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.
E-mail and Comments:
This page was last updated on July 5, 2001

GREAT, YET LACKING
Subject: Chicken Run
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001
From: Jeremy Braacx

Being an avid fan of Wallace and Gromitt, and having a fascination in claymation, I had to see Chicken Run. Although the claymation was excellently done as expected, overall, I have mixed feelings on this appraised film. One element deserving praise is all of the clever puns and jokes that are above the heads of children but make this kids film a hit even amoung adults. Another part of the film deserving credit is at the climax where everything starts to fall apart at once and just when disaster seems inevitable, everything turns out fine (this is also classic of Wallace and Gromitt). Unfortunately, these elements of the film do not make up for a lacking plot. The story line is very simple and becomes almost monotonous as the chickens make contstant failing attempts to achieve one simple goal, freedom. Although a simple plot like this may still be fascinating for children, it hardly kept my attention. The ending of this film also disappointed me. It seemed too good to be true. On the other hand, keeping the children in mind, a delightfully happy ending is practically required. I also think the simbolism in this film is a bunch of hoopla. Some say it's all about WWII, others say it's all about the Exodus, and yet others say it's about women, so what was the screen writer really trying to say in this film? Maybe she wasn't trying to say anything at all? All in all I think that this was still a good film, but it could have been a great film with a more involving plot. In any case I look forward to future claymation films and I'm confident that they'll surpase Chicken Run in greatness.
Jeremy Braacx

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, HERE'S WHY
Subject: Review of Pearl Harbor
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001
From: Mark Beutel

Pearl Harbour was blasted by many critics when it came out for fabricating real events and downplaying things how they actualuly were. It was also said that the movie included a love triangle that was entirely unnecessary. Going into this movie I had mixed idea's. I usually really enjoyed war-movies and this was one event that I had just recently learned about so I figured that the movie would offer me valuable insight as to how things really were, so I could actually picture the events that happened there. The first hour or so of the movie is basically introducing the various main characters of Rafe and Danny and the the girl that eventually comes between them. For this first hour Pearl Harbour is hardly even mentioned, while the relationships between the main characters was all that was introduced. Once the film actually starts with the Pearl Harbour bombing, it stays relatively close to the actual story, and surprisingly both the Chinese and Americans are reflected upon in a positive light. Captain Minoru of the Chinese is seen as reluctant in his decision to attack Pearl Harbour, but basically we are told that it is something that he felt had to be done. In reality, Captain Minoru was completely against the bombing of Pearl Harbour, he was actually an ambassador to the US prior to the bombing. The battle scene itself is the true winning element of the story that allows it to gain a favourable review in my eyes. For almost an hour we are subjected to utter chaos at Pearl Harbour, countless lives are lost yet this is not shown in a gruesome fashion like other recent war movies. Nonetheless one can still come away from this experiance with a much greater understanding of the toils that men and women went through during this time period, the end result is much more effective then anything previously done on Pearl Harbour. The one scene of the film the stuck in my mind was when the men and women on the carriers/battleships were still caught under the water after the attack was long over, and when they were reaching up through holes in the hull of the ship, desperately wanting to be set free from their watery deathbed. Rescue workers desperately tried to save these people but many died holding the hands of rescue workers who were trying to free them. These scenes were particularly powerful. The rest of the movie is comprised of the evident death of Rafe and the love that is kindled between Danny and Evelyn. Unlike earlier in the film where sexuality is actually presented in a positive light where Rafe doesn't conscend to sex with Evelyn the night b4 he has to leave, Danny and Evelyn go through a whirlwind romance that ends up with Evelyn getting pregnant. By the movies end Danny is killed off and Rafe, who miraculously survived the shooting down of his aircraft takes over as the role of the father of Evelyn's yet unborn child. This entire love-triangle is no doubt a ploy by the producers who are trying to appeal to the younger female audience w/the likes of hearthrobs Hartnett and Affleck just like Leo Dicaprio did in the close to 3 hour Titanic. Other then the tedious affair of the love triangle presented in the movie, i really enjoyed Pearl Harbour and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in this specific genre.
By Mark Beutel

