American Gods: Secular Man Still Worships & the Gods are Crazy

The Starz network series, American Gods, based on Neil Gaiman’s horror novel is a supernatural story of the “old gods” who immigrated to America with various people groups rising up in war against the new gods of technology and culture that now rule our society.

It’s a great creative idea that in some ways reflects what I have been doing in my own universe of fictional writing. So I was naturally fascinated by the premise.

Unfortunately, it turns out to be a great idea gone bad. A mixed bag of profound spiritual wisdom and depraved humanist blasphemy.


American Gods focuses on a convict, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), just released from prison only to discover his wife, Laura (Emily Browning), and his best friend died in a car accident while in an adulterous affair. On his way to the funeral, Shadow meets a peculiar old man, named Wednesday (Ian McShane), who hires him as a bodyguard of sorts. Shadow soon discovers that Wednesday claims to be a chief of the old gods who once laid claim to America through those who found their way here in the past, willingly or not. And we see vignettes in each episode of these gods arriving on America’s virgin shores—or really, raped shores. Odin with the Vikings, Bilquis and Anubis with some of the slaves, a Leprechaun with the Irish, Jinn with Muslims and others. In the story, these are real beings with real, though limited supernatural powers.

It’s a common fantasy theme about the “disenchantment” of the natural world that science and technology creates in modernity. The “old gods” represent the sense of wonder that the ancients had of the life in a world interpreted as containing a goddess of spring, a god of storm, a goddess of sex, and so on. In modernity, and in this story, these gods have become like neglected elderly homeless who scrounge around in lives of squalor as the new gods of technology, like “Media,” “Technical Boy,” and others occupy us with obsessive entertainment and electronic diversion that amounts to sacred devotion to the profane. We’ve lost the “magic” and “wonder” of life. We think we’ve become enlightened and put behind us the ignorance of religion, but we remain decidedly religious creatures who worship new gods under the guise of secularism. The goddess Media sometimes appears as Lucille Ball, sometimes as Marilyn Monroe, icons of worship no less religious than Bilquis the old god of sexuality who calls upon her sexual partners to verbalize worship to her as they engage in sex with her.

Spiritual Profundity

And that is the brilliance of the story, as in the original book by the same title (Although in this case, the show is better than the book). It brings alive a profound truth that modern secular man seeks to deny, namely that secular modernity is just as much a culture of religious worship as the old world. We humans are homo religicus, worshipping beings. And the world of media that traffics in narrative imagination is just as much an artificial creation of the human craving for the transcendent as are the religions of old. We have replaced one mythology with another mythology and mistaken the latter as progress.

Ah, but therein lies the rub… Continue reading

Fargo the Series: Good is Sexier Than Evil


I am posting this way too late. Oh well. TV series are no longer time bound anyway.

I watched the first two seasons of Fargo when they came out. The last one was I don’t know how many months ago. I have been meaning to write about this. Now, I won’t remember all the details as I should, but that’s okay cause I just want to hit the broadbrush strokes anyway so I don’t spoil the good stuff.

I found the original movie Fargo by the Coen brothers to be fascinating and carrying their usual quirky, dark, but hopeful worldview. When the series came up, I thought I wouldn’t want to see the movie redone as a series, and didn’t think there would be enough to hold it through 10 hours.

I was seriously wrong.

Fargo is one of the best series on TV (I hate that term TV. It’s got a negative stigma and doesn’t even apply anymore. I watched it online). It captures the original spirit of the Coen brothers and repackages their thought-provoking storytelling in a way that quite frankly I find much more satisfying than the original movie.

Here is why I love Fargo the series so much… Continue reading

Saints and Strangers: Fantastic Mini-Series on the Pilgrims. No P.C. B.S.

Saints and Strangers

The story of the Mayflower’s arrival in America in 1620 and the civilization that began from it.

I saw an advance screening of the dramatic narrative mini-series called Saints and Strangers. If you want to bring a fresh and inspirational understanding to your Thanksgiving holiday, then you must catch this two part series starting November 22 on the National Geographic Channel. It was informative, riveting, and truthful. I teared up with encouragement at some of the moments of faith and righteousness depicted in this film.

Leave it to South Africa and unknown writers and directors to create a faithful, fair and nuanced portrayal of the origins of American civilization, because Hollywood probably couldn’t do it without a hate spin against Judeo-Christianity and western civilization.

As it is, this story is rich and layered with flawed humanity and high aspirations of transcendence and righteousness. About 130 souls arrive on the shores of the New World in the Mayflower. Not all were religious separatists seeking asylum from religious oppression in England. There were others more secular, yet governed by Judeo-Christian notions of civilization. So the story is rife with dramatic tension between the believers and unbelievers who debate quite openly about their understanding of God and divine providence. Not the religious fanatics you were taught in school and college.

For those not familiar with the history, Saints and Strangers charts their journey from the ocean trip to their landing, settling, meeting the indigenous tribes, facing near obliteration by starvation, rescue by Squanto, as well as the fears, conflicts, and reconciliation with the Native American tribes.

First off, the portrayal of faith in this story is fair and truthful, but also honest and nuanced. The saints certainly start out sounding like strangers to our modern ears with their dedication to Christian values. And they are not perfect nor sinless. But the depiction of their fears, failures and moral struggles maintains the dignity of their faith thoughout the entire story.

They steal corn from one of the native tribes’ storage areas, which brings about hostility. But they did so understandably from starvation and the need to survive. The Pilgrims later apologize to the tribe and even offer restoration for their behavior. This isn’t modern Leftist reparations of theft and forced redistribution of distant ancestors’ wealth. This is Biblical restoration of taking responsibility for one’s own actions and repaying those directly affected by an offense.

William Bradford, the longtime governor of the colony, was amazingly portrayed with integrity as a godly man of faith who sought God’s righteousness as well as peace with the native tribes. But he is not condescending of the unbelievers in their group or the locals, nor is he self-righteous. He struggles over the need to defend themselves against savage attacks, and the need to apply corporal punishment to maintain authority and civilization. And all in submission to God’s ways. He chooses the right path most of the time, but not without its price on such a righteous soul. I have not seen such a truthful portrayal of a good and godly yet imperfect man in a long time. Because of Bradford’s Christian charity in tending to the native wounded after a battle (against the wishes of the secularists), that tribe finally decides to accept peace. Bradford is no pacifist, but he is no warmonger. He is a godly man who struggles to do what is right. But what is right is not always amenable to secular or pagan understanding.

This story is not a “whitewashing” nor is it a hit piece. And that’s what makes the faith in the story so powerful. Because it faces reality, admits weakness, but ultimately elevates the value of faith in God and the need for transcendence.

The portrayal of this single Christian character, Bradford, as flawed but ultimately heroic and just is a truly righteous feat of originality in an American story world that seems dominated by corrupt anti-heroes, nihilist darkness and Christophobia. Since Christians aren’t allowed representation as a Hollywood victim group, we’ll just have to make our voice known by supporting shows like this.

Probably the most powerful moment for me captured the essence of these pilgrims. At a particular time when the settlers are starving (eventually, they will humbly receive help from Squanto about agriculture), one of the men says to a woman, that with the death of one of the best men, Winslow, his purpose has died with him. The woman schools the faithless man, (and I quote) “Not so. It is the service of the divine that gives us both purpose and salvation. I am alone, but I have the Lord, and so I have purpose. Everyone else can vanish in an instant, but He is constant.”


