David Bruce

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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 July 5, 2001

I SMELL A STINKER
Subject: Pearl_Harbor
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: Dewanyne Williams

Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer are now trying their hand at a WWII epic, eh? Before everyone gets too excited (which many already are), let's keep in mind that these are the bozos who gave us such turkeys as Con Air and Armageddon. High on explosions and special effects, low on plot line or even interesting dialogue. I suppose lot's of folks will rave about what a marvelous homage this film will be to the events surrounding the war in the Pacific, when really all it will be doing is capitalizing on ol' fashioned patriotism and the good looks of Ben Affleck, Josh Hairnet (heh-heh), et al. Do yourself a favor folks-go rent The Thin Red Line if you want to see a truly great film...or Saving Private Ryan if you're feeling particularly patriotic or bloodthirsty. Just don't go see Bay and Bruckheimer's latest dud. You'll only encourage them.
Yours, Dewanyne Williams

JESUS -INTERNATIONAL VERSTION
Subject: JesusMiniSeries
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: R

I spoke with someone at Lion's Gate films (Trimark) about a release date for the International Version of "Jesus".I was told it's on the list but no date is set. I would suggest those who want the International version should call 310-314-2000 and ask them to stop dragging their feet on this title.
R
Please don't post my name or email.

I SAW THE MOVIE
Subject: Forsaken
I saw the movie
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001
From: Wynship

I was watching this movie and right when he put a gun in that guys mouth and when the black vampire girl was sucking on the other guys bloody neck, I walked out of the theater. I grew up watching horror movies but now that I'm walking closer to Jesus, that kind of stuff just turns me off off off. That's my review of the movie. I thought it to be sickening.

Response: I hope you got your money back. It was a sad film for me too, but for very different reasons -David

RESPONSE TO NEWSLETTER 25

100 AFFIRMING WHAT?
Subject: Newsletter_25
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: "Glenn Teal"

Did I just read a Christian reviewer who listed "Michael" as one of the top 100 faith affirming movies? I have seldom seen a movie with less intelligence and more ill will toward people of faith. Micheal stunk!
Glenn H. Teal
Please do not list email

Response: My favorite part in the film was Michael explaining the coming battle of the book of Revelation. If I redid the list I would exclude Michael, but it was positive about the Bible, God and Angels, and not against such faith. -David

MY FAVORITE
Subject: Newsletter_25
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: Susan

Just wanted to add one of my all time favorites, Lillies of the Field with Sidney Portier.

Response: Great film. Thank you. -David

END TIMES MENTALITY
Subject: Newsletter_25
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: Paula

Why do Christians have such negative knee jerk reactions to the culture. Why can't we seem to build bridges. Why are we so hesitant to give credit when it is due? Why can't Christians admit to common ground with unbelievers?

In response to these questions, I would have to ask, "Which Christians?" Some denominations have a tendency to promote a paranoid mentality toward "the world."

I was having lunch with some friends at work recently who belong to two extremely conservative Christian groups. Our place of work recently switched to an HMO, and I asked how they liked the new plan. Somehow these very devout and otherwise rational women went from discussing our new HMO, to how we are all going to be forced into socialized medicine, which is a sign of the End Times, which means that the Anti-Christ is coming any day now. The conversation then moved into an almost surreal discussion about how the whole world is spiraling toward a state of total immorality and depravity and eventually ended with a discussion of how corrupt television and movies have become.

These women are incredibly devoted to Jesus. I cannot fault them in their faith and devotion to Our Lord. However, this conversation gave me the creeps, and I went away feeling very depressed. Their denominations apparently stress the End Times and they believe that we are IN them. Movies and television are seen as evidence.

Obviously, if one has already decided that we are in the End Times and that the health care industry, the entertainment industry, and all political structures are heralding the Anti-Christ, there really is not much room for open-mindedness. In fact, to be open-minded is dangerous. And that is what I heard from these very faithful women. Find something in common with an unbeliever? No way! They are not going to give the Devil any ground.

I am not sure what to make of this conversation. It has been bothering me every time I think of it. I am sure that my friends have some valid points to make, but the whole tenor of the conversation was fear and paranoia.