ENJOYED IT
Subject: Enemy at the Gates
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001
From: Michael

Enemy at the Gates is a good movie. I think that it shows what war is like. It has a good story line and it keeps you hoping that Vassili doesn't get killed. It is like you are there in the battle. The movie starts out with the soldiers on a train going to war. Only half of the soldiers have guns and the ones without the guns have to wait for someone with a gun to be killed. The main character [Vassili] gets a gun and kills five nazis. Vassili becomes a very good sniper and the Germans send in a man who is an excellent sniper to come in and kill Vassili. A battle starts between these two people. They both concentrate on killing each other. I think that some of the parts weren't nessesary for the story. They were just put in to make the movie just like other movies. I think that the movie showed what war really is like and it was true to history. This movie is more realistic than some of the other war movies. I enjoyed it.

WHAT REALLY DEFINES PROFANE LANGUAGE
Subject: INCUBUS Incubus_Make_Yourself
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001
From: Fungus a mungus

I just want to say I am glad to see one of the bands i like getting credit on a christan website. But most importantly i want to say i disagree with "Shane" about "profane language." What really defines "profane" language? Its just a word, and it really depends on how it is being used when you judge its profanity. Just because its a certain grouping of letters doesnt mean its bad or wrong to say. In Incubus' case, they use the words in a positive and uplifting way, ex. "dont let the world bring you down, not everyone here is that f**ked up and cold." Its ok for someone to review a cd as "good" even if it has profane languages or sexual references. Its wrong for you to say that its not good music if they use what you deem to be bad language.

Response: Absoluetly, I totally agree. -David

TREK, FAVORITE CHARACTER
Subject: Tarzan
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001
From: Monica

Hi! My name is Monica Andersson, live in Sweden. I have seen the disneyfilm Tarzan and I really like it! My favourite character from the film is Terk. She has been my idol and favourite disneyfigure. And I have a tattoo of her. My own picture gallery: http://user.tninet.se/~jbx625o I will soon put up more pictures and other stuff in the gallery, welcome!
I love you, Terk!
Greetings/ Monica

NEWSLETTER #26 COMMENTS

ENCOURAGEMENT
Subject: Newsletter #26
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001
From: Walt Mueller
The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding www.cpyu.org

Check it outDavid - keep pressing on brother. I just received a forward of the recounting of your conversation with the "Pharisees" after church. I don't use the word "Pharisees" in a cynical sarcastic manner - I truly believe this is a problem in the church today. Anyway, I want to encourage you to keep pressing on. I know what it's like to meet this kind of opposition on a daily basis. It is especially difficult when it comes from fellow believers and is directed to your call, your passion, your ministry, your life's work, etc. It stings. Rest assurred that you are not alone and keep fighting the good fight. I continue to promote your site. For some encouragement pick up a copy of Dick Staub's new book "Too Christian - Too Pagan." - my guess is that you've read it already but I thought I'd mention anyway.
God bless you!
Check it outWalt Mueller
The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding www.cpyu.org

Response: Thanks Walt. And actually I have not picked that book up, but I know Dick Staub -neat guy. I will order the book immediately. There is another book that I think is worth mentioning. It's a fabulous book actually. I hope you don't mind if I plug it. It's the one you wrote. Understanding Today's Youth Culture. It is a powerful book that brings folk up to speed with what is going on out there. I also hope everyone checks out your web site. May God continue to bless you Walt in your bridge building ministry.

BECOMING A THINKING CHRISTIAN
& COOL CHURCH

Subject: Newsletter #26
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001
From: Rev. Linda Middelberg

John Cobb, a Process Theologian and professor at Claremont Theological Seminary in California wrote a book entitled, "Becoming a Thinking Christian". In this book Dr. Cobb says, "Sometimes it seems that church leaders prefer that the church die in superficial harmony than live in vigorous debate." Many Christians seem to have replaced the Law or "the right thing to do" with the Creed or the "right thing to believe." Neither leaves room for God's grace or the movement of the Holy Spirit.

