Left Behind: Nic Cage Whores Himself Out

 

Times must still be tough for Nic Cage. He’s offered himself up to God the Left Behind movie series, and it’s really kinda gross. Well, maybe there are some gross points involved, though I wouldn’t hold my breath on the Academy Award-winning actor getting rich off those: The original Left Behind only grossed $4.2 million at the box office in 2001, making it the 18th most successful  Christian-themed/Christian-produced movie of all time, lagging far behind the The Passion of the Christ, the Narnia series, both The Omega Code movies (that  is pretty sad, those Omega Code flicks sucked massively), and a lot of movies that no one outside of a mega-church supper has ever heard of, like Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed  (no comment), End of the Spear, and One Night with the King (why do those last two titles make me think of M2M porn?).

According to the Christian Post, Paul Lalonde, CEO of Stoney Lake Entertainment and co-founder of Cloud Ten Pictures, which produced and distributed the first three Left Behinds, two of which went straight to video, said his company was rebooting Left Behind in order to give it the blockbuster treatment many fans and one of the bestselling novels’ authors, Tim LaHaye, had felt the original version deserved.  Producer Lalonde, who co-wrote the script for this version of Left Behind as well as co-writing the direct-to-video Left Behind II: Tribulation Force and having solo writing credits for the initial Left Behind, told the Christian Post:

It has always been my goal to produce a big-budget version of ‘Left Behind’ that would appeal to a wider audience. The resources to do this exist now where they didn’t back in 2000.

The “big budget” is estimated at $15million, small by today’s blockbuster standards but big enough to cover special effects and with teen-fan faves Chad Michael Murray and Ashley Tisdale (from High School Musical) and a PG-13 rating, it might draw enough to make its money back. Expect a lot of action: Director Vic Adams has worked as a stunt director on numerous films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Rambo III, The Green Hornet, and Charlie’s Angels, and  began his career as a stuntman in You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He has directed one film, Army of One, but has an impressive résumé as a second unit director.

But Nicolas Cage? Srsly wtf are you thinking?  Nic Cage, by starring in this movie, you’re promoting a worldview that is negative, narrow, destructive, jingoistic, rigid, anti-sex, anti-comic books, anti-cool, and uptight. Left Behind upholds the pre-tribulation, absolutely nutbag, we-have-to-be-right-so-we’ll-bring-about-the-end-of-the-world thought process that’s at the foundation of the Assemblies of God, other Seven Hills Dominionists, and prophetic, evangelical Conservative Christians. Nic, don’t you understand that eschatology is scatology? Didn’t you used to be edgy, underground, bizarrely hip? This is not a risky role, this is pathetic. All I can think, aside from you needing cash, is that you wanted to give the internets some new memes. But Cage denies he takes roles for paychecks, telling the Guardian:

I’m one of those Americans who believes in working. If you’ve made mistakes in the past, you don’t just roll over on people or cave in, you find a way through it. But in film acting, for some reason you get criticised for working.

But this was the best role you felt you were offered for the time period? Wow.  In all fairness, Cage has three movies released or scheduled for release in 2013, the animated The Croods, Joe, and Frozen Ground which co-stars John Cusack and came out in June on limited release and video-on-demand. Left Behind, still in production, and Tokarev, an action film set in the Russian mob, now in post-production, will be released next year. Four other films have Nicolas Cage’s name attached, but only the Paul Schrader-directed  The Dying of the Light has a release date listed on IMDBpro.com.

At least Kirk Cameron, who starred in the original three  Left Behinds and Michael York who appeared in the execrable laugh/shite fest  The Omega Code and Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 have the excuse they are fundie Christians to fall back on. (Same could be said about John Travolta and Battlefield Earth, though Vinnie Barbarino was promoting a different, totalitarian belief system altogether.) The only thing that makes sense is that Cage needs money: At one point he owned two castles, fifteen luxury properties, a fleet of Rolls Royces, and a Gulfstream jet, and yet owed millions in back taxes to the tune of $14 million which he is paying off, And faced three multi-million dollar lawsuits. He blamed his business manager, who in turn blamed the actor’s lavish lifestyle, saying he had urged actor to cut back and to set aside $10 million as cushion:

to alleviate the financial pressure to take film roles that might be detrimental to his career.

