God’s Not Dead-attachment0

God’s Not Dead

Movie Information

The Story: A Christian student argues for the existence of God against his atheist professor. The Lowdown: Your basic "faith-based" movie complete with its stereotypical villains and rigged arguments. It will please those it's aimed at, but isn't likely to do much for anyone else.
Score:

Genre: Shameless Propaganda Melodrama
Director: Harold Cronk (Jerusalem Countdown)
Starring: Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper, David A.R. White, Trisha LaFache, Dean Cain, Willie Robertson
Rated: PG

God may not be dead, but I’d be willing to wager this movie at least gave him a faint wave of nausea. The first person I know who read the plot synopsis remarked, “This sounds like an April Fool’s joke.” After sitting through God’s Not Dead — in ever-increasing disbelief over what I was seeing — I only wish it was an April Fool’s joke. Any movie that wants me to take spiritual advice from Duck Dynasty‘s Willie Robertson (not once, but twice) is quacking from the wrong duck blind. I’m not even sure why I’m reviewing it. A movie like this is aimed at an audience who isn’t interested in whether or not it’s a good film, but merely whether or not it espouses ideas and agendas with which they’re in agreement. Of course, if the purpose really was to spread the word, they might do well to listen, but these movies aren’t about spreading the word; they’re about playing to a pre-sold audience. This is less faith-based than faith-pandering.

This one strikes me as more morally dubious and unrealistic than most. It’s firmly built upon the shaky premise that Christians are a persecuted minority in America. To prove this, the movie sets up a plot wherein out of a class of “about 80” students, only one student — our hero, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper) — is sufficiently Christian to stand up against the sneering atheist professor (Kevin Sorbo) who is going to predicate one-third of the students’ grades based on their willingness to write “God is dead” on a piece of paper and sign it. Josh’s option? Prove that God is real to the class. I don’t know if I’m more alarmed by this straw-man setup or the fact that our professor thinks Ayn Rand belongs on a list of philosophers with Nietzsche and Bertrand Russell. What is most remarkable is that all professors in his department are sneering atheists (all intellectuals are evil or suspect, just like in the McCarthy era). For that matter, everyone who isn’t a Christian in this movie is a card-carrying louse. There’s not much dramatic tension to be had. After all, we can safely predict that Josh and Jesus will prevail, and the professor will go down in flames and stand revealed as a sniveling little coward with a grudge against God. (The only surprise is how far down he’ll go.)

It doesn’t end there. The film seems to think it’s Altmanesque in its multistory structure. So we get the nasty atheist blogger (Trish LaFache) whose nasty atheist boyfriend (Dean Cain) dumps her when it turns out she’s dying of cancer. But then it turns out that he is the brother of the professor’s Christian girlfriend (Cory Oliver), who has about had it with the prof’s sneering atheist superiority. And then there’s the Chinese exchange student who’s being affected by Josh’s beliefs. Plus, there’s the Muslim girl (Hadeel Sittu), who gets caught listening to Franklin Graham podcasts and is slapped around and thrown out by her strict Islamic father. (I won’t even get into the presence of one of those Alzheimer’s victims who suddenly has a profoundly lucid comment.) The film also pulls a leaf from the old Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008) propaganda playbook by citing nonexistent facts and facts that can’t stand scrutiny over the ending credits to convince the viewer of the “war on Christianity.” It’s like watching Fox News. It just costs more and takes longer.

All of this is kind of tied together by Pastor Dave (David A.R. White) — a character who makes Bing Crosby’s Father O’Malley look deep. Frankly, Pastor Dave strikes me as wildly irresponsible. He urges Josh to risk his future, his family and his girlfriend to debate the professor because God wants him to. Bear in mind, this is at no personal risk to Pastor Dave. Later on, he counsels the now homeless Muslim convert girl about how the Bible teaches her to do without. An offer of a place to stay might be more practical. By the end of the movie, we have one death, one person dying of cancer, at least one broken family and a converted Chinese guy who puts his entire family at risk by texting “God’s not dead” to everybody in his phone book. But none of this matters because of “all the smiles in heaven tonight” over the conversions. Some will find this profound. Others may be less charitable. Rated PG for thematic material, brief violence and an accident scene.

Playing at Carmike 10, Carolina Cinemas, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

74 thoughts on “God’s Not Dead

  1. Adam Renkovish

    As a Christian myself, I’d like to offer up my sincerest apologies to all who have had to endure this piece of evangelical propaganda. Granted, I’m a rarity in the Bible belt, being a liberal as well as a Christ follower, but I still feel the need to apologize.

    Not all of us think this way. This film is incredibly shallow and, believe it or not, many of us feel that this film is a joke. We intend to treat it that way. I’ll happily ignore this one and see NOAH instead.

    • smileysue74

      why would you deliberately say something so mean? i thought it was a great movie. i registered for this site just so i could post this reply

  2. T.rex

    Absolute garbage. I’m sick and tired of religious movies, keep this crap out of the cinema and leave it in church. I hope fans of Duck Dynasty know they are being conned by a bunch if rich polo wearing self righteous assholes. The only question is that if this will be worse than Heaven is for Real?