I have chills writing that. And I cried when I watched it. Especially in its brutal context that we have been experiencing with these courageous souls.

But there were many perspectives in this fledgling community, and all views were given voice in this story in a fair way, as they all struggled to survive, Christian and secularist alike. But also the native tribes…

Anyone acquainted with real history and the truth of human nature will know that the Native American tribes were just as human all too human as everyone else. And the honest portrayal of the tribes in this story is no less honest than the portrayal of the Christians and Europeans. In a way, Saints and Strangers is a brilliant title because everyone in the story considers themselves the saints and the others to be strangers, including the pagans and secularists.

The tribes understandably react with hostility when the westerners steal their corn, but they too have their own failures of bigotry and self-righteousness in the process. Their ethic is power and while they school the Pilgrims in survival, the Pilgrims school them in grace. We are given an inside view of the politics of the tribes who are jockeying for status, manipulative, power hungry and even just as “self-superior” as every other human tribe on earth. There are good tribesmen and bad tribesmen, just as there are good westerners and bad westerners. Heck, some of natives are actually complex real humans who don’t fall into simple categories. But this isn’t moral equivalency either. Some tribes were more peaceful and others really were savages. All this is depicted fairly and accurately in Saints and Strangers.

This is not the Left Wing bigotry and anti-colonialist neo-Marxist agenda that divides the New World into the black and white categories of Native/pagan: Good, European/Judeo-Christian: Bad.

There is a moment when one of the Indians mentions that this is “their land,” as if they own it because they were there first. But this view isn’t validated in the story. It’s fair to depict that view because some no doubt believed it (even though the Native Americans lacked a substantial view of land ownership), but it certainly has no support from an evolutionary worldview of the Great Chain of Being and survival of the fittest. And without the Christian God, “first come = ownership” remains an unsupportable arbitrary claim of power. Without a true transcendent standard, there is no such thing as “ownership,” there is only the Will to Power.

But I digress philosophically.

Squanto, because of his peculiar journey of being kidnapped, enslaved, but then redeemed by the “white man,” is a prime influence on communication between the strangers. Of all men, he would have been most likely to hate the European crackers, but he does not. He brings them together. Yet, even he is depicted as having questionable motives at times, a complex character, more like real history than legend. It is here that multiculturalists will find their hero, as if Squanto represents the reconciliation through non-judgmental unity with other cultures. But I see him more as a Christian convert who has encountered a superior God and civilization and seeks to keep his people from being destroyed by their own backwardness and ignorance.

If typical “Hollywood” types would have made this picture, the Pilgrims would have been Westboro Baptist colonialist imperialists, Indian killers who came to achieve genocide with disease, and take the land away from the Native Americans who were peace-loving environmentalists at one with nature and superior to the barbarism of western Judeo-Christian culture. This historical moment would be a microcosm of the source of our own modern day polarity of separation and hatred and violence, with our only hope being a return to the pagan earth god.

Thank God for the South Africans.

One thing not made clear in the story is that the “Separatists” were not people who withdrew from society because of religious fear of the “other.” They were called Separatists because they believed in their right to worship separately from the Church of England. That is a subtle but very important difference that modern day anti-religious bigots do not grasp. Their “separatism” was for religious freedom, not moral self-righteousness.

Despite all my praise for the depiction of Christianity in this story, there is a voice for the secular multiculturalist as well. The character who changes the most in the story is the secular Stephen Hopkins, who starts out a selfish greedy exploiter, but ends up apologizing to the natives, and regretting “taking their land, stepping on their gods, and glorifying ours.” He even gives the standard moral equivalency line, “Whose to say who the savages are. I used to see black and white, now everything is gray.” But that’s okay. I only ask for a fair portrayal of Christianity within that complex world of views. Life isn’t always black and white, and there is some truth in the claim that we all share the same fallen nature within the right context. I think this story provides that proper context because in the end, it is the Christian values of humility, respect for law and authority, grace, and redemption that bring about the salvation and reconciliation within and between the communities.

Borgen: A Rare Honest Atheist Self-Reflection in a Godless Danish TV Show



I got caught up in the Danish TV Series Borgen (available on Netflix). It’s the story of Birgitte Nyborg, who becomes the Prime Minister of Denmark and how that position of power affects her personal and political life in both positive and negative ways. I tell people it’s like House of Cards, but without murder and cynicism. More like Naïve European Humanism J. In fact, I would have thought I would not like it, because I am usually bored and turned off by political preaching in movies and shows. Not only that, but this is an obvious Feminist AND Socialist narrative! But hey, I’m willing to admit great human drama and storytelling regardless of the agenda. And this is fantastic human drama and storytelling. (But beware, I did warn you)

Of course, they pretend to be “Center” in their depiction by making Birgitte a part of the “Moderates.” Though usually they are not, sometimes they actually are, such as her revelation that pulling out of Afghanistan would only worsen the violence and deaths (something our own king could learn from). One episode, they completely missed their own point when they showed the Prime Minister use private healthcare for her own daughter while hypocritically supporting their socialized system (“We don’t want to be like America”). Why? Because of the ungodly wait in line for rationed healthcare. Duh. Okay for the public, but not for us important lawmakers (I guess they are just like America after all). But she never changed her policy, and that showed that the storytellers wanted to “deal with the issue,” but never faced the consequences of their own argument.

The only thoroughly despicable person in the show, of whom it is assumed you can NEVER compromise with, is the leader of the Freedom Party, who is depicted in the worst stereotype of being a fat obnoxious pig with bad teeth. Can you guess what side the Freedom Party represents? No-brainer: The Far Right. Also, the show is very Politically Correct in that they never dealt with the raving Islamism problem in any of their episodes.

Ad300x250-ArtMoviesWorldOne particularly repugnant moment of anti-Christian prejudice in the show was on an episode about two African parties at war over their country— actually, more like an Islamic party killing Christians who start to protect themselves, which is the actual scenario in Africa. Anyway, in order to make both sides have a negative aspect to them, the storytellers chose to have the Christian look all nice, but then have as his uncompromising agenda that the only ones who should not have rights in their country are homosexuals. And then he says “We have no homosexuals here” with a smile, thus revealing an oppression in denial. The tragic irony is that very statement in our real world came not from a Christian, but from Ahmadinejad, the head of an ISLAMIC country, Iran. So putting Islamic oppression into the character of a Christian is despicably dishonest and Christophobic. But that’s what you get from secular bigots.

Sorry, I had to get my rants about some of the political BS first.

The morality of the show is also very European and sadly alienating. Family is the least important of values to these people. But there is a bright shining ray of an adulterer who returns to his family, so it is not cynical. I think they were just depicting their reality, and the Danes accept it because of their godlessness. They don’t know any better, the poor secular socialists.

