In Western culture, filmmakers are the story tellers that connect the viewer with the realities of the mysteries of life that appeal to our inner quest for truth and purpose.  The images in the movies that spark this inner quest stay with us a lifetime.  
Why HOLLYWOOD JESUS?
By David Bruce
"All of life's riddles are answered in the movies."
-Steve Martin in Grand Canyon

MOVIES CONTAIN OUR MYTHS:
"Myth and fairy stories both answer the eternal questions: What is the world really like? How am I to live in it? How can I truly be myself?"
-Bruno Bettelheim
The Uses of Enchantment

STORIES ARE POWERFUL:
"Little Red Riding Hood was my first love. I felt that if I could have married her, I should have known perfect bliss."
-Charles Dickens

THERE IS SOMETHING GOING ON IN OUR CULTURE:
It is becoming more spiritual. It is more God oriented. Television shows are now dealing with issues of God and angels. Movies are being made around biblical themes. Popular music reflects inner quests.  Hollywood Jesus reflects this amazing current interest in spirituality.

WHAT HOLLYWOOD JESUS IS NOT.
Hollywood Jesus is not a moral watch dog.
It is not a "Christian" rating service.
I have been disappointed by how few Christian sites review films from a spiritual or even Christ centered point of view. Most seem to have moralistic concerns. They miss the positive changes taking place. It seems to me that God is using our culture to talk to us. Something powerful is happening

WHAT HOLLYWOOD JESUS IS

It is first and foremost spiritual.
It is Christ centered.
It gives in-depth spiritual analysis of popular culture and especially blockbuster hits.

SOMETHING IS HAPPENING IN HOLLYWOOD AND IN OUR CULTURE

The times they are a changin'. There is more spirituality being expressed in films than ever before. Something is going on. "Something is happening here, what it is I'm not exactly sure." But, I'm amazed by it. Hollywood Jesus is dedicated to this amazing interest in spirituality.


******

Hollywood Films
as Modern Day Parables

     The idea for Hollywood Jesus began with a conversation in the living room of one of the pre-eminent missiologists of our day, Don Richardson.  Richardson's book "Eternity in their hearts," is the one that sparked our interest. In "Eternity in their Hearts," Richardson, advocates this simple truth: The belief systems and myths of each culture contain the story of God as told in the Bible.

     The Bible has a similar idea in Romans 1:20f, "The basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being." -The Message.  God's story is an intrinsic truth instinctively known by every human being on earth.

     In Western culture, filmmakers are the storytellers that connect the viewer with the realities of the mysteries of life that appeal to our inner quest for truth and purpose.  The images in the movies that spark this inner quest stay with us a lifetime. We connect.  We may not understand but we know truth when we see it and we own the symbols and images until they are revealed to us as cognitive reality for our lives.  Images that connect us to something bigger than ourselves take us to the high places where we can get a sweeping perspective of life's big picture. Images that carry universal truths move us from the mundane to the sacred.

Jesus knew this when he spoke in parables. Parables are simple stories that reveal to us the deeper spiritual truths. For instance, "you reap what you sow." This image is a simple idea from farming that reveals a deeper truth about life. What we sow in life, we will reap back upon ourselves. Jesus used parables about farming because he spoke to people who lived close to the earth. The country folk that Jesus spoke to of God's love were agrarian people who would understand his stories using farm illustrations. Our modern day parables have to relate to our culture as we know and live it - this is the role of our filmmakers.

     A parable is a simple story teaching some moral lesson or truth.  English archivist, Thomas Hardy, said that there would have been no need for parables, "if the storyteller could have got decency and good morals from true stories!"  Parables are a way of sneaking in the back door of our lives to get us to look at the hard questions in life and face our own truth. The story of God as revealed through His son Jesus Christ answers our most powerful questions about the universe and our purpose on earth. The themes of the Bible are THE themes of humanity.  Is it any wonder then that Hollywood has picked up on these themes, realizing they strike a chord in humans at the point of our most heart-felt need for love, relationship and purpose.

     Anthropologists and missiologists share the same concerns as filmmakers. They study world views - the basic existential and normative assumptions people make about their worlds. Hollywood Jesus has the same mission: to study the modern day parables of our culture as told in our movies and make the connection for people. Inside every human being is a God-shaped hole and spiritual yearning that only can be filled through a relationship with God's son, Jesus Christ. Our films are asking important questions that peer into the deepest mysteries about life and teach us about life's potential. Our culture's storytellers inspire and provoke us, making us do the hard inner work in life where we discover the ultimate mysteries both within and beyond ourselves.

