David Bruce


with comments by David Bruce

I receive a lot of e-mail.  I am not able to post all the mail. I have included a good sampling, however.  If the subject is the same I might group the newer messages with similar older ones.  Also, my response may appear a few days after the original posting. I can't do HJ everyday.  You must include your "name" and e-mail address within your comment if you want it posted, otherwise it will not be posted (there is a privacy issue here and we respect that).  I do, however, encourage you to give your "name" and e-mail so others can respond to you personally.
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This page was last updated on October 23, 2004

Subject: Newsletter #26
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001
From: Kirk

HJ, I really appreciate your site, as a college grad, as a campus minister and as a Christian. I love how you see the REDEMPTIVE VALUE in much of Hollywood's films.

Re: judgmental Christians driving people to agnosticism, etc.--if someone allows a hypocrite to come between them and Jesus (no matter where you are at), that means that they are further from Jesus than the hypocrite.

Everyone has sinned at some point, and often we continue to sin. When the world tries to hold Christians to a standard that Christians don't claim to hold (moral perfection, perfect integrity), the result is misplaced frustration. Don't let someone else be a stumbling block to you before Jesus.

To the Christians out there, do your best to not be that stumbling block (and I don't know how anyone could do that outside of a local church).
Keep up the site, HJ!


Subject: Lord of the Rings
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001
From: Bryan B.

Dear Sirs: It seems to me the Pastor has mis-read into LOTR what he thought to find there . The withdrawal of "divine presences" does not necessarily mean that Middle-Earth is left a secular world; it could also mean that the presence of intermediaries are withdrawn to prepare the way for the true incarnation of God. Tolkien specifically writes (in his letters) that he made his mythology to dovetail with Christian belief, with nothing directly contradicting the early tales of, say, Genesis. Tolkien was a devout Catholic, and whether that counts as a true Christian to the Pastor, I do not know.
Sincerely, Bryan B.

Subject: Lord of the Rings
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001
From: Elentir

What's this? "Much is made of Tolkien's association with C. S. Lewis, and the presumption is that Lewis' intense Christian spirituality somehow rubbed off on Tolkien and found its way into his work." This is a ludicrous statement, particularly from "the presumption . . . " onwards. Tolkien was a *devout* Catholic, needing no such "rub off" from Lewis. Indeed it was Tolkien who played a key role in the conversion of Lewis from being a non-believer to being a follower of Christ. While none can deny the impact of Lewis on modern Christianity, and while no one in the know would argue that they both did influence each other, remember that the background and very root of Prof. Tolkiens' work was begun long before Lewis became a Christian. In fact it is Lewis who modelled both the Chronicles of Narnia and his Space Trilogy in large part upon Tolkiens' writings, even down to the names he used for characters in his books.

Subject: Lord of the Rings
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001
From: Joe Mandala

This was an interesting essay, but it falls short of the fulls scope of Tolkien's work.

There is no mention of the "Remaking of Arda," a story that blends the visceral sort of mythology of the Norse Ragnarok with the spiritually triumphant mythology of Christianity in the form of the return of the Kingdom of Heaven (Armageddon or whatever you want to call it).

Tolkien on several occasions (mainly in his Letters), insists that Eru does not abandon or withdraw from Middle-earth (our earth), but works more and more subtly. He also explicitly likens Eru to the Christian God, and does not deny that the Jesus story could or did happen. As a matter of fact, he was an extremely orthodox Roman Catholic that believed strongly in the Christ story.

The story of Middle-earth is not, as the author of the essay posits, a "T-mythology" for the entire world. It is simply a "Mythology for England." This Tolkien himself stated very very explicitly. He was simply unhappy with the hodge-podge of mythologies that existed in England (due to the many waves of immigrants throughout England's past). If you study it a bit more carefully, it becomes obvious that the pieces Tolkien used to build his "mythology" are taken from cultures which had an impact on the history of England - from the Celts and Britons (Welsh) to the Romans, Norse, and Germans (Saxons). There is no attempt to incorporate Near or Far-Eastern elements into the mythology, except insofar as these cultures may have influenced Rome and later the Christians. I have found no evidence of Buddhism, Shintoism, and animism of central Asia or Africa, or anything at all from the Americas.

Tolkien's 'goal' was not to explain why there doesn't seem to be any active interference from God these days - it was simply to fill a void that he felt existed in English culture. The vast majority of other cultures of the world have a rich history and CONSISTENT tapestry of mythology. England had none such. I believe the reason the stories were so immediately and furiously adopted by people in England and her former colonies was that it did, in fact, fill this void. It gave someone a consistent mythology that was borne of thoughtful consideration and intense scholarship rather than from the ranks of the 'cultural elite' spewing forth from such places as Hollywood (refer to Tolkien's attitude on Disney).