    • smileysue74

      you’re such a mean person. was i wrong about christians? did it feel good to say mean things?

  3. Ken Hanke

    I notice the TV spots for Heaven Is for Real give a phone no. to call for group bookings.

    Despite the fact, that I have sworn off reviewing these bargain-basement releases, I guess we’ll need to deal with Heaven Is for Real since it’s a major release. That means you’ll know where to find Justin that weekend.

  4. bluesdad

    The only thing I liked about Ken Hanke’s review is that yes, it would have been nice for the pastor to reassure the Muslim character that he would find her a place to stay. As for the rest of his review, I think he may find work in the next Christian movie that needs an equally sinister antagonist. It seems to me that Hanke would easily get the part by just simply being himself. Many professors take their little jabs at Christianity all the time. That’s real. This movie reminded me of Crash where all these different characters end up being connected somehow. Plus, Josh’s first girlfriend was all too real and the pastor really acted accordingly–as he should have. They did a great job of showing the Muslim father crying as he kicked his daughter out–which I thought humanized him. Christians relate to “traditional beliefs” and I think most people sympathized with the father. But let’s be real. Any Muslim father would react in a similar way. I loved the movie and saw it twice, but yes if you hate the message and there is one–then it doesn’t matter how good the acting is or what the script and plot show–you’ll absolutely hate it which is what I expect from the secular world at large.

  5. Shannon

    I’m happy to see something positive and preaching God in secular society. It’s nice to see that not everything has a sexual or violent plot.
    It’s unfortunate that someone like yourself, Ken who already had an obvious bias to the movie and it’s subject matter had to go ahead and write a review on it. This isn’t a review, it’s a post expressing your dislike for something that sadly you didn’t understand or care to understand. I pray that you and others someday come to open your eyes to the greatness that is in Jesus Christ.

  6. Hannah

    Are you kidding? Noah looks like the worst excuse of a biblical movie ever. There are so many more movies that deserve low ratings than this one. And everyone in America feels like the minority. If you’re not a Christian, you wouldn’t recognize the ways they feel attacked. I could easily say I’m so sick and tired of all these vulgar movies like 300. But you know what? I don’t have to see it.
    I’m excited to see this movie!

  7. T.rex

    “The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it” Nothing fits that quote more than religion. I’m fine if you guys want to pray to a cross, a rock, a chair, prophet Muhamad, a spaceship, whatever but can’t you keep it to yourself and stop trying to shove it down on other people. Shannon…there are tons of wonderful films without any violence or sex. Stop preaching and watch some of them.

  8. Scott K. Ratner

    Bluesdad, Shannon, and Hannah… I’ve known Ken and his reviews for years, and I can assure you all that if he says a film is badly made, it’s because he believes it is badly made… not because he disagrees with its ideological viewpoint. Many times in the past he has stated that he abhorred the message of a film, but nonetheless admitted the skill with which it was executed. It is clear that he doesn’t subscribe to the message of this film but, more importantly here, that he finds it a badly written and produced film.

  9. SloppyJ30

    I have not seen this movie and it’s unlikely I ever will, but one line in particular struck me as irrefutable, even by the likes of Shannon and bluesdad.

    “A movie like this is aimed at an audience who isnТt interested in whether or not itТs a good film, but merely whether or not it espouses ideas and agendas with which theyТre in agreement.”

    Let’s face it; you’re guilty of prejudging this movie as “awesome” just as Ken Hanke is being accused of prejudging it as garbage. Can you honestly tell me you looked at this objectively, as a film? Simply stating that it’s not “vulgar” or sexual or violent like apparently every other movie released today is not very high praise, unless “innocuous” was all it was going for. I, for one, have never uttered the words “Wow, that was the most innocuous movie I’ve ever seen!”

    From everything I’ve read — even the positive reviews — this is no more a “movie” than a Wal-Mart commercial is a movie.

  10. Ken Hanke

    I was going to answer all three criticisms individually, but SloppyJ30 kinda covered it, since all the critcisms are of a similar note — that the review is biased. This is coming from people who are clearly predisposed to like it because of its message. In other words, just as biased as I am supposed to be — except in the other direction.

    There is, however, at least one key difference. A great deal of my bias is not based on the message, but on the history of faith-based movies I’ve sat through dating at least as far back as Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 in 2001, and which goes all the way through the Sherwood Baptist Church movies, most of Tyler Perry’s films, October Baby, and such oddities as C Me Dance and some other faith-based horror movie I’ve forgotten the title of. They are all poorly made, appallingly written, preachy, and poorly acted. I had no reason to believe that this would be any different — and it wasn’t. It’s ham-fisted, overbearing, and more likely to push the unconvinced further away from Christianity than not. It’s also just plain poorly made and badly written.

    If all you want is to preach to the converted, fine, but don’t think you’re really selling it outside that group — not with a movie promoted through churches and aimed at church groups.

    I still fail to see how a group making up supposedly 80 percent of the country is being oppressed.