I do not mean to bash my more conservative Christian brothers and sisters. However, I was taken by surprise when they displayed this morbid attitude. I was rather disappointed in my friends because they did not stress the hope that Christ offers. They focused instead on the depravity of the world and the impending doom which we all surely face, and in a sick sort of way they seemed to enjoy telling me about it!
Paula

Response: The idea that Jesus is coming tomorrow tends to get people to finger point at all the "bad" stuff. Movies are a favorite whipping boy. Oh well. And yes you are right, not all Christian blast culture. Martin Luther was once asked what he'd do if he knew Jesus was coming tomorrow. He responded, "I would plant a tree." -David

THOUGHTS ON BABY BOOMERS
Subject: Newsletter_25
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: Rich Robinson

David,
Thanks for your thoughts and insights in the recent e-mail newsletter #25. Re: baby boomers vs. gen x - a couple of ideas here.

I'm a 47-year old boomer just so you know where I'm coming from. And very open to gen x things, I don't hold a particular brief for my own generation and work amongst boomers and xers both. You wrote:

"In my many travels to Boomer churches, I have noticed a general lack of Gen Xers and teens in these services. No green hair, few tattoos and piercings, no chains, black clothing. No techno, alternative, rap or truly contemporary pop music."

Hmmm. I wonder if we boomers are behind the times a bit. The first of Gen X will be turning 40 in a few years, and the so-called Millennial Generation is the up and coming one - the generation born 1982 on. I've just read the new thought provoking book, "Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation" by Neil Howe and William Strauss. These authors have written on generational studies before and seem to have a good track record in following the trends. Based on their statistical studies, they are concluding that the Millennials - children of xers and many boomers - will be quite the opposite of both my generation and the xer generation. According to Howe and Strauss, the Millennials are optimistic, believe they can affect social change, are more oriented to math and science than to liberal studies, are more respectful of parents and older generations, and not into the edginess of gen x. Though on the downside there is a tendency to uniformity, conformity, and a lack of creativity. Wow. Definitely non-boomer and non-X - if they are right. You can check out their web site www.millennialsrising.com and contribute to the discussion, but the point here is that the church doesn't even seem to be gearing up to the Millennial generation. We are still "trying to reach the Xers" which we *should* be doing -- but we talk as if Xers are still teenagers. They aren't. I just met a 36-year old Xer guy on the airplane. He's a Christian, attends a seeker-sensitive Xer type church, and related to it when I told him that in the mid 80s, I was handing out tracts in Westwood CA, the streets shoulder to shoulder with punk-culture teens. Some of them would *eat* the tracts. He remembered that scene well. At 36, he's now an aerospace engineer, though his hair style (slightly spiky) made him look about 23. The 30's age Xers are now family guys and probably not as edgy as when they were younger. So, we need to take into account the "aging" of the Xers and also the up and coming generations. I don't agree that the boomers are holding the church hostage but I do agree that we need to share God's love with all generations. I just want us to realize that Gen X is moving on in life, and that their kids, and some of ours, may be a lot different that what we will be prepared for!
God bless,
Rich Robinson

Response: So lets see:
Builders = 1945 and before (over 60)
Boomers = 1946 — 1964 (ages 37 to 60)
Busters = 1965 — 1981 (ages 20 to 36) =Gen X
Millennials = 1982 — (ages 19 and under) =Gen Y
You are right Gen Xers are no longer teens as of 2001!
Yes, we need to include the Millenials, sadly we missed Gen X all together.
Bleak, indeed.

CULTURE, CHURCH AND GENERSTION X
Subject: Newsletter_25
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: Madelyn Sheaffer

David's responses in blue

So why do our children have to be immersed in this toxic culture anyway? The green hair, tattoos, and navel rings are no better for my children, then the Madonna or Motley Crue look was for me when I was a teen. I really don't want my kids embracing this culture, because as someone who went through a less severe version of it 15 years ago, I know how much it sucks, and what a lie it is.
You mean certain things that are harmful within the cultue, right?

