God Is Not Dead and Messages that Resonate

 

God Is Not Dead, the low budget surprise hit of the season, is drawing audiences and brickbats that seem out of proportion to the movie itself.

God Is Not Dead is an uber low-budget film that opened in a limited number of theaters to consistently terrible reviews. The movie has a predictable plotline and, with the exception of Kevin Sorbo, who had the starring role in the television series Hercules, unknown actors.

Yet it is pulling in the $$. The small side theaters where it is showing are filling up. It’s been in those theaters long enough for any roll that accrued to the film through early direct marketing to churches has died. But the audiences keep coming, and, surprisingly, they are mostly young people who cheer and applaud when the film’s hero vanquishes the villain.

At the same time, a matching vitriol, not toward the film itself, but toward it’s message, is dotting the internet like a bad case of chickenpox.

What’s with this little film?

I didn’t get around to seeing the movie until recently, so I attended it with a post-direct-marketing audience. I personally witnessed the full theater of young people, with late-comers going from aisle to aisle, looking for a seat. I saw and heard the entire audience cheer and clap at the gotcha line aimed at the villainous professor.

I came home wondering if this was an Oklahoma thing. I looked at the box office results, and it turned out that $2 million God Is Not Dead was in range with $125 million Noah for the weekend’s box office. Meanwhile the Christian-bashing thought meisters of the internet were in a rageful froth over the film’s astonishing success.

Predictably, this spiteful jabbing was aimed, not at the film itself, but at Christians in general. The basic message in these opinion pieces is simple. Here’s the gist of it: YOU CHRISTIANS ARE STUPID, PARANOID FOOLS! YOU ARE NOT PERSECUTED!!!! NOW SIT DOWN, SHUT UP AND STOP SPENDING YOUR MONEY ON A FILM WITH A MESSAGE TO THE CONTRARY OF WHAT WE TELL YOU!!!

It turns out that there are at least three underlying messages in the success of God Is Not Dead, and only one of them is in the film itself.

I think that God Is Not Dead is somewhat analogous to the Billy Jack movies of the 70s. It has a message that strikes a powerful chord with the younger generation of Christians. Every Christian kid who’s sat in a classroom while the professor derides people of faith, or who has been belittled and given lower grades for standing firm on their beliefs, knows from their own life experience that this movie is based on reality. I think that’s the reason that this movie has legs, and I also think it’s the reason that young adults in the audience burst into applause and cheers when the student zapped the bullying professor.

I know from personal experience that nothing gets the Christian-bashing crowd going more than Christians who call Christian bashing what it is. They turn personal in one ugly step. I’ve been accused of all sorts of things, including indifference to the mass murder of millions, because I raise these issues.

The Christians-are-crazy crowd is really heaping it on right now because of the surprise success of God Is Not Dead. They appear to be confounded by the fact that people will spend their money and go watch a film with a message about Christian bashing in higher education. According to them, Christians who believe that Christian bashing exists in higher education are all a bunch of paranoid hayseeds with very small brains.

What they fail to see is that this attitude in much of the media, along with the undeniable Christian bashing that occurs in a great deal of higher education, is exactly why God Is Not Dead is striking such a chord with so many people. It speaks to their experience, an experience which is denied, derided and belittled by both big-time entertainment and the internet mavens who are jabbing at God Is Not Dead’s surprising success.

I honestly thought that this movie had the possibility of a good run when I saw the previews for it. I knew that the Christian bashing that the film dramatizes is happening and that a lot of Christians are beginning to get enough of it.

I’m glad God Is Not Dead is a success. My reason is simple: I want Christian young people to stop allowing themselves to be bullied in the halls of academia by professors with personal problems.

To the extent that God Is Not Dead raises the self-awareness of Christian young people and helps then find their courage, I think it is a very good film, indeed.

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Holy Week: Pope Francis’ Reflections for Way of the Cross

Pope Francis’ reflections for the Way of the Cross aren’t going to please people who want to claim that there is no moral component to economic issues.

Perhaps that’s why they are so important, especially to Americans.

We need a Pope who reminds us that our Christian walk requires us to follow Christ and not our politics. Americans are becoming partisan fanatics. Far too many of us have hardened ourselves and become indifferent to suffering which does not fit in with our peculiar and entirely political view of the world.