At...
St. Andrew United Methodist Church
350 N. Fairfield Rd. Dayton,
OH 45430 (937) 426-6491...

We hope to help people learn to think theologically for themselves and to allow the Holy Spirit to help them develop a living relationship with God through the grace demonstrated for us by the life, death and resurreciton of Jesus. Rev. Linda Middelberg Assoc. Pastor

Response: Hmm, thinking and being a Christian? Let me see. Hmm. Do they go together. Let me think about it. Oops, I'm thinking. OMG, I have sinned, I think. Thank you Linda, I always appreciate your input. God bless you in all you do. -David

SEVERAL ENCOUNTERS
Subject: Newsletter #26
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001
From: Tracy R

David,
I just wanted to send you an e-mail to let you know how moved I was by your "R-rated Christians" article on your site...as I stated in my message a few months back, I have been a "lurker" on the site for some time and continue to visit regularly. I can't applaud enough your efforts to see film as, as you describe in the article, "a reflection of our time, our culture, our values" rather than some evil force out to destroy Christianity. One of the reasons my heart alternately lept for joy and dropped with remembered pain while reading this is that I have had several similar experiences with "believers" such as you encountered--one as recently as this past week after I raved about "Moulin Rouge" to a co-worker. I have visited several churches where the members have been told that they should give up film and TV altogether, and not do anything else in their spare time but be in church--and they wanted to exclude everything else, too, including being in nature, etc. Needless to say, I wasn't there for longer than the initial visits, and left with a cold chill down my spine, to be honest. Like you, it's hard for me to believe that there are some who claim to be followers of Christ who will try to deny people the free will and life that God himself gave them!

A story I heard a few years ago seems, to me anyway, to mirror this and shows that this is not limited in a religious way. As you may have guessed from my mention of "Mr. Accident" in my last letter, I am a fan of Australian cenima in general, and have a soft spot for Yahoo Serious films, all the way back to "Young Einstein". That movie is now a cult favorite for many Americans, but I clearly remember the reaction that the movie had when it first came out in '89. I recall seeing on the news large groups of very vocal scientists protesting outside theatres, stating that the movie was making mockery of and trying to diminish the greatness of the real Einstein. Even today, I've noticed that it is hard to find on video (thank goodness for Ebay!), no doubt because of the accusations. Having been a fan of the real Einstein long before all of this, I found it interesting that many of these wild-eyed protesters admitted--on camera, at that--that they hadn't taken the time to actually go inside the theatre--maybe if they had, at least a few might have realized that the story was intended from the beginning as a "what if?" kind of tale, not at all meant to be based on fact. Plus, it is clear that the film was intended to be a tribute to Einstein, making the scientist's spirit the focus of the story. I found it very telling that these so called "experts" out on the picket line, people who claimed to have studied Einstein for years, seemed to forget everything the guy ever said about imagination and life, or his well-known sense of humor that he occasionally used to make fun of himself (Surely many people have seen that wonderful picture of the then-elderly Einstein sticking his tongue out!). People had every right in the world to not like the movie if it wasn't their cup of tea, but like the person who wrote to you about his co-worker trashing "Dogma" sight unseen, this kind of behavior didn't seem to make much sense. I know that I'm kind of rambling here, but simply put, this was a powerful article and obviously had a strong impact on me. Bless you for having the ability to see things such as film on a deeper spiritual level, to see the artistic message rather than sitting in the dark of a theatre counting swear words or attacking every hint of immorral behavior like some other film critics I've read. There is nothing wrong with reviewing R-rated movies on this site at all--after all, the world we live in is NOT G-rated, so why should we try to hide our heads in the sand trying to pretend that it is? Like you stated, it's not what we put in, but what we give out, that counts! Thank you, and keep on reviewing! :)
Tracy R.