All that said, you might think I hate the show. But I don’t. Surprise, surprise. Why? Because the human drama and relationships are riveting with pathos. And watching Danish politics, as different from American politics as it is, is fascinating. It is well written, brilliantly cast, brilliantly acted, brilliantly directed. All human beings, regardless of their worldview leak God’s image through their work in the snippets of human truth they capture. For instance, there is a kind of moral lesson to observing the anatomy of the breakdown of a family in a tragic kind of way, even if these storytellers consider it acceptable “collateral damage” for Feminist victories and the great teat-sucking socialist state. We see Birgitte seeking to “do good” for her country, while she loses her marriage and family. In fact, the same thing happens to those in the newsroom covering the politics 24/7.

Also, there is a kind of realpolitik of compromise in that country because of their multiple parties that force them to negotiate in a way that American politics does not. Yet, even here, I found it ironic that the very thing that the politicians wanted, compromise, was NOT what the electorate wanted, because the thing that made Birgitte such a populist hero was precisely her standing out from the crowd by not playing the game and sticking to her uncompromising convictions. Hmmmmm. Maybe we’re not all that different. It’s a fair depiction of seeking to balance convictions with the reality of governing with people with whom you disagree. As Birgitte says to one of the radical Greens who challenge her, “You are the leader of the Green Party. I am the Prime Minister of a country that includes those who disagree with me.” Humans everywhere make backroom deals and negotiate for personal reasons as much as public ones.

KIND OF SPOILER ALERT: Anyway, the real reason that inspired this post was that the show is godless. God is nowhere to be found in this Danish story and their characters lives. It is quite empty. But near the very end of the last season, the heroine Birgitte discovers she may have breast cancer (Don’t worry, I won’t tell you if she does or if she does not and how it plays out).

Ad300x250-StoryWorldPersuasionI just thought, that this scene of how she responds to the news was the most profound moment of the entire show, because it showed the real despair that atheist pursuers of “meaning” and “good” should really face about their delusions in light of the implications of their own worldview. It was like one spiritual glimpse behind the curtain of a very secular humanistic story. A shred of honesty in a godless world of self-deception. (I do not think the storytellers are intending a Judeo-Christian worldview in this revelation, because the whole of the show goes against it. I just think that even atheists can have a moment of honesty if they want to tell a good story).

Of course, you won’t get the full impact if you haven’t lived with this character and with her victories and defeats, her gains and her losses, but I hope you can still pick it up. And don’t be fooled by vague references to prayer in the clip, that was just a colloquial blurt. It is more a metaphor for fate without a god, because there has been no spirituality the entire show.

Enjoy a rare moment of honesty from an atheist worldview…


House of Cards: Shakespearean Tragedy About the Political Pursuit of Power – of Democrats, that is

Netflix Political Thriller series. An amazingly written and directed series starring Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood, a Democrat congressman who is withheld from a position in the new Democrat administration in Washington, and enacts revenge on those who betrayed him.

I get tired of all these series that are based on anti-heroes or worse, villains as heroes. But House of Cards is not one of them. At least not yet. It is Shakespearian in its dramatic quality and appears to me to be the set up for a tragedy on the level of Breaking Bad.

There is no bones about the storytellers showing us in the first scene that Underwood is a Machiavellian villain who is not a good man, when he breaks the neck of a dog that survived being hit by a car. Of course he tells us that he is the one who does what needs to be done, but no one wants to do it. But it doesn’t matter what his justification is; if you kill a dog you are evil. That’s movie and TV rules. ☺

And we know that we are going to be following the mind of a man whose sole ambition is power because he tells us so. He regularly “breaks the third wall” and talks to us the audience in asides to give us what is really going on in his mind. It’s a truly satisfying and clever storytelling technique that builds rich irony we could not know otherwise.

A subplot surrounds his wife’s own political ambitions mixed with humanitarian causes and the weird twisted agreement they have in their marriage that looks a lot like the Clinton arrangement, if you know what I mean.

Of course there are others whose stories we follow as well, like the young reckless congressman who is being used as his life falls apart, and the amoral journalist who spouts journalistic integrity about not revealing sources while sleeping with the congressman to get stories for her own advancement.

But here is the interesting thing —no, the fascinating thing. Though it is a series about politics, it is kind of apolitical in that it doesn’t seek to make specific political policy arguments like the West Wing or other courtroom shows these days. And it hasn’t made any political potshots at Republicans that I was aware of. It’s really more about the pursuit of power. In fact, everyone in the show is driven not by truth or justice but by different ambitions of power.


In the entire first season, it seems there was not a person who truly believed in any policy they fought for. They only fought for what was most convenient for their personal advancement or ambitions. Policies are mere means to their ends of power. Talk about the ultimate revelation of the true corruption of politics! The only one who seemed to have integrity, was a low level worry wart who was fired in the first two episodes for her moral convictions.

I make a qualification. There are two women who seem to believe in their causes moreso than others: Underwood’s wife, Claire, played with perfection by Robin Wright, and an activist she hires. But by the end of the first season, they engage in unjust immoral and illegal actions to further their own interests as well. Claire brings food from her privileged class fundraising party out to the protestors outside her event. But of course we see it is only a photo op to look compassionate and make the protestors look bad. And the activist maliciously initiates a lawsuit based on politically correct lies of “social justice” to get revenge on Claire for firing her. An ironic revelation of how social justice is revealed as a weapon of social injustice. In other words, their commitment to a cause is a self righteousness that they use as a weapon of – you guessed it, POWER. In fact, one suspects that Claire like a Lady Macbeth (or Lady Clinton), has her own diabolical purposes that drive her façade of social concern.

One might say this is a cynical show about politics. A very cynical show.

Or, one might say it is a revelation of the truth behind the Democratic Party.

Yes, I know I said that it is apolitical on the surface. And yes, I know the storytellers are all, no doubt, Democrats, and I don’t suspect that is their intent to dump on the Democrats at all. And I know the show is only beginning. But so far, if you think about it, they could have made a show about Republicans doing all this evil and corruption, which is the usual spin, but they didn’t. They chose the Democratic Party.

Which works best because it is the Democratic Party that is essentially the party of the pursuit of Power.

One could say House of Cards is the Anti-West Wing.

Think about it. Of course there are individual corrupt Republicans and big government Republicans as well. And the RNC is full of cowards who bow to political correctness and compromise their values or even seek power. These are the inescapable results of a fallen world of corrupt individuals everywhere. But the Republican Party, as a party, is philosophically founded on creating smaller government and less government for more personal freedom for people to take care of themselves and each other. The party was created to fight slavery, for God’s sake!

The Democratic Party philosophy, on the other hand, is based on building bigger government and expanding government control, and creating more dependents on government handouts to get votes, which is more power and control over people’s lives. Its very essence is Power, for gods’ sake! (That is, for the sake of being gods).

So the RNC is based on smaller government and less power, while the DNC is based on bigger government and more power. Yes, there are evil people in each party, but this series, so far, is a lens into the actual philosophy of the DNC and their corrupt systemic mindset of POWER.

Let’s see if they try to spin it around as the series goes on, but for now, it was refreshing to see a Hollywood political TV show finally speak the truth to Power.

Breaking Bad: Yes, Virginia, there is Original Sin

One of the most offensive truths to modern man is Original Sin. How dare those judgmental Christians say we are all guilty sinners in the hands of an angry God! How dare you call my wonderful mother, who spent her whole life helping people, damned because she doesn’t believe in Jesus! People are basically good, aren’t they? I mean I never killed anyone. We’re not in the Matrix. I’m just an average American chemistry teacher with a family and a special needs kid. I’m not evil. People are basically good.