We convince ourselves that following our political parties in these partisan culture wars is actually following Christ. This is a lie we tell ourselves. Jesus is the Way, not the R or the D.

These reflections will comfort some who want to ignore the Gospel requirements concerning family and popular killing fields such as abortion and euthanasia. After all, the reflections don’t mention those directly.

Those who want to believe that the only requirements the Gospels of Christ make on them and their lives are to be anti-abortion (as opposed to pro life) and to oppose gay marriage will probably find these reflections outrageous.

Every time Pope Francis says something that goes against the “teachings” of right wing economics, including the economic teachings of such cold-blooded wackos as Ayn Rand, he is either attacked or explained away.

Are we our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper?

Did Jesus mean what He said when he talked about the least of these? Is Christ the Lord too unsophisticated and old school to instruct us about our economics?

Child labour 3

use child labor without limits again.

 

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We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bus

The chickens are coming flapping home.

 

And it turns out that these chickens walk on two legs and have roosting habits that are nothing more than mob action.

 

Catholic education’s easy bargain of don’t ask, don’t tell concerning dissent against Church teachings and morality has coalesced into “outrage” from parents and students when high schools try to teach and enforce Church teachings. Consider this, this and this.

Bishops, when faced with these angry mobs have turned to the time-honored bureaucratic practice of court-martial-the-private/fire-the-secretary/shoot-the-messenger. Sister Mary Tracy resigned in Seattle. Sister Jane Dominic Laurel took a sabbatical in North Carolina. Father Rocky Hoffman hasn’t been cashiered the way the nuns were, but he has been properly apologized for to the mob.

The response to angry mobs demanding that Catholic schools not teach Catholic teaching has been to wave the white flag and toss the hapless offender who committed the crime of doing what the Church says we should all do under the bus.

It appears that our Catholic schools have become something other than what we thought they were. I keep wondering, are they nothing except a place for well-to-do people to send their kids in order to avoid the public schools? Is there no moral component to Catholic education these days?

And what about these bishops? Are any of them capable of being stand up guys? I don’t have any sympathy with the bishops about this court-martial/fire/shoot and then-cut-and-run routine they’re doing. If the bishop runs away, the people will be lost.

If every Catholic who believes what the Church teaches gets thrown under the bus for being politically incorrect enough to say so in public, we’re going to need a lot bigger bus.

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Conversion Story: Inside I was Dead

 

 

Jesus Saves.

It’s as simple as that.

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ABC News Apologizes after ‘Inadvertently’ Conflating Ex-Mozilla CEO with Westboro Baptist Church

 

Do you believe this was “inadvertent?”

ABC News evidently ran a video of Westboro Baptist Church — complete with inflammatory signs about homosexuals — as they were reporting the story of Brendan Eich, former CEO of Mozilla.

Mr Eich resigned from his position with Mozilla, a company he founded, after being attacked for a $1,000 donation he had made to the Prop 8 campaign in 2008.

ABC later apologized, labeling the stunt, which appeared on Good Morning America, “inadvertent.”

I am not convinced by the “inadvertent” claim. The entire piece is smirky and biased, even without the video. I don’t know, of course, but I think the use of the video was deliberate.

I do know that if something like this happens again, the “inadvertent” excuse will be gone.

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From The Blaze:

Newsbusters’ Scott Whitlock has more background on the ABC story:Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich was fired earlier this month when it was revealed that he donated $1000 in 2008 to Proposition 8.

As Good Morning America reporter Linzie Janis explained the story on April 4, footage of the completely unrelated Westboro protesters holding “soldiers died 4 f*g marriage” signs appeared onscreen.

ABC News later posted the following editor’s note at the bottom of a story about Eich:The segment as originally aired on Good Morning America on April 4, 2014, and included on this page, has been updated to correct an error. Video of a demonstration by the Westboro Baptist Church, which is not connected to this story, was inadvertently used in the original segment. We apologize for the error and have removed that video.Instead of the Westboro protesters, the ABCNews.com video now features supporters of Proposition 8.

The network reportedly told the website that similar footage will not be used again in the future.Watch the video as it originally aired on ABC via Newsbusters here.