Wow, a slave to Mamon indeed. I wonder how much of the estimated $15 million budget Cage is being paid. And did the film producers do their due diligence? Cage has said he has no religion and he donated to Al Gore’s campaign. But maybe that doesn’t matter to Cloud Ten Productions. But it might matter to the audience, though clearly, from the film’s poster, Cage does get left behind, so maybe that’s fairness in advertising.

(And Chad Michael Murray, who played super dreamboat Lucas Scott on One Tree Hill, is this the best you can do? I’m embarrassed for you. Maybe you’re embarrassed too, because your website doesn’t mention Left Behind in its news section. Though you did play young David Alexander in Megiddo: The Omega Code 2, so maybe you’re acting on faith.)

Tim LaHaye, who conceived of and co-wrote the hugely successful Left Behind books with Jerry Jenkins, was a member of the original board of directors of the Moral Majority and an organizer of the Council for National Policy. And if that’s not enough conservative credentials, LaHaye was the former co-chair of Jack Kemp’s presidential campaign. But LaHaye is not happy about the script, telling the Christian Post:

It’s probably the worst script I’ve ever read. And I’ve read scores of them. The plot line is nothing like the book. The only thing they retain are the names of the people, and maybe places. There is no redemptive value to this movie.

But hell, LaHaye has never been happy about the Left Behind movies in the past, calling them

church basement movies.

He took Cloud Ten to court in a case that lasted nine years because he was disappointed that 2001′s Left Behind starring Kirk Cameron didn’t get the initial theatrical production he said the contract had called for and he had dreamed about. Um, because no one cared enough to invest in a large production?  Granted the film rights were negotiated between June 1996 and April 1997, before the Christian prophecy novels became a publishing phenomenon, but that’s a gamble everyone took. LaHaye lost the lawsuit, but had the option to remake the series, and if he did not exercise that option (which he didn’t), the rights would revert back to Cloud Ten (which they have). According to Left Behind’s website:

The LEFT BEHIND reboot will focus on the hours immediately following the rapture. It will not cover everything that the first book includes, but will be more specifically concentrated on those first few hours and the chaos of the world in the wake of millions of people vanishing with no explanation…

Without warning, millions of people around the globe simply vanish.

All that remains are their clothes and belongings … and an overwhelming sense of terror. The vanishings cause unmanned vehicles to crash and burn.

Emergency forces everywhere are devastated. Gridlock, riots and looting overrun the cities. And there is no one to help or provide answers. In an instant, the earth has been plunged into darkness.

For RAY STEELE, the pilot of a jumbo jet, it means trying to calm his hysterical passengers who saw loved ones vanish before their eyes.

It remains to been seen if Nic Cage,who stars as Ray Steele, can redeem the Left Behind  franchise and/or if Christians will  flock to the  theaters to see a movie that stars a former -Papist-turned-non-believer and who’s been so crucified by the man who immaculately conceived the original canon. I just know I’m going to hell for making these jokes.

HT: Truth-out.org

Ignorant Rick Warren’s Ugandan BFF is Dangerously Crazy

In a pre-election video, Rick Warren,who says he would never endorse a candidate but on moral issues makes it really clear whom he prefers–once again fondles a favorite rotting corpse of lies, that "for 5,000 years in every religion marriage has been one man and one woman." Then in an astounding leap of linguistic faith Pastor Rick says that:

There are about 2% of Americans who are homosexual or gay and lesbian people. We should not let 2% of the population change the definition of marriage.

This is not even just a Christian issue. It’s a humanitarian and human issue.