Yeah, right.

Anyone who’s ever had children knows for a fact that people start as selfish little sinners who have to be corrected and taught over and over again to be good. Why? Because, well, we’re all basically born bad. But of course, humankind is perpetually cunning in suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, so the obvious truth notwithstanding, many people still believe that people are basically good.

Enter, Breaking Bad.

I remember first watching the series years ago. It was a brilliant moral dilemma of a high school chemistry teacher who discovers he has lung cancer and realizes his wife and special needs kid will not be taken care of when he dies. He turns away from joining a high risk small business startup that goes successful and comes to the dread conclusion that the only way he can provide for his family’s future is to do what he does best in a different kind of entrepreneurship, an illegal operation of a meth lab. Since chemistry was his strong suit, he could provide the purest meth ever and build a name for his product — and barrel loads of money for his family, so they will not suffer when he is gone.

This is quality storytelling to set up a scenario where a good guy turns into a villain, and he becomes one through a morally complex dilemma. But it ain’t original. Read Shakespeare. It’s called a tragedy. A lot of gangster movies are this. And that is what BB is, a gangster rise and fall story on the greatness level that exceeds The Godfather.

But the point is to explore what is the flaw in us that, if fed, creates the monster we despise? We can all understand the essentially good motive of wanting to provide for one’s family. Nothing more primal or moral than that. And even if we think the criminality is wrong, we certainly can understand the temptation of being backed into a corner without much of an apparent choice. It forces us to think about our own lives. What would we do? Would we do evil that good may come? Would we love our family so much that we would sell our own soul to the devil in order to save them? These are not inconsequential or superfluous questions. They force us to examine our own morality and ethics. Our own badness.

And the fact that BB has the opportunity to take the time to walk through the step by step process of the decline of a man’s moral sanity only makes it that much more truthful and believable. For me the point of it all is this: Breaking Bad proves that the same evil in murderers, drug dealers and soulless narcissist users is in all of us — all of us. It just needs to be fed to come to fruition. But it’s there inside of us all waiting to break out. Watching BB makes you believe that, yes, any normal good family guy has the ability to make moral compromises that lead him down the path of destruction. After all, murderers aren’t born murderers, and every villain constructs some kind of moral justification to assuage his guilt. Evil does exist, despite the postmodern evil deniers. One man’s terrorist is not another mans’ freedom fighter, he is a terrorist.

And that is Original Sin.

Traditionally, Original Sin is the theological doctrine that Adam, as the “first man,” and therefore federal representative of the human race disobeyed God which broke his spiritual relationship with God and bent his nature to bad. Since all humanity comes from that first Scriptural pair, we all inherit Adam’s badness and the death and consequences of his rebellion.

I am fully aware of all the arguments against this truth. It isn’t fair to blame us for what Adam did, Scientifically, we cannot have come from one pair of human progenitors, how do we inherit a sinful nature, yada yada. It’s all irrelevant. It doesn’t matter where you think it came from, it doesn’t matter what “logical” problems you may have with an existential proposition. Because you see, Original Sin is the one theological truth that is an undeniable empirically observable fact: We are all basically bad. It only takes the right choices to bring that bad out.

Humankind is not basically good. We are basically bad. And all it takes to break that bad out is the right circumstances and the accumulation of certain moral choices. Little decisions lead to bigger ones. Our justification for a little white lie can build to a justification for murder. It’s how our bad nature works. BB incarnates that disturbing and often denied truth about ourselves. And it’s why modern people are completely blinded by their self-righteousness. The denial of our essential badness is the first moral decision that leads us to the destiny of Walter White.

The only difference is that Walt has let it come to fruition. He has broken bad.

Of course, one of the dangers of such studies of the making of a villain is the potential of building a story where we root for the bad guy. That is, we start out sympathetic, and like Walter, we keep watching his story and keep rooting for him by making the same choices in our rooting for him that he made in his actions. But there comes a point where we may watch with moral lesson, but we must turn in our affections or become condemned by our own morbid curiosity.

That moment for me came at the end of the second season, where Walt lets Jesse’s junkie girlfriend die in her own vomit while overdosing because she was going to let the cat out of the bag. At that point he is no longer sympathetic. And in fact, I stopped watching the series because I didn’t want to root for a hero who made such choices.

I came back a year or so later to finish watching because I had made the mistake of not appreciating the power of the tragedy: A moral lesson of what NOT to be, of how NOT to behave, because of where it leads.

This would have been a picture glorifying evil had it not been for the existence of Jesse, his drug addict, slacker helper, who has risen to become the counterpoint to Walt. Jesse becomes the villain, whose conscience is awakened to his own depravity by seeing the evil consequences of Walt’s choices and realizing he is just as guilty. By the end of the series, Jesse has become despairing of life itself and throws away the proceeds of their dirty deeds because it has become blood money to him. He even helps the feds to try to nail Walt.

As Walt descends, Jesse ascends, and struggles with true moral guilt. One particularly poignant aspect of the series that shows the modern humanistic denial of evil is in Jesse’s Narcotics Anonymous group. We see them going through the standard humanistic memes of “no judging” and making everyone feeling accepted and denying their guilt and claiming victim status. At one point Jesse finally gets sick of it all and condemns the leader of the group by saying that if we shouldn’t judge, then we’re saying nothing is wrong, but they should judge things that are wrong, or we are deceiving ourselves and perpetuating our own badness. It’s really quite a brilliant exposition of the essential delusion of humanistic psychiatric notions of relative morality and our culture of denial. We are not victims of our moral behavior, we are responsible, and judgment provides the dignity and value to our humanity because it affirms that we have the ability to choose other. It is precisely our moral culpability that gives us true value. Otherwise we are of no more value than rocks.

Vince Gilligan, the creator of the series has revealed this very questioning in his own life when he says. “I’m pretty much agnostic at this point in my life. But I find atheism just as hard to get my head around as I find fundamental Christianity. Because if there is no such thing as cosmic justice, what is the point of being good? That’s the one thing that no one has ever explained to me. Why shouldn’t I go rob a bank, especially if I’m smart enough to get away with it? What’s stopping me?” (NYT)

And this is another moral repercussion of the tragic decline of a hero into a villain. We as viewers are certainly fascinated by the moral complications and ramifications of bad choices that are made for good reasons. After all, this “ends justifies the means” thinking dominates our culture from public education indoctrination to the attack on businesses in the name of “income disparity” to the persecution of political enemies through the use of the IRS and mainstream news media political lies. No villain sees himself as a villain. They always have a rationalization for why they do evil. “To help my family,” “to level the playing field,” “to right past wrongs,” “social justice,” “because the ‘other’ is racist, sexist, bigot homophobes, Islamaphobes.” The irony is that if we the viewer continue to secretly harbor a rooting for the “villain-as-hero” because, after all, the others around them are worse villains, then we viewers are indicted by our own badness.

This is why the consequences of behavior in a story is critically important to its moral worldview.

