Ben Hur: I Saw an Advance Screening, and It’s Good News

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The soon to be released epic period adventure, Ben-Hur is an adaptation of a famous fictional novel by Lew Wallace about a first century wealthy Jew, Judah Ben-Hur, and his pursuit of revenge against an adopted Roman brother who betrays his family. It takes place in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus’ ministry, so it brings a moving clash of worldviews between that of power and empire versus love and faith. And Jesus shows up.

Ben-Hur is a movie that is what Christians have been asking for. A real Hollywood epic with a legitimate Christian worldview. It has some fantastic action sequences that rival anything in recent blockbusters, and in ways far more human and interesting than most of those gluttonous orgies of overspent excessive CGI comic book world destructions. Ben-Hur is more like Saving Private Ryan and better for it.

It’s a timely movie dealing with forgiveness in a world of violence, hatred and oppression against Biblical faith. Not unlike today.

Thank you, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. And thank you, Paramount for considering the Christian audience with respect. I hope your box office supports your decision.

I can’t tell you about it until review time, so keep on the lookout here at the blog. Sign up to receive email updates.

The Young Messiah: Blu-Ray & DVD Delivers Extra Jesus

YoungmessiahBluRayThe Blu-Ray and DVD release of The Young Messiah is today and I want to encourage all those viewers who want more quality Christian movies or faith friendly or family friendly or values friendly movies to support this release.

That means “buy it.” You will be glad you did.

The Young Messiah is the story of Jesus as a seven-year old boy coming into the realization of his own identity as the Son of God. Yes, it’s speculative, we know so little about that period in his life. Yes, it is dangerous theological territory to deal with such weighty matters. But Cyrus Nowrasteh and his co-writer wife, Betsy Nowrasteh have done a worthy job of exploring it with faithful respect. And you know, it’s the dangerous risks that can provide the richest and most profound stories anyway.

For a full review/analysis of the movie read my post, The Young Messiah: Must See Bible Movie about Jesus.

Also, check out my interview with the director who found Jesus while making the movie, an interesting revelation of how a person’s worldview really does affect the meaning of the movie. They adapted the movie from Anne Rice’s novel, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, but purged the sectarian and questionable elements of the novel to make a more orthodox Christian story.

But that’s not all. There’s extra Jesus here… Continue reading

Now You See TV: The Dragon King Interview with Brian Godawa

Jon Pounder did a great video interview for Now You See TV about The Dragon King.

We talked about The Tower of Babel and the Watcher paradigm and how it fits into the Bible and the history of ancient China. The Chinese language is pictorial and embodies elements of the Genesis narrative thousands of years before Genesis was written. How did the ancient Chinese worship ONE God without images in a time when nobody else did, except the Jews? And the Chinese had NO connection with the West or the Jews.

Or did they? Check it out.

Last Days in the Desert: Boring Arthouse Existentialist Satan Jesus

Ewan McGregor as Jesus

A eatureictional drama of Jesus during his 40-day fast in the desert. He meets a family with one male son and a sick dying wife, and makes a wager with the devil to try to help them through their family problems. Starring Ewan McGregor as Jesus and Ewan McGregor as Satan.

In my book Hollywood Worldviews I write about how the depictions of Jesus in movies throughout the decades often reflect the zeitgeist of the era. I wrote: “A survey of the portrayal of Jesus in the movies yields an interesting mixture of both historical and mythical, human and divine, sinner and saint. In fact, one might say that the history of Jesus in the movies is precisely a history of the theological struggle between Christ’s identity as God and his identity as man.”

A Jesus by any other name

In HW, I called the Jesuses of the movies by their social constructs as depicted in the films:

The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965): Leonardo-DaVinci’s-humanistic-Renaissance Jesus.
King of Kings (1961): Youthful-blue-eyed-Aryan-WASP-moviestar Jesus.
Jesus of Nazareth (1977): Hypnotic-eyed-possibly-drug-addict-Jesus-who-never-blinks.
Jesus Christ Superstar (1972): 70s-nonviolent-peace-demonstrator scapegoat-for-the-military-industrial-complex Rock n Roll Messiah.
The Last Temptation of Christ (1982): Confused-epileptic-temper-tantrum-sinner Jesus.
The Gospel of Matthew (1995): Smiley-faced-California-surfer-dude Jesus.
Jesus: The Epic Miniseries (2000): Politically-correct-lovey-dovey-pacifist-television Jesus.
Judas (TV 2004): Dr.-Phil-Scooby-Doo-Shaggy-Malibu Jesus.