  11. Sally Sefton

    When a production company puts out a film, it becomes fair game for anyone with an opinion. It seems that when a critic takes a movie to task for being a disaster, it is his/her right based on the nature of the job. It certainly should not be seen as any type of persecution. This movie has been blasted by most critics as being filled with offensive stereotypes and shallow characters.
    Substandard film making should be called out no matter what the topic.

  12. swilder

    I hope you havnt confused Westboro Baptist with the good folks at Sherwood Baptist in Albany, GA. I know you are no fan of the Kendrick brothers’ films, but those guys live the Gospel daily. The money from their films has funded parks, schools, playgrounds, housing for teen mothers, and many great causes. They do not deserve to be mentioned with that other church whose 15 minutes of fame ended last week.

  13. Ken Hanke

    I hope you havnt confused Westboro Baptist with the good folks at Sherwood Baptist

    I didn’t confuse them, I confused the names. I have fixed it.

  14. Ken Hanke

    It seems that when a critic takes a movie to task for being a disaster, it is his/her right based on the nature of the job. It certainly should not be seen as any type of persecution.

    Put on this basis, I’ve persecuted the hell out of Michael Bay and Uwe Boll.

    Substandard film making should be called out no matter what the topic.

    That’s the point, but it gets lost in the discussions about movies like this where actual quality is supposed to take a back seat to the message — however incoherently delivered.

  15. Bluesdad

    I guess this just goes to show that reviews don’t always measure up. In other words, you can see poorly reviewed movies and say to yourself, “What were they thinking? This movie was great!” Now I’ve seen poorly 2 star movies that I loved, but never a 1 star movie. Every 1 star movie I’ve seen has been an absolute nightmare–something you just can’t watch to the end. This was a movie you wanted to watch to the end–to see Josh stand up to his girlfriend, to see what arguments were made for the existence of God, and see how all these different characters were connected. Kevin Sorbo’s acting was fantastic. You may have spent your time during the movie thinking that there really couldn’t be someone like this in real life, but for the rest of us–we know his character is all too real. Plus, that dinner party with Sorbo’s Christian girlfriend was so spot-on. Ken, do you really think that dinner scene was poor directing and acting with Sorbo and her and the reactions of his peers as she announces that the help is turning in for the night? Come on, that was awesome! I know that this is an evangelical movie just like every NPR narrative is an attempt to show every possible way one can come out of the closet, but even you must admit that there is more here than 1 star. Maybe you could give it 1 star for people who get mad when they see someone wear a cross and 2 stars for everyone else. I love you Ken Hanke even if your name looks like Ken Ham, and I do give you some credit. Didactic is usually bad. If only the finale to the TV show Lost could have spelled it out as good as God’s Not Dead, then well… I might not curse the show to this day. Sorbo’s character was NOT shallow and this movie deserved at least 2 stars. But since you’re good at what you do–reviewing faith-based movies with a happy sneer, I will enlighten you to one that A. Duck Dynasty doesn’t appear in (although there is a small role from Michael Sweet of Stryper) and B. doesn’t end with a News Boys rock concert. It may not be the best movie ever but it is deep and NOT didactic. Here is the link for the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iK9MZegfVvU I’m positive you will like it better than God’s Not Dead but not so certain that you will give it horrible reviews despite it being a great low-budget movie.

  16. DrSerizawa

    The only good faith-based movie I can recall seeing is Brigham City and IMHO it is a good movie as a movie. It helps that the faith angle is a sub-plot and it actually enriches the emotion of the film.

  17. Ken Hanke

    I love you Ken Hanke even if your name looks like Ken Ham

    I ain’t related. Thankfully.

  18. Ken Hanke

    The only good faith-based movie I can recall seeing is Brigham City and IMHO it is a good movie as a movie. It helps that the faith angle is a sub-plot and it actually enriches the emotion of the film.

    I’ve never seen it. I have no quarrel with lots of movies I’d call faith-based — and I don’t just mean Going My Way, though I like it. Problem is the audience for so-called faith-based films don’t do allegory and that rules out Tommy. I suspect it rules out The Exorcist and The Exorcist III, too. Maybe even Jesus Christ Superstar, since it omits the resurrection is beyond the pale. I probably shouldn’t even mention The Ninth Configuration.

  19. Mike

    I saw Kevin Sorbo’s interview on Fox and Friends. He stated the big reason he wasn’t getting acting gigs in main stream movies is because of his Christian faith.

    I haven’t seen the movie, but is it possible he’s not getting work because he’s just a bad actor?

    I mean…the previews alone for this movie make me wonder.

  20. Ken Hanke

    Well, he’s awful in this. Then again, the fact that this was on “Fox and Friends” pretty much says it all for me in the credibility department, since it fits right in with their “persecuted Christians” nonsense.

  21. Adam Renkovish

    Kevin Sorbo can pull that “persecuted Christian” crap all he wants. I absolutely refuse to buy it, and I’m offended that he even went there. Perhaps he’s not getting work because he’s simply not a good actor. I know of many Christians in the industry who are doing well for themselves. I think it’s pretentious and irritating when Christians in America claim that they have it bad. As for Christians in other countries, yes, they are being persecuted for their faith. But here in America where you can pray openly in the street without being carried off to prison or possibly even killed? I don’t think so. My fellow Christians annoy me. You are not being persecuted. Unless someone has held a gun to your head and forced you to denounce your religion, unless you have been thrown in prison as a result of your beliefs, you have NOT been persecuted. Stop the whining. I haven’t even seen this film yet and it is already a thorn in my side.

