Nicolosi Slays “Giants”

Nicolosi Slays “Giants” October 27, 2006

Buckle up.

Barbara Nicolosi is a little late to the game with her views on Facing the Giants, but her new blog entry was worth the wait.

Here are some excerpts:

A while back when I screened the film, I wrote a brief post that it should never have gotten a PG rating, and also that clearly, the folks who made the film, had every right to make it. I assumed the project was so bad as entertainment that it would just kind of disappear, and there was no reason to get involved smearing something that bad. It would be like jeering at a junior high talent show. What’s the point?

That was before the FOX Faith announcement and the small success of Facing the Giants at the box office, which has all of us Able Christians (as in Cain and Able) in Hollywood scared to death that Facing the Giants will be the prototype of the movies that all the new divisions geared to “creating product for Christians” will be seeking out and producing.

She goes on to describe the mission of Christian artists in Hollywood, and how that mission involves crafting excellent art and entertainment… something that is quite different from what we see in Facing the Giants.

In contrast to this movement of Christian artists, are the ones who are yearning to replicate the Christian Contemporary Music model in Hollywood with a Christian Contemporary Cinema. The goal of these folks seems to be to create fantasy movies for Christians, made by Christians, and paid for by Christians.

Facing the Giants from any serious perspective is a fantasy film. Its message is very dangerous for Christians, and scandalous for pagans. Adult Evangelical Christians watching Facing the Giants is like sex addicts watching the Spice Channel. (Nope. Not going to take it back.)

We are going to leave alone the fact that the film is badly acted, terribly written, completely lacking in imagery, and directed and shot without any style or evident skill. Let’s skip all that and just talkabout the content problem.

So then, she talks about “the content problem”:

The film tells the story of a poverty-stricken, generally disdained, losing football coach who drives a broken down truck and goes home at night to a devastatedly infertile wife. Incited by no particular plot point, the coach reads the Bible one day and then kneels down in a field (Why the hell is it always a field? Is that like in Zecharaiah somewhere?) and gives his life to Jesus. In short order after he utters the Evangelical commitment formula aloud, he wins back the esteem of his fellow townspeople, he turns around his terrible team so that they win the championship, somebody gives him a brand new shiny red truck, AND his infertile wife becomes pregnant!

WOW! Give me some of THAT Jesus-stuff!

Absolute fantasy stuff. The kind of thing that makes Christians puff out their chests proud to be on the winning team! This film fumbles deep, deep in the prosperity Gospel end zone. It is icky to tell people that they should be Christian because of the career and health benefits. We have the problem on the team of that embarrassingly unsuccessful crucified coach of ours.

And she’s just getting started…

What would the filmmakers of Facing the Giants say about this?

Barbara says:

Another friend told me a couple days ago that he knows the fellows who made the film, and that their philosophy (apologies to philosophers everywhere…) of filmmaking is that entertainment should be idealistic and not mirror the world as it is, but as it should be.



And then, she gets serious…

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  • jasdye

    my apologies to the great folks at Looking Closer – certainly to Jeffrey- to picking a fight. an extension of the same ol’ fight, to some extent.

    But I’m done. here at least.

  • jasdye

    i don’t understand.

    what, pray tell, is “Christian” about this theological pudge? whether or not early Christians used the “health/wealth” or “turn/burn” method and it worked is irrelevant.

    history and theology (and, yes, ‘faux intellectualism’ and film) should be read through the prism of the Bible, and to a lesser extent, visa versa.

    and, from one Protestant to another, Mr. Marquez, shame. just shame.

  • Anonymous

    What Greg said, only not so much.

    I enjoyed FTG. It was entertaining. I didn’t expect it to be great moviemaking, so I wasn’t disappointed. I knew that it was just a movie, not a classroom, so I wasn’t offended by its teaching (whatever you think that is). It wll not make my “best of” list, or anyone else’s for that matter, but it was done with purity of motive and with a sense of pride. In my book, it was an “excellent” production given the church’s resources. I seriously enjoyed watching normal people, who I know lead normal Christian lives (as opposed to “professional” actors who do not), try to make a movie to the very best of their abilities and resources. Maybe they had five talents instead of ten, but I think they did an incredible, laudable, and praiseworthy job with what they had. I think it is a good example of biblical excellence–using your gifts to the best of your ability for the glory of God.

    It is a humble little movie, created by a bunch of normal Christians who wanted to make a positive family film. That it enjoyed a theatrical release is probably just an anomaly, but then why shouldn’t it be there? Because it’s not as good as all the other not-great films that get shown in theaters? Or is it really because it is just too darn Christian, and we all know we can’t be too Christian in a theatrical release movie…just isn’t done.

