Category Archives: Movieguide

God’s Not Dead 3 — Here We Go Again

Thoughts on A First Look at the Newest Movie in the GOD’S NOT DEAD Franchise:

I find it ironic that the subtitle of God’s Not Dead 3 (out March 30, 2018) is A Light In Darkness, seeing as how, if secular and Christian reviews are anything to judge by, neither of the previous two “God’s Not Dead” films were the light in the darkness that Christian art is supposed to be (Matthew 5: 14 — 16):

“To say God’s Not Dead preaches to the choir would be an understatement. It’s the pastor, staring in a mirror, preaching to himself.”
~ The A.V. Club

“There are serious movies about the Christian faith, about the persecution of the faithful, and about the intolerance that goes both ways. ‘God’s Not Dead 2’ is not one of them.”
~ www.rogerebert.com

“But on the whole, this movie really isn’t worth anyone’s time. And it’s startling to see that this film, of all films, has been so richly rewarded by the ‘faith-based market’. I shudder to think of what this bodes for the future of the genre.”
~ Peter Chattaway, God’s Not Dead

What the world needs is art that portrays goodness, truth, and beauty, regardless of where that goodness, truth, and beauty comes from.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
~ Philippians 4:8

If you want more proof that the “God’s Not Dead” series is lacking goodness, truth, and beauty, this is the reaction an atheist (Mark) has to his girlfriend (Amy) telling him she has cancer:

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Way to not read your catechism, Catholic screenwriters:

“Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called “concupiscence.” Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.” (Emphasis mine.)
~ Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 405

To me, no Christian who believes that a character like Mark is an accurate representation of an atheist has a leg to stand on when they criticize secular films for having one-dimensional Christian characters.

On a related note:

“The realistic, gritty atmosphere created by screenwriter/director Paul Thomas Anderson and actor Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview is tremendous. It is practically ruined, however, by Anderson’s evil caricature of Eli, the revenge-minded preacher, and the over-the-top, unrealistic performance of Paul Dano as Eli. In fact, THERE WILL BE BLOOD is one of the most mean-spirited, anti-Christian, superficial, and poorly played portrayals of religion ever created in movie history. God knows there have been plenty of insincere, sinful leaders in the Christian church, but there have also been many good Christians who have exposed and opposed such false leaders. The short length of most feature films often require stereotypes, even negative ones, to tell a good story, but when they are so mean-spirited, superficial and poorly played as this one is, they appeal only to narrow-minded bigots with an ax to grind, whose mental faculties and hearts have been poisoned by their sinful misanthropic prejudice. (Emphasis mine.)
~ Movieguide’s review of There Will Be Blood

Now let’s see what Movieguide thought of God’s Not Dead:

“There are a lot of stories in GOD’S NOT DEAD, but they work because they end up in the same place. The direction and acting are very good. The ending is terrific. GOD’S NOT DEAD is a powerful evangelistic movie. Even better, the entertainment value transcends the message. Viewers won’t be bored. They will be enlightened and inspired by GOD’S NOT DEAD.”

You reap what you sow. If you (Christians) don’t want to be seen as one-dimensional bad guys by non-Christians, than don’t make non-Christians one-dimensional bad guys.

In the universe of “God’s Not Dead,” atheists are devoid of empathy and compassion. Which reminds me of 0:26 — 0:48:

I don’t have high hopes for God’s Not Dead 3.

In conclusion:

If you’re looking for goodness, truth, and beauty — something to put a smile on your face; something to help light your way through the darkness — here are some pieces of art that do that for me (feel free to leave your own down in the comments):

“Caramella Girls” by Miku Hatsune

I like that to think that, when God confused peoples’ language at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11: 1 — 9), it was so that, one day, mankind would be able to listen to a Japanese pop star sing a song in Swedish.