WTF?!  You wanna talk humanitarian issues, Pastor Rick? Let’s talk about your BFF  and partner in the fight on AIDS in Africa, Martin Ssempa who has appeared on stage at Saddleback Church twice and who moved your wife to tears as she declared

You are my brother, Martin, and I love you. 

Ssempa has burned condoms in the name of Jesus, called on newspapers to publish the names of known homosexuals and urged the imprisonment of gays.  And Ssempa is hugely crazy, one of the many evangelized African pastors dangerously obsessed with witchcraft.

As Max Blumenthal writes, Ssempa, who has a room set aside for exorcisms–when interviewed by  Dr. Helen Epstein, author of The Invisible Cure: Why We’re Losing The Fight Against AIDS In Africa–told the public health expert

that Satan worshipers hold meetings under Lake Victoria, where they are promised riches in exchange for human blood, which they collect by staging car accidents and kidnappings.

Blumenthal reports that Ssempe is a close friend with Uganda’s First Lady Janet Museveni, who on New Year’s Eve 1999 rededicated the country to the "lordship" of Jesus Christ during a stadium revival meeting. She was joined on stage by a pastor who announced:

We renounce idolatry, witchcraft, and Satanism in our land! 

Sounds a bit like Kenyan pastor Thomas Muthee who cast out witchcraft for Sarah Palin in her Wasilla church.

Last May in Kissii Kenya, 11 elderly people were killed and 50 houses torched as a mob went looking for witches. Residents accused the witches of causing their children to perform poorly in school.  Njoroge Ndirangu, the commissioner in charge of Kisii Central district said:

These people identified who is to be killed by accusing their victims of bewitching their sons and daughters.

Both a part of the continent’s history, traditionally "witchcraft" in Africa differed from sorcery. Witchcraft was an accidental inability to control magical powers, an involuntarily wandering evil eye, while sorcery was directed magic.  There were–and still are–also "witch doctors," sorcerers who cure people of both bewitchments and provide cures for illnesses using local herbs–and yes sometimes these are the same thing. And of course there are charlatans who claim magical powers and like many pastors, will take a fee for removing curses and witchery.

Since the 19th century, evangelical Christianity, which has grown more frantic and fanatic since the influx of billions of dollars in HIV funding, has muddied the difference and witches are seen everywhere.  Pastors tell parents that their children, some as young as nine months, who have fevers or cry are possessed and need to be delivered from witchcraft at a price.

Often pastors promise that children and women afflicted with witchery can be "delivered,"  that exorcised of the ability to bewitch, for  a price. But many times the children are abused and abandoned.

Helen Ukpabio, a wealthy Nigerian evangelist filmmaker and president of Liberty Gospel Church, claims to have done 20,000  "deliverances"  in Nigeria and America.

If you don’t deliver a witch, the family can never be at peace. Let us deliver the people who are witches. We should not allow sentiments to come in here, because witchcraft is real…Witchcraft in not only practised in Nigeria. When I went to North Carolina in the United States, there were very many witches. They came to me asking, "Please can you deliver me? Can you deliver me? Please deliver me."

Ukpabio made a popular video showing children allegedly eating corpse and being inducted into a coven.  She told AllAfrica that the film

warns parents to beware of the greed in their children as greedy children who receive everything they see from other children at school or the playground can easily be contaminated.

"Contaminated" by witchcraft. And how does witchcraft tie into HIV/AIDS education and prevention? Pastor Joe Ita, the preacher at Ukpabio’s Liberty Gospel Church explains:

But we cannot attribute all things to witches, they work on inclinations too, so they don’t create HIV, but if you are promiscuous then the witch will give you HIV.

HIV/AIDS activist Reggie Jerrison of Nata Botswana claims he was resurrected from death by Bishop Dr. Barnabas Lekganyane. Jerrison–who takes antiretrovirals after being diagnosed with HIV and works as a peer counsellor advocating condoms and testing–refuses to admit that he got HIV through sexual intercourse, blood transfusion and needle sharing. He says he got HIV through witchcraft.

