A Superbly Christian Movie

Time out! You’ve got to see this movie, Stars in My Crown–one of the best I’ve ever seen (and I watch a lot of movies).

Don’t think of it as a Western, even if it’s set in a small town somewhere Out West, some time after the Civil War. It could be anywhere, and just about any time. It has a flavor of Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain. And the Bible. Very much the flavor of the Bible.

Joel McRea plays the town’s parson, a man of strong but quiet faith dealing with the problems and the trials of the townspeople, in the church and everywhere outside. Small problems–and big ones, including a typhoid outbreak and an ugly racial incident.

Much of the soundtrack is classic hymns, sung by the parson’s congregation. Am I getting old? These moved me very close to tears. And they were altogether necessary to help carry the story’s message. I’m saving the title hymn for tomorrow’s first post.

This is a slice of life, a depiction of Christianity at work in the real world of saints and sinners, with most of the people in it a little bit of both.

We rented it on amazon, but I also found it later on Youtube.

See it. You’ll be glad you did.

‘The Case for Christ’

Image result for images of the case for christ movie

This is the story of an atheist’s journey to Christianity, much of it done while he was kicking and screaming. The Case for Christ is a 1994 autobiography by Lee Strobel–an award-winning Chicago Tribune crime reporter and, for much of his life, a real two-fisted atheist.

By the way, here’s that review I did of his 2004 book, The Case for a Creator (https://chalcedon.edu/resources/articles/case-for-a-creator-author-makes-prediction-belief-in-god-will-prevail-over-darwinism). I think the reason we hit it off so well was that we both needed Jesus Christ to change us, and He did.

But the Lee Strobel featured in Jon Gunn’s movie is not a very nice man. Most atheists aren’t. He’s cocky, close-minded, and fanatical–the very things he accuses “religious people” of being.

It all starts with the Strobels’ little girl choking on a gumball at a restaurant, and her life being saved by a Christian nurse who happened, not according to her original plans for the evening, to be there at that moment. This leads Strobel’s wife, Leslie, back to the Christian faith in which she was raised.

Her husband hates this. “You’re cheating on me–with Jesus!” he shouts at her. “I want my wife back!” Yes, he’s really steamed. And of course he dismisses her religious faith as “just feelings,” which don’t count, while pretending he has no emotional investment in his atheism. Most atheists seem to be angry all the time. They hate Christians for “meddling” with people’s lives–but who’s out there filing all the lawsuits? Who visits hymn sites on youtube and peppers them with f-bombs?

Anyway, Strobel brings his reporter’s skills to bear in an effort to “disprove” Christianity. As this project proceeds, all the “evidence” he gathers seems to point in exactly the opposite direction. He is forced to grant that there were eyewitnesses to the Risen Christ; that there is more, much more, and better, much better, manuscript evidence for the New Testament than for any other ancient document; that the gospel contains touches of authenticity–women discovering the empty tomb, for instance–that would never have been invented by 1st-century writers; that, medically speaking, Jesus most certainly did die on the cross, no hoax was possible… and so on. Every page he turns leads him not away from Christ, but toward Him.

The Bible tells us that the wife may save her unbelieving husband by her own faith in Christ, or the husband his wife; and this is what eventually happens with the Strobels, however hard the husband fights against it. Love is hard to beat.

At last Strobel prays: “All right, God–you win.” And he doesn’t know what happens next, but he wants it.

I must call attention to a side-plot that I liked very much indeed. Watch what happens when Strobel applies all his reporter’s skills, follows the facts rigorously, as he sees them (“I believe in what I see!”), and based on what he’s seen, and based on his most careful reasoning–well, just watch! This is solid gold.

We rented The Case for Christ from amazon.com and watched it on our computer. And I’m here to tell you it was well worth waiting for.

‘Fragile World’: A Heads-Up for a Fine Christian Film

Courtesy of writer-director Sandy Boikian, Patty and I have just watched an excellent movie, Fragile World (http://www.fragileworldmovie.com/). I’ll write a full review for The Chalcedon Foundation, and one for this site, too, once my allergies stop tormenting me. But I just wanted to tip you off to it now, so you can take advantage of any opportunity to see it.

What happens when a vulnerable young woman, with a history of delusions, falls in love–and can’t be sure the man is really… well, real? Is he another delusion? She has a new friend who wants to help her, but isn’t sure how.

This story has a good time keeping you guessing. And I’m happy to say it isn’t one of those “Christian movies” that’s just like any secular movie only with some Christian stuff slapped on like a decal. You’ll begin to suspect it’s about magic of some kind, but there is one thing you can be sure about–it’s about faith: “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). And the relationship between faith and what we know–or think we know–as reality.

Movies like this need to be made, and watched, and thought over, and talked about. Movies, TV, books, and all the rest of our popular culture–this, people, is how we educate ourselves. We spend thousands of hours consuming this stuff, and it shapes our whole way of thinking.

Heal the culture, and you heal the nation.

I think God is calling us to let Him use us for that purpose.

And I am sure that the nation cannot be healed unless we can get the culture out of the sickbed.

PS: Sorry, couldn’t get the trailer to display separately. You’ll have to click the link to see it.

PPS: Never mind, I got it from youtube (*!*)