  22. SloppyJ30

    bluesdad, you might want to take a look at the review written by Danusha Goska (easily found; just Google it). It’s written by an author (not a professional film critic) entirely sympathetic to religion who opens by freely acknowledging and lamenting the “Christophobia” on some college campuses and professorial bullying of religious students of various stripes. Yet she still thinks the movie is a steaming pile. Just because the premise is authentic doesn’t mean the delivery is sound.

    Not to stomp a dead horse, but I can’t believe a single person not already fully dialed in to the insular world fans of these “movies” choose to inhabit is going to extract any meaning from “God’s Not Dead.” Do you view the purpose of such films as simply to entertain (or “uplift,” if you prefer) its core audience, or would you expect them to help spread the Good News to non-believers or those on the fence?

    I did watch that trailer you linked to. I propose an alternate title: “Static Shots of Prolonged Soulful Gazes.” Or, as part of a mind-bending religious-themed double feature with Bill Paxton’s “Frailty,” we could ironically name it it “Subtlety.”

  23. Jerome

    Ken, I find it interesting that you and other reviewers keep using the word “persecuted.” It’s a straw man argument. The movie doesn’t use that language and I do not believe it sends that message. It communicates a legitimate message that much of academia disdains, ridicules and seeks to marginalize certain expressions of Christianity. This does not rise to the level of “persecution” but is still a valid topic to deal with. You call the premise “shaky” yet fail to acknowledge that the most recent surveys and studies of college students reveal about 1/3 identify as religious. That’s ALL religions. So while one out of 80 might be a bit overstated (for the sake of the story), its not as big a leap as you make it seem. As uncomfortable as the Muslim characters may have made you feel, that section of the film was an accurate representation of many young Muslim women’s experience. You do realize Christianity is making significant converts among Muslim peoples, in part because of the gender oppression? I can send you information to demonstrate this claim if you are interested. I admit, there were things which could have been handled with more deft and sensitivity. I am not saying this was a great movie. I wish the characters would have had more depth. However, there wasn’t a single episode in the film that I haven’t personally encountered in some fashion. Many hollywood films get preachy about their chosen agenda. This movie doesn’t have a corner on that market. But then, there is no rule that says a film has to present every side of every issue, is there?

  24. Ken Hanke

    Ken, I find it interesting that you and other reviewers keep using the word “persecuted.” It’s a straw man argument. The movie doesn’t use that language and I do not believe it sends that message.

    When every major Christian in your movie — the lead, the Islamic girl, the professor’s “unequally yoked” (yet live-in) girlfriend, the Chinese kid, even by implication Willie Robertson and the Newsboys (since the evil left-wing blogger) was out to get them — is depicted as being persecuted in some way, it’s pretty hard to claim that’s not the message.

    So while one out of 80 might be a bit overstated (for the sake of the story), its not as big a leap as you make it seem.

    If that is true, then this one freshman, who never comes up with any real argument for the existence of God (reading from “Genesis” is not proof), convincing the apparently non-religious 79 other students that God exists and is alive is just silly.

    As uncomfortable as the Muslim characters may have made you feel

    Rolling my eyes and laughing at cheap melodrama is not being made uncomfortable.

    Many hollywood films get preachy about their chosen agenda. This movie doesn’t have a corner on that market. But then, there is no rule that says a film has to present every side of every issue, is there?

    Nope, there’s no such rule. There’s also no rule against critics and the general public calling bullshit on the film’s facile view of non-Christians, its stacked-deck plot workings, its laughable dialogue, the jaw-droppingly stupid fate of the Sorbo character, and its pre-packaged answer that all that matters is Jesus.

    As a point of curiosity, what were the last five new films you watched?

  25. Bluesdad

    УStatic Shots of Prolonged Soulful Gazes.Ф ha ha ha but the movie is good.

  26. DrSerizawa

    Problem is the audience for so-called faith-based films don’t do allegory and that rules out Tommy.

    Just as well. If they actually got what it’s saying you might have riots.

  27. T.rex

    Want a good “faith vs humanist ” show? Watch a great double feature…INHERIT THE WIND & ELMER GANTRY.

  28. Jeremy Dylan

    Apparently, this thing is getting a sequel. So look out for GOD HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE in two years, followed by TASTE THE BLOOD OF GOD.

  29. Andrea

    This movie was one of best movies ever. Yes I am a Christian and God’s Not Dead. Hannah go see it and enjoy yourself.

  30. Beeyl

    “Many professors take their little jabs at Christianity all the time. ThatТs real.”
    Perhaps. But I’ve never heard of a professor making a little jab like the one on which this movie is based. Demanding that a class of 80 renounce the existence of God in order to pass a philosophy course would get a professor fired at pretty much every school in the country.
    But if I’m wrong about this and someone has evidence of this or something similar happening – ever – then please educate us all.