"I have not been infected by this virus because I had an affair. It is all witchcraft. It is not because I slept with an HIV positive person."

Even after intense questioning on why he blames his infection on witchcraft, he is adamant that someone has bewitched him.

Western church groups need to continue educating people about the real causes of HIV/AIDS–and those causes aren’t witchcraft. European and and American churches working on African HIV/AIDS education–hello, Pastor Rick!–need to turn African evangelicals away from the insanity of riculous accustations which lead to the repulsive abuse of children and the elderly, often at a profit by pastors. To use Rick Warren’s words:

 This is not even just a Christian issue. It’s a humanitarian and human issue.

So Help Me God, Confused Atheists Fret Over the G-Word

columbia.thumbnail.jpgA lawsuit that atheist groups will file Tuesday demands that the words "so help me God" be excluded at the end of the president’s oath of office, though oddly they aren’t suing Obama for using those words during the Inauguration.

Among plantiffs is Michael Newdow, a California doctor, lawyer and atheist who is oxymormoically a minister of the Universal Life Church which states:

We are advocates of religious freedom.

The Universal Life Church wants you to pursue your spiritual beliefs without interference from any outside agency, including government or church authority.

 Newdow has filed similar and unsuccessful suits over the two previous inaugurations. Joining him are 17 other individuals and 10 groups representing atheists who are suing:

Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts; the Presidential Inauguration Committee; the Joint Congressional Committee on Inauguration Ceremonies and its chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California; and the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee and its commander, Maj. Gen. Richard Rowe Jr.

along with Pastor Rick Warren and Rev. Joseph Lowery. The suit says that references to God during inauguration ceremonies violate the Constitution’s ban on the establishment of religion and:

There can be no purpose for placing ‘so help me God’ in an oath or sponsoring prayers to God, other than promoting the particular point of view that God exists.

The suit points out that "so help me God"–used in every Inauguration since FDR–is not is not part of the oath as specified in the Constitution, which is a pretty valid point. Unless person being sworn in has a personal belief in God and would like a little help, in which case  that’s the exercise of free speech and freedom of religion.

In the suit, the atheists claim references to God will ruin their experience of watching the Inauguration IRL and on the teevee (oh noez!). Per CNN:

Newdow and other plaintiffs say they want to watch the inaugural either in person or on television. As atheists, they contend, having to watch a ceremony with religious components will make them feel excluded and stigmatized.

"Plaintiffs are placed in the untenable position of having to choose between not watching the presidential inauguration or being forced to countenance endorsements of purely religious notions that they expressly deny."

Just plug your ears during that part, sheesh!

But there’s some cognitive dissonace in the lawsuit. The atheists aren’t suing Obama–who is technically responsible for choosing the speakers and will be uttering the G-word–because as an individual, he has the right to express his religious belief. Newdow said:

If he chooses to ask for God’s help, I’m not going to challenge him. I think it’s unwise.

So um, maybe I am confused, but shouldn’t Newdow, as an atheist, have said something along the lines of:

If the President wants to be superstitious, that’s his right

since basically Newdow admitted in the existence of a God who helps, and that interfering with God might be um…risky?And that seems to run counter to atheists’ beliefs/non-beliefs.

Rick Warren: The Serpent Who Believes in Dinosaurs

ribs-warren-rick.thumbnail.jpgWarren’s recorded remarks about science,  available on the Saddleback’s revised site, are very important for a couple reasons. Throughout his teachings, Pastor Rick reminds his followers that

The Bible commands us to remember the influence we have on an unbeliever.

  Melissa Etheridge, are you listening?

This recording shows that Warren wants his followers to be nice while evangelizing to shift the view point of the scientific community away from science and towards a New Earth fundamentalist thought process (not to say that you can’t believe in God and in science). 