     "..let all nations go their own way. Yet God has not left himself without testimony." -Acts 14:16-17


SOMETHING IS HAPPENING WORLDWIDE.
NEWS STORIES

EVANGELICALS GROWING THREE TIMES FASTER THAN WORLD POPULATION AND ISLAM.
Sept 15. Evangelicals are the fastest-growing segment of Christianity worldwide. Liberal Protestant churches are shrinking, and the percentage of Catholics among the world population is diminishing, said idea, a publication of the German Evangelical Alliance. Protestants active in evangelism and missions work are growing more than three times as fast as the worldwide population growth of 1.7%, English missions researcher Patrick Johnstone says in his new book, The Church is Bigger Than You Think. Protestantism is growing faster than the world population and Islam, with a rate of 2.9% annually.

...The increase can be attributed almost entirely to evangelicals, Johnstone said. The relatively weak growth of the Roman Catholic Church could be attributed to losses due to the secularization of Europe and the conversion of Catholics to evangelical churches in Latin America, he said. In Africa, the end of colonialism in the 1960s had led to a spiritual breakthrough: "Never before has a whole continent experienced such a change, with Christianity gaining over 50% of the population within one century." Evangelical growth was most obvious in Catholic Latin America in the 1970s, and since the turn of the century the number of evangelicals has grown from fewer than 250,000 to about 40 million.

Definition:
Evangelical -Someone who believes that Jesus is the Lord and accepts the Bible as God's Word. Hollywood Jesus has an evangelical point of view.

CHRISTIANITY GROWING DRAMATICALLY IN THIRD WORLD.
Aug. 7, 1998. Christianity has grown dramatically in developing nations in the 20th century. There are more than 10 times as many Christians in Africa, Asia, and Latin America than there were at the beginning of the century, African theologian Roland Warner told 450 participants recently at a missions conference in Germany. The number of Christians in those countries alone should top 1 billion by the year 2000, he said, DAWN Fridayfax reported. The number of missionaries has increased. There were about 62,000 in 1900, while today there are more than 400,000, Warner said.

SPECTACULAR GROWTH IN ASIA.
The Christian church has seen "spectacular growth" in Asia in the past 20 years, and there are 75 million believers on the continent, Christian News reported. Most of the growth has taken place in Indonesia, China, and South Korea. Countries formerly closed to the gospel, such as Cambodia, Nepal, and Mongolia, are accepting missionaries, and progress has been made in closed countries including Tibet and Bhutan. Christians from Korea, India, and the Philippines who are working as missionaries are among 25,000 Asian nationals serving in foreign cultures. Asian missionaries tend to focus on evangelism and church planting, while those from the West help meet social needs such as education and medical aid.


SOMETHING WONDERFUL IS HAPPENING IN THE LIVES OF PEOPLE.
NEWS STORIES

CHURCHGOERS HAVE HAPPIER MARRIAGES
Aug. 18,1998. Canadians who attend church regularly are happier and more likely to have a lasting marriage, a survey found. Churchgoers suffer less stress and are less likely to consider lack of love and respect as grounds for divorce, Statistics Canada said Sept. 15, Reuters news service reported. A 1995 survey showed that Canadians who attended religious services every week had a 50% better chance of a happy marriage.

TEENS WITH SPIRITUALITY ARE LESS LIKELY TO TAKE DRUGS, DRINK OR SMOKE.
Sept 3, 1998. Devout teens are less likely to take drugs, drink, or smoke, a survey found. "Back to School," an annual survey conducted by the National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, found that most youths aged 12-17 view drugs as their biggest concern. The survey was the first to draw a distinction between religious and nonreligious teens, and the results present an opportunity for ministers to take a more active role in young people's lives, NCAS President Joseph Califano said. "I hope they just grab it and run with it, because they can do a tremendous amount to free our kids and help our kids deal with this problem."

SPIRITUAL BELIEVERS HAVE BETTER BLOOD PRESSURE, LESS DEPRESSED, IMMUNE TO DISEASE, ABLE TO BREAK ADDICTIONS
Aug. 11, 1998. Religious believers are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, a Duke University study shows. The study examined 4,000 people aged 65 and over and found that those who take part in religious practices are 40% less likely to have high blood pressure, the Associated Press said. The study appears in this month's International Journal of Psychiatry and Medicine. It shows that the diastolic reading for those who attend church, pray, and read the Bible often is lower than for those who don't. High diastolic pressure is present in heart attack and stroke victims. "We're becoming more aware that religious beliefs or practices is not negative for a person's health," Dr. Harold Koenig said. "In fact, they could be very positive." Other studies indicate that religious people are not as depressed, are more immune to disease, and are more successful at breaking addictions.

SPIRITUAL PEOPLE LESS SUICIDAL.
Oct. 1998. Religious believers and their caregivers are less likely to consider assisted suicide, a new study found. More than half of those who have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, said they would consider assisted suicide, Reuters said. The survey of 100 people who suffer from the muscular degenerative disease, which leaves its patients unable to move, was published in the Sept. 29 New England Journal of Medicine. Those who are religious said they are less likely to consider assisted suicide, as did their families and other caregivers. The study was conducted in Washington state and Oregon, the only state that has legalized assisted suicide.


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