  31. T.rex

    The fact that we can meet here and discuss ideas and movies is all thanks to science. If religion had complete control we’d all still be inside caves, afraid to ask questions and afraid to think for ourselves. The time for religion is coming to an end. If you want to believe this stuff, fine, just keep it to yourself. Keep it out of the cinemas!

  32. Bluesdad

    http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/professor-makes-students-stomp-on-jesus.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/24/deandre-poole-fau-stomp-on-jesus_n_3490263.html

    Beeyl, here are two links on the same story that happened recently in Florida. I’m certain that if you substituted “gay men” or “Allah” in place of Jesus there would be many other resources that would have reported it. Eastern Michigan University also had two court cases over religious freedom listed at the end of the movie among a multitude others. When I attended EMU in the 80s, there was a professor that would take the Lord’s name in vain and purposely use foul language because he could. I’m not talking about cussing once in awhile. He was over the top. He knew he was tenured and allowed to say anything–nothing was off limits. Yes, there are professors that have a beef with Christianity and go out of their way to belittle his followers. College is a place to exchange different ideas. I don’t have a problem with professors explaining opposing arguments or even their own beliefs, but there is a point by which it can go too far.

  33. Ken Hanke

    Gee, there’s a world of difference between the story as reported by Fox News and as reported by the Huffington Post. Why am I not surprised?

  34. Beeyl

    First, the FOX News story leaves out many relevant facts that are found in the HP version. Given that FOX News viewers are consistently found to be the least well informed about current events, it should surprise no one that their version would retell the story with questionable accuracy.
    The professor did not invent this exercise, which has been used for 3 decades. And following the instructions given in the text (that even FOX cites), the purpose of the exercise – to demonstrate the significance and potency of a powerful symbol in our society – is realized by some students refusing to stamp on the paper, so it makes no sense (and contradicts the text’s directions) that the professor would punish such students. Given also that the university denies the student was punished, what you have here is almost certainly a student who lied and a “news” network that garnished his lie with some cherry-picked details surrounding the event to propagandize their meme of a war on Christians in the US.
    This is hardly similar to the plot of this film reviewed here.

  35. Hooch

    “A movie like this is aimed at an audience who isnТt interested in whether or not itТs a good film, but merely whether or not it espouses ideas and agendas with which theyТre in agreement.”

    1. Assuming you are rightЕ So what?
    Michael Moore makes a living on myopic-biased film fare.
    Rob Zombie’s films have one-sided agenda.
    Did you write a similar critique of those films?

    2. Your wrongЕ it’s baseless and false accusation.
    First, aside from film-cult-genres that feed a fetish, there is no audience interested in seeing a bad film, especially a one that promotes their own values. There may be a film “merely” interested in espousing ideas and agendas, without concern for productive quality, but this is not one. Lastly, the producers were obviously interested in developing a compelling plot and conveying the complexity of theological controversy, while delivering a meaningful message.

    3. All films have an agenda, even “good” onesЕ because they are made by producers, and producers have agendas. By your logic, a “good” film will camouflage its agenda. I don’t agree.
    The Avengers are out to find the Tesseract: a source of unlimited source of energy – obvious agenda. Avatar has the US Marine Corps out to destroy entire ecosystems to harvest natural resources – obvious agenda. World War Z blames the world’s woes on man’s failure to manage the planet – obvious agenda.

    I find it refreshing on occasion to view films that openly espouse their agenda.

    As for your other claim…
    “Of course, if the purpose really was to spread the word, they might do well to listen, but these movies arenТt about spreading the word.”

    I guess you didn’t stay to the end.
    I don’t know of any other film that closes w/ the challenge to text your contacts and “spread the word.”

  36. Hooch

    T.rexЕ
    Your ideas on science, religion, & caves is short-sighted.
    The reason we can discuss our ideas is because of liberty, not science.
    Newton, Einstein, and Bohr were Christian theists, among 100s of other influential scientistsЕ past & present.
    Descartes, Locke, and Madison were theists, among 100s of other influential political scientistsЕ past & present.

    You’re in the company of Marx & Co. believing religion will die out.
    For the record, where the “science” of Marxism (and Darwinism) have reigned, and attempted to exterminate religion, the result has not been “the ability to ask questions” and “to think for ourselves.”

    T-Rex did die out, but I’m glad you’re still alive and kicking.

  37. Ken Hanke

    Wow. Just wow. Quite honestly, I am speechless. And not in a good way.

  38. Beeyl

    Hooch, please stop repeating the lie that Einstein was a Christian theist. First, even if he’d been a theist, he was Jewish, so calling him a Christian is incredibly lazy. Second, he many times criticized belief in a personal god and identified himself as a non-theist and specifically an agnostic. Finally, he distinguished his agnosticism from outright atheism (as many including Richard Dawkins have done) based on scientific humility: without scientific evidence of God’s existence or non-existence, agnosticism is the only truly defensible logical position. And just to be clear, this was not the sophomoric use of the word – the shoulder shrugging admission that, “well, I haven’t thought about it much, so yeah, I guess I’m an agnostic.” Einstein’s and Dawkins’s agnosticism was a conviction: no evidence = no knowing, with certainty, period.