Response: Your story is so typical, and yet so unbelievable. This kind of nonsense goes on all the time. In Christ you are a new creation, and yet there are all these people trying to define what that new creation would do and not do. It is so sad. It creates confusion, guilt and despair in people. Thankfully, God is bigger than all this. I I thank God you have not given into these finger pointers. Enjoy your freedom Tracy, as I enjoy attempt to enjoy mine. -Blessings on ya, David

SPEAKING OTHER LANGUAGES
Subject: Newsletter #26
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001
From: Jerry Watts

Thank you for your hard work. Communicating Jesus to this culture means we need to speak each other' language. If we can't speak how can we proclaim. I am a youth minister that uses movie clips (the sermons of our culture today) in almost every bible study. Thank you for your awesome ministry.
Jerry Watts,
AIM Director of Youth Ministries
Salem Lutheran Church,
Glendale, CA

Response: Right on brother, keep on keepin on. -David

ATHEISTS FOR HOLLYWOOD JESUS
Subject: Newsletter #26
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001
From: Lori

Just to let you know, Hollywood Jesus is the only Christian site our Atheistic Society recommends. Thank you for your tolerance and respect. You tend to show more kindness to people different from you than to narrow minded Christian types. We have much in common.
Lori

Response: Thank you Lori, I appreciate you. Personally, I think that narrow minded Christians hate me just as much as they hate Atheists. I have never understood why certain Christians don't truly follow Jesus ("love your neighbor" etc). Sometimes I think Atheists can be more Christ-like in their attitudes. So, how is that for a paradoxical truth? Please stay in touch, I would love to chat more off line. -Warmly yours, David

BE ENCOURAGED
Subject: Newsletter #26
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001
From: "Nick Alexander"

Hi Bruce,
Be very encouraged. You're doing the right thing. I cannot say I agree entirely with every single review that you posted. But I do agree with the purpose, to take popular culture by the horns and to milk it for spiritual insight--benefiting the Christian thinker, who cherishes new expressions of his firmly-held faith, and benefiting the evangelist, who looks for the common ground between him and unbelievers.

There have been some G-rated movies that inflict far more damage than some R-rated ultraviolent/erotic films. _Pulp Fiction_, _Brazil_, _Breaking the Waves_, _Magnolia_, _Happiness_, _Amores Perros_ and _Requiem For a Dream_, are all R rated or worse, and yet they contain snippets of authentic truth that serve as a wonderful springboard for self-exploration and evangelism. Why would I trade that for the damaging effects of _Pokemon_ (G) or _The First Wives Club_ (PG)?

Those who know and study movies know it's all about _context_. A fairly clean and moral movie like _The Spitfire Grill_ gets its rating jacked up to PG-13 because of a subplot over a victim of incest and a forced abortion (the 'a' word is not even mentioned).

Because of this, we know the ratings system is a joke. The studios have been using this same community to push PG-13 fare over the edge over the last few years. I would rather an R rated movie that examines the serious after-effects of an evil act rather than a G rated movie that candy-coats it for a lame punchline. Only those who don't like movies won't care, because the lame direct-to-family movies they likely see aren't good enough to warrant a love for movies in the first place.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for clean films for the entire family. I almost wish they have the airplane cut of movies as a DVD option. Most nudity IS gratuitous, and I would try to turn my head away at every moment an offending scene would appear. And I believe that more often than not, a director's creative cut-away from a sex-scene/violent scene makes for far effective direction--leaving it to the viewers' imagination, which could be far worse.

Keep up the good work.
Nick Alexander The "Catholic Weird Al"
http://www.nickalexander.com

Response: Thank you Nick. I love the Catholic Weird Al thing! You are my kinda guy. Gosh you should do some reviews for Hollywood Jesus. You are most definitely on spot. Let's do something together. Email me it it sounds good to you. -David

Click to go to CATHOLIC WEIRD ALReply to David: (June 13) Way back when, when HollywoodJesus was first getting off the ground, we touched base, and I wrote a review for your site (for Darren Aronofsky's first feature, Pi ....And then... this whole "Catholic Weird Al" thing happened. Needless to say, my time has been taken up with creating new parodies, performing for youth groups, and trying to get noticed by whomever would listen. It's been a great year. I think what you do and what I do are the same thing at its roots. We both love Jesus, but we also love popular culture. We don't love Jesus any less because of our love for pop culture, but our love for pop culture is tempered with an awareness of the truths it yearns for and the falsehoods it clings to... not unlike how Jesus cried over Jerusalem. But instead of fearing the falsehoods, we feel very comfortable over walking through the desolation, which is what believers are called to do.