    In contrast to the humility and simplicity of FTG, the Nicolosi comments, among others, come off sounding very arrogant, prideful, and cynical. In addition to the unchecked sarcasm and snarkiness, one could make the case that there is some really egregious (I won’t say “sinful”) judgmentalism going on here by Christians about Christians. It’s not a very pretty sight. If FTG folks had sad bad things about Nicolosi, maybe I would forgive a little quid quo pro, but she’s on the offensive, in more ways than one. I would call it “friendly fire,” but it’s not really very friendly.

  • Goyo

    Well Jeffrey I take it from your posting those comments that you have relented from restrictions on snarkiness, so here goes.

    My first impression on reading that screed of a review is how pretentious it is. It stinks of echo chamber intellectualism: “Why, isn’t it so wonderful that we are all so witty and so much smarter than those horrible, unwashed evangelicals.” “Oh yes dear you are such a riot but they are a bit of easy target.“ “Oh now you two lets not make sport of the disadvantaged.” “Ha, ha ha ha ha, we are a witty bunch.” This from somebody who works in the entertainment business, an industry not quite famous for its intellectual rigor.

    It’s a movie, a diversion, a pastime, an amusement. Even all of Shakespeare’s plays were not great art, see for example the Merry Wives of Windsor which was written at the request of the queen for another play about the fat knight.

    My second impression after reading the following phrase is of ignorant, prideful, snobbish, intellectualism: “It is icky to tell people that they should be Christian because of the career and health benefits. We have the problem on the team of that embarrassingly unsuccessful crucified coach of ours.” Icky? Icky is telling people that if they light candles in front of statutes God will answer their prayers.

    She may have missed it because it wasn’t included in that slasher film that all the intellectually fashionable people just swooned over a few years ago, but the story doesn’t quite end at the cross. The Bible, (For our Catholic friends the Bible is the large book located on that large table at the front of the church that the priests read a couple of lines from each week.) refers to Jesus as triumphant and victorious as in:

    Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;


    Ephesians 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

    I would keep quoting down 7 more verses but that would really blow your mind.

    Finally, it may come as a shock to those of you who really believe that all of life’s questions are answered in the movies, but “telling people that they should become Christian because of the career and health benefits…” is exactly what the early Christians did to convert the Roman empire.

    Here’s Ramsay MacMullin a mere expert in Roman history from Yale University:

    MacMullin (on the spread of Christianity)

When today you wonder how was it that Christianity made converts, brought people over to its side. The thing you think of first is the preaching of Saint Paul; which is well attested a marvelous story spreads over a very wide domain. And you suppose that that example would have dictated a long process along the same lines, but it aint so. It doesn’t work out that way.

My guess is that after saint Paul’s death and in a long period of persecution and hostility directed against the church open preaching was a very difficult thing. In contrast what worked best was one on one talk about the proofs of the truth of Christianity and those proofs would lie in exorcism above all. Keyed into the most common concern of people, ordinary people the man in the street the man on the farm when he thought about religion at all, that is, concern with good things in this life, and principally and above all good health.

    On this level to solve this sort of problem Christianity advertised its own particular remarkable powers through the driving out of the demons that cause ill health. Driving out of the demonic influences that bring anything bad in life. 

And the tales of miracles which christians pass around when you come to look for stories of conversions actual anecdotes and details make up the great bulk of the evidence.

    Of preaching there is hardly a word hardly a word throughout all the centuries that I look at in this book and in fact earlier too in the second century on up to the eighth, ninth, tenth. Very very little mention of christians talking to the entirely unpersuaded and trying to bring them over by reasoning.

    Instead what is talked about is the operation of wonderful things by holy people as a consequence of which those who hear about these wonders are brought over by self interest. they want the benevolent power the christians promise. and as part of the bargain they enlist in the church. just as pagans would have enlisted in the service of any deity advertised to them and convincingly

Interviewer: Which ever deity had the best benefits package, in other words.

Yea that’s right.

Mars HIll Audio Journal 34
    Maybe professor MacMullin needs to get out and see more movies then he too can be a faux intellectual.

    Greg Marquez

  • jasdye

    1) kudos. kudos, i say to Barb. her rants are genius.

    2) kudos to you for the info and extensive quoting.

    3) a temporary un-kudo for not putting up a link (i had to search for her blog. and i was pretty excited to read it.)

    4) did you notice that Golden Boy Stephen is starring in a new movie produced by a Christian that Barb is promoting?