  39. SloppyJ30

    “House of 1,000 Corpses” and “The Avengers” are agenda-driven “issue” movies. Huh. I’ll adjust the way I use the word “agenda” accordingly. Apparently, when talking about movies, it means “a film produced by a group of people or featuring characters motivated by anything whatsoever.” Therefore, unless a film were to somehow be produced by accident, everything is an “agenda” movie. That’s a thinker, right there, Hooch. A fresh POV, to be sure.

    “. . there is no audience interested in seeing a bad film, especially a one that promotes their own values.”

    Of course they’re not explicitly interested in a “bad” film, but few in the audience for films like these are going to evaluate what they see based on the criteria that a reasonably sopisticated movie-lover would normally associate with good filmmaking. Or, more to the point, this is going to attract a lot of people who are neither interested in film as a medium nor equipped to evluate “God Is Not Dead” in any remotely objective way. They just want comfort food. And that’s fine; you want a corn dog, you order a corn dog, then enjoy your corn dog. Just don’t try to tell me your corn dog is coq au vin and creme brulee. This movie is a corn dog for people who are unaware of coq au vin’s existence.

    Reminds me of my dad . . great man, wonderful father, but not a “film” guy at all. Show him pretty much any moving pictures on a screen, and as long as John Wayne was prominently involved or the thing was marketed as a “heartwarming family film,” he’d invariably judge that it was a “classic.” I admired his many other qualities, but discriminating taste in movies was not one of them.

  40. Dionysis

    Odd that the crummiest movies, such as those based upon superstitious drivel (that aren’t horror movies) generate the most posts. So many seem to live to find someway to claim they’re being ‘persecuted’. Yawn.

  41. hopmuzk

    Same old song and dance. Does it make all you non believers who scoff at Christianity and the principles contained in the Bible feel better about yourselves to show up with fangs out ready to attack about something you don’t believe in anyway. It’s so interesting to me how critics have a more positive review of the movie Noah with all it’s inaccuracies and slam this movie. Believe what you want but if you think God is dead you better be right.

    • Dionysis

      What makes me “feel better about myself” is when I get a good night’s rest, or when I accomplish a difficult task, etc. Dismissing something that requires a complete and utter suspension of objective reality to accept is as natural as breathing. No fangs required. Just a functioning brain.

  42. Ken Hanke

    Odd that the crummiest movies, such as those based upon superstitious drivel (that aren’t horror movies) generate the most posts.

    Oh, well, it drives up the website traffic,

  43. Ken Hanke

    Same old song and dance. Does it make all you non believers who scoff at Christianity and the principles contained in the Bible feel better about yourselves to show up with fangs out ready to attack about something you don’t believe in anyway

    Does it shore up your beliefs to “show up with fangs out ready to attack” when someone doesn’t subscribe to your beliefs? That’s just the same old song and dance, too.

    It’s so interesting to me how critics have a more positive review of the movie Noah with all it’s inaccuracies and slam this movie.

    Noah is a far better made movie.

  44. T.rex

    The Bible is a horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE book. It advocates slavery, rape, child abuse, murder. All in the name of “loving God”. There are some interesting stories in it ripe for movie making (I even like John Huston’s The Bible ) but taking this stuff as literal is making yourself blind.

  45. Hooch

    “the lie that Einstein was a Christian theistЕ”

    Beeyl, I stand corrected, thank you.
    You’re right, it was lazy on my part, in editing.
    I forgot to strike the qualifier “Christian” after I swapped out Blaise Pascal (Christian Mathematician & Physicist) for Einstein.

    As for Einstein’s theology, I had in mind the following:
    Einstein composed УWhat I BelieveФ that concluded: УTo sense that behind everything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense…I am a devoutly religious man.Ф

    When asked whether he believed in God, Einstein wrote: Уeveryone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the UniverseЧa Spirit vastly superior to that of man.Ф

    During a talk at Union Theological Seminary on the relationship between religion and science, Einstein declared: Уthe situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.Ф

    Would it have made a difference had I only used “Newton” as a good example of the fact that science is not at odds with theism?
    Does it make a difference to know that many of the old-school empirical scientists were theists (dare I say Christians)?

    I regret that my error has detracted from the larger argument of my blog, which no one has responded to, as of yet.

  46. Ken Hanke

    What you have described paints Einstein pretty much as pantheistic. He referred to himself as agnostic. The closest I ever saw to a real statement from Einstein auggested a belief (or feeling) in something beyond man, but without any claims as to what it was or what it wanted. He also drew the line at a personal God.

    What exactly is your larger argument?

  47. Hooch

    Sloppy, I see your point.
    My claim that “all movies have an agenda” is overstated.
    Kill Bill is just good old fashioned black belt theatre reborn – love it.
    My point is that more movies are agenda driven than people realize or acknowledge. Agendas aren’t’ bad.

    I’m simply reacting to hyper-negative reaction to God’s Not Dead agenda, as if Hollywood doesn’t already produce it’s fair share of agenda driven movies.