The lost need a home to come to-meaning us-and we need to welcome them with open arms, regardless of their "appearance" or background. However, we are supposed to be different from them.(Be as you are, just include them with loving arms and in very practical ways) We are to be concentrating on being conformed to the eternal image of Christ, not the image of the ever changing world. That is how I am attempting to raise my children as well. Should I give up the fight so that my children can identify with and witness to the youth of their day?
I am not suggesting that Christians necessarily get tattooed, and pierced. However, do you wear earrings? Do you wear lipstick and make up? Do you, as a woman, cut your hair? Do you wear pants? Do you wear sleeveless blouses? do you pluck your eyebrows? All of these activities were frowned on by the Evangelical church at one time. United Pentecostals and certain Holiness groups still do not do this things. They believe it's "worldly." Please do not confuse norms of dress with conforming to the image of Christ -unless, of course you dig men in long hair, with beards, scandals, robes and, dare I say it, unbathed.. (Soap, by the way, wasn't until invented 3 years after the death of Jesus on the cross). Scriptures teach moderation, that's all, not dress norms.

I am up for any kind of worship. But I know there are those within the church who would feel very isolated by death metal or hip hop worship. Should one group's worship zone be sacrificed for the other? (Yes! the mature in Christ should always lean toward the youth. Always. Absolutely. The MOST IMPORTANT ministry in any church is the youth. Yet they are seldom integrated into the service. There is simply "No room at the Inn" for them. This is an evil wicked atrocity that needs to be repented of. If a young person does not have a personal relationship with God by the age of 18, there is an 85% chance they never will. That simple fact should drive every church to a full scale analysis of their worship structure. All to often the older members, the largest money givers, get their way. Worship is usually governed by money. This is a horrific evil. God is just not happy with such idolatry in the church. "Allow the little children to come unto me, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God." When Jesus cleared the temple he drove out the money changers and brought in the blind, crippled (the outcasts) and the youth. He then conducted a worship service. Read about it in Matthew 21:12-17, right after this story comes the cursing of the fig tree. A very interesting connections. To me it is so plain. Most church are just simply sinning when they exclude the youth and outcasts. These churches will wither like the fig tree and the money changers with them. Traditional mainstream churches are dwindling down to a few elderly money givers -does that tell you anything?).

Maybe as other posters and yourself said, integration is the key (Exactly!). I am yet to see that much tolerance anywhere.
Thanks, Madelyn Sheaffer

Response: Thank you Madelyn. Remember, never confuse cultural references with conforming to Christ. Remember, Christ left all the glories of heaven to become a servant on earth for us. He became what we are so that we could become all that God intended for us. Not a bad example. I appreciate your concern for your children. I'll bet you are a great mom. God bless you. -David

REASONS FOR CRITICISM
Subject: Newsletter_25
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: Gordon Stromberg

I think the main reason is reflected in the many ideas in the article in the current Christianity & the Arts magazine. My main criticism, having attended Bible study to the current age of 65, is "Is it accurate to Scripture?", especially if it's a film based on Bible characters. Is this not a fair question to ask? I have been very moved recently in viewing Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace. It was well done. Thanks for your list of 100+. My printer is inoperable, so I copied the list by hand.
Gordon Stromberg

Response: I liked Bonhoeffer too! I agree that most Bible Epic films are not really "accurate to scripture" -rather they are loosely based on scripture. The Ten Commandments comes to mind. Also, I really need to redo the list and eliminate the marginal films that I included for the purposes of wider variety. -David


STRANGE LIBERTIES
Subject: Newsletter_25
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: Rob Newsletter_25

Bruce, The list was quite complete, although some of those films were just atrocious. Like The Judas Project -- horrid movie. Also I was surprised that Omen 4 made it. Interesting movie, and a pretty good conclusion to the series, but there were some strange liberties taken, don't you think?

Response: Actually yes. But, I wanted to include a very wide range of all types. From secular R-rated to Independent Christian made film like Omega Code. I put OMEN in because one of the consultants on the film was Jess Moody, who was the Pastor of Van Nuys First Baptist Church at that time. I just wanted to tip my hat to the producers for including an Evangelical pastor. In fact he wrote the closing lines in OMEN 1. So OMEN was included for personal reasons. Besides, I think the OMEN series was a lot better than the OMEDA CODE. Maybe I should do another 100 list of obviously faith friendly films.