Look, I realize how impossible it is to portray the God-man in any way that everyone will approve of. That ain’t gonna happen. (It would take a – a miracle! And then most people wouldn’t believe it anyway)

My definition of the Jesus of The Last Days in the Desert as being a “Boring-Arthouse-Existentialist Jesus” is certainly no disappointment with the very weighty performance of McGregor (The Satan part is addressed later). His acting was profound and very human. He really brought it with this portrayal of Jesus being tempted by the lust, the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life without being a sinner. Fair enough. A Jesus who, like many holy men, fasts in order to draw close to the God he feels out of touch with. A Jesus who wrestles with existentialist issues of presence and purpose, most akin to the Gethsemane scene of the dual natures in conflict.

Or is it?

The director, Rodrigo Garcia, who claims to not be a Christian, said that he could only understand Jesus’ human side. He questioned how could one portray the divine side anyway? Again, fair enough. At least he didn’t try to subvert Jesus into his opposite like the most recent abominable Noah and Exodus movies do with God and their human heroes.

Or did he? Continue reading

Godawa on Stand To Reason: Storytelling, Imagination, Apologetics in the Bible

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The brilliant and very friendly Brett Kunkle interviewed me on the Stand To Reason Podcast here.

We talked about some heavy stuff. Guaranteed to fascinate you. The need for Christian artists to be theologically informed and the need for theological Christians to be artistically informed from the Bible. Art, aesthetics, beauty are not merely acceptable, they are necessary to knowing God properly. But also, did you know God used artistic imagination to defend the faith? Did you know God used subversion to redeem pagan imagination and pagan art?

This is the book we talked a lot about: God Against the gods.

Here is the video presentation of God Against the gods.

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Canary Cry Radio: The Dragon in China and Satanic Origins

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Had a great interview with Basil and Gonz on Canary Cry Radio here.

WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE DRAGON? The Bible describes the Dragon as Satan, the serpent, the nefarious rebel and adversary who has his own interest in mind at the expense of mankind. Meanwhile, in the ancient far east, the dragon has been a symbol of authority, royalty and class for a millennia. How might we in the west attempt to understand this seeming dichotomy? Was the ancient far east such as China and Japan influenced by Satan, and thus the dragon imagery? Or is there something else going on? The author of The Chronicles of the Nephilim Series and good friend of the podcast, Brian Godawa, dives into these topics through the Divine Council paradigm in his new book The Dragon King: First Emperor of China. This is the first of the new fiction and fantasy series by Brian called The Chronicles of the Watchers. Brian teamed up with former visual director of Marvel Studios, Charlie Wen, to tell an action-adventure romance rooted in the ancient history and spiritual reality of China.

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Captain America: Civil War: American Exceptionalism in a Corrupt World

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There is a passage in the New Testament, Acts 17, that tells the story of the apostle Paul preaching his message of good news to the Greek pagans on Mars Hill. I wrote in an article and in a book about how Paul actually subverts the Greco-Roman culture by retelling the ancient pagan Stoic narrative redefined through a Christian worldview. He was so familiar with pagan beliefs that he could quote them and even retell their narratives. That means he studied his culture in order to connect with it so that he could share with that culture the risen Jesus, whom he had encountered. He read their philosophy and knew their myths and cultural narratives. The passage begins with him telling the Athenians that he perceived they were a religious people, based on their altar for an unknown god amidst the many of the pantheon.

I feel like that when I watch Marvel movies such as Captain America: Civil War.

I perceive that America is a religious people. I don’t mean in the old sense of the “Christian America” origins or even the high percentage of American believers in that God. What I mean is that as Western society has become more secular and more Christophobic, it has correspondingly become, not less religious, but more pagan in its religiosity.

Case in point: Superheroes.*

Pagan religiosity is illustrated in the polytheistic embrace of this new pantheon of gods. It is not news that superheroes are modernized updated versions of ancient gods 2.0. Humanity craves transcendence and deity, and if we refuse the living god, we replace him with new gods, and a new religion. So even the secular reductionism of the modern superhero only serves to perpetuate religious myth in a “secular” pseudoscientific garb. Most superheroes have some kind of scientific origin for their powers. Even Thor is not supernatural, but merely an ancient alien.

