War Room Exceeds Expectations at Box Office, New Slate of Biblical Movies Upcoming

The new film from the Kendrick Brothers held its own against theory movies, on fewer screens, for the opening weekend. $11 Million earnings for the weekend was more than double the estimated amount, proving once again that there is an audience for faith based films.

Noah and Exodus notwithstanding, religious people will shell out their hard earned cash to go see films that affirm (Pun intended… Affirm Films put out war Room) their faith. For a budget of $3 Million, War Room will turn a tidy profit for Sony. And that;s one thing that will keep these kinds of films coming, profit for the companies. I used to hear that Hollywood wasn’t open to movies about faith, but if there is money in it, they are open to movies about anything.

Not everyone loved War Room, Christianity Today’s review took them to task on writing quality:

“But when it comes to screenplay writing, the genre seems stuck in a rut. It’s more committed to heavy-handed providential plotting than imaginative explorations of character or setting.”

There’s no doubt that religious filmmaking has a ways to go in terms of craft. But we have made progress. And, for all of it’s “heavy handedness” War Room resonates with the target audience, Christian women. My own church already has a War Room inspired women’s Bible study scheduled. And the overall message about prayer is solid and needed in most Christian families.

because of the success of films like these, we have seen, and are seeing more films dealing with faith and biblical subjects. Early next year we will see two more, larger budget movies:

MGM is re-booting Ben Hur, due out in February of 2016.

Sony/Affirm has another biblical epic coming out in January, 2016: Risen

It’s an interesting story idea. I’m hopeful.

When the Kendrick’s made their first movie Flywheel, I doubt they knew what they were starting. Churches and filmmakers can do films that will reach a much wider audience than they might have before this. And studios are more open than ever to tapping into the religious market. That has the possibility of helping Christian filmmakers disciple more and share the Gospel more than ever before.

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Scott Link Politics: New Political Blog

I have been posting about politics a lot lately. There are things going on that I want to write about. But this is a blog about religious media. I know many of you that follow this blog didn’t sign up for lots of political posts.

So, I have created a new blog where I will write about political subjects.

If you are interested, please follow the link and the follow my posts over there:

Scott Link Politics

My Day as an Actor

cameraToday I was on the other side of the camera.

I’m not sure how it happened. At work, we were working on a short film, sort of a 30’s noir throwback. And somehow I got cast.

Today was the first day of shooting. I had been in plays in high school and college, but I’d never acted for the camera. It’s a different kind of memorization. Where plays have multiple rehearsals, film (especially indie shorts film) doesn’t. You block it and go. And then do another angle.

Because I’d had a hand in writing the script, when I wasn’t on camera I helped out as script supervisor. And because of my involvement in pre production I knew the sort of shots we wanted and general way the day would go.

But being on the other side of the camera is different experience. Without the days of rehearsal, I found myself trying to remember my lines and reacting to the other actors. And unlike a stage play where you barrel through the scene no matter what goes wrong, it’s a bit jarring to stop and start when someone makes a mistake or flubs a line. Of course, even though i’d written a good chunk of the script, I put off memorizing my lines until this week. And suddenly I was very busy. But we got through it. 3 fairly complicated scenes in 4.5 hours. The total project is 18 pages.

Lucky for me, my character is supposed to be a bad actor. So that wasn’t a big stretch for me. We have a couple more short days of shooting in the next few weeks.

The project is the entertainment for a special dinner to thank our Sunday Morning volunteers. I love the fact that we will do something this big for the people who serve faithfully, every week.

Once it is shown in September, I will try to post the finished product online.

Creating Our Own Reality on the Internet

IMG_6055Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16 ESV

I saw the headline in this picture posted on Facebook. Since it wasn’t your normal clickbait title, I followed the link. In that article, which was on a super-uber-ultra-conservative-just-short-of-KJV-Only-kind-of-vibe website, I was shocked by the comments of the pastor of Hillsong NYC and one of the people in the picture, who seemed to be on staff as part of the worship team, at least as far as this article portrayed them.

I was deeply troubled. I met some of the Hillsong people from Australia when I lived in Orlando. I know a guy who attends Hillsong NYC. I wondered just how connected the NYC church was to the rest? It just didn’t sit right. Not just because the website was pretty opinionated. But it didn’t fit with my own experience with Hillsong’s people or ministry.

So, I contacted my friend who goes there. He gave me the low down. Yes that couple attended. One of them may have been in some sort of quasi-leadership in the choir as a volunteer, but once the church leadership found out about the two men they approached them privately, and after that conversation the couple left the church.  Apparently the couple went on the show Survivor, and when the audition tapes were released by CBS, church leadership became aware of the situation and went to the couple.

That’s a little different than “Hillsong NYC Church has an “Engaged” Openly Homosexual Couple Leading the Choir” isn’t it?

I did a little digging and found that they were pulling quotes out of different articles from all over the place, from as far back as October 2014. And many of these posts were on conservative news or opinion sites.