WHY CHRISTIAN JUDGES
Subject: Newsletter_25
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: JMP

I believe that most of us are negative and fearful about things we don't understand. There is a gap between Boomers, Busters and Gen X & Y and unless understanding continues, gaps will not be bridged.

I think the biggest gap today is the fact that most people, especially Christians, approach our society as an "immoral" society. I believe the truth is that we are not a moral or immoral society, but an a-moral society, meaning there is no right and wrong, there is no black and white and young people who are looking for values don't have any tools by which to figure it all out.

So, a boomer raised on some similance of values doesn't understand why Gen X & Y, etc, would bash Christians in the media. Maybe there is a lot of Christian Bashing but this is because for most people nothing is holy, everything is stained. I hear a hint of disdain in the commentators voice towards the Boomer Pastor - but you need to recognize that he may be viewing our society as an "immoral" society versus an amoral society and thats not totally his fault. It would do him and all of us a lot of good to understand and truly discern the times, though. (I like what you are sayind -David)

I recommend everyone read the book Virtual Faith. (Good book) I don't remember the authors name (Tom Beaudoin, Harvey Cox), but it gives some helpful insights on how these coming generations view spirituality, (even talking about tatoos and body piercing) and that media has a major role in this spiritual quest. This is what raised and babysat younger generations and that's all I'll say about the book. Just read it...great stuff.

I'm not a boomer or a buster and I wouldn't categorize me as Gen X though others would, but I will say that my desire is much like Davids, who said, he would continue to declare God's power, love, and presence even until he was oold and gray until the next generation understood God. It's all about understanding..... God have mercy on us all.
JMP

Response: Thanks JMP for giving insight into your generation. I put a link to the book. I hope many will take the time to check it out.

JUST A THOUGHT
Subject: Newsletter_25
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: "Glenn Teal"

As the prototypical person whom you describe as one of the hostage takers (A 49 year old male pastor) I have a few comments. First of all we don't all have a knee jerk reaction against Hollywood. I consider myself a minor film buff, fan of Roger Ebert's film criticism and regular movie goer. I guess I'm an exception (along with the several other pastors I know who would qualify).

Second many of Hollywood's portrayals of people of faith have been very negative. From Elmer Gantry to the pastor father in Footloose. Christian ministers are often bad guys. Roger Ebert's critique of Chocolat was insightful -- would Hollywood have produced the movie if the narrow-minded villains were pagans and the joyous heroine was a Christian?

Third some Hollywood movies not all are unnecessarily violent and or sexually explicit. Did Amanda Peet have to be topless to shoot up the bad guys in "The Whole Nine Yards"? Isn't there is a time and place to warn Christians that exposure to visual images that are demeaning or overly erotic can be damaging to the soul?

Fourth (and finally) the generation before the Boomers taught us that Hollywood in particular and the entertainment industry in general were evil. Although they were only partly right -- sometimes they get it right as you point out -- the idea stuck.
Glenn H. Teal ghteal@msn.com
www.excitingchurch.com

Response:
1. I was a Boomer pastor, too. Most of my pastoral Boomer peers viewed film all the time, but seldom made preference to them. The Boomers are not a very intregated lot.
2. Hollywood is pagan, but nonetheless targets universal appeal.
3. This is what Christian reviewers do ALL the time (except HJ). Christian "reviewers" overdo it. Lots about bare breast warnings, and little about redemptive analogies. It's another knee jerk reaction. BTW does not looking at Amanda Peet's naked breasts make me a better Christian? I have never read anything in the Bible remotely close to that. If I understand the Roman world, naked images where all over the place in Paul's day, especially erect naked penises. Yet not a word about it in Scripture. Why is that? Haven't you ever wondered about that? Bare breasts, public baths and naked statues were the cultural norm back then. Yet, Paul issued no specific warnings against it. Why? Further the pagan world of the New Testament era was very pornographic. A fact that was never brought up by to me in Seminary or in any Bible Study I have ever attended. Why the silence? The early Jewish Christians had so much trouble accepting Gentiles into the early Church because of moralistic concerns. The uncircumcised Gentiles won. The world is won through conversion, not through moral reform of moralistic warnings. I know I have a very different view than most -but, I truly believe a moralistic (works-based) approach to reform is just so very dead wrong, sinful and totally unbiblical. We are in the world, just not of it. "Go ye into all the world... be salt and light." Simple. And if you see Amanda's breasts in the process, so what?
4. The salt and light concept is lost. The reason culture is polluted is because Christians refuse to be salt and light. Where are the great 21st century Christian artists, film producers, actors, writers, movers and shakers -they are far and few between. -You get the point. Christians refuse to enter into culture (for moralistic reasons) and then throw rocks at it. This is the typical WW2 generation (Builders) approach. The Boomers bought into it. We need to repent of this horrible evil wicked sin. We need to be Roaring Lambs.
Thanks you for your input. I enjoyed responding to you. -David

