia about to close? Some people feel Christians could be adversely affected by a new law.
  • Borrowing material from the “public domain” Bible simply makes good economic sense for Hollywood.
  • He was an Independent Fundamentalist Pastor and now he’s an atheist and humanist.The blog Galatians Four looks at what can happen when your church is filled with abuses.
  • Russell D. Moore knows that the 2012 election has got more people talking to and about Mormonism. So he offers a few suggestions on confronting LDS theology.
  • Stephen Colbert gets serious at a Catholic university to profess his love for his Roman Catholic faith.
  • Being the worship leader in a church isn’t easy. That’s what Jonathan Sigmon’s pastor said one recent Sunday. But there are also some blessings that come with the job.
  • Not everyone will agree with one of the points on corporal punishment, but the rest of these seven tips for Christian parents should meet with approval.
  • For those of you who like to go deep, here’s an article about Augustine and the literal interpretation of Genesis 1.
  • You know it’s a slow news day at Christianity Today when the Facebook page, Awkward Couples of Liberty gets its own article. (My wife points out that in this instance, the university is not aptly named…)
  • Listen online to three sample songs from Matt Maher’s new album, The Love In Between.
  • This will cause a few people to say ‘I told you so.’  Brian McLaren led a same-sex commitment service in Maryland; one of the grooms being his son Trevor. The story has attracted over 120 comments so far at the CT Live blog.
  • Here are a dozen things that, thankfully, your pastor probably won’t hear in heaven.
  • The Big Picture pics of North Korea are obviously propaganda, but it’s the unanimous response of reader comments that seal the deal. 
  • Happy Birthday to the Compact Disc, which turns 30 this week.
  • Meanwhile, over at the daily comic strip Retail by Norm Feuti, the “Christmas” versus “holiday” semantics debate has already begun:

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