One other small point - the idea that CS Lewis 'rubbed off' on Tolkien is rather absurd. Tolkien was a much more orthodox and traditional Christian than Tolkien. So much so, as a matter of fact, that Lewis' marriage of a divorced woman basically ended their long and fruitful friendship because Tolkien could not countenance what he considered an insult to his faith. I'm sure this point has been exaggerated by our lovely press to some degree, but Tolkien was not a godless heathen that basked in the 'glorious light' of Lewis' beatfying presence. They were quite equals, and often had discussions with each other about the nature of God and good and evil, etc. From which were born, coincidentally, the complete and spiritual works of both men.

These are my quick thoughts on the subject. If you have the time or inclination, I invite the author of the essay at http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/lord_of_the_rings_return_essay.htm to continue this discussion.
Thank you for your time!
-Joe Mandala

Subject: Chocolat
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001
From: jm

Good movie, cute, whimsical, are just some of the words I can use to describe "Chocolat". I dont think the religous conotations where meant to be offensive nor sublime. I agree with a little bit of almost everyones comments on this board though . (as odd as that may sound)

I found no flaw in the Priest or the Church, but in the Comte's human ego to control. Mostly driven out of his self pity from his wife abandoning him.

Religously speaking at its most basic level, the movie was about Doctrine vs Grace, Legal vs Human. Almost a parallel between the perception of Jewish vs Christian doctrine even. Or even Tradition vs Non-traditional.

But I think the movie makers used the rigidity of religion as the backdrop for the carefree magical women that whisps in on the north wind. Using two distinct extremes certainly enhances a story (its a yin-yang thing )

Regardless still a very nice story.

I was curious though about the Mayan myth referred to by Vianne (The travelers/wanderers that followed the northwind supplying remedies and cures along their travel? (especially the element of the chocolate mixed with Chile as magical) Can anyone tell me if this is an actual myth/legend or purely a ficticous element of this movie. if anyone knows please let me know.

Subject: Soul Collector
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001
From: "Paulo Cavaleiro"

To whom it may concern,
I just saw the on video and I think it was a great film to watch. Many people have the fear of dying and by watching the Soul Collector it makes dying a bit easier for people. It had it's funny parts which I enjoyed. I loved the film. What I wanted to know is what is the name of the band and the main song title. I would love to get this album or even the song.

Please if you could help me. I think the name of the song is " I'll always be there for you".
Thank you.
Kind Regards
Paulo Cavaleiro

Subject: Newsletter_27
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001
From: Bryan E. Walker

Dear Hollywood Jesus:
Thank you for your bold and gracious critique of Thomas Kinkade's art. My wife has worked in Christian retail for years and I have pastored a Baptist church for years, but I have never been much of a fan of Kinkade. I couldn't put my finger on it... I found his art "nice" but not satisfying. Although I enjoyed the Christianity Today article on Kinkade about a year or so ago I still could not find much in his art fof me. You have put your finger on the issue!

I have enjoyed your movie reviews for the past 2 months since a friend recommended your web site. We have a couple of movie groups here, one at the church and one where I work ( I am a bi-vocational pastor of a small church and need to work a second job). Your review of AI was especially helpful! Would you consider doing a review of Babette's Feast?

Thank you for your ministry!
Bryan E. Walker,
Pastor Burton Hill Baptist Church Fort Worth, TX

Subject: Re: Newsletter_27 and The Apostle
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001
From: Roderick K

Hi David First of all, thank you for giving us the extravagent gift of Hollywood Jesus. I feel fortunate to be able to have access to a website which so closely resonates with my own (rather personal) interests and feelings. You have poured-out yourself, as Christ commands, and we have been blessed as a result!

I was listening to a story of a Christian father who was upset at a public school teacher who had his son's junior high class read a novel (title not mentioned) which was, in the father's opinion, R-rated. He met with the teacher and requested a different novel for his son. And he was quite proud of his actions.

While listening, I was going crazy over the issues of isolation, self-righteousness, and knee-jerk thinking. Many books and movies tell stories of characters who wander from the typical Christian path. Sometimes these wanderings are purely cultural, like hair style, tattoo's, music styles, etc. We Christians should be slow to criticize cultural choices other than our own.