    As for me…
    I count myself “a reasonably sopisticated movie-lover” and never claimed GND is coq au vin and creme brulee.
    Les Miserables would fall into that category. Agree?

    I’m not a John Wayne fan and “heart-warming” is not my criteria for a solid film. I prefer the new True Grit to the old. Robert Duval in Lonesome Dove is my favorite. It’s not very heart warming.

    While more of a corn dog, I can appreciate Ridley Scott’s attempt to answer his own “ultimate questions” in Prometheus.

  48. Beeyl

    Hooch, the quote you should commit to memory is one where Einstein expresses his own frustration at having been portrayed, over and again, as a religious man (as you’ve tried to do with your cherry-picked quotes above):

    “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

    And while it would have been more accurate for you to have replaced Einstein with someone who was actually a theist, it wouldn’t have bolstered your argument one iota. Sure, Newton was a religious man – some have called him a mystic – but he was also a (need I say failed?) alchemist, and on several occasions, kind of an antisocial prick. And while all his strengths and frailties made him human, we remember and celebrate Newton NOT for his religiosity or his prescientific fantasies or his antisocial nature (in which pursuits he was mediocre at best) but for his extraordinary mathematical and scientific insights.

    IMO, it’s similar to Richard Wagner, who was at once an exceptional composer and a rabid anti-semite: to me, it’s just common sense fact that his extraordinary musicality in no way elevates his low brow racism. So it is with Newton or any other scientist who was also religious: their greatness in the former arena does nothing to elevate their unexceptional standing in the latter arena.

  49. Hooch

    Beeyl,
    Cherry Picker?!
    I provided 3 Einstein quotes, from 3 different contexts.
    You provided 1Е who is cherry picking?

    Einstein’s views, like most people, can hardly be captured in 1,2, or 3 quotes.

    Einstein said what he said. The 3 quotes I chose are valid representations of his views. Your assertion to the contrary is bogus, and your accusation that I’m a cherry picker is wrong & rude.

    Furthermore, ironically, on this tangential topic, there is nothing in the Einstein quote you used that contradicts the 3 quotes I used. You’re trying to win a fight that I’m not having.
    I’m not trying to prove he was a Christian, or a religious person, or believed in “a personal God”Е only that he was a theist.
    Being a theist, it follows he was not an atheist (or a pantheist, Ken), and Einstein also complained about being put into that camp.

    2 quotes that should suffice to illuminate the concept well enough:

    “In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.”

    “I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangements of the books, but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.”

    Concerning NewtonЕ
    You’re dead wrong, and this time your argument isn’t’ with me, it’s with Newton. I didn’t say his religion had anything to do with his science — he did.

    It’s interesting and revealing how ardently you strive to deemphasize the widely-accepted theological motivation behind Newton’s scientific beliefs, efforts and discoveries. “Prick” “anti-social” “religiosity” (“good” film, Ken?), “prescientific fantasies”Е all your diversionary name-calling won’t shift the historical record.

    As much as it must irk you, T.Rex, and others, the grand-father of science thought theology (Christian/Biblical) was very important. In his system of physics, God was essential to the nature and absoluteness of space.

    In his “Principia” he stated, “The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful BeingЕ All variety of created objects which represent order and life in the universe could happen only by the willful reasoning of its original Creator, Whom I call the Lord God.”

    Newton attributed his insights to his efforts in translating the Bible: “Amongst the Interpreters of the last age there is scarce one of note who hath not made some discovery worth knowing; and thence seem to gather that God is about opening these mysteries.”

    Newton believed God’s creation of the universe was self-evident given its grandeur and warned against using his laws to replace the creator. He said, “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.”

    Newton, like most of the FOUNDING FATHERS of today’s scientific disciplines, believed God is a rational being, and therefore, expected His creation to reflect His rationality and His intelligent creatures to comprehend what He has made. Newton was motivated by a confidence in the “rationality” behind the universe.

    If Newton was able to study both science and the Bible (and advocated doing so) without conflicts, then scientists who do so today are in good company.

    It matters not “one iota” what you chose to “remember and celebrate Newton” forЕ Newton claimed his science was motived by his Christian/Biblical theology, so, what right do you have to try and have one without the other? None. It’s the height of philosophical blindness and hubris. It’s ultimate cherry picking.

  50. Hooch

    Ken, “my larger argument”Е

    Simply, that your review of GND goes too far and isn’t fully fair in its completely negative and mocking castigation.

    I agree with you about the lack of “dramatic tension” and the production/script quality has plenty of room for improvement. But, I could say the same thing about Broken Arrow, Iron Eagle, National Treasure, and The Lone Ranger.

    I agree with you about the unnecessary offensive portrayal of “everyone who isnТt a Christian in this movie is a card-carrying louse.”

    I disagree with you that this movie “is aimed at an audience who isnТt interested in whether or not itТs a good film, but merely whether or not it espouses ideas and agendas with which theyТre in agreement.”
    I could be wrong. We’d have to talk to the producer to be sure.

