God’s Not Dead? Maybe He’s Just Not Feeling Well

Is God dead? The very existence of this movie proves that God, while not yet dead, is at least coming down with a really bad case of the flu.

God’s Not Dead gives top billing to a cameo appearance by Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson (the one with the business degree), who appears as himself with his wife Korie, playing herself.  Hold onto your willing suspension of disbelief: Kevin “Hercules” Sorbo stars as a Shakespeare-quoting philosophy professor who demands all his students write the phrase

God is dead

as part of their first day of class exercises. One student refuses because he’s a Christian. Our hero Josh Wheaton is then challenged by Professor Radisson to

prove God’s existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence over the course of the semester, and engage Radisson in a head-to-head debate in front of the class. If Josh fails to convince his classmates of God’s existence, he will fail the course and hinder his lofty academic goals.

Humility ensues.

(The names are important: Joshua= Jeshua=Jesus; Wheaton, bringing in the sheaves; Radisson=radical. Josh’s parents are named Ward and June in the cast list).

Based on both a book of essays, God’s Not Dead: Evidence of God in an Age of Uncertainty by evangelical author Rice Brooks and the catchy song “God’s Not Dead” by the Christian rock band The Newsboys who appear in the movie, God’s Not Dead is produced by one of the film’s stars, David R.A. White who stars as Pastor Dave (again with the names!). White has appeared in over twenty Christian-themed films, including Revelation Road 1 and 2, Holyman Undercover, Redeemed, and Jerusalem Countdown.

God’s Not Dead, which hits high points of evangelical rhetoric (liberal colleges, brave youth, standing up to faith even at gun point), opens on March 31, the spring equinox, a major pagan holiday. Interesting….

And okay, what is with former teen idols going all Jesus Movie of the Week? Kirk Cameron is full on repressive fundamentalist. Dean Cain has appeared in several Christian-themed movies. Kevin Sorbo

decided to take his faith with him while working in Hollywood

and has of late only appeared in Christian movies (Soul Surfer, What If…).  Michael York jumped to Jesus and hasn’t had a good role since.  One Tree Hill hottie Chad Michael Murray starred in the reboot of Left Behind (weirdly he played Michael York’s younger brother in Megiddo: Omega Code 2). I liked it better when stars past their prime finished off their shelf life in horror movies.

Duck Dynasty: “Vile Remarks” Phil Robertson Suspended by A&E

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of  A&E’s hit series Duck Dynasty, has been placed on indefinite hiatus following an interview with GQ Magazine in which he said that homosexuality led to bestiality and sleeping around with women. The elder Robertson is often portrayed on the series as being out of touch with modern culture. He frets that the members of his family, which owns Duck Commander, a company that manufactures hand-tuned duck calls, are all becoming yuppies because of the company’s success; and he proudly states he doesn’t own or use a computer.

What Phil does own is that he thinks being gay is a sin, then quoting Corinthians before overhsaring about his feelings on how body parts might feel:

It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical…

Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.

Robertson’s remarks sparked outrage in the LGBT and ally communities. GLAAD issued a statement calling the bearded grandpa’s comments:

some of the vilest and most extreme statements uttered against LGBT people in a mainstream publication” and said “his quote was littered with outdated stereotypes and blatant misinformation.”

Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe. He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans — and Americans — who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors, who now need to re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.

Humans Rights Campaign stated:

Phil Robertson’s remarks are not consistent with the values of our faith communities or the scientific findings of leading medical organizations. We know that being gay is not a choice someone makes, and that to suggest otherwise can be incredibly harmful. We also know that Americans of faith follow the Golden Rule — treating others with the respect and dignity you’d wish to be treated with. As a role model on a show that attracts millions of viewers, Phil Robertson has a responsibility to set a positive example for young Americans — not shame and ridicule them because of who they are. The A+E Network should take immediate action to condemn Phil Robertson’s remarks and make clear they don’t support his views.

