I’m Feeling Ambivalent about Blue Like Jazz: The Movie

If you travel in the same online circles as me, you are being inundated with urgings to support and see Blue Like Jazz, the movie based on Don Miller’s best-selling memoir. Friends on Facebook who once begged me to send money to the Kickstarter campaign for the film are now pleading with me to buy tickets in advance, an effort to show theater owners how great this film is.

But these efforts give me the willies. It reminds me of when Christianity Today literally wrapped itself in a promotion for Evan Almighty, a sophomoric and poorly made movie (23% on Rotten Tomatoes) — editor David Neff called it a “bold symbol of the new cooperative spirit” between Hollywood and the evangelical church.

Hollywood must have forgotten about that cooperative spirit, because Steve Taylor couldn’t find investors to make the BLJ movie. Supporters of the film decided to crowdsource it, raising over $345,000 on Kickstarter, the second-largest Kickstarter campaign of 2010. As you can imagine, I’m a fan of crowdsourcing and of making end-runs around traditional media (hence my ebook publishing), but I was a little put-off by the often panicky appeals during the fundraising campaign.

[Read more...]

More on Obama and Abortion

There has been a robust conversation in the comments section of my previous post on abortion.  There are clearly some policy wonks who read my blog, and I’m not one of them.  I mean, I’m not a policy wonk; not that I don’t read my blog.  Anyway, I appreciate those of you who can quote particular pieces of legislation and particular votes.  My interest is more on the overarching principles at hand, although it does seem to me that BO made it abundantly clear that his most odious vote to pro-lifers was because he thought the bill would be struck down as unconstitutional (HT: Keith).

I am thankful that my friend, Carla Jo, fought the good fight in the comments.  For those of you who don’t know her, CJ has a raft of evangelical credentials.  In other words, she’s no leftist idealogue.  She’s simply trying to deal with the complexity of the issue — I must say, much as BO does.

And I am particularly indebted to the two women who posted about their own abortions.  In the wake of that terrible decision, they’ve come to different conclusions about the issue, but their journeys to those conclusions, IMHO, seem a lot more honest than some others who commented.  Honestly, I cannot imagine either of them, though they stand on different sides of the debate, referring to someone as a “faggot” or “callous, selfish, and unrepentant.”

I was on the weekly O religious outreach call last night, and I again brought up the issue of abortion.  And, again, I was outnumbered.  But what I said there I’ll say here: I don’t expect any of you who are ideological about the issue of abortion to be swayed by my reasoning, or by BO’s for that matter.  You can go ahead and vote for McCain/Palin and assume that they’ll actually change things.  You can keep telling yourself, “We just need one…more…justice to overturn Roe v. Wade.”  You can keep throwing good money after bad and support candidates who pander to you on ideological grounds.  That’s your prerogative.

But for my part, I’m more interested in convincing moderate and progressive evangelicals to vote for BO.  So, to those of you on the fence, let me say a few things: progressive Christians don’t love abortion, they despise it.  It’s a terrible blight on our society.  But criminalizing an activity does not eliminate it from society, be it crystal meth, rape, or graffiti.  So when people say to you, “The point isn’t to reduce abortions, the point is to eliminate them,” you can say to them, “I think you need to go feed your unicorn and see if the leprechaun is still guarding your pot of gold.”

The point was made again on the call last night that BO is going to go straight after the systemic causes that all too often force women into the terrible predicament.  He is going to propose legislation that provides significant tax credits for adoption; he’s going to increase the funding to programs that aid single mothers (particularly young ones) in finding childcare and finding work; he’s going to make more robust education programs for ill-prepared moms; and he’s going to signifcantly enhance early childhood family education funding (a program that I’ve been involved with in my own community).

In short, it’s time to get pragmatic.  Let’s do something about this blight on our society, a blight that is inextriably tied up with issues of poverty, urban struggle, and sexual morality.

In other news, the O campaign today announced a “Faith, Family, and Values Tour” using surrogates to talk about BO’s commitments to the very issues that concern Jesus-followers.  One of the first such events will be in Colorado Springs and will be headlined by Don Miller.

[UPDATE: Abortions have declined during both the Clinton and Bush administrations.]


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