I later found an article from the Christian Post from back in October of 2014 where Brian Houston, the pastor of Hillsong, had issued a statement correcting some quotes that were in a New York Times article from the same time period. The NYT quotes were the ones used in this new August of 2015 post. In the statement the pastor released he says (among other things); “”Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage… I challenge people to read what I actually said, rather than what was reported that I said. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.”

Then I ventured into the comment section because I wanted to let them know what I had found out. Obviously this is an opinion site, not a news site, but the story they had cobbled together for their opinion was factually wrong. The site was making some strong allegations, but had not contacted the church for any statement. Several people in the comments were talking about the inaccuracies of this article.

When I posted my information, the author of the post replied by reposting one of the same quotes from his article. This quote was from January, and said some weird stuff. Things that needed to be addressed by the church. And according to my friend who attends there, it had been addressed. Context and timing matter. They refused to accept that their version of reality was wrong. I intentionally did not include a link to the article because of that fact. You can search the title and find it if you really want to see it. There is at least one more article on the same subject that appears to have gotten all of the content from the original-incorrect post.

So, here’s a very conservative website, quoting from other conservative websites and cherry picking quotes from other publications to create their own version of reality. They are creating a story from information that is more than 6 months old. Any information that differs with this story is either not mentioned, or denied by the authors when mentioned in the comments. I noticed that there was quite a bit of traffic on the post, and there were no less than 11 advertisements running down the side of this little webpage. And from the comments, a lot of people were eating it up. I guess an article on a church that actual does biblical discipline wouldn’t generate the page views they needed for ad revenue?

This is not healthy. No matter what kind of views you have on any ideas, generating content in this kind of echo chamber is bad news. And it’s very common online.

Recently there were a rash of false news stories that Christians shared without bothering to find out if they were true. Remember that one from “NBC(dot)CO” instead of .com? This sort of thing has been going on for a long time. I used to get 2-3 emails a year saying that a famous atheist (who had been dead for years) was suing to get all religious TV off the air. That was actually a lawsuit from decades ago that was filed by someone else. and thrown out of court. But someone had put the hoax together and well-meaning, but flat wrong, Christians kept falling for it.

Please, please, when you read something online, look at the source. Do some research. Do not just accept anything that comes along. It’s way too easy to see a controversial post that feeds into your own views, and fears, and just adopt it, believe, it, share it, and propagate it without doing any critical thinking on your own.

Think about it before you share it.

Update: New statement by Hillsong Senior Pastor Brian Houston about the article mentioned above.

[I updated this post with new information regarding articles in the New York Times and on Christian post, and additional articles on this subject.]

Let’s Get Gut-Level Honest About Those Abortion Videos

bonnquote

“So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.” James 4:17 HCSB

I want to try to explain why I’m writing so much about abortion recently, specifically about the videos from Center for Medical Progress. This is normally a blog about media from a biblical worldview. I talk about indie filmmaking. My controversial posts are normally limited. But not lately.

If I dig down and get gut-level honest about this. I’m not intellectually shocked by anything in those videos. I don’t think this is a new practice. I’ve heard about the possibility of fetal body parts being sold before. I’ve seen still pictures of babies in the womb. And even a couple of images of babies after abortion. They are pretty horrible. But they didn’t get this kind of reaction out of me. I never wrote a blog post, or posted to social media about abortion like this.

The only time I can remember feeling this way before was way back in 2003. I was doing a video for Sanctity of Life Sunday for a church. I found some footage of actual abortions taking place. They were not graphic like the current videos, but the sound of the machine… I was literally weeping as I listened to the sound of a human life being snuffed out, and sucked into a container. I remember crying when I showed the finished product to my pastor. I was heartbroken over what I had seen.

I think that’s why this is so raw for me. These videos ripped that scab off.

These videos pull an emotional reaction out of me. I intellectually understand abortion. But I hadn’t felt anything about it for a long time. It was something that I didn’t like, but It didn’t impact my daily life. These videos, showing the cavalier attitudes of the workers, showing them saying things like “It’s a baby” and “It’s another boy”… coupled with the gruesome pictures… negotiating the price of livers and so on… I couldn’t ignore this anymore.

Right now, these videos cause pain. I hurt when I watch them. But humanity is pretty good about scabbing over, dulling the pain.

When you get right down to it, these videos don’t resonate because of the controversy of potential law breaking. People react to them because they pull the veil back from abortion. Suddenly the gory details are on display. As is the casual, almost playful, tone of the staff as they talk about their grisly work. It’s this, not the legal aspects, that cause the emotional reaction. That’s why “#anotherboy” was trending on twitter. Not because Planned Parenthood may or may not have broken the law, but because another boy was killed and we couldn’t ignore it.

I know, I’ve said it myself. We should’t be so caught up in politics. The best way to change the world is to change hearts. But maybe, changing a heart requires ripping the covering off stuff we’ve buried and forgotten. This really isn’t political for me. I couldn’t care less which party or candidate is for or against abortion or whatever. So I am writing some posts about this right now.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Previous Posts:

Former Planned Parenthood Director Confirms Her Affiliate Profited from Sale of Fetal Body Parts

Court Stops Release of Some Parts of Anti Abortion Videos

Are Americans Already Desensitized to Selling Aborted Babies?