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
~ Isaiah 55:12

“Obstacles” by Syd Matters

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
~ Proverbs 27:17

“Bataille Decisive” (“Decisive Battle”) from Neon Genesis Evangelion (“The Gospel of the New Century”)

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
~ Matthew 25:40

Interstellar (2014)

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
~ Psalm 19:1

“May the beauty which you pass on to generations still to come be such that it will stir them to wonder! Faced with the sacredness of life and of the human person, and before the marvels of the universe, wonder is the only appropriate attitude.”
Saint John Paul II’s Letter to Artists

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Life Is Strange (2015)

“…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
~ Matthew 5:14 — 16

And:

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
~ 1 Corinthians 12:7

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Why Christians Should Give “Kiki’s Delivery Service” A Chance

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The College Dropout Survival Guide

Note: Thank you to TheOriginalPhoenix. Her post Self-Care Isn’t Selfish is what inspired me to write this post.

It’s now been 3 years since I made the choice to come home after my second semester of university.

Bad grades, combined with not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, made me realize I need time to get my head on straight.

Coming home was a choice that almost killed me.

So, in this post, I want to share with you what I have done in order to keep myself motivated to get out of bed in the morning:

Get a job. I initially balked at the prospect of getting a job. But I knew I had to do it — I knew that I didn’t want to spend my life on the couch, living off the charity of others. So, despite the grumbling of that lazy, entitled, refuse-to-take-responsibility part of myself, when a job opportunity presented itself I jumped at it. And I am so glad I did. Sure, my work could use improvement. More than once, my boss has expressed disappointment at my performance. But, I keep at it. And I figure that as long as the paychecks keep coming, than I must be doing something right.

I’m not at Kiki levels of productivity…

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Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

…but I’m getting there.

Plus, if nothing else: My job allowed me to have enough money to get an Xbox One after my Xbox 360 got the Red Ring of Death.

Have a spiritual life. If you’re spiritual/religious than, if you don’t already, get in the habit of praying at least twice a day — a prayer before you go to sleep and a prayer right after you wake up.

Even if it’s only 5 seconds long and consists of two words — “Hi, (insert name of higher power here).” — praying will do you good.

As the name of my blog implies, I’m a Catholic. I was raised in the Catholic faith and, so far, my faith hasn’t let me down.

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Star Wars (1977)

Realize that you aren’t alone. Chances are that if you’re reading this post, you’re in a similar position: You’re not in college and are wondering What the deuce do I do now?

Well, one of the ways to not despair is to know that you aren’t struggling alone. There are people who have gone through, or are going through, what you are, and either they need you to help them, you need their help, or both.

After all: In order to slay the Kaiju that is Despair, you can’t do it alone…

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Pacific Rim (2013)

(I picked Crimson Typhoon because, even though it does get destroyed, I think it’s the coolest Jaeger.)

Surround yourself with beautiful things. I don’t know about you, but: The 24-hour news cycle of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, presidential incompetence, rapes, and murders depresses me. It makes me ask the one question I never want to find myself asking: Should I keep on living?

So, what do I do? I focus on the good in life instead.

For example:

Instead of scratching my head over Donald Trump’s latest tweet…

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…I listen to my favorite song instead:

It’s much more relaxing.

Do what you love. I’m currently teaching myself how to write screenplays.

I’m doing this because I discovered that, in my free time, I would frequently read film reviews. There was just something about the reviews by Steven Greydanus and Jeffrey Overstreet that hooked me. That kindled within me a passion for film. A passion to not just critique art, but create it. Because anyone can criticize. But not everyone can create.

Lately that passion to create has, unfortunately, been fueled by anger at the incompetence of fellow Christian film enthusiasts…

…reviewers are sadly out of touch with ticket buyers. In fact, they are so far out of touch that most of them pick only one blockbuster movie, and many mediocre “independent” movies and boring foreign language movies that appeal to only a few moviegoers.
~WAR ROOM’s A+ cinemascore tells the story

…but still: I’m glad to be doing something I love. Even if it can be hard.

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And:

Love yourself.

You’re not perfect.

You’ve failed before, and you’re going to fail again.

But is that going to be the end of you?

No.

Why?

