Lord, Save Us From Your Followers: ‘The Keepers’ and the Dark side of Christianity

Few shows have provoked as much rage in me as Netflix's "The Keepers."I started watching Netflix's seven-part docuseries on Labor Day and finished it this past weekend. As a fan of true-crime podcasts and television shows, I found myself riveted by each part of this murder mystery, but also chilled and enraged at its depiction of Christianity perverted by lust and power. It's essential viewing, but it's not for the weak at heart. Righting the wrongs of "Making a Murderer" "The Keepers" is … [Read more...]

The Truman Show, Freedom and Less-Wild Lovers

In their book “The Sacred Romance,” Brent Curtis and John Eldredge discuss the rut that many people often find themselves in. Yearning for lives of adventure and romance but finding that those very things require risk, many settle for what the authors call “less-wild lovers” — distractions that temporarily pacify desire without requiring too much.There are two forms these “lovers” often take. The first is addiction  — drugs, pornography, materialism — that give the rush you’re looking for wit … [Read more...]

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Holiday Road: My 5 Favorite Movie Road Trips

As you read this, I'm on a week-long vacation with my family. As such, I'm taking a bit of a social media break, aside from making sure posts hit Facebook and Twitter accordingly. But I didn't want to leave you content-less, so I have two posts hitting this week. This first is lighter and fun. The second, which posts Thursday, is a deep dive into one of my favorite films.There's a bit of a vacation tie-in to these posts. The one hitting Thursday concerns a movie that filmed in the area where … [Read more...]

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Crashing: Christian in the wild

HBO's new series "Crashing" finished its first season on Sunday. As with many of the network's other comedies, I highly enjoyed it. The combination of star/creator Pete Holmes and executive producer Judd Apatow made this look into the stressful world of stand-up comedy heartfelt, awkward and funny, often in the same beat. But it's the show's spiritual side that made it resonate."Crashing" follows Holmes (playing a slightly fictionalized version of himself) as he tries to make a break in New … [Read more...]

Goodbye, Family Christian Stores

This week, it was announced that Family Christian Stores — one of the world's largest Christian retailers — will close all 240 of its stores. This isn't really shocking; Family Christian had gone through bankruptcy a few years back. But it will have an impact; more than 3,000 employees are going to lose their jobs as the stores shutter and Christian culture loses one of its largest and most diverse suppliers of books, music and trinkets.Granted, this is just the nature of the beast these days … [Read more...]

To everyone telling me to be quiet and trust God after this election

Again, apologies. I know: I'm the movie guy. And trust me, next week, you're going to get movie stuff. Thoughts on "Moana," "Arrival" and possibly the return to the Harry Potter universe. Plus, my thoughts on some pop culture I'm thankful for and a fun new series just for the holidays that I'm extremely excited about. But this election rocked the church. So, indulge me, please. Ever since the election, I've seen attempts by myself and friends to voice our concerns or anger tempered by people … [Read more...]

Losing my evangelical home

I promise we'll get back to movies shortly. Given the events of this week, I wanted to post this, originally from my Facebook account. It has been edited for length.I am surprised how angry and depressed I felt seeing the election results. To think that Donald Trump is the next President of the United States still seems unreal. I have no clue how a man with such a short fuse and no political experience will govern. I’m terrified.Tuesday afternoon, I posted on Facebook that people s … [Read more...]

“Hell House” and shock-and-awe evangelism

 George Ratliff’s  “Hell House,” (2002) resonates with me in a way few documentaries have. Its depiction of evangelicalism is strikingly familiar. When its church members speak about sin, salvation, and Hell, I hear phrases that could have come from my own lips 20 years ago. As I’ve returned to the film over 10 years, my relationship to it has changed. At first, I was sympathetic to the members of Trinity Church, located in Cedar Hill, Texas. Years later, I was frustrated. Now, I find th … [Read more...]

Is the Internet the Antichrist?

When my dad bought our first computer with a modem and America Online shortly after Christmas in 1998, my life changed forever. I was in my second year of college, and I'd only used the internet a few times. I acclimated quickly. While my family was at a gathering on New Year's Day, I spent eight hours online, meeting new friends in chat rooms and on Instant Messenger, devouring movie news, and marveling at my ability to communicate with people from around the world from our living room. I was … [Read more...]

Popcorn in the pews

When I was in my twenties, my friends referred to the movies as my second church. I could be found there probably as often as I could be found at my regular house of worship, and I probably extolled some films with the same fervor I used when talking about doctrine.When I was asked to participate in the Patheos symposium on nontraditional worship, I was surprised that churches that meet in movie theaters were considered "nontraditional." It's been pretty common in my neck of the woods for at … [Read more...]