DRIVEN BY WHAT?
Subject: Newsletter_25
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: "Glenn Teal"

Clearly the reviewer of Driven has a mad on about some church leaders somewhere. Why this movie becomes an allegory of the boomer dominance in church leadership is beyond me. OK so there is a lesson to be learned in older generations coming to terms with the passing of leadership to younger generations -- but you would have been better off reviewing the movie not just venting your frustrations.
Glenn H. Teal ghteal@msn.com
www.excitingchurch.com

Response: The film struck truth for me. For me, it reflected what needs to happen in Church culture. There are so few voices for Gen X and Y, so as a Boomer I will do what I can to give them their rightful place. In terms of reviews, HJ reviews are unique and unpredictable. Movies furnish perfect opportunities to vent frustrations by the way. It is part of what art is all about. Thank you for your comments, I always enjoy a challenge. -David

CHRISTIANS AND HOLLYWOOD
Subject: Newsletter_25
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001
From: "Robert Askren"

You make a good point about the film industry. Some people want to only think in narrow, black and white chiche's. Christian existenialists can see the themes in secular movies, like courage, grace, mercy, loyalty, sacrifice, mercy, and hope. I have found religious value in many secular films just as you have. Religious myth is dominant in Star Wars Trilogy for instance.
Thanks for listening.
The Rev. Robert D. Askren

Response: For me the choice is simple: Hollywood movies or over priced "Christian" paintings by Thomas Kinkade. Hmm. Easy choice. There is little to equal Star Wars in the typical Christian book store in terms of substance and cultural connection. Thank you Robert for your good words. There is something radically amiss in the Christian community. There is a disturbance in the force. -David

P.S. from Rev. Robert D. Askren
Have you seen the film with George Lucas and Bill Moyers discussing, "The Mythology of Star Wars"? Amazon.com has it available.
Sincerely, Robert

THANKS DAVID!
Subject: Newsletter_25
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001
From: shr

i'm a gen X-er. thanks so much for your "formal" apology. it sounds like it was written by an X-er! we love you guys and admire you guys, but you really are power-grubbing and don't know how to pass the torch along! y'all learned how to use the political system and failed to teach us even the rudimentaries of government in school. ya know? thanks for your awareness of our plight. i, for my part, pledge not to be a whiney, gen-X victim. deal?
peace in Jesus, shr

Response: It's a deal. And I will continue to do my best in getting Boomers to NOT have their Eyes Wide Shut. I am an X-er at heart: this is why Hollywood Jesus is so different then other Christian site. Thank you for your kind words. -David

FAITH AFFIRMING FILMS
Subject: Faith Affirming Films
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: "Mark Gosling"

David's comments are in blue

David, You wrote: "Here is the question: Why do Christians have such negative knee jerk reactions to the culture. Why can't we seem to build bridges. Why are we so hesitant to give credit when it is due? Why can't Christians admit to common ground with unbelievers?"

Perhaps they are considering the import of verses such as these:
Romans 12:1-2 ...Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world...
2 Corinthians 6: 13-18 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers...
1 Timothy 6:10-12 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil...
1 Thessalonians 5:21-23 ...Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil...
Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked..

You raise important issues with your question(s). Certainly all the abovementioned biblical passages can be used and abused hypocritically, but they must give believers pause for thought...