Other times these wanderings have moral and/or spiritual significance (criminal behavior, personal immorality, etc.). In these cases, we should look for the consequences in the story. If truthful consequences are portrayed, then the story becomes a moral lesson. If the consequences are absent or contrived (i.e. spiriually dishonest, if you will), then we have the duty to come against the story.

I admire The Apostle for this very reason. In the story, a man of God, a pastor, lets his temper get the best of him, acts out on his momentary feelings, and suffers a huge moral failure as a result. He acknowledges his failure before God, seeks forgiveness, and then walks out his repentance. He is restored spiritually and does great work for Christ's kingdom. Yet he has to eventually deal with the consequences of his actions according to the justice system. And he deals with them with an incredibly great attitude, as is shown in the last scene.

The Apostle is one of the greatest Christian films I have ever seen. It shows the truth that we humans are prone to failure, that God will restore us after failure, and that there may be earthly consequences that have to be dealt with in spite of God's grace to us. It is the story of Everyman. It tells the God-human story with truth, grace and beauty. But is the Christian world excited about this film? No. The Christian world would rather see Left Behind! What a tragedy.
Roderick K
Boulder, CO

Subject: you've made my day
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001
From: georgia

as i perused a list of movie critics, i noticed "hollywood Jesus" and turned magenta. i tapped into your site and searched about , ready to e-mail a scathing message to whoever dared to use my Lord's name in vein for their trashy amusement and the amusement of like lowlife out there. when i scanned down and read those beautiful and insightful excerpts i was blown away. what a ministry! God bless you and yours mightily.
yours in Christ,

Response: Thanks, and you are welcome. -David

Subject: Original Sin
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001
From: "Mike B"

Original Sin" is a film about the effects of abuse on a person's life (Julia/Bonnie) and about the healing power of unconditional love. After recognizing that sexual abuse had damaged Julia/Bonnie from a young age, I remembered theologian Rita Brock's definition of sin: "Sin emerges because our relationships have the capacity to destroy us and we participate in destruction when we seek to destroy ourselves and others. Hence sin is a sign of our brokenheartedness, of how damaged we are, not of how evil, willfully disobedient, and culpable we are. Sin is not something to be punished, but something to be healed." Julia/Bonnie's healing process began as Louis loves her without condition, and made evident when he tells her he doesn't love her as Julia nor as Bonnie, but for the person she is. As she cradles him in her arms toward's the story's end, she is able to speak her genuine love for him.
Michael Bausch Pastor, Union-Congregational UCC Waupun, Wisconsin
and Adjunct Faculty in Technology and Ministry
at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary

Subject: Rat Race
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001
From: "Mike B"

"There is something going on in our culture" is really true! Have you seen "Rat Race"? This hilarious film brings a surprise biblical ending that is authentically connected to the Gospel. In a race to get to a $2,000,000 prize we find that truly the "last shall be first and the first shall be last." Watch for the cross image as the front-runner in the race arrives at the building where the money is stashed, and listen for the God/Bible references. This is a film with various levels of humor worthy of its PG-13 rating and plenty of action-packed twists that please every audience. The overtly Christian message at the end is truly a surprise given what we know about "post-modern" and, "pre-Christian" audiences!
Micahel Bausch
Pastor, Union-Congregational UCC Waupun, Wisconsin
and Adjunct Faculty in Technology and Ministry
at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary

Subject: Chocolat
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001
From: "Seirios"

Raw Words, hoping to invoke a sweet... "taste".

Chocolat is a simple as well as labirynthical kind of film. It is "warm", smart and a little daring. Unfortunatelly no-one noticed the Vianne -Roux pair, as a unity. Everybody coments on how warm and lovely was Vianne, Roux being a mist of freedom around the main character. But is it really so? Or is the main character a two-person affair? I explain: Vianne looks to me as a ... creature of good heart, of denial towards social rigitness and so on... Now Roux is a free bird, hoping from branch to branch, town to town, just as Vianne, yet is able to live in-between ! He doesn't really need towns and villages, he may need food and go there, and maybe not. He doesn't need the towners - villagers, nor is he on any mission. He doesn't have the running-from syndrome that Vianne has, he doesn't go to places and leaves, he just "goes places". He needs a warm heart as a mate, just as she needs a strong mind as a guide. And it works vise-versa in other ways as well! The point is that they are both the main characters. Now what do they do? Do they oppose social rigitness and stifness of mind and heart? Yes. Do they confront an opressing church and reveal Christ's true meaning? ... No. If it were so, (although Vianne seeks a "path-home") Roux would be a good Christian. And though he yells "Jesus" in the fire scene he is farr from being a Christian. Why? Because he lives free, his mind is free, not balancing as Vianne, he has his own way, and doesn't need a "chosen-one" to "show him the way". He is reasonable, the mind, and Vianne "warm", the heart. This may be offensive to Christians, but (here comes the raw part) thing are this way. Although there isn't a single historical fact on which to base the existense of Christ we have a world-spread religgion. How odd... What did he say that others hadn't say, or done before him, written in history books, or preserved in folklore myths? Pretty much nothing. So how come Christianity is so widelly-spread, as well as its' root Hebrewism, and its' offspring, Islam? Cause, as with all religions, it serves the "system". Like the twin-power in the film, the Count and the Church, State and... Relligion.