To Catholic Wierd Al, from David: So hey bro, we are brothers!

OPINION

Subject: Newsletter #26
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001
From: Tom

David, I am a pastor (of a "cool church", hopefully), a father of three (4, 11, and 15yrs), and a cinema buff. My criteria for my kids is "is the movie true and is it beautiful?" I have seen some G movies that are so stupid and insulting that I wouldn't allow my kids to watch them and some R movies that were excellent. Here are a few random thoughts concerning the issue:

1. Why do you keep visiting these churches? Spiritually masochistic?! :) Why are you so surprised by these attitudes? (I don't know. I think I will need to get some therapy, there must be something wrong with me. -David)

2. You have more allies than you think. If you can find a copy of "Sham Pearls for Real Swine", by Frank Schaeffer (son of late Dr. Francis Schaeffer) you'll love it. Among other things, He convincingly argues that Terminator is a pro-life movie! It is a marvelous rant!

3. Banality and stupidity are more offensive than "colorful metaphors"!

4. "Christian" movies are to cinema what "Precious Moments" are to sculpture and Thomas Kinkade is to art.

5. A real problem: when I see an violent image (say, a murder) on screen, I know that it is not real. When I see nudity on screen - it's real! A film with a murder (like Traffic) is simply staged and therefore not sinful in itself. Sex scenes in movies are by definition sinful when filmed (whether simulated or not) and then preserved and distributed for secondary sinfulness (lust) as we watch them.

6. We had some friends which we innocently offended by inviting their kids to go to the movies with our kids (Beauty and the Beast) because Christians don't go to the movies. But they then invited our kids over to watch a video that we considered way too violent for them at the time (Jurassic Park). It's okay to watch the video but not to go to the theatre! (Go figure. -David)

7. Do you get Ken Myer's "Mars Hills" tapes? He is the author of "All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes". He occasional has a good interview on the topic of Christians and cinema.
Much grace, Tom

Response: Thank you Tom. I am totally with you on all your thoughts. You must be a great father. And, yes, yes you are right I need to slow up on church visitations, after all, it seems to be a dangerous activity. -David

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK...
Subject: Newsletter #26
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001
From: Paul

Hi David... I just read your notes regarding how you were treated by some of the local church folk. I guess they don't get out much. I have worked for Toronto (Canada, you know that country just north of you) Youth for Christ for 21 years. My focus is educating parents, youth workers, and teachers on youth culture issues. I also work for an agency in Pennsylvania that specializes in youth culture as well. I always direct my audience to your website as one of the really insightful places to go. As Tony Campolo once said, "You'll find truth in the strangest places." Your spiritual insights into the film kingdom is one such place. "Let us not become weary of doing good for in due time we shall reap".
Blessings from Canada.
Paul

Response: Thank you Paul. And thanks for dedicating your life as you have to young people. That is really a wonderful thing. God bless you man. -David

RESPONSE TO R-RATED MOVIES & R RATED CHRISTIANS

Subject: Newsletter #26
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001
From: Bob Jackson, Pittsburgh, PA

David, Like you, I get frustrated with "closed" minded or "simple" to "non-existing" minds. They are not just out there regarding movies, but politics and any other area.

I am sorry for your experiences and email from spirit-quenching Christians. At times, I have to work hard to remember that these folks are brothers and sisters, too. I agree with you, that when someone from "the world" is looking for hope, they aren't looking for a moralistic piece of advice. Too often, Christians are like the "older brother" in Jesus' famous parable regarding the prodigal. (Very good, I like that -David)

I agree with your assessment of movies. Too often, a rating says nothing about content.

May I offer one other suggestion. A few years ago when the movie "The Titanic" was so popular, I read a review from a Christian minister who I greatly respect otherwise, who condemned the movie because of its nudity and casual sex scene. As a minister myself, I had friends sheepishly comment that they had gone to see it for its entertainment value.