As to Faith Affirming Films: If you exclude "biblical epics" from your "100 faith affirming films" you will have reduced your list considerably. There are about 23 listed, but the were all produced by secular Hollywood Studios. So they indeed do count. What could be more relavant? You are up to a dismissal here Mark, I can feel it coming.

I think the pastor in question really meant "Hollywood never portrays EVANGELICAL Christian believers favorably." While his use of the word "never" was foolishness on his part, (cf The Apostle, Tender Mercies, Places in the Heart, The Trip to Bountiful - funny how they all take place in the cultural milieu of the South) Yes, the use of "never" was a problem. I did not list 2 of the films you mentioned. Thank you for the additions. Other Southern Christian films include, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, George Wallace, and The Blood of Jesus. But there are 35 films in my list (not counting the biblical epics) that spefically portray evangelical Christians in a good light -that's a good number -and most are not in the South, consider Shadowlands -about C.S. Lewis, Chariots of Fire -about a British Evangelical missionary, The Sound of Music -about a wonderful overseas Christian woman, Proof of Life -with a wonderful portrayal of a foreign evangelical missionary, for examples.

the thrust of his argument is basically correct, considering the number of movies produced each year, the number of anti-Christian sentiments and values expressed in them and the number of unfavourable portrayals of evangelicals, charismatics, and fundamentalists that occur. I disagree here, although there are certainly non-Christian points of view presented frequently in secular films (to be excepted), this is not the same as unfavorable portrayals of Christians. Hollywood wants to sell tickets, not drive away audiences. It's a matter of money. Ticket money speaks.

Contrast this with the sizable percentage of the American population who identify themselves as "born again Christians"... Indeed few of your listed films are actually portraying evangelical Christians in a positive light. Not so. (The Big Kahuna for example comes close and I know virtually every Christian critic swooned over it; but to me there was an angry subtext about hypocrisy which equated sharing the gospel with selling a product). Your mention of The Big Kahuna seems to be for reasons of dismissal. But, as you note you are at odds with "every Christian reviewer." And, you avoided a film like Simon Birch -where Jim Carrey opens the film by saying "He is the reason why I believe in God." Or, 28 Days -which has Sandra Bullock trusting God for her sobriety. Or, Bless the Child and Lost Souls -both are very favorable to Evangelical believers. Or, Here On Earth -which begins with an Evangelical minister preaching a sermon that becomes the basis for the plot, and what about The Replacements and films like it that have positive portrayals of Evangleicals in lesser roles, etc.

But then again Hollywood doesn't produce any anti-abortion films, or anti-homosexuality films, or any pro-Republican films either. And often the sizable constituency of Americans who share these views overlaps. So someone somewhere among the cultural elite is freezing out the views of a sizable proportion of the American population in favour of politically-correct, liberal elitist ideas. Now you have moved into a different area. Politics. There are liberal Christians. Not all Christians agree on the areas you now bring up. This is removed from the original point.

As to my nomination for one of the most offensive ant-Christian films of recent times I would have to say that honour would go to "Pleasantville", one of the most subversive attacks on Christian values presented in a high quality movie. (And some Christians consider this a highly spiritual film)
Mark Gosling

Mark, I must say, you too have a hard time in finding the common ground. You basically dismissed secular Hollywood categorically. Your shift to political issues speaks for itself. Black American Evangelicals are mostly Democratic. You seem to have a Right Wing Republican White Anglo Saxon Jesus. Hollywood films offer a great common meeting ground within our culture. You can literally sit down with a total stranger and discuss Star Wars. What a great opportunity. Such a conversation feeds very well into a discussion about God. And yet there is however, not a single Evangelical Christian in the film. There does not need to be. Hollywood movies are the only popular common mythology we have in our culture. Throw rocks if you want. Cry that Hollywood is liberal, unchristian, Democratic, biased, anti-Evangelical, or what ever. As for me, I will seize the moment as I have done in Hollywood Jesus. I love it. By the way, Mark, the only reason why Hollywood is so secular, is because of the wholesale rejection of the entire industry by Christians. There is no salt and light in Hollywood, and that ain't Hollywood's fault. It the fault of the rock throwing puritanical squeaky clean Evangelical Church. Believe me Mark, God is not happy. -David

WHEN CHURCH/RELIGION NOT POSITIVE
Subject: Newsletter_25
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001
From: Darrel Manson

While I agree with you that there are many films that treat religion and people of faith positively, it is important to note that it isn't always so. This is not to make the typical knee jerk reaction and blast Hollywood over the way they treat us. Rather we do need to look at those less than positive portrayals because they often are merely a mirror we don't want to look into.