Because: You love yourself, flaws and all.

You know that what you have to offer the universe is unique.

And you know that it’ll be a cold day in Hell before you let life get away with sucker-punching you.

Woman9

You Cannot Serve Two Masters

“No matter what happens down there, I can’t bring none of that shit back home with us. Can’t let it happen. And I’ll do whatever I have to to see that it doesn’t.”
~Captain Janek, Prometheus (2012)

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When I think of how, like a virus, love for one’s country has infected Christianity in America, I am reminded of Captain Janek’s words.

This post is not me criticizing Movieguide. I try not to do that anymore. This post is me criticizing an aspect of Christianity in America that Movieguide and Thimblerig’s Ark reminded me of recently. And that aspect is:

The tendency to combine faith and patriotism.

For example:

“No one can serve two masters.”
~Matthew 6:24

I don’t want to see America crash and burn.

But: My love for my country only goes so far.

If I had to choose between saving one soul from Hell or upholding American values, than I would choose to save a person’s soul.

Why?

Because: Eventually, America will pass away. Eventually, all the stars will snuff out, and the universe will be nothing more than a void filled with black holes. America will be crushed to atoms and sucked into oblivion. But the human soul, either in eternal bliss or eternal suffering, will endure.

Wow. That got bleak…

To counter the bleakness, here are kittens:

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Thank you for reading.

What Does Christianity Have Against Artists?

Note: As much as possible, I don’t write about Movieguide on this blog anymore. The reason why is because I found that writing about Movieguide was doing me more harm than good. While in this post I do quote, and mention, Movieguide, this post is not about Movieguide. I bring up Movieguide merely to help illustrate a point. And that point is: There are Christians who are hostile to the concept of art, who see artists as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Why? I don’t know.

Now:

Examples of Christianity’s distrust of artists:

I remember several Sundays in which a banner was draped across the front of the sanctuary, and each week it announced a dollar amount that congregants had given in a church fundraising campaign. It wasn’t celebrating the generosity of God’s people toward serving the poor. It was a campaign for a larger building on the church property for offices and activity rooms. And it made me uncomfortable — to raise my eyes from prayer and see dollar signs.

I also remember feeling uncomfortable during sermons that prioritized judgment over grace, that ranted against the evils of pop culture and “liberalism.” There was more said about the evils of “culture” than was said in observant interpretation of the Scriptures.
~Jeffrey Overstreet

When you support independent films like those on PureFlix.com, you send a clear message to Hollywood about your values.
~Why Supporting Independent Films is Important

…reviewers are sadly out of touch with ticket buyers. In fact, they are so far out of touch that most of them pick only one blockbuster movie, and many mediocre “independent” movies and boring foreign language movies that appeal to only a few moviegoers.
~WAR ROOM’s A+ cinemascore tells the story

When Hollywood makes movies that appeal to the fans of MODERN FAMILY, they don’t play as well in suburban and rural multiplexes. Often, they don’t play there at all. They only show up in inner city “art” theaters.
~Duck Dynasty vs Modern Family

Lately I’ve been wondering:

What do Christians have against artists?*

I see Christians treating the word art like it’s an obscenity.

Like anything made to not explicitly tell Christians what they already believe (the video runs fine)…

…or make as much money at the box office as possible…

…is a “fruitless deed of darkness.”**

I like movies made for Christians, and blockbuster movies. There’s nothing wrong with them. I enjoy them the same way I enjoy McDonald’s.

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But: I sometimes find myself hungering for something more. Sometimes I don’t want fast food. Sometimes I want a salad. Sometimes I don’t want to go to the theater and just see explosions and characters reciting Bible verses. Sometimes I want to go to the theater to be challenged to think about life from a perspective I hadn’t before.

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Only Yesterday

Which brings me to:

Since it’s a new year, I feel compelled to take a page out of Christians’ playbook and send Christians a message:

Artists are not your enemy.

For example:

Movieguide calls The Wolf of Wall Street an “…abhorrent, overlong exercise in depraved excess.”