Romans 1:21–23
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

The modern world rejects the living God and so it creates substitute gods and religions in order to tell stories that embody its values.

But in spite of this idolatry, and like Paul with the Stoics on Mars Hill, I am often amazed to find some powerful truths in the Marvel universe with which I would certainly want to agree.

One of those values is the American Exceptionalism of Captain America.

Movies are not made in a vacuum. They often reflect the zeitgeist or “spirit of the age” that permeates our culture. We are a polytheistic society that has become increasingly polarized in our political and cultural wars. Thus it is no surprise that our gods now express that internal hostility in such movies as Captain America: Civil War (CA:CW) and Batman Vs. Superman. As one of the characters says in CA:CW, “An empire that crumbles from its enemies can rise again, but if it crumbles from within, it is dead forever.” The villain in CA:CW seeks to get his enemies, the Avengers to kill each other.

But in contrast with the usual multicultural zeitgeist of Hollywood is Marvel’s apparent rejection of the socialist utopian madness that is gripping the minds of our society like the talons of a possessing demon. We have become cynical and nihilistic, thus, the perennially perfect good guy, Superman (Of the DC universe) has renounced his American citizenship in the comics, and turned dark along with the Dark Knight by Frank Miller (UPDATE: Correction on the Batman Vs. Superman movie).

But into this cynical world, comes the superhero from the past, Captain America. Quite literally, he is transported into our modern world from the old days of WWII. So he still has those quaint American values that Superman rejected in a previous movie (“Truth, Justice” but certainly no “American Way”). And that is what makes our modern cynical society willing to watch him, because they see it as outdated anachronistic and ironic in juxtaposition with our modern day. Oh, how cynics and nihilists love “irony.”

But it is just here that Cap becomes the lesson from the “greatest generation.” It is precisely those values of “outdated” left behind American Exceptionalism from a bygone era, an era usually damned as “Ozzie and Harriet” values, that becomes the goodness, integrity and righteousness that could save us from ourselves. The values of chivalry that seems arrogant and presumptuous to modern left wing collectivism and the so-called anti-colonialism of Obama’s America.

I won’t pretend to understand all the mythic trails of the Marvel universe, nor remember all the tedious details of their mythology and characters. But the big picture story of Captain America: Civil War is that the world is blaming the Avengers for all the destruction that has occurred because of the terror activities of Hydra’s bad guys who want to control the world. Hmmmm, does that sound like America being blamed while protecting the world from a certain extreme wing of a certain religion we all know is performing jihad in the name of their god? And while we are at it, let’s throw in the atheist religion of communism that still threatens the globe. So these bad guys are so evil, they cause great swathes of destruction as the Avengers fight to stop them. Entire cities wiped out, innocent lives lost, the usual collateral damage that totalitarian regimes cause when stood up to.

And yet, the world blames the Avengers for it! WTF? The Avengers are accused of “routinely ignoring sovereign borders” as if they are global bullies engaging in macroagressions rather than saving everyone’s asses. (Quick, where is the safe space with playdoh and crayons?!)

As the Vision, who is supposed to be very intelligent AI, very stupidly says, “Our very strength invites challenge, and challenge breeds hostility.” This blaming of the victim is the very heart and soul of the left wing Anti-Americanism that is destroying our country from within. It is a collectivism that doesn’t understand the nature of evil. It is not strength that breeds or invites hostility, it is weakness that does. Bullies don’t pick on the strong, they pick on the weak. Communist countries, and Islamic terrorists “vote for the strong horse.” They will only stop when forced to stop — by strength.

Captain America understands the nature of evil, and the nature of American Exceptionalism. He says, “When you can do the things we can, but you don’t, then bad things happen because of what you didn’t do.” When America pulls out, evil grows to fill that void.

But the world blames the good guys, and seeks to have them sign a treaty of “accords” that would place the Avengers under the authority of the United Nations, to be more collectively accountable. Think of it as redistribution of power. Funny how the greed of envy works, isn’t it? Legalizing theft and crybullying.