Phil Robertson’s comments were also not consistent with the views of Chris Morelli and Tad Eaton, the openly gay stars of  A&E’s Storage Wars New York, who told TMZ:

[man ass] is tighter…You can’t go through life worrying what other people think. That’s their values and that’s what they think … as long as they’re not nasty to people … We’re not offended at all. We like Phil. We like the show. We like the fact that they are very godly. When we watch the show and see them say grace, we feel the same way.

Fans of Duck Dynasty–the series regularly draws 9 million viewers and has spawned a $400 million retail empire of licensed goods, which along with advertising revenues could have been impacted by an LGBT-launched boycott–have started a Facebook page decrying Phil Robertson’s ouster and calling for a boycott of A&E until he is back on. It has over 214,000 fans as I write.

Phil offered this unpology, issued via A&E before A&E’s parent production company A+E suspended him:

I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.

When asked about Phil Robertson belief that gays won’t go to Heaven, Storage Wars New York‘s Chris and Tad responded in true Socratic fashion:

How does [Phil] know that? Is he God?

Why do I feel there’s going to be a crossover show with Chris and Tad visiting the Duck Commander factory and meeting Phil? Or maybe a group of LGBT get lost and must stay with Robertson clan. Hilarity ensues, along with shared moments, and both sides come to a comfortable understanding, then grace is said, as always.

Late Night: “The Kennedys” Scandalous?

The Kennedys, an eight part miniseries beginning Sunday, April 3, on ReelzChannel, has been fraught with intrigue and dismay since it was announced last year. It was originally scheduled to air on the History Channel, which paid $30 million to make the sex, drugs and scandal-scented series.

Joel Surnow, the conservative producer of 24 was tapped to produce the miniseries; and early on, complaints began: In February of last year The New York Times ran a front-page story in which former JFK adviser/biographer Theodore Sorensen called the project “vindictive” and “malicious.”

Surnow told the Hollywood Reporter that a lot of the criticism may have sprung from his own known conservative political views. Plus, there were scenes which were not 100% historically accurate. Though Surnow and historical research team, one of whom was brought in by the History Channel, worked hard to make history truthfully come alive, the execs at the History Channel weren’t happy, especially about depictions of the characters’ sex lives.

The History Channel is part of A&E Television Network. The Hollywood Reporter [THR] brought forth this exclusive tidbit:

AETN is owned by a consortium including the Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal and Hearst. The source said that Disney/ABC Television Group topper Anne Sweeney, who serves on the AETN board and is said to hold tremendous sway over its decisions, was personally lobbied by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy. Caroline Kennedy has a book deal with Disney’s Hyperion publishing division, which announced in April 2010 that it will publish a collection of previously unreleased interviews with the late Jackie Kennedy timed to the 50th anniversary of the first year of JFK’s presidency this fall.

According to THR, had The Kennedys come out on the History Channel, Caroline Kennedy might not have been so eager to promote her book. Meanwhile her cousin, Maria Shriver, daughter of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and wife of former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

is said to have voiced her displeasure with the project to outgoing NBCU[niversal] execs Jeff Zucker and Jeff Gaspin…and a source said Shriver criticized the Kennedys project to Sweeney after a leaked early script was attacked in the New York Times as “vindictive” and “malicious” by a former JFK aide (though the final shooting script is said to have been vetted for accuracy by History’s in-house historians).

Meanwhile, Greg Kinnear who stars as President John Kennedy told THR last night at the premier that

when he heard “it wasn’t going to be broadcast on The History Channel, I didn’t know [what to think] … I’ve had movies that nobody saw, I supposed it could be a TV show that ended up in a dusty vault somewhere. I really didn’t know what to expect.”

Katie Holmes, who plays Jackie Kennedy said:

I am so thrilled it did find a home. There was a lot of work put into this. People felt so passionate about this and worked so hard, so it’s wonderful to be here tonight.

The questions are: Does anyone know where REELZ is on their cable guide? Will The Kennedys prove watchable for 8 parts?


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