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Kathleen Sebelius Announces that She’s Going to Announce Her Resignation. Or Something Like That.

 

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius — or someone — has pre-announced that she’s going to announce her resignation from President Obama’s cabinet.

One story I read said that Secretary Sebelius asked the president if she could step down about a month ago. The speculation about her reasons for doing this are all about the bumpy start-up of Obamacare.

Did she ask the president if she could step down? Or did the president ask her?

We probably won’t know until the tell-all books come out.

In the meantime, from The Wall Street Journal:

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will step down from her post, days after the formal end of the rollout of the Obama administration’s signature health law, a person familiar with the matter said.

She will be replaced by Sylvia Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, the person said.

Mrs. Sebelius’s departure came after months of speculation that she would resign over the rocky implementation of the law, which included a wave of technical problems plaguing the HealthCare.gov website.

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Christian Professor Awarded Back Pay, Promotion for Violation of His First Amendment Rights

 

“No individual loses his ability to speak as a private citizen by virtue of his public employment.”

That comes from a 2011 opinion of the 4th Circuit US Court of Appeals decision on a lawsuit filed by Dr Mike Adams. Dr Adams is a professor in criminology at the University of North Caroline-Wilmington.

He filed suit when university officials refused him a promotion to a full professorship. The suit claimed that this was due to his change of personal beliefs after conversion from atheism to Christianity.

When the university hired Dr Adams in 1993, he was an atheist. He received accolades from his colleagues and was promoted to associate professor 1998.

Dr Adams converted to Christianity in 2000, which affected his views on political and social issues. According to CharismaNews, “the university subjected Adams to a campaign of academic persecution that culminated in the denial of his promotion to full professorship, despite an award-winning record of teaching, research and service.”

Now a federal court has ordered the University of North Caroline-Wilmington to promote Dr Adams to the rank of full professor and pay him $50,000 in back pay.

Christian converts who come from more politicized environments often experience painful changes in the way they are treated by colleagues. Christian conversion can lead to the loss of old friendships and promotions, even here in the USA.

The court’s decision is an important one that hopefully will curb the harassment of people in public life who express opinions that run contrary to politically correct cant.

Now, if we can only develop First Amendment protections for those in the corporate environment.

Note: Public Catholic reader Peggy-O found this link to Dr Adams’ personal response to a bit of what he was subjected to. It’s well worth a read.

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Maybe the Only Honorable Place for a Catholic to be is Under the Bus

 

Fear God, and you will have no need of being afraid of mortal man. What can anyone do against you by his words and injuries? He rather hurts himself than you, nor can he escape the judgement of God, whoever he be. Keep God before your eyes. Thomas a Kempis

It’s getting crowded under the bus.

I would imagine that it’s also lonely and a bit shattering for the people who are under there.

First, we’ve got Mozilla, throwing their founder and the inventor of JavaScript under that old bus because he made a political donation six years ago in favor of Prop 8, or, to put it more simply, in support of traditional marriage.

Next, we’ve got Sister Jane Dominic Laurel who committed the “crime” of using sociological studies that the gay marriage/gay rights people claim are bogus in a presentation to high school students. Evidently, she said nothing, nothing, that was against Church teaching. The only half-way legitimate criticism that anyone can dig up is that parents  weren’t “informed” of the talk beforehand. Informing the parents beforehand sounds to me like the administrative responsibility of the school, not Sister Jane.

I’ll toss in one more. Father Marcel Guarnizo says he was removed from ministry for refusing communion to a woman who had informed him she was living in a sexual relationship with another woman.

Meanwhile, this priest (who is a Jesuit, so has different superiors, but the principle is the same) is supporting open defiance against Church teachings and writing about it in national Catholic magazines.

I wonder how many others are out there lying under buses for standing for what the Church has taught us we should stand for?

The forced resignation of Brandon Eich from Mozilla is different because the people who abandoned him were not bishops of the Church. I am not in any way abrogating their responsibility for acceding to an egregious and unconscionable attack on the principles of civil liberties which have allowed us to all live together in peace in this country for over 200 years.

I am saying that when a bishop of the Church throws people under the bus for following Church teaching, it … well … it gets too ripe to breathe.