Which brings us to another aspect of the denial of our badness, another theme of the series: Actions have consequences. But not in some kind of philosophical blathering. Rather, our moral choices in life are not secluded to our own freedom, as if morality is relative and we can construct our own morals for our own purposes as many will say. Morality is not relative. All our moral choices ultimately have effects and ramifications that effect other people. We do not exist as authorities of our own moral decisions in a free universe. We are accountable for everything we say and do.

This is born out in a dozen little ways of how it affects and destroys Walt’s wife as she becomes complicit and how it ends in deaths of Walt’s loved ones. But more powerfully we see early in the series of how Walt’s allowance of that girlfriend to die in her own vomit, leads to the despair of her father, who is an air traffic controller, who then does poorly at his job because of his suffering, which leads to a plane crash and hundreds of innocent people dead. Unfortunately God is not a part of this storyline, but the notion of our interconnectedness still rings true in this and many other ways, of lives destroyed because of Walt’s choices.

Moral relativity is a lie. We do not “choose” our morality in vacuums of our own freedom and autonomy. All our choices are part of an interconnectedness with humanity that does end up hurting others. We are accountable to moral absolutes.

For all you humanists, that means THERE ARE NO VICTIMLESS CRIMES. Or for that matter, THERE ARE NO VICTIMLESS MORAL CHOICES. This could be one of the most powerful moral themes in all of television. We are guilty for what we do. And our sins will find us out.

Let’s just hope that the finale proves this moral truth that it has reinforced throughout the series.


Okay, so I saw the series finale and I have to say it was not very impressive. On the one hand, it was somewhat morally appropriate in that Walt does die. That tragic anti-hero must pay the price for his sins that ruined so many lives. Walt ultimately dies by his own hand, when he takes a bullet from the rifle he set up to automatically shoot up the bad guys at the end. Okay, this is poetic justice because one of the ongoing moral themes of the series was that Walt’s choices were moral choices that did not merely affect him but also hurt the lives of others. So it is appropriate that he falls victim to his own actions as well. And he does end up getting his revenge against the gang of very evil men and one woman who betrayed him and killed Walt’s brother in law Hank. With that there is some emotional satisfaction in the most evil not getting away with their dirty deeds. And Jesse, the junkie turned partner who awakened to his moral conscience and even turned to help the DEA did get away from the bad guys at the end, which satisfies those who want moral conscience rewarded.

On the other hand, Walt’s death was quite calm and morally unsatisfying for the evil he had become. Let me explain. Movie snobs and other cynics will not like what I am about to say, but it’s the truth when it comes to storytelling.

There is a reason why it is a cliché in so many movies of having the villain often fall to his death from a very great height, or be obliterated in a very extreme fashion (like blown to bits or crushed or burnt on fire or the like). That reason is that those gruesome endings are what give us emotional satisfaction of the punishment fitting the crime. I am not saying legal reality here, I am saying emotional and moral reality for the viewer. Falling from a great height is the perfect universal metaphor for the essence of sin and the fall of humanity into evil. And that satisfies us on a primal spiritual level like nothing else can. I am not saying Walt should have fallen off a cliff, but I am simply explaining that his moral evil was so deep that even though we struggled with our conflicted feelings of rooting for him against the bad guys, but then admitting that he deserves to die for the evil he had wrought, we should in the end be slapped in the face by the moral spiritual truth of the depth of Walt’s guilt.

This, Breaking Bad’s finale did not do, and was thus an unsatisfying cynical compromise. Walt’s soft slipping into unconsciousness without drama is an anticlimactic unsatisfying way to express the moral guilt he had or the spiritual punishment he required. It needed to be extreme, jarring, something that would wake us all up from the delusion of any sympathy we may have had for this man turned into monster. It needed to reinforce the moral drive of the entire series that actions have consequences. To misquote a famous saying, with much evil comes much responsibility and therefore much stronger consequences.

And don’t give me the nihilistic claims of “realism” as if Breaking Bad is about reality (You know, bad people get away in the real world, justice isn’t always achieved etc.). BB is not reality, it was a moral fable, and as a moral fable it should have ended with the same moral wisdom that the series was built on. Instead, it whimpered out with a half-assed humanistic compromise by making Walt die, but peacefully after getting his revenge.

And that is the biggest moral problem of all. Yes, Walt loses what is most dear to him, his family, because of his criminal obsession with providing for family. And yes, there is a kind of acceptance of his just dessert when he allows Jesse the opportunity to kill him. He saves Jesse from the final shootout. But Walt still kind of wins as well. After ruining his family’s lives, getting many innocent people killed, including his brother in law, Walt’s overarching goal was to provide for his family with his blood money. And even though his son rejects it, he sets it up through criminal intimidation to have a trust fund made for his son. So he does get his money to his family in the end. He outsmarts everyone, is able to achieve his goal of revenge, and getting his money to his son before he died, and he was going to die from the cancer anyway, so Walt dies a peaceful death having basically achieved his goal of providing for his family and cheated death. Something we should not be rooting for. A less than satisfying ending for me.

But I want to end on a positive note. One qualification to my nit picking here is that at the end, Walt finally does admit that his obsessive motive for the entire series of engaging in crime to provide “for my family” was in fact not for his family but for himself. And that is the human pride of original sin. The underlying darkness to the façade of criminals’ and gangsters’ devotion to family is that it is ultimately pride that drives the human heart into the rationalization for each little moral compromise that ends in the evil we are so offended at being accused of but are in fact guilty of having in our own hearts.

We are Breaking Bad.

The Walking Dead: Zombies, God, and What Makes us Human

I recently finished the third season of the Walking Dead. I have always been a big movie guy, not much of a television watcher. I like the punch of a two hour story that has it all, including rich characters, human drama, with climax and resolution. It has a very satisfying sense to it, like eating a good steak dinner. However, I have grown to appreciate television series as the best writing that is out there these days in storytelling. The advantages of this medium is more about the characters. Its purpose is to get you to love the characters so much that you want to see them go through their extended journeys. So the focus on movies is more on the story and the focus of television is more on characters. Of course there is much story going on in a series but it is more drawn out and takes much longer to achieve its character arcs and resolution. A series is more like engaging in a new diet. It takes more patience but you see the effects down the road and they can be more lasting. But this is why I think it has a more powerful influence on our cultural values. Because the longer you saturate within the worldview of a narrative, the more affected you are by its values. This is why television is also more dangerous in its ability to saturate viewers in the worldviews of its storytellers for a longer period and change their values and worldview so widespread through the emotional immersion.

So I try to be careful what I immerse myself in regarding these television narratives. I have found though that The Walking Dead has been quite a positive extension of the positive values of zombie movies, along with a few cautionary dangers to be aware of.

First off, many people already have a hard time with zombie stories. They think they are just a glorification of blood and gore and should be rejected as dehumanizing. Not true. Some are. But not all. In fact, the very essence of the zombie story is as a cultural critique of social values that dehumanize us. They explore the moral question of what makes us human? What gives us dignity? How are we any different from animals? What keeps civilization from falling apart into anarchy? These are all VERY relevant and important issues in our morally relative culture of naturalism and atheistic evolution. I have written about this elsewhere in an article on the value of the horror genre as morality tales that address the reality of evil, our sinful nature, and social injustices, and in a blog post of World War Z.

