Saturday, March 21, 2015

10 Faith-Based Movies

Since Easter is nearly upon us, I thought I’d make a list of faith-based movies for Christians to consider watching.  These are not ranked in any kind of order.

The list
Ben-Hur (1959) – This classic has everything, including a genuine chariot race.  The director once said privately, that it took “a Jew to make a decent movie about Christ.”  Eleven academy awards.

Les Miserables (2012) – The story is Christ-centered, although I wasn’t completely enthralled with the motion picture version, particularly Hollywood’s idea of Heaven—an even bigger barricade with dead soldiers on the ground.  I might prefer Les Miserables in Concert: The 25th Anniversary (2010).

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) – For those who love the writings of C.S. Lewis.

The Scarlet and the Black (1983) – You’ll love watching Gregory Peck defy the Nazis.

Chariots of Fire (1981) – Eric Liddell keeps the Sabbath during the 1924 Olympics.  Four Academy Awards.

Wide Awake (1998) – M. Night Shyamalan’s first movie.  A 10-year-old, coping with his grandfather’s death, embarks on a mission to find God. 

Amazing Grace (2006) – The campaign against the slave trade in the British Empire and the conversion of John Newton, a slave ship crewman.

Saints and Soldiers (2003) – What if your enemy is someone you converted to Christ?  Based on actual events of LDS (Mormon) soldiers in World War II.  There are two sequels, but this is the best.

Fireproof (2008) – This is about making your marriage work.  As the second of a double-feature, consider Courageous, which is produced in the same spirit as Fireproof. 

Jesus of Nazareth (1977) – This mini-series features an incredible cast.  Some may prefer Son of God (2014).

Bible-based videos about Christ  
If you’re interested in high quality and authentic videos about specific events in the life of Jesus Christ, visit this page.  

Four more movies worth considering
The 10 Commandments (1956), which is much more faith-based than Exodus: Gods and Kings

The Robe (1953) – A Roman soldier who helps crucify Jesus becomes a Christian.

Going My Way (1944) – Bing Crosby plays a singing priest and wins an Academy Award.

A Man for All Seasons (1966) – Watch Sir Thomas More maintain his integrity while under pressure from Henry VIII.  Six academy awards.

Christmas movies
I did not name any Christmas movies in the above list, but three I would include are It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, and The Bishop’s Wife (1947 version). A great Christmas comedy is Elf, although the makers managed to keep religion out of it.

What did I miss? 
Do you have a recommendation?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Is religion good or bad?

My favorite In-n-Out Burger was packed, so Bob, a business acquaintance, made small talk while we stood in line, “What was your favorite rock group in high school?”

“The Association. Saw them in concert and they seemed positive and filled with promise. I loved the song ‘Enter the Young.’”  And then I recited a verse:

            “Here they come, some with questions, some decisions
            Here they come, some with facts and some with visions
            Of a place to multiply without the use of divisions
            To win a prize that no one’s every one.
            Enter the young!”

“You still remember that?”

I nodded.  “I’ll tell you why.  Jules Alexander was a member of the group whose stated goal was to study the religious life of India.  He left the band at its height just to do that.  And when he returned, I saw The Association once again in concert, but this time they were all drugged out and seemed empty…all except Jules Alexander.  It made a huge impression on me.”

By now, we had had received our orders. I dived into my no-salt hand-cut fries.

“So you think religion made the difference, huh?”

“In general, I think religion is good for people and makes them better than they would otherwise be.” 

“Are you kidding?  Look at all the wars fought over religion!” Bob declared as he bit into his Double-Double.

I pointed a fry at him. “Name a religious war of the 20th Century.”  He frowned.  He couldn’t think of any.  “I’m sure there was one, but World War I and World War II were not fought over religion.”

And then he smiled and said, “Well in this century, we have jihad.”

“You have a point there,” I relented, “although I wonder how much of that is thugs using an ideology to unite the masses.” 

“Still religion,” my friend emphasized, “and they want to kill every Jew alive.  I’m sensitive to that because I’m a Jew.”

“But do you think religion itself is bad?”  He shrugged, so I said, “Let me paint a picture.”

He nodded “okay” as he sucked his chocolate shake. 

I charged on: “Imagine it’s late at night and you’re on a dark street.  You see a gang of teen boys walking towards you.  Would you be glad to know they just got out of a Bible class?”

“Okay, you got me. And I’ve been baitin’ ya.”  He laughed. “I kinda agree with you, but here’s the problem: most religious people don’t practice their religion.  But if they did, I would agree that they would be better people and the world would be a better place.” And that was that.

So is religion good or bad?  I share this conversation with you because Bob makes a good point. In my opinion, we shouldn’t be “In” and then “Out” with God.  I firmly believe that we become better with God and religion in our lives and hearts, and so I urge you to include God in yours…and to keep living.