It is here that the movie seeks to have a dialectic between collectivism and individualism. Some of the Avengers turn wimps (led by the chief cynic, Iron Man. Hmmmm, any surprise, the most cynical becomes the first fooled?), and they split between two camps of Avengers, those who seek to sign the accords and appease the envy and greed of morally inferior debtor nations, and those led by Cap, who has “faith in individuals,” and a strong moral compass to be leaders in righteous strength.

The appeaser Avengers “do what has to be done to stave off something worse,” and in so doing, actually make matters worse, precisely because that collective authority (the UN) under whom they place themselves is morally inferior.

It is here that the movie becomes fallacious in depicting the UN as a neutral body of nations who just want to have peace and order, when in reality, it is a corrupt body of greedy and immoral criminals (See the documentary U.N. Me). But I get it, they want to show both sides at their best in order to have a “balanced” dialectic.

But the true moral superiority of Captain America and his Americanism shines when he says he won’t sign the accords because it keeps them from fighting evil, which makes evil win. As he says, “When I see a situation going south, I can’t ignore it,” and “Even if the whole world tells you something is wrong when it is right, you say, No.” This is how a righteous man thinks, a moral man, a strong protector of the weak.

But this is not a naïve self image that ignores America’s faults or imperfections. No nation is perfect, and certainly not America, but it’s the best we’ve got. As Cap says, “We may not be perfect, but the safest heads are our own.” American Exceptionalism is not “my country, right or wrong,” but it’s also not the moral relativism of multiculturalism that concludes that our morality is no better than any other country’s morality. Moral fools propound moral equivalence.

The collectivism of the United Nations does not create peace, it creates war, by tearing down the strength of the righteous just like it did to the Avengers. The selfish greedy thievery of socialist redistribution does not create wealth, it destroys it. The oppression of human rights and genocidal impulse of Islamic states is not the equivalent of the Judeo-Christian chivalry and self-sacrifice of the West. There is right and wrong, and some cultures are wrong. Cap believes we must lead by strength and righteousness, which will be the model and example for morally inferior nations to aspire to.

That is what made America great.

And that is what makes Captain America the coolest of all the Avengers and the victor in the inevitable civil war of Avengers at the end.

Nevertheless, like Paul on Mars Hill, I have to say that despite some of these positive truths portrayed in CA:CW, I find myself unsatisfied by the substitute pantheon for the living God. For only with the Judeo-Christian God can there be any intelligibility to the chivalric values of righteous strength. Without God, even American Exceptionalism is hollow idolatry. Without a transcendent God, all values are morally equivalent as the godless and nihilist argue. One man’s superhero is another man’s supervillain. Without God, there is no righteous nation, just nations and their gods vying for power — and the will to power rules.

Without the one God of the Bible, there is no justice, there is only war.

 

* Another example of the spreading influence of paganism is Environmentalism and the Climate Change Cult that is sweeping over nations like a global Crusade. It is a return to pagan earth worship with a fascist religious regime akin to the Inquisition, complete with high priests, punishment for heretics and End of the World threats.

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Josh Peck Interviews Brian Godawa: Dragon King, Watchers, & Marvel Connection

I was interviewed by Josh Peck for the Sharpening Report on YouTube.

TOPICS:
0:00 – Introduction
2:29 – Background on Charlie Wen and the Dragon King Story
14:30 – Chronicles of the Nephilim VS Chronicles of the Watchers
20:30 – Real History within a Fantasy Story
26:23 – Strange Structure over the Emperor’s Tomb
30:12 – Most Surprising Research for the Dragon King
35:29 – More on the Dragon King and Emperor’s Story
40:11 – What’s Next for Brian
42:57 – Viewer Questions
44:47 – Future Movies on Brian’s Books
46:59 – Biblical Chinese Dictionary and Research Materials
48:36 – Noahic Connections in the East
49:32 – Why Charlie Wen Left Marvel
50:54 – End of Viewer Questions
51:10 – Contact and Ordering Information
52:46 – Final Thoughts
58:12 – Conclusion
1:01:03 – Outtakes

The Tower of Babel and the Origin of China

What does the Tower of Babel have to do with China?

Special thanks to Jeralynn Kawewong Kozak for finding this video.

It speaks of the very thing my new novel, The Dragon King does, that the ancient Chinese language is a pictorial language that embodies the stories and theology of Genesis thousands of years before they ever had contact with the West or the Bible.

See this truth in action with The Dragon King.

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