The Walking Dead is very simply the story of a band of refugees in a post-apocalyptic scenario of America overrun by zombies. The lead character, Rick Grimes, is a cop who leads the multicultural group that contains a proper diversity of men, women, black, Asian and sometimes “other” people on a quest to find a safe habitation, first in the American South and then in the Midwest.

They are in fact looking for a home, a place of safety and order in a world of chaos. A primal urge in all of us. As they scavenge for survival, they encounter various groups of other survivors whose values come into conflict with their own, as they themselves struggle to maintain order and authority within their ranks. Otherwise they will end up killing each other, just like the zombies around them.

The power of a zombie story is that it strips down our outward mask of values that we wear in society. When we are faced with survival our true natures come out and for too many of us, that is an ugly nature indeed. This is not imagination. This is reality. Many people’s true selfishness comes out when they are forced to choose between saving themselves and helping others. The Walking Dead (TWD) shows that when we no longer have law and order keeping society in line, some of us will struggle to create a new structure and others will lay aside their moral veneer and seek to exploit and use others for their own survival. This is an incarnation of the moral challenge that who we are is determined by how we behave when no one is watching us, or when we think we won’t have consequences for our behavior.

But it is more than that. It also is about the question, “What makes us human or civilized?” In season two, Rick’s group finds their way to a farmhouse that has been happily untouched by zombie attacks. But it’s owned by an old geezer. Now, in the outer world, its pretty much a free for all scavenge fest. Nothing is owned by anyone anymore, except those who can protect it with violence. Now at this safe haven, do they respect the old man’s authority because it is his own property, or do they just take him over? Is there such a thing as private property in such a lawless state? TWD proves that you must respect private property as a foundation of civilization, and you must respect authority, or you end in chaos. In season three, they commandeer a prison that provides the first real rest and security in a long time (with all its fences and locked bars). The irony being that it was a place that was used to keep monsters in, now it is used to keep them out.

Early on, Rick says, “This is not a democracy,” as in we must have a leader who has strong authority over the group or they will fall apart. And for most of the show, this proves true. Until Rick himself starts to break from the strain, and is challenged by his best friend, another cop, Shane. Rick is a mental leader, and a man of strong ethical emphasis. He even continues to wear his uniform and hat for quite a while. But Shane is more the “muscle” and earthy pragmatic man who seeks to lead by doing the dirty work that no one else wants to do, but must be done. He is not a survivalist, but he is more of a survivor mentality. He is willing to give up on those who are weak in order to survive. Rick however, tries to balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the community. To be a man of justice, but also compassion. He tries to keep a high value on the dignity of others. But survival bears heavily on his ethics and he becomes a harder man as the series goes on. He also almost breaks down mentally at the death of some significant characters in his life. He eventually softens and includes the group more in the decisions when he learns his lesson that he needs his followers as much as they need a leader.

Through many episodes the people are faced with difficult life situations that place the two ethics of survival and sacrifice in conflict. Should they go back to save one person if it jeopardizes everyone else? Should they keep searching for a little lost girl when doing so also endangers the rest of them? Can they kill their beloved if they “turned” into a zombie? By and large, those who would stress survival over sacrificial helping of others tend to be the least humanized and we see that we must maintain an elevation of human life if we are to maintain our own dignity, society and sanity. Those who maintain the ethic of sacrifice for others are sometimes killed, but always the ones upon whom “civilization” continues to grow. This is of course assuming that the zombies are truly no longer “human” so the killing of them is NOT the same thing as killing a human. They are undead. They are more like rabid animals to be put down because they destroy living humans. This is more self-defense than anything. But we will talk about that in a minute.

Suffice it to say that this elevation of civilization being founded on us maintaining the Christian ethic of self sacrifice for others rather than the evolutionary ethic of survival of the fittest is something that makes this show so important. Because humanity is still so thoroughly evil we still have a strong contingent who believe that there is no absolute morality, we only “socially construct” morality to control others. Might makes right. Sure, these relativists may not all be Kim Jong Ils or serial killers, but they are university professors and “scientists” and sociologists teaching kids these values in a world of constant evolutionary change. Our modern universities are breeding zombie nihilist kids, because teachers and professors deny all moral absolutes (with the exception of their Leftism of course) and with it all religion as patriarchal fascist control, but they themselves are behaving as if there are moral values of civility and such. But the next generation becomes more consistent and starts to live consistently with those relativist values. They start to behave as if there are no moral absolutes. It’s that simple really. And thus we have the growing zombie apocalypse thanks to public education and the universities.

In season three, they run into another walled community, Woodbury, that is led by a benevolent dictator, affectionately called The Governor. On the outside, he is a nice Southern gentleman who also rules as a benevolent dictator, but in reality, he is a dark violent soul. Their “Bedford Falls” of happy suburban life contained within a walled perimeter turns out to be a police state underneath of human experimentation and gladiatorial games with zombies for cathartic violence. But the Governor also seeks to kill Rick and his band.

But here is where I would like to encourage all Christians to support this series by watching it. This setup of the Governor and his little town is the classic Hollywood scenario of an outwardly happy traditional suburban world with a dark underbelly that almost always includes a Christian religious element to it. The usual revelations would be that they pray as they kill people, or the Governor uses “right wing” religious rhetoric because he wants to set up a theocracy.


There is not an ounce of religious rhetoric from the survivalists or the Governor! I could not believe it. I applaud the writers of the show for not exercising the typical bigotry and hatred of Christians that network and cable writers so often display.

It is pathetic to me that the bigotry and discrimination against Christians and their faith has become so ubiquitous in Hollywood storytelling that I get excited about a series just because it doesn’t attack Christians!

But there is more to it than that.

In fact, God has an increasingly positive role in this series. In the first season, there was only one sequence where they stumble upon a church with a few zombies sitting in the pews looking at the cross of Christ up front. Okay, that’s a funny irony. But it pretty much just became a scene where Rick prays to the Christ statue for some help, while having a hard time believing he is there. Okay, That’s fair. Of course, we all question God with serious tragedies. Some cool possibilities. But unfortunately nothing ever really came of it. In fact, I remember thinking that it was not a very honest portrayal to have people in this life and death lifestyle and none of them really be dealing with the whole God and suffering and evil thing. You don’t have to be a believer to acknowledge that when you face death, you at least wrestle with God. Also, the fact that there was a crucifix in a Baptist church showed the ignorance of the writers about Evangelical faith. But that is forgivable.

Anyway, in season two, they meet Herschel, the old man with the farm, who read his Bible and kept his family members who had turned to zombies penned in his barn. He was unwilling to kill them because he thought they were still human. Okay, you could say that this is a kind of critique of Christian’s elevation of the sanctity of life to the point where they give something dignity that does not deserve it according to these story tellers. Plus he was a pacifist, an unlivable worldview in a world of pure survival. So I was thinking, uh oh, here it is, the stupid Christian stereotype coming.

BUT IT DIDN’T HAPPEN! I am very glad to admit I was wrong twice on this account.

