My 2 Litas on Heaven Is For Real

I put out a challenge for those who got upset by Noah to give as much weight as to what they thought about that movie as to the other movies with a Christian/Biblical theme that are out or will be coming out. In particularly Heaven is for real, God’s not dead, Son of God. A friend of mine lovingly challenged me to watch all 4, and so I’m in the process of doing that.

I’ve seen Noah and God’s Not Dead, Heaven Is For Real so far, but will see the other 1 in due time. I’m not a professional movie reviewer, so I’ll just be pointing out what I observed and picked up and out of the movies. And “2 Litas” – Litas is the currency of Lithuania, my father’s country of origin, and I would be lying if I stated I like that country despite not having gone there…yet.
So, here’s my take on Heaven is for real…enjoy, or don’t, but hey- my blog my rules! 😉

P.S. I will be looking at the movie as a movie. I’m going to give my insight and thoughts, what I liked and what I didn’t like, but I’m not necessarily going to be making about the validity of the director’s vision whether or not it is “accurate” or not. Sure I have some issues with movies, but again, it’s a movie and not the be-all end-all to discussions theological, biblical, or other.

Heaven is for real

One thing that I liked about the movie is that if portrayed life as a pastor, a small-town one, and how his reach in his community goes beyond his pastoral Sunday morning role. There is the part where he is working manual labor, there is also the nature of him being a volunteer fireman, and there’s also him helping out at the local high school. What makes this important to me is that it shows a multi dimensional character. He is known as community for wearing all these hats, him like for diversity and authenticity.

 

I also liked that the pastor and his family are visible in the community. That they aren’t cloistered away and are only visible on Sunday mornings. I have never been in a pastoral role, but if I were I would be transparent and in the community with my family in a similar fashion.

I also liked that one the tough gets going with this pastor, he doesn’t slap on a spiritual bandaid, he suffers and gets angry with God. He makes it known to his community that all is not right with him and his family. I for one cannot stand when Christians think that they have to put on a 🙂 when life’s shit has hit the fan.

I however did not like the nature of the boy’s perspective of heaven. The reason why I did not like it was because it made heaven out to be too small, too static, too easy to wrap my mind around. Sure we’re dealing with only a four year old and what he supposedly saw, but to some extent it’s what he learned from the church and his family.

I also did not like that when the church was going through some troubling times, because of what the pastor brought up to his congregation. They were having a mini meltdown, and at times they made the church out to be pastor centric instead of Christ centric. I have been unfortunate to have observed this take place in a church I once was a part of, and if Christ is not at the center of a church, rifts will occur.

 

I also did not like that at times the movie leaned towards belief over faith. Following Christ is not about having all the answers, nor is it about finding pegs to fit all the holes life has to offer. And unfortunately sometimes we get bogged down with thinking we need to have the answers, I recognize that sometimes that is very much the nature of just being human. Because if we can come up with an answer, we will have what we need whether we like it or not. But some things in this life transcends answers, that transcends belief, and I think that is faith. It is walking a path in the dark sometimes, and I think part of our journey is sometimes wandering off the path despite the darkness and sometimes even not being able to see any recognizable landmarks and still walking.

And my last issue with this movie is that they made heaven “out there”, that is that they made it to be somewhere off in the distance, and I for one have always leaned towards one direction of the two verses that say “the kingdom of heaven is inside you” and “the kingdom of heaven is near”.

 

***

All in all, while not a movie spun for a particular audience like God’s not Dead, it did make heaven to comprehendible and subsequently found a niche to fill, a place and understanding that some people take literally word for word in English. Heaven may actually exist, but I think it’s closer to Earth than the movie gave credit.

~Nathanael~

My 2 Litas on God’s Not Dead

I put out a challenge for those who got upset by Noah to give as much weight as to what they thought about that movie as to the other movies with a Christian/Biblical theme that are out or will be coming out. In particularly Heaven is for real, God’s not dead, Son of God. A friend of mine lovingly challenged me to watch all 4, and so I’m in the process of doing that.

I’ve seen Noah and God’s Not Dead so far, but will see the other 2 in due time. I’m not a professional movie reviewer, so I’ll just be pointing out what I observed and picked up and out of the movies. And “2 Litas” – Litas is the currency of Lithuania, my father’s country of origin, and I would be lying if I stated I like that country despite not having gone there…yet.
So, here’s my take on Noah…enjoy, or don’t, but hey- my blog my rules! 😉

P.S. I will be looking at the movie as a movie. I’m going to give my insight and thoughts, what I liked and what I didn’t like, but I’m not necessarily going to be making about the validity of the director’s vision whether or not it is “accurate” or not. Sure I have some issues with movies, but again, it’s a movie and not the be-all end-all to discussions theological, biblical, or other.

God’s Not Dead

I liked the dedication of the main character’s research. I like researching and learning for understanding and also for sharing, the movie showed someone dedicated to finding out more than the answers given to him as well as answers he thought all along. This is the only thing I truly liked about the movie.