But: That’s the point.

As Keith Ulrick at Time Out New York put it:

…an extremely draining experience that’s sure to leave plenty of viewers shouting “We get it!” by the third gluttonous hour. … Scorsese, that sly spiritualist, is out to make us sick on commerce and greed run rampant. He moves us beyond the allure of avarice so that we might take better stock of ourselves. What starts as a piggish paean becomes, by the end, an invigorating purge.

*I feel like I found the answer to my question after I listened to that pastor’s thoughts on Noah: Many Christians see artists as agents of Satan, out to indoctrinate Christians with non-Christian worldviews.

**Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
~Ephesians 5:11

Anger Management

Thinking more about TheOriginalPhoenix‘s comment on my post “Silence” Shows Why Loving Your Enemies Is So Important

This dude is bonkers. Don’t even waste your time on his negativity.

…made me ask myself: “How do I manage my anger?”

I agree with TheOriginalPhoenix: Tom Snyder is bonkers. And I shouldn’t waste time on his negativity.

But: I feel like I have to.

It’s because I’m a Christian. (Specifically, a Catholic.)

I see this man Tom saying the most outrageous things in the name of Christianity, and I think No. I will not allow you to do that.

Two example of “outrageous things”:

1. “Death is not the worst thing that can happen to you.”*
~ One of Tom’s justifications for nuking civilians (i.e., people who weren’t fighting in the war: doctors, priests, the old, the sick, the wounded, etc.)

2. “…Imperial Japan was brutal under Hirohito and the Buddhist military dictatorship.”
When I asked Tom how Buddhism, a worldview that stresses living a life of peace and harmony, justifies the rape and murder that Japan’s military did during WWII, I got no response from him. He makes a claim, and then he doesn’t back it up.

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*sigh*

I know I shouldn’t do anything. But, I feel I can’t not do something.

I feel I can’t turn a blind eye to this. This is something that I have the power to do something about — I have the capability to call Tom Snyder out on his bullsh*t.

It doesn’t help that Tom is the editor for a prominent Christian organization: Movieguide.

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Which allows him to potentially influence millions.

*sigh*

I don’t know what to do…

It is during times like this that I turn to my Catholic faith, and people like Dr. Wolf, for help. I can relate to FireBrand:

*On the one hand: I agree. As a Catholic, I believe that death, no matter how horrifying, is not the worst thing that can happen to you — losing your soul is.
On the other hand: I would never use that belief as a justification for inflicting horrible pain and suffering on others. I would never say “Death isn’t the worst” in order to try and minimize the horror of turning little kids into shadows on pavement and leaving widows to die screaming, from radiation burns, in the rubble of their houses.
God doesn’t want anyone to die.
The only reason that death exists, according to the Bible, is because Adam and Eve disobeyed God. (Genesis 3:7) Death was never a part of God’s plan for humanity.
And the  reason that Jesus came to Earth was to alleviate the fear and despair that can come with the realization that one’s days are numbered. (Luke 23:43)

“Silence” Shows Why Loving Your Enemies Is So Important

Note: I went on Tom Snyder’s Twitter out of sheer boredom. And I am committed to not letting his, or his colleagues, affect me to the extent that they did months ago, when I wrote about Tom and the organization he worked for (Movieguide) constantly. Old habits die hard. When I look up, and write about, Tom or Movieguide now though, it’s only because I’ve reached a point where I can’t think of anything else to do. For more on Tom and Movieguide, click here.

Love your enemies.
~ Matthew 5:44

“Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.”
~ Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 3214

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
~ Matthew 7:15

With Martin Scorsese’s Silence out on December 23rd, I’ve been finding online a renewed interest in the relationship between Japan and Christianity.

For example:

The following is a conversation between this man and I:

Me: “Call me crazy, but I think God frowns on turning little kids, made in His image and likeness, into shadows.”

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Tom Snyder: “You know nothing about the evils of Shinto Buddhism during 20th Century in fascist Japan or the persecution of Catholics in the 1600s.”