The third part is cleverly offerred, in the remarks of monetary nature "people talk"... Pay and you are good, give away and you are foolish, unless if it is for the "good cause" of the Church... Get my drift? Anyway, the main characters don't need books (however wonderfull) in order to "feel" and understand what's going on, especially Roux (the subtle power). They know that it is not just the little chocolat - against fasting affair. It is the issue of Man's (and Woman's) right to free choice! The choice of eating and drinking whatever they please, the choice of going wherever they wish-to, the right to make love (not sex) with people they love when they so please, the freedom to scream, laugh and dance, and most of all feel and think as nature, or God if you please, has made them to be like.

Christianity is the enemy in the film, not just the Church, and don't pretend it is not so... The "Holy Bible", the "Holy Books" in general, be them Old or New Testament and so on, don't stand a minute's time when analyzed by a free and rational mind, as well as they don't "feel right" to a natural heart and body. Saying "no" to the needs of the body is a bad sign... saying "no" to love (not sex) is also bad, saying "no" to free thought, by imposing dogmatic rules, based on "God told me so" is... a joke. The good will of the followers of relligions is one degree of "neck-bending" towards power-lust priests and lords (who make sure that the "sheep" are afraid and hungry). The weak will of followers is another. They surrender their freedom, their minds, their lives. I don't think that the... "free" characters in the film had a tendency to bow to "Lords" other than themselves, accepting the price for being responsible for their lives. They feel fear, as a natural thing, caused by natural causes, they fight back, as Vianne and Roux and so on. They don't live a life of fear, a life in fear of some unkown god waitting for them to make mistakes ( as well as in fear of god's -or state lord's- good minnions who try to prove worthy and are his axe upon unbelievers, un-fitting...). And that is the God of the Old Testament, what about the New one?

Funny isn't it; Christ, the "son"(???!!!) of God, a God himslef (how, in Paradise, why?) is the kind human-god who brings the message of love to the world and when he "returns" to "Heaven" he's again the old angry God we all fear (not moi)?... How rational... Just as rational as the story that Christ just the day before he was capturred he was asking God (are they one,two, three?) to save him, even on the very cross... On the other hand we have Socrates, knowing he is to die, being given a way to flee, a chance to live, yet accepting the responsability of his action, and he's a mere mortal! (the tale of the Christ is propably a tale, the other is recorded history...) Hmmm... The free mind rebels in the face of dogmas, especially "wisdom" coming from "messengers of God"... Roux is a free man, and Vianne a free woman, with their weaknesses, but they don't think of them as sins! They don't need "in-betweens" to feel the majesty of the Cosmos, and act in accordance to it's laws. They are not opressed by need, money, guilt, desire, at least not to the degree, or even the way of the villagers. They are not pagans, nor need any label. They are just Vianne and Roux. They think and they love. And that is the meaning of this film for me, how sweet a message!...

P.S. Jane from Illinois, clever remark, 13... (who was Judas, or who was... whatever?)

P.S. 2 I hope I haven't offended the right of people to be servants to a master...

Subject: (no subject)
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001
From: SB

I'm looking for information regarding any possible cults that ACT the way "Rosemary's Baby" did. Close knit, familial, controlling, etc. Particularly, choosing a father; drug induced sexual victimization. All this without the mother knowing it was planned. Dark? You bet. And believe me, I have reason to ask. That should get one thinking, shouldn't it? A thought, where did Roman Polanski get the idea, keeping in mind his wife was killed by a cult that had links to Son of Sam? And killed while she was pregnant. Thank you for any info, and please keep this as confidential as possible. yes, keep this confidential.

