Saturday, April 12, 2014

Movie Review: God's Not Dead

We go through life each day, almost never having to take a moment, or three 20-minute sessions, to explain our lives, how we got here, our belief system, etc. I'm thankful that I don't have to explain myself very often, because to be completely honest, I know what I believe, but I don't want to have to explain it.

I like to believe that if it came to it, I would be able to step up to the challenge and fight for my Lord and Savior, because there is nothing in this world that I believe in more than God's love for me, but until God places us in that position, we have no way to prove it, except to living out His word every day.

The premise of the film God's Not Dead is just that. A young college Freshman, Josh (Shane Harper) who wants to go to Law School has to take a humanities course for his major, and opts to take Prof. Radisson's (Kevin Sorbo) Philosophy 150 course. Prof. Radisson is a hard core atheist who, in order to not have to teach the part of the curriculum about God's existence, demands his students write on a piece of paper that "God is Dead," and sign their names to it. Josh, a Christian, refuses to do so, and in order to not lose 30% of his grade, Prof. Radisson (mockingly) says he'll have to prove God's existence through a debate, where he (Radisson) will be the judge. Josh makes an alternative proposal: They put God on Trial with Prof. Radisson as the Plaintiff and Josh as the Defendant. He's given 20 minutes at the end of the next three classes to make his point (I'm guessing they only meet once a week for at least two hours).

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There are other storylines throughout the film that are connected to what is going on. We meet Amy (Trisha LaFache), a blogger for The New Left, who is introduced to us with a bumper full of vegetarian leftist stickers, and an iPhone recorder to the mouths of Duck Dynasty's Willie and Korie Robertson, demanding answers as to why they're making poor ducks suffer in the name of sport. Willie's answer of making the death as quick and humane as possible for the animal, which they would then use for consumption, is a better alternative to cooking it alive (He's not wrong). She's seen ignoring calls from a doctor, and it is discovered that she has cancer.

Amy interviewing the Robertsons
Amy is dating Mark (Dean Cain), who is a smarmy lawyer who makes partner. When he tells her his news (ignoring how sullen and upset she looks), she's just found out her diagnosis, and when she tells him, he can't even muster compassion and tell her it's all going to be okay. Instead, he dumps her, and leaves her with the check (Quite the class act).

Mark's mother has dementia, and his sister, Mina (Cory Oliver) is the one taking care of her. She's also a Christian dating Prof. Radisson, who dresses down her intelligence in front of his work colleagues. She turns to her minister, Reverend David (David A.R. White), to ask for assistance, and he does a good job explaining to her why she's feeling torn. David is also the sounding board who gets the ball rolling for Josh's arguments in the debate.

David had a missionary friend come to town, and this friend, Reverend Jude, wanted nothing more than to go to Disney World. Every time they tried to make the drive, they ran into car trouble (it not starting), prompting Reverend Jude to say that they were needed in town, and only God knew the reason. Part of that reason was to help Ayisha (Hadeel Sittu), a young woman in a Muslim family who secretly has accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

Another young person, Martin (Paul Kwo), a Chinese student attending university in America, has been having doubts about the beliefs he grew up with in China, and frequently calls his father to discuss it. His father keeps telling him to stop talking about it, especially on the phones (Hello, NSA-induced paranoia rampant in the states!).

When I first found out about this movie, and the movement behind it (an independent film widely spread through social media), I knew that it was a film I wanted to support. It's a film that speaks to my desire to explain my own thoughts on the subject, but have been unable to, due to my fear of public speaking. I admire Josh pushing forward and actually fighting for Jesus, who he'd long considered his friend. His arguments were logical, thought provoking, and extremely clear.

I thought the athiest/agnostic characters had as much of a journey as the ones who'd already found God, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry once. There were several moments when my heart broke for the characters (Specifically, when Ayisha's traditional Muslim father kicked her out of their home, and you weren't sure if he was going to kill her, a la part of the Sharia law, or just make her leave the family).


I didn't really care for the ending, as I felt it went with scare tactics to make its point, but at the same time, sometimes Christians have to really go in for the kill, so to speak, to really make their point. I would've liked to have found out the rammifications of what happened, as it wasn't that clear, but Amy's search for answers at the end of her life and David's understanding of why he couldn't get to Disney World came to a head at a Newsboys concert. The Newsboys even got my continued stamp of approval for being awesome and praying with Amy before their concert.

People only know the hypocrite Christians who spout off the Bible in a holier-than-thou manner. I've never wanted to be that person, and I hope that I come across as a person proclaiming the love of Christ, and why I choose to obey his commandments (or at least try). Frankly, a lot of people find out I'm a Christian, and the response I get is, "But you're so nice!" I promise! We're nice people! We're imperfect, but who isn't?

I would recommend this film to everyone, and I'm not the only one. It's been out for three weeks, and has stayed in the top five (currently #4 at the box office, beneath Captain America: The Winter Soldier (A Must See!), Noah (I won't be seeing that one in the theatre. I don't believe fallen angels became rock monsters, or that Noah tried to kill his grandchildren), and Divergent (also a must see for YA fans!). Christians want quality films. I'll be the first to say that earlier Christian films are a little on the cheesy, hokey side. I keep seeing previews for Heaven is for Real starring Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly, and I'm excited for it. I didn't read the book, but I'm optimistic about the film. There's another film I saw on Netflix, October Baby, starring John Schneider about a young girl who had survived an abortion attempt, and suffers health problems as a result. Soul Surfer about Bethany Hamilton is another strong Christian film. They're coming! Slowly, but surely, Christian voices are being heard, and our desire for quality entertainment is finally happening.

If you're a fellow Christian, I urge you to see this movie. Continue to support Christian films by liking them on social media and seeing them in theaters. Grassroots campaigns work. Fan support works (see how it worked for Veronica Mars?).

And with that, I leave you with the Newsboys, who wrote this song, which we regularly do at church, and it's one of my favorites.

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