To be fair, I did have some frustrations with it, as it rewrote history and made the story into one of class division, and it attributed some comments to some historical people. However, I have another take on the issues of non-marital sex as is frequently shown in movies. I think that Hollywood generally does sex scenes as a very loving interaction, the highest good that it can give to love and romance (minus the rape scenes, of course). I think that Hollywood uses "sex" to mean "intimacy." It doesn't know how else to portray a depth of intimacy and bonding apart from sexual intercourse between new or young love. (You are absolutely right on this on. Keen insight. -David)

If my hunch is correct, then we have to judge Hollywood efforts on their own terms, not ours. They are attempting to show love, bonding and intimacy. I do not think that they are necessarily promoting casual sex (at least not all the time). They want it to be rich and beautiful. I think that in general, the people writing and expressing their ideas probably do not think that it is portrayed well, if at all, in long, enduring marriages.

I congratulate you on your ministry and your efforts to help me and others communicate with our culture.
--Bob Jackson, Pittsburgh, PA

Response: Thank you, Bob. I really like how you analyze and reason. That kind of analysis is difficult for most, because they can not get past their knee jerk response. Thanks for thinking -David

GAY FRIENDLY
Subject: Newsletter #26
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001
From: dale

love the sight, david. thank you for not bashing gays as like those other "christian" sites do. your openness is refreshing. why is there so much hatred in christians? what happened to you at that church, happens to us all the time. i simply will not go to church. you are right in saying that "thomas kinkade perfect families" go to those churches -everyone else is not welcome. i am a gen-x outcast. you as an insider who is really an outcast. when they finally kick you out, remember you have friends
--dale

Response: You are welcome Dale. You encourage me. Thank you. I truly believe Jesus loves every gay, every person. And that Jesus' love embraces the entire gay community.. This whole thing is about love, not hate. If this makes me an outcast, then so be it. Stay in touch. We can chat. -David

GREAT WORK!
Subject: Newsletter #26
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001
From: Twinky

That was one of the best newsletters I have heard from Hollywood Jesus. I totally agree with you wholeheartedly on R-rated critisism from Christians. Some Christians I have known and do know are so closed minded and oblivious to everyone that they put up these blinders in front of them. They somehow think that if they cannot see what is going on around them, it won't affect them. I recently stopped receiving a magazine (no names mentioned) mostly because of their "Christian music and movie" reviews. They bashed the Matrix, for example, because a "real" portrayal of Christ wouldn't have him giving authority "the finger" or using the Lord's name in vain. I was horribly tempted to write a complaint letter. How can you expect Hollywood to be perfect? At least appreciate the symbolism. I mean, Hollywood isn't a church.

But anyway, it is, I agree, totally unbelievable what some people to in God's name. They quote scripture while they are tormenting others. It makes me sick. My father is a pastor, and he watches many R-rated movies. Does that mean he is not a Christian? No! I never heard Christ tell us that we should stay away from the world around us.. no.. he told us to love one another and follow God's commandments. He never told us to be rock throwers and judge everyone around us. Thank you so much for your website and your insight. Keep up the good work and know that there are many Christians that support you.
~Milena

Response: Ooh, thank you, Milena. Your words are so thoughtful. Thank you for not subscribing to that rock throwing rag. There is to much hatred in the Christian community without supporting it with our dollars. We need to find common ground with those around us. All too often we build walls. It is so sad. I shake my head when I think of it. You must make your pastor dad proud. Thank you for being the supportive daughter that you are. -David

WELCOMING CHURCH
Newsletter #26
Subject: New Hope Lutheran Church in Neenah, WI
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001
From: Pastor Jeff Prewitt

Dear HJ,
Thanks for thinking spiritually and looking for the spiritual in movies. At this church we try to direct people to consider the spiritual and see the spiritual all around them. We are New Hope Lutheran Church in Neenah, WI. website is newhopeconnect.org.
Thanks and rock on.

 

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