More importantly, this snippet demonstrates that Warren feels that he and his followers should act nicely towards non-believers, gradually bringing them around to thinking along a fundamentalist lines, to "change" their ways of thinking.

It’s not them and us…To act like it’s them and us sets us a false barrier that we need to break through as believers…These are people who need to know Christ just like you and I need to know Christ. If you and I start to act like it’s a them and us kind of a thing we’re never gonna reach the scientific community or those who think qoute unquote scientifically…Obviously science is willing to change…

Here’s how Rick came to believe in creationism and rejection evolutionism (from a PDF of the site before it was revised):

I believed that evolution and the account of the Bible about creation could exist along side of each other very well. I just didn’t see what the big argument was all about. I had some friends who had been studying the Bible much longer than I had who saw it differently…Eventually, I came to the conclusion, through my study of the Bible and science, that the two positions of evolution and creation just could not fit together. There are some real problems with the idea that God created through evolution… My prayer is that you will have this same experience!
 

And just to let you know what that brainwashing experience entails, here’s what Pastor Rick said about dinosaurs:

The Bible’s picture is that dinosaurs and man lived together on the earth, an earth that was filled with
vegetation and beauty…man and dinosaurs lived at the same time…From the very beginning of creation, God gave man dominion over all that was made, even over the dinosaurs.

Warren also urges his followers to eschew in vitro fertilization and stem cell research:

*Deciding against any infertility options that allow embryos to be frozen and later discarded. (This is a tough decision for couples who have yet to have a child.) 
*Deciding to speak out against overzealous stem cell research, even though you know it slows down the process of finding a possible cure for someone you love.

Rick Warren’s approach of being open and friendly is simply sneaky. He’s deceptive in his kindness, much like the fundamentalist’s snake.

Melissa Etheridge Writes About Warren

melissaetheridge300.thumbnail.jpgOn the heels of her wife Tammy Lynne Michaels’ blog about Rick Warren, Melissa Etheridge posted her feeling about Pastor Rick on HuffPo.

After eloquently explaining the struggle for equal rights and her preconceptions of Pastor Rick, Etheridge describes her phone conversation with Warren:

He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn’t want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays. 

She goes on to say that maybe instead of marching on his church

we can show up en mass [sic] and volunteer for one of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for HIV/AIDS causes all around the world. Maybe if they get to know us, they won’t fear us.

Well, okay…not to nit pick, but his church doesn’t believe in condoms or family planning for HIV/AIDS prevention, and works hard in Africa to proselytize his message of Jesus and abstinence, using HIV outreach as an evangelical tool. His church believes that gays who are actively practicing homosexuality are not welcome as members. And Warren says gays should suppress their urges the same way other people suppress anger or shyness.

Melissa, Warren and his ilk aren’t "afraid" of gays: They think gays are sinners who are convertible to their belief system, which includes no gay sex and straight sex only in marriage. 

If you can get Warren to believe that civil marriage equality  does not mean a religious marriage..right on. If you can get him to expand his vision to have marriage be more than just a religious concept, that would be awesome. And, btw, he’s wrong about 5,000 years of marriage being solely between one man and one woman. There are plural marriages still in Islam, as there have been for 1500 years, as well as in the past history of the Mormon church and in current Mormon sects which allow for polygamy…

Many pray daily that closed minds like Warren’s are opened, that the scales will fall from the eyes of Pastor Rick and his ilk. But thinking that "they" are afraid is a wrong move. This type of Christian think they are right, and that (their) God is on their side. And there’s too much at stake in terms of worldly power and wealth to make a sudden sea change. But I do share Melissa’s view that:

…we are headed in the direction of marriage equality and equal protection for all families.

I just don’t share her views that Rick Warren could be a vehicle for that. But hey, if he gets Divine Revelation and sees the light–halla-freakin’-lujah!


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