D’Souza and the “Death of a Nation” Documentary

Dinesh D’Souza has produced another provocative political documentary that targets the Democratic Party as the source of all evil; however the real battle in America is not political but spiritual.

As a theologian, what concerns me about the documentary is that most everything in the documentary appears to be viewed through the spectacles of pure politics. As one of my friends said to me after viewing the documentary, the real battle in America is not a political battle, but rather a spiritual battle. After seeing... Continue Reading

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” A Review of the Mr. Rogers Documentary

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” tells the dual stories of the long-lived TV show (1968-2001) and of Fred Rogers (1928-2003) himself.

Like many in the cinema where I saw “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” I had some tears in my eyes. I was deeply moved by how beautiful and powerful a loving heart can be. As I left the cinema, I almost felt a sense of culture shock. At a time when Hollywood relies on over-the-top... Continue Reading

Movie Review: ‘How Jack Became Black’ Questions Progressive Racial Politics

This must see doc examines the hot button issue sans the vitriol we've come to expect from first-person essays.

“How Jack Became Black” doesn’t sugarcoat the nation’s racist past. Early segments detail just how pernicious racism was in our nation. A segment on Louis Armstrong, who created an inoffensive persona to avoid his era’s racism, is captured by a framed portrait missing his signature grin. Steele even uses his own family’s bigotry to hammer... Continue Reading

‘First Reformed’ Imagines a Stunning Dark Night of the Soul

At long last, Paul Schrader’s cinematic masterpiece.

Perhaps more than a few Christians were heartened as much by Schrader’s path to success as by the early films to which he contributed. Part of Schrader’s legend was his strict Calvinist upbringing—it is said that his parents did not allow him to watch movies until he was 18. A graduate of Calvin College, his... Continue Reading

The Gospel of Inclusion

This American Life is debuting a movie on Netflix called Come Sunday, which covers the life of Pentecostal Carlton Pearson, his rise to fame, and sudden downfall.

In reruns of an older podcast called Heretics, Ira Glass describes Pearson as a “rising evangelical megastar” that “at the height of his popularity, became involved in a scandal: He didn’t have an affair, he didn’t embezzle money, he didn’t admit an addiction to prescription painkillers—no, no, none of that. He stopped believing in hell.”... Continue Reading

Heretic,’ and the Sad Stories of ‘Rebel’ Pastors

Two newly released films flip the usual script, pitching the “I was once a megachurch pastor” narrative as a renegade hero’s journey.

These films pitch their protagonists—Pearson and Bell—as brave rebels who challenged a rigid, bigoted, staid religious establishment in radical and costly ways. But if that’s the case, why are these films so tedious and flat? Perhaps it’s because the supposedly groundbreaking “rethinking” these men advocate is nothing new—just boring old heresy in modern new clothes.... Continue Reading

Rob Bell, Fundamentalist: 5 Ironies From The New Bell Film

It’s the strangest thing: the heretic is actually the fundamentalist.

The Heretic… is a film making a clear argument. It seeks to convince us that Bell is the heretic we need, and that Christianity should make more space for Bell’s brand of thought. But The Heretic actually ends up making, quite accidentally, the opposite point. It shows us a tragedy in the making, a man once known... Continue Reading

Film Review: Paul, Apostle Of Christ

Paul Apostle of Christ takes audiences back to the roots of the faith by focusing on its most prolific apostolic teacher and organizer, Saul/Paul of Tarsus.

At a time of profound persecution in Rome, the leader of the nascent Christian community sits in prison, falsely accused by Nero of burning down half of the city. His friend and biographer Luke arrives to see what he can do for Paul and for the Christians hiding for their lives in the city. The Christian... Continue Reading

A White Guy’s Reflections on Black Panther

Black Panther is a movie about a superhero, but not just any superhero — a black superhero

“A movie has no power to ultimately change people’s hearts. Only Jesus can do that. But I believe it can serve to help the progress we must make toward racial unity. It can encourage the black community and educate other communities.”   To be honest, I can’t remember going to a movie quite like Black... Continue Reading

Winston Churchill’s Darkest Hour

Churchill’s “Darkest Hour” was, in truth, a series of dark hours that lasted two or three weeks in May 1940, when Western civilization hung in the balance.

But above all, the takeaway from this film—and from the Churchill experience—is an enduring historical-moral lesson: you cannot negotiate a just peace with a brutal aggressor. Savages are not appeased. This is poignantly captured when Churchill snaps at Viscount Halifax and Neville Chamberlain: “You cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in his... Continue Reading