Response: There is no such group. Oh my gosh. Good grief. Let's not repeat the satanic child kidnapping baby sacrificing hysteria of the early 90s. May God deliver us from the Salem witch trials mentality. -David

Subject: Music Reviews
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001
From: Mini gal (Christchurch)

I totally agree with Rex about his article regarding Creed. An awesome band and alright lyrics it would be great if you are seen in the areas where Jesus walked don't be shy Jesus wasn't how about it go into all the world and preach the gospel brothers.
Mini gal(Christchurch)

Subject: Re: Wes Craven
Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2001
From: Diane

Hii. How r u? I was wondering do u have the address to writer and director Wes Craven? I really wanna write to him

Response: Sorry no. -David

Subject: Horse_Whisper
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001

Alright, those of you who are dissing the movie because Annie kissed with Tom, the whisperer, you have NO idea what happens in the book, firstly the only reason I watched the film is cause there were horses in it, and secondly, in the book, it dose lead to sex, several times actualy (about four I recall). And also you have to accept that these type of things in other words adultry happen in the world. If you just block your ears and shut your eyes pretending it never happens then you are only fooling yourself.

I personly thought the movie was alright, but as a horses owner, thought the girl, (grace) was very stupid for riding where and when she did. But the movie is good. I don't remember any profanity of violence so, yeah, it was good.

Subject: Unbreakable
Date: Sat, 18 Aug 2001
From: David Ewing

I was finally able to watch Unbreakable the other day. This movie has a mystical semi-gothic pulp hero ambiance about it. Not literally as dark in scenery as say Batman, Darkman, Dark City, or Matrix. What I really found interesting was the comparison and contrasts between David Dunn (hero) and Elijah Price (the villain): .

Both men appear to be severely depressed. David's is a sadness stemming from being less than he could possibly be for the sake or demand of another. Knowing that he could have been or still can be more in terms of his inner identity.This has happened and it is happening to people. Elijah is understandably angry about having a disease that makes his bones fragile as glass. They call him Mr. Glass. This movie could have been called 'Fragile,' and still be appropriate. .

David has certain gifts or talents; superior strength/fitness, a sixth sense and psychometric-like ability to detect evil. Elijah has the gifts of acquiring information, to analyze it and being able to organize it into the big picture. He is a master of deception, manipulation, violence and mayhem. Elijah commits horrible atrocities with the approach of a passive-aggressive criminal.David is modest and self-effacing. Elijah is arrogant and condecending even though he hides this to a degree through most of the movie.

*** Some significant moments in the movie were the scene where Elijah, as a child receives the comic book that his mother gave him. She says to him, "They say there's a surprise ending." This was a message meant for the movie viewer as well. The end of the movie is a surprise ending. .

David's security job allows him to be around the sport that he has a passion for, football. Elijah owns Limited Edition, a comicbook art gallery. This is his passion.

.They both suffer life-death type traumas that make them see the world differently. Elijah with his disease has suffered countless serious fractures to his body. David has been through 4 symbolic deaths and resurrection scenarios: drowning as a child, the car accident when he was a football player, the train disaster, and near drowning before fighting the orangeman. *Was there hint of a baptism here? .

Elijah's mother explains to David about Elijah's view on the villain. There is the soldier-villain who fights the hero with his hands and the evil genius who fights the hero with his mind. Clearly, Elijah is the latter. .Even though both men have Biblical names Elijah Price is an evil prophet or mentor. The name Price reminds me that this character has paid the price for his illness (physical and mental). We as society have paid the price to for him surviving as a mass murderer. David tells his mother that Elijah, "He's kind of a miracle." He said this before he knew Elijah's true nature. Elijah Price is a miracle of evil and a tragic figure who sees his purpose as an embodiment of evil. He feels satisfaction and joy in that fact being affirmed in his mind. How tragic indeed.

Is the special purpose or destiny set by God? Will you embrace it? I've paraphrased your questions David. These are very profound questions. *By the way, my middle name is David, so I found this movie made me curious. If God's special purpose and destiny for me is to fight evil and uphold the good, then I would embrace it. However, if the same God preordained me to be a prince of darkness I would respectfully decline. I prefer David Dunn's destiny to Elijah Price's madness.

***After much thought I concluded that since humans don't know their own destinies the answers to these questions would be a challenge. But from observation on what most humans can do; I can say this: We are the choices, decisions, and actions that we make. We can and do choose who we are. The rest will result in that which can't be known to us till our lives are almost done.

Unbreakable is the Never-Ending Battle for Truth, Justice, and Good that sooner or later we will have to face. Some of us will accept the challenge and win. Some of us will find out that conformity to evil is more to our liking in order to be comfortable. That is tragic.
Samuel David Ewing

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