Herschel had a traumatic experience that got him to overcome his pacifist silliness and false views of zombies and he ends up in season three as the moral conscience that keeps Rick in line when he starts to sway. Herschel even describes himself as “losing his way” by being out of line with the Bible. I was blown away. In fact, the whole series is an incarnate argument against pacifism and left wing theories about the “goodness” of human nature and the need to “understand” evil instead of condemn it and strike it down. The zombies are not the only ones who will keep coming to eat you until you destroy them. The villains like The Governor will not stop in their lawless pursuit of killing the good and controlling everyone else until you put them down — as in permanently — as in with a gun.

Take that you immoral gun control advocates who seek to arm the evil and disarm the good.

Not only that, but Herschel’s faith becomes a little more positive element when he quotes the Bible to unruly Meryl, a man who is sure to become a Judas in Rick’s group. Both Meryl and Herschel had a limb cut off, Meryl cut his own to save his life in the first season, and Meryl had his leg chopped off because a zombie bite in the leg would have turned him if Rick had not cut it off in time. Meryl quotes Matthew 25 to Meryl: “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” This is a powerful metaphor for the seriousness of sin, but also for the power of repentance for Meryl, and he sees this. It would be nice if season four brings some kind of redemption for a rather brutal and bad man. We shall see.

Well, there’s a ton more of course, but I will end with my one caveat of caution. While TWD does not have a whole lot of zombie violence, there is some in every show, and it is not a pretty sight for those of weak stomach, since the only way for zombies to be fully stopped is by cutting off their heads or smashing their brains in. TWD is quite responsible in not becoming gratuitous. But we should be careful of the amount of such violence in our entertainment diet, even if it is morally appropriate violence. Because too much of a good thing can be bad. It may even have the very effect the storytellers intend to avoid: A tendency to dehumanize real people in our world.

But that is a small caveat to an otherwise powerful and morally rich tale of survival and sacrifice that lands decidedly in the camp of Christian values for civilization.

So far. We shall see about season four. After all, we all know what happened to 24.

Hatfields & McCoys (2012)

Boy, was I angry that I was skipped over for the new release of this dvd at Netflix, and then it took THREE MONTHS waiting at the top of my queue to get the dang thing. Sometimes I love Netflix and sometimes I hate it.

Well, this is an engrossing and fascinating exploration of the self-destruction of revenge much in the way that Othello is of jealousy or Macbeth is of pride. It is Shakespearean, and rich with human understanding. Kevin Costner is at his best as a broody quiet patriarch of the Hatfields, Devil Anse Hatfield (of all the names he could have had, how perfect is that?), and Bill Paxton as the emotionally explosive patriarch Randall McCoy. This is a classic unity of opposites that seeks to capture the tenor of our very modern day “uncivil” discourse. Hatfield is an atheist who has a strong moral sense, but also rejects higher causes such as the Civil War that he deserted. McCoy is a classic Southern Christian man, who also has a strong moral sense mixed in with an addition of bigotry against unbelievers such as, you guessed it, Hatfield. So both sides are strong in their moral convictions from different viewpoints, even unyielding at times, and thus the conflict brews.

As I watched the miniseries, I must say that I began to see the obvious moral message being incarnated in the story: Extremes of both sides are the same self-destructive spirit. Okay, not too bad. So, a religious McCoy praying for the soul of a man he is about to murder is shown to be no different from the godless who kill as well. But the context was that Hatfield started out as the more moral man because he was the one who held back from revenge and experienced the injustice of false accusations from the McCoys. So the atheist was the more moral man than the hypocrite Christian. Okay, typical stereotype bigotry against Christians in the movies. And Hatfield only jumped in after his brother was killed in cold blood in front of a crowd by three McCoys without provocation. Since the law would not bring justice, he started retaliating and thus the rest of the movie. And he always sought to try to bring resolution. He was depicted as without any other option than “cutting off the head of the snake” that would not stop striking. SO Hatfield is the obvious favored protagonist.

But McCoy is shown to be a religious man who descends into madness and atheism when he concludes that no God would let his children be slaughtered. His is a story of how one loses his faith. He starts rejecting God as being a meaningless concept in a cruel world.

So, I started to get annoyed that even though it was making a point that ALL extremes are bad, the faith of Christianity appeared to me to be without any power in bringing reconciliation. And this is the biggest lie of all. Yes, FALSE religion leads to self destruction, but true Christianity does not.

So I was blown away when the ending of the story has the little “innocent lamb” Hatfield, a mentally handicapped kid get hanged, which stops the feud because the insanity of it all is finally exposed in this blood sacrifice of innocence. Yes, you got it. The innocent Son sacrificed that stopped the war. Hatfield gives a speech to his family of repentance from the hate. Quite soul stirring.

Then the last shot of the movie was Anse Hatfield GETTING BAPTIZED! After all the bloodshed, it was HE who becomes a Christian and embraces the Faith because he understood it through his own journey of justice and peace and repentance. WHOAH. Now THIS was superb storytelling. One man’s loss of faith countered by another man’s discovery of faith. I have no problem showing religious hypocrisy and religion that is evil, AS LONG AS you contrast it with TRUE faith and religion. Otherwise, you are just saying ALL religion is false, which is itself, bad faith. Hatfields and McCoys is a story that captured powerfully the essence of true reconciliation through the cross that and I was moved to my soul with repentance.

The Path to 9/11

Espionage Miniseries. The story of how 9-11 came about based on the 9-11 Commission report. Directed by David Cunningham, the director of my movie, “To End All Wars.” This is going to be on TV, but it is so astonishingly powerful, that I had to blog about it. It completes the incredible “trilogy” of 9-11 movies that I would say every American should see. The others being “United 93” and “World Trade Center.”

“The Path to 9-11” shows the political realities that the other two neglect. Shot like the series 24 in handheld very shakey style, this 6 hour extravaganza is a miracle any Hollywood Network would actually make it. Why? Because it shows George Tenet of the CIA, and Sandy Berger of National Security and Bill Clinton are all directly responsible for Osama Bin Laden being alive and carrying out 9-11. (It reveals Clinton’s sexual immorality being a distraction from his ability to lead, in missing the opportunity to actually catch or kill Bin Laden. It shows that Clinton and his administration had the opportunity to catch Bin Laden and he did not give the order to do so (This is a compilation of several events). This is why Clinton has sought to persuade ABC to re-edit the program. It shows that the US Embassy head in Yemen (played brilliantly by Patricia Heaton) was so concerned about “offending” Islam and following their social customs with sensitivity training that she quashed the investigations after the USS Cole bombing. It shows that “racial profiling” was responsible for missing the terrorists. It shows that the little people like a Canadian border guard and an airplane pilot educator were heros because they ignored the rules against racial profiling and caught Moussaui and another terrorist. It shows that the Clinton administration, including Madeline Albright, betrayed the “only true friend” we had, the head of the Northern Alliance, and failed to support him when he needed our help the most. It portrays Richard Clarke as a hero who kept telling everyone this was going to happen and we should attack the terrorists and take them out, and no one listened. And it is not one sided in it’s critique either, for it shows the capture of Ramze Youssef and Moussaui, so it shows the positive movements of the Clinton administration as well. But it also critiques the Bush administration in showing that embarrassing moment for Bush at the elementary school during the attacks, and how the military was confused and incompetent in scrambling their jets. And it also shows Condi Rice “demoting” Clarke into a lesser job, when he was the one guy who was pointing out the danger and what they should do. So it is not a politically biased movie.