The way the church is portrayed in "Dogma" or "Breaking the Waves" may seem negative to some (and indeed, I find the indictment of the church in Breaking the Waves very strong and devastating), but they are based on ways that people do experience the church. In literature this is also seen in the novel "Elmer Gantry". Elmer isn't a typical pastor. But as a pastor I know that there is a little bit of Elmer in all of us. People weren't offended by Sinclair Lewis because the book wasn't true; they were offended because they knew it was.

These negative portrayals of religion are just as valuable as the positive ones.
-- Darrel Manson ><>
Artesia Christian Church
ICQ 5624184 ><>Artesia, CA
http://netministries.org/see/churches/ch01198
When I see things through my eyes, I see things. -Angelo Dundee

Response: You are so right. Sinclair Lewis, becomes in some sense a prophet! -David

BABY BOOMERS AND GEN XERS
Subject: Newsletter 25
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
From: "Mark Gosling"

David, Thank you for your provocative article On Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. You make a number of valid points but could I just add a couple of comments?

The Baby Boomer generation of Christians has obviously demonstrated the age old problem of the Church being held captive to the world - to the values and attitudes of the surrounding culture - rather than occupying the more scriptural position (in my opinion) of being biblically countercultural and standing against prevailing fashions and trends that compromise the gospel. (Of course there are good things in all cultures that can be embraced and celebrated without compromising our allegiance to the King of the universe. This seems to be one of your major thrusts with "Hollywood Jesus"?) And it is true we are all children of our age and should seek to respond to God in a way that is relevant to our situation. This dichotomy presents us with a delicate balancing act!

Gen Xers do have a problem fitting into our churches. The problem is, with regard to the Gen Xers you seem to be arguing that the church should again become captive to a particular cultural and historical phenomenon. We live in an age of rapid change Everything - values, morals, beliefs, fashions, ideas, trends, truth itself is relative and in a state of flux. What's in today, is out tomorrow. If we make Gen Xer friendly churches what's the bet that in a couple of years they have hardened into the latest orthodoxy?

If I may quote W. B. Yeats:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

I also agree with your concerns about the "idolatry" of worshipping "family values", rather than Christ, but I would also point out that strong intact families are very much countercultural to the prevailing ethos of our age - as well as being very biblical. The Church itself is, or should be, the family of God. Being a Christian means being part of God's family; thus I would suggest that family values are high on God's priorities. The covenant between husband and wife, for example, is to serve as a model of the relationship of Christ to the Church. Children raised in loving, committed intact families are going to be nourished in a way that the children of the fragmented households becoming dominant across Western culture are not. As you passionately point out, however, it is the duty of the Church (i.e. no abstract commodity, but real Christians individually and collectively) to "get their hands dirty" and reach out in love to the broken, sick and lost, whoever and wherever they are.

Does every new generation of Christians have to re-invent the wheel, or at least rebuild the wheel in a way that's relevant to them? Yes... and no. "Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever". External trappings may change but the human condition and the divine answer remains the same.

That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle And what rough beast, its hour come round at last Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? Thank you for your unique web site.
Mark Gosling

Response: Yes, every generation grows old and finds change hard. The church should always be evolving. If a young person does not have a personal relation with God by the age of 18, there is an 85% chance they never will. There is no more important group than children and youth. Youth should always be included in the formation of worship. If this were practiced in the church, change would happen very naturally. As it is, Boomers will not permit it. Power and authority are key with them. Power and authority correctly belong to Jesus, who says "And a child shall lead them." -David

You are on Comments page 77
Index to all the comments May 03 to Sep 12, 2001
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