The unauthorized autobiography of a ‘faith-based’ auteur

The unauthorized autobiography of a ‘faith-based’ auteur April 5, 2018

• Alissa Wilkinson explains “How the Christian movie series God’s Not Dead fails to be Christian.”

But God’s Not Dead, which leans on a very particular fantasy of persecution for its own popularity, is too weak to take up that challenge. After all, if your target audience responds to the call to “make America great again” by seeking out a champion who’s demonstrated little regard for America’s history of injustice and a great deal of callousness, at best, for the experiences of people who aren’t “real Americans,” then there’s no value in depicting those stories. Who needs to worry about loving your literal neighbor as yourself when you can feel like the hero at the center of your own story?

For a chaser, let me recommend the dizzying half-hour documentary Pure Flix and Chill: The David A.R. White Story. Relying on interviews and “faith-based” cinema’s over-reliance on voiceover narration, Anthony Simon has put together something that might be described as an unauthorized autobiography of the Van Der Beekian star and auteur behind the God’s Not Dead series and countless other films that Wilkinson rightly describes as “catastrophic for Christians.”

Christian Nightmares aptly describes White as an “unreliable narrator” to his own life story. Simon, I think, teases out more of the truth from him than he may be able to do himself.

• Speaking of bad acting and unreliable narrators …

The creepy thing about Sinclair’s “must-run” scripted commentary, read by anchors on (almost) all of its local news stations, was the way those local anchors all pretended the words were their own. This was acting, not reading the news. These were performances, with those local anchors all doing their best to appear to make the words seem like their own thoughts and feelings.

Some of them conveyed that false impression quite skillfully. And that is a skill. But that skill has nothing to do with journalism, reporting, or “the news.”

• Brief mentions of hideous men: Kevin Williamson. Bob NoniniBenjamin Sparks.

Our tedious troll is apparently more representative of conservative men than I wanted to believe.

• The power failure at University Hospital in Cleveland apparently affected twice as many frozen embryos as previously reported. Dozens of Ohio lawmakers support “personhood” legislation based on their claimed belief that human personhood begins at conception and that those 4,000 embryos were legally and morally equivalent to any child or adult. Yet none of them has yet responded to this incident in anything like the manner one would if one really believed that 4,000 Ohioans just died in a single tragedy. No vigils or armbands or flags at half-staff. No calls for arrests, prosecutions or executions. And outside of Cleveland, this hasn’t even been front-page news.

That tells you all you need to know.

• “Today my wife and thousands of other Oklahoma public school teachers descend on the state capitol in an effort to remind the Oklahoma legislators who they work for: the people of Oklahoma.”

Rusty Staub was a great ball-player and a mensch. Maybe the Ryan-for-Fregosi trade was worse, but the Rusty-for-Lolich trade hurt more. Years before baseball had video and analytics, Rusty Staub had his little red book. Here’s a story from Keith Hernandez:

“When Ed Whitson would throw a changeup, (Rusty) would say, ‘Watch his glove. (Whitson) will fan his glove when he throws a changeup. And it will be closed when he throws a fastball, curve.’ Sure enough, the first time I was out there, I saw the big fan and here comes the changeup,” said Hernandez. “I said, ‘Ok.’ I had like three hits that day and they were all changeups.”

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