There is a beautiful moment which highlights the difference between Islam and Christianity. As firefighters are carrying people out of the WTC towers, a priest, dressed in firefighting garb is heard to be praying for the men who are heroically rescuing others as well as for the victims to keep them safe. This God of mercy and grace and self sacrifice juxtaposed against the previous 5 hours of Muslims praying to their god of war and rationalizing hatred and murder. EVERY AMERICAN MUST SEE THIS FILM. Thank you, David Cunningham and the writer, Cyrus Nowrasteh, for your courageous storytelling.

P.S. I just heard that ABC is re-editing the film in response to Clinton’s demand to make him look better. And that some US Senator has threatened to pull ABC’s license if they don’t pull the show. Wow, censorship. Where is the ACLU? That’s what I want to know. Now, let’s see, do you think ABC can be relied upon to tell the truth about anything when it capitulates to politicians like this? And then this lying Sandy Berger, who is a criminal who stole classified documents from National Security Archives and stuffed them in his pants to steal them — and this criminal scumbag is complaining about truthful portrayal? Jeesh. And by the way, the scene that Clinton is griping about, is a dramatization of the fact that the Administration failed to take several opportunities to catch Bin Laden (As documented in the 9/11 Commission Report, page 136-137).


Not recommended. Okay, they pulled this one out of the crapper because they thought that the success of the masterpiece, The Passion, would somehow help this trite TV junk. What were they thinking? Unfortunately, I can’t help but compare it to The Passion. But first let me say that this was a sympathy piece, not quite on the level of Monster. It is an attempt to craft a believable motivation for this most despised character in history. In that sense it wasn’t all bad, just mostly. It paints Judas as a guy who is sympathetic with the Zealot cause (nothing new, Last Temptation did it better), and he is driven by his desire to see the Romans overthrown. His hearty zealousness for Israel is frustrated by Jesus’s spiritual kingdom, rather than a military one. Okay. But you know, no mention is made of the fact that Judas as a greedy S.O.B. He used to pilfer from the disciples’ treasury (John 12:6). And Judas is honestly surprised and angered that the high priest, Caiaphas, does not give Jesus a fair trial. What is he, an idiot? Ah, but a sincere idiot. I see. He was only handing in Jesus expecting that Jesus would be fairly treated. So maybe he is a leeeetle bit more honorable than the Scriptures portray him. And he is certainly a whole lot prettier. They used some pretty boy actor to make Judas seem more heroic. All right, The Passion and Judas: Both were made by Roman Catholics, yet Judas stunk to high heaven of agenda, while the Passion was informed by Gibson’s Catholicism, without artificially forcing the Catholic interpretation onto anything. Examples: In the Passion, we do not see Joseph, the father of Jesus. Now, it is historically probable that Joseph was dead by the time Jesus was this old, because the New Testament seems to fail to mention him. Okay, but in Judas, They make a point of saying “Joseph is long dead.” Jesus’s siblings are studiously avoided in order to propagate Mary’s “perpetual virginity.” Well, in The Passion, I don’t mind the avoidance of his siblings because it is so exclusively focused on the Passion, but in Judas, going out of their way to point it out reeks of agenda. Then, in Judas, they show the scene where Jesus talks to Peter and tells him “upon this rock I will build my church…” Fine. That’s in Scripture. But what isn’t is the portrayal of the disciples talking about this moment as Peter’s “elevation.” Yeah, right. The R.C. belief here is that this was when Peter was “elevated” as the most important apostle, from which the papacy claims its lineage. Don’t think so. Jesus wasn’t elevating Peter, he was elevating HIMSELF as Christ! The rock Jesus would build his church upon was not Peter, the man, but the doctrinal declaration of Jesus as Christ. And they try to reinforce this fallacious “elevation” by showing Jesus telling Peter, “I give you the keys of the Kingdom. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” Well, what they DO NOT show you is that this statement was made not merely to Peter (Matt 16:19), but to ALL the Apostles as progenitors of the new faith (Matthew 18: 18). The proclamation of the Gospel message would bind or loosen people, not mere humans. Another repugnant Roman Catholic agenda forced onto the story was that at the last shot of the movie, after Judas had hanged himself, some of the Apostles pray over his dead body. This comes from the unbiblical doctrine of Purgatory. R.C. believes that when a member of the church dies, he goes to purgatory to burn off his sins before he can go to heaven. So that is why they pray for dead people, because they believe they still have a chance after death. Contrarily, in the Bible once you die, that’s it, baby, no more chances, “It is appointed to men to die once and then face judgement.” (Heb 9:27). Not only that, but this doctrine of purgatory denies the very essence of New Covenant salvation. The Bible says that Jesus died once and for all for the sins of his people (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 10:10). To claim that one can burn off their own sins, that is, pay for their own sins denies the heart and soul of the Gospel. It denies that Jesus pays for your sins. This is the opposite of faith in Christ.

And speaking of Christ, the Jesus in the movie Judas is what I call the Dr. Phil-Scooby-Doo-Shaggy-Malibu Jesus. Yep. First of all, here’s a real laugher. Jesus gives Judas the money purse for the disciples because, “I’m terrible with money. I seem to lose it.” Good grief! And that after Jesus APOLOGIZES for turning the tables over of the moneychangers in the Temple. Yeah, that’s right. He says, “I lost my temper.” What kind of a god do these Roman Catholic filmmakers worship???!!! I lost my temper?? So, Christ sins too? Shades of The Last Temptation of Christ. And then the psychobabble Jesus regurgitates when he tells Judas, “I wish you could love yourself the way I do.” Yeah, right. All those poor criminals of history are just victims of their own self-esteem. Funny, the Jesus of the Bible assumes the fallen nature of self-love as the starting point to CHANGE FROM when he says, “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Matt 9:19) We ALREADY love ourselves. That’s the problem! Jeeesh! And then this stupid Malibu Jesus is frustrated about spreading his ministry, so Judas says, “Why don’t you give us your powers so we can go out and multiple the effects?” Or something as idiotic as that. Then, Sho ‘nuff, Jesus thinks, “Hey great idea” and gives the disciples his powers of miracles and such, like he didn’t think of it. Oh, and let us not forget the politically correct liberal hate speech of the filmmakers when they have Caiaphas, the high priest, and villain, complain that Jesus is attacking “traditional values.” Boy, and the Jews think they are suffering prejudicial attacks in these Jesus movies. Just try being a conservative who believes in biblical morality; you’re then on the level of a… well… a Judas, I guess. Like Jesus would be against “traditional values,” which, by the way folks is merely a synonym for Biblical values. Uh huh. That’s right, this TV Jesus is against the Bible. And lest we leave out politically correct religion, Jesus also says, “I see God in everyone.” Unlike the Jesus of the Bible who calls unbelievers, sons of the devil (John 8:44).

Last, but not least, the language of this film was laughable. In an attempt to “modernize” it or help us stupid moronic Westerners relate to the story, the characters use out of date 80s style lingo. Stuff on the level of “This town’s not big enough for the both of us.” I can’t remember it all cause I was already drenched in notes about the above stupidities. For more on Jesus as he is portrayed in the movies see my article: “Jesus in the Movies” on my website.