The God talked about and represented in this movie is too small. He was prone to being fickle and irked by humans, a God prone to jealousy on our terms and that (sometimes subtly presented and other times it was blatant) that God will disown us if we disown him. Making God out to be like that reduces God’s God-ness and goodness. It is a human trait to write people off when people have dissed us, but I believe in a God of reconciliation and restoration; a good who is in the habit of making “all things new” and that all is being shaped and molded into what will one day be perfect shalom for all of mankind.

In making God out to be too small, it makes us out to be too big. That somehow the weight of our experiences, our faiths, and our beliefs is our responsibility in a larger way than I truly can comprehend. Yes I want to partake in a living breathing active faith, but I recognize my human fragility, and so I let God handle things I can and cannot control. This movie seemed to point to making following Christ to be a weight we carry more than God carries. I truly believe our weight in what we say what God can do and not do from a negative point-of-view is self-imposed more than anything else. We make following Christ legalistic and when we do that there’s no room for grace and unconditional love.

I also didn’t like that the movie had so many biases and stereotypes against different people of different backgrounds.
– The only black guy in the movie informs the professor and classroom his of his nickname instead of his name, “G Dog”.
– The young Muslim woman comes from an environment where she has to wear a hijab in public, which she takes off when her father is out of sight and wears it in his presence. It gets taken to the next level when he’s physically abusive to her for listening to a Franklin Graham podcast about Jesus and kicks her out of her house!
– Then there’s the foreign exchange student from China, who’s father tells him to believe what his professor believes in order to stay the course of doing well in school.
– Even Kevin Sorbo’s character as a professor who’s an Atheist is an belligerent strong-willed my-way-or-the-highway kind of guy. He’s full of himself and what he believes in the realm of God’s non-existence.
Yes some individuals might exemplify the stereotypes presented, but really? You’re going to subtly try to implant the idea that ALL these people and their backgrounds are like this? For shame!

I also didn’t like the nature of having to defend and having to prove God’s existence. I don’t recall reading a Bible verse saying we had to defend God and come up with quantitative proof for his existence. In doing so I saw the movie take on the role of going on belief rather than faith, that it was about getting answers to all the questions, and I see that as antithesis of faith. If I am honest and where I am at in my journey of life as well as my journey of faith, I know less now than when I was younger, I have less answers to the questions…but I am completely okay with that! My desired posture for life is loving God and loving others, and my testimony isn’t my short-and-sweet story of how I got “saved” but rather my testimony is how I see my life and what I’ve done with it to completion. My testimony is far from over.

I also didn’t like that some scenes made it all about God putting us in predicaments where our only option is choosing him. I believe in freewill, so to be predestined to be hit by a car (spoiler alert) Kevin Sorbo’s character finds God as he’s dying. Yes some of us will find God on our deathbed, to make it about “well God meant for you to be hit to bring him glory” strikes me as…well…predestination and to some extent leaves out choice, which I believe we’ve always had- for better or worse.

Lastly what I didn’t like about this movie is that it was marketed as a “Christian” movie. I say it from time to time because I know it to be true;

“the word “christian,” when applied to anything other than a human being, is a marketing term.” – Derek Webb

This movie and some others that Harold Cronk directed were aimed for a target audience only. At least Darren Aronofsky’s movie took a broader swath and didn’t go for *insert audience here* watching his movie. I truly believe that you should do the best that you can with your skill set, just don’t box it in and label it as a way to get one set of viewers/participants through the door, that limits your art and creativity and subsequently that limits God.

~Nathanael~

Jesus in the movies; The Passion of The Christ and why it still bothers me (and why I am glad it does)

The other day in the Adult Sunday School/Bible Study I am a part of at church, we were going through the passages discussing Jesus’ suffering prior to his crucifixion. As we got more into the verses, the instructor played for us the scourging scene from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ.

As we watched the clip, I watched as well but I also watched the reactions of the people around me; some looked stunned, some look horrified and some even wept. I watched, but the gut wrenching feeling that I get when I watch this moviewas still there.

When The Passion of The Christ was still in theaters I watched it 3 times, and since it’s been out I have watched it an additional 3 times and yet every single time, Every. Single. Time, the movie still leaves me with pain on the inside to see the words of the Prophet Isaiah being acted out in front of me;by his stripes/wounds we are healed -Isaiah 53:5.

As I watched it I took to identifying with the Roman soldiers who took to beating and ripping out and apart Jesus’ flesh, for as I watched it I recognize that I too am guilty, I too am responsible for Jesus’ death, I too am part of the reason why he went to the cross to die…
But the story doesn’t end there, because it would be your typical execution in that day and age if Jesus simply died, but what made it atypical is that Jesus didn’t die, period, he died but 3 days later he rose again, He. Rose. Again!

Jesus’ death and resurrection was for the sins of humanity, for everyone, that whomever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life – John 3:16.

I am glad the movie still affects me in a deep and troubling way, because I feel that it helps me to provide me with a visual of just how suffering Jesus went through and through his death and resurrection. Because it is in this selfless act of Agape (God’s unconditional love) love I can go through my own physical death and spiritual resurrection, that I am able to die to myself and live unto him on a day-to-day basis, for this is the reason to live, for this is how I am able to follow Christ and make him known to those around me, it is how I can extend the grace that I have received to others, it is how I can follow out The Great Commission,  it is how I can live a life of love, it is how I am able to serve God by serving others.

~Nathanael~