Me: “How do you know that I know nothing? Nothing justifies killing civilians.”

Tom Snyder: “Because you wouldn’t write what you write. Ever hear the biblical principle you reap what you sew? See SILENCE. Read KILLING THE RISING SUN. Study the Rape of Nanking and the Battle of Manila and the Bataan Death March. Paganism is really bad.”

Me: “I will never see the killing of civilians as justifiable. And since you clearly do, I have only one more thing to say to you: Get away from me, Satan.” (Matthew 16:23)

Tom Snyder: “You’re being idiotic. The post was offering the idea that when we do evil, we reap what we sew. Japan started doing evil in the late 1500s in its brutal persecution against the Christians, which got worse in the 1600s under the unification of Japan under the Takugawa dynasty. And, Imperial Japan was brutal under Hirohito and the Buddhist military dictatorship. The brutality in the Pacific War, including against the Filipinos, because of them was their fault. Death is not the worst thing that can happen to you. And, the ‘civilians’ in Japan, whom Hirohito was arming in advance of the coming invasion by the U.S. forces, were not “innocent.” You are projecting your own demonic influences upon me, as you have done from the beginning, apparently. There’s no reasoning with you. . .”

Me: “Buddhism advocates respect for all life. Show me the Buddhist teaching that justifies rape and murder. If you can’t show me that teaching, than saying that Buddhism is what made the Japanese do what they did is irrational. There’s no reasoning with me? Than you clearly haven’t been listening to anything I’ve ever said to you, because if you had you would know that I have acknowledged you were right before — there are times I have acknowledged that you said something I agreed with. You’ve said in the past that I ‘attack’ you, and yet you call me an idiot for valuing human life. If that isn’t hypocritical, I don’t know what is.”

Me: “I have one more thought about your words ‘There’s no reasoning with you.’ And that thought is: You’re being a hypocrite. Why do I say that? Because: There really is no reasoning with you. For example: On December 14th, I said: ‘I am exposing Movieguide’s ‘fruitless deeds of darkness.’ What do I mean by that? I mean: I am exposing Movieguide’s slander of people like Roger Ebert.’  And you responded by saying this: ‘That’s not what you’re doing.’ I tell you the truth, and you plug your ears and go ‘Nuh-uh!’ You refuse to accept reality: The reality that I am criticizing Movieguide in order to expose what I see as its ‘fruitless deeds of darkness.’ How am I supposed to reason with a person who refuses to accept what is fact?”

Tom Synder: “Nagasaki and Hiroshima saved a couple million lives. You need to go study history, theology, apologetics for a few years.”

Me: “Nothing justifies killing civilians. I would rather die than kill the innocent.”

Re-reading our words, I was reminded of this quote from Daredevil:

“Men have used the atrocities of their enemies to justify their own throughout history.”
~ Fr. Lantom

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Re-reading our words, I realize that I still have a lot to learn about loving those I perceive to be my “enemy” — those I perceive to be working against everything I stand for.

The reason I gave this post the title I did is because, with Silence just around the corner, the discussions about it taking place online, I believe, illustrate the importance of Jesus’ command to love one’s enemies.

On a lighter note:

I’m glad to know that, over the centuries, the relationship between Japan and the West has improved to such an extent that stuff like this now exists:

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
~ Isaiah 55:12

Do Doctor Strange’s Powers Come From God?

In The Avengers (2012), Captain America says “There’s only one God, ma’am…”

In Doctor Strange (2016), there are people who can bend time and space to their will.

Movieguide calls Doctor Strange “abhorrent” and “occult”:

Marvel’s DOCTOR STRANGE: A Dangerous Introduction to the Occult

But:

The Avengers and Doctor Strange take place in the same world. (i.e., The Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

So:

Do Doctor Strange’s powers, ultimately, come from God?

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After all:

If, as Captain America says, “There’s only one God,” than wouldn’t God be the one allowing people like the Ancient One and Doctor Strange to have power over the world He created?

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