When the zeitgeist turns, it sometimes turns ugly. You can get ugly mobs at your Catholic high schools, demanding the head of a nun. Situations like that are the ones that let true leaders shine. They are also the situations that lead the weak links to tarnish themselves and shame the rest of us.

A bishop who is a good leader must be a great follower. He must be a follower of Christ before anything else. A bishop who follows Jesus and lets the Holy Spirit work through him, will be able to deal with mobs without running away and abandoning his people. But bishops who decide that being a bishop is all about them, will not stand in the tough times.

Such is our fallen state. Jesus Himself told us that the tares would grow up alongside the wheat and not be separated out until Judgement Day. We, meaning you and I, have the task of remaining faithful to Our Lord, even if we have to do it alone, even if our priests and bishops abandon us, even if it makes social martyrs of us.

Make no mistake about it, those who destroy people’s careers and push them to the sidelines for supporting traditional marriage are making martyrs of them. I include bishops who do not stand by them among the martyr-makers.

The suffering of a Brandon Eich who had the corporation he founded and his life’s work stolen from him in what can only be described as an act of malice and spite, must be exquisite. Imagine what it is like to be Sister Jane or Father Guarnizo, who have given their lives to the Church, to have that Church cashier them as a matter of convenience for a bishop who won’t make a stand? Meanwhile those who ignore the Church’s teachings, or even deride them, are riding high.

So long as individual Catholics, ranging from priests, to nuns, to laity, can not rely on their bishops to stand by them when the angry mobs of the zeitgeist come at them for standing for Christ, the only honorable and faithful place for Jesus loving, Jesus following Catholics may very well be under the bus.

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Court Upholds Ban on Religious Services in NYC Public Schools

 

A federal appeals court upheld a ban on renting public school facilities to religious organizations for religious services.

In my opinion this ruling is clearly discriminatory.

The reason I say it is discriminatory is that it is aimed at one group of people only. The city evidently allows rental of their school facilities to other groups for their private purposes. This ruling singles out religious groups and applies a prohibition to them that is not applied to other groups of people.

From Catholic News Agency:

A federal appeals court has upheld a New York City policy prohibiting religious services in public school buildings, a decision critics said wrongly targets churches for exclusion.

Jordan Lorence, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, objected to the April 3 decision, saying that “the First Amendment prohibits New York City from singling out worship services and excluding them from empty school buildings.”

He noted that the buildings are “generally available to all individuals and community groups” for activity related to the community’s welfare. Groups that are religious should not be excluded.

Two of the three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overruled a lower court’s finding that the city’s education department’s policy wrongly restricted the free exercise of religion.

The two appellate judges said the policy seeks to avoid the risk of illegally endorsing a religion.

The dissenting judge noted that among the 50 largest school districts in the U.S., New York City is the only one to exclude religious worship from school facilities.

Small churches in poor neighborhoods have said they are particularly affected by the rule since they rely on the inexpensive space, The New York Times reports.

The Bronx Household of Faith, a small church that describes itself as “community-based,” filed a legal challenge to the rule.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, backed the policy and contended that religious congregations were “dominating” public schools each Sunday.

She said that when a school is “converted to a church in this way” it sends “a powerful message” that the government favors that church.

However, critics say that renting out space to religious groups with the same rules and standards as non-religious groups is in full adherence with the Constitution.

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CORRECTION: Bishop Jugis Did not Issue Statement in Support of Sister Jane. Will Make Formal Statement Soon.


It turns out that the LifeSiteNews story that I quoted in this post got things wrong.

Bishop Jugis did not make a statement in support of Sister Jane through his spokesperson, David Hains.

David Hains made a comment to that effect in Public Catholic’s com boxes earlier today. I called Mr Hains and he actually did leave the comment. He told me that Bishop Jugis will issue a formal statement concerning what happened to Sister Jane soon.

As soon as that statement comes out, I’ll publish it here.

Here is what David Hains wrote in the combox earlier today.

This post incorrectly spells of the name of Bishop Jugis both in the headline and several times throughout the article. As the Bishop’s spokesman I can assure you that he has not issued a statement on the matter at this time, 4/9/2014. The statement you are quoting came from Father Roger Arnsparger, Vicar for Education in the Diocese of Charlotte. Thank you for your interest in covering this story.

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