    I disagree with you that this movie is “more morally dubious and unrealistic than mostЕ firmly built upon the shaky premise that Christians are a persecuted minority in America.”
    Your premise is shaky to the extent you misrepresent the context. The movie suggest Christians are a persecuted minority on college campuses in America; not in America. The movie provides the standard disclaimer at the end “all characters are fictitious.” The movie explains in the credits it was based on a conglomeration of ~37 existing legal cases related to religious expression on college campuses. While this specific scenario may/may not have ever happened is up for debate, but the over-arching cultural concept of the movie is up-front and accurate… not morally dubious or unrealistic.

    I disagree that this movie isn’t “about spreading the word; theyТre about playing to a pre-sold audience. This is less faith-based than faith-pandering.”

    True, the director obviously intentionally sets-up the “sufficiently Christian” Josh to victoriously “stand up against the sneering atheist professor.”
    True, Christians aren’t going to be converted by this movieЕ because they are Christians. Logically speaking, they don’t need this movie to “sell” them anything.

    I think you are pre-soldЕ unable to find a single redeeming quality in the film. Try listening to the dialogue and examining the script with a truly “critical” mind and I think you’ll find GND isn’t as “faith-pandering” as you make it out to be.

    Consider the following aspects of GND that show elements of thoughtfulness, outwardness, and credibility…
    The atheist gets plenty of time to present his views. The atheist presents extremely strong arguments against theism. The atheist expounds Camus’ famous “God cannot be all good AND powerful” argument. The atheist’s convictions are founded in real pain of real loss and treated with sincerity.
    The Christian Josh’s arguments for Christianity aren’t the strongest. Josh’s girlfriend is a jackass and deserts him & Josh’s parents don’t support him (both reminiscent of the Muslim scenario). The Christian pastor is portrayed as a man of weak faith.

    Finally, disturbing as it may be, death is coming to us all, and everyone who has lost a loved one or thought about their own mortality has wondered “is there more to this life?” or “is there life after this life?” GND treats the topic of life & death with respect, in accordance with it’s “faith-based” convictions. I didn’t get that same vibe watching “A Clockwork Orange.” Offering people hope in the face of cancer isn’t pandering. One of my atheist friends is an atheist because he lost 2 children. I can’t explain the bad away. I have 2 kids dealing with renal failure. 1 of them received a kidney from a stranger who went to the hospital and told the doctors “God told me I’m the donor.” I can’t explain the good away. My father-in-law was diagnosed last month with ALS. I’ve lost more friends in the military than I can count on both hands. That doesn’t make me special, unique, or right. It just makes me able to watch GND with a sense of appreciation for the philosophical-religious-rational position that appeals to what I know I feel inside of me (and what I believe you feel inside of you)Е that there is more to this life than “Of Being and Nothingness” or “Nausea” (Sarte), to borrow the word from your (IMO) well-written review.

    Thanks for allowing me to clarify my larger argument.

  51. Ken Hanke

    You obviously have a lot more spare time than I do, so I’m only going to hit what are to me the more relevant parts of your post.

    Simply, that your review of GND goes too far and isn’t fully fair in its completely negative and mocking castigation.

    This is your opinion. My review is my opinion. I found and find the film a miserable, heavy-handed exercise in preachiness. I said so. I found the situations laughable and the dialogue even worse. I said so. This is a review, which, by its nature, is an opinion. I don’t even know what “fair” means in this instance.

    I disagree with you that this movie “is aimed at an audience who isn’t interested in whether or not it’s a good film, but merely whether or not it espouses ideas and agendas with which they’re in agreement.”

    And I stand by this. The movie is clearly aimed at and marketed to a specific audience. When your biggest selling tool for a movie called God’s Not Dead is through churches, this is in the undeniable realm. I also spent 10 years working at a movie theater (2000-2010, just so you know we’re not talking ancient history). I’ve observed the audiences for a lot of these movies and there’s a disproportionate number of the “I don’t usually go to movies” and “I haven’t been to a movie in 10 years” contingent in attendance. I have almost never seen an average moviegoer buy a ticket to one of these movies. And I have never seen anyone who doesn’t self-identify as a Christian mount a defense of one of them.

    I disagree with you that this movie is “more morally dubious and unrealistic than mostЕ firmly built upon the shaky premise that Christians are a persecuted minority in America.”
    Your premise is shaky to the extent you misrepresent the context. The movie suggest Christians are a persecuted minority on college campuses in America; not in America.

    Uh, no. Just no. The movie is pure Fox News in this regard. Only the one aspect deals with persecuted college Christians. The Islamic girl, the Dean Cain subplot, the leftist blogger, the “unequally yoked” (I love that term) living-in-sin girlfriend of the professor — none of this has anything to do with how Chistians are persecuted on college campuses.

    The movie explains in the credits it was based on a conglomeration of ~37 existing legal cases related to religious expression on college campuses. While this specific scenario may/may not have ever happened is up for debate, but the over-arching cultural concept of the movie is up-front and accurate… not morally dubious or unrealistic

    I would love to see a factual — non-biased — look at the specifics of the existing legal cases. Whenever I see the name James Dobson attached to something (and his group appears to be attached to most of these) my skepticism is at an all-time high. You and I just plain disagree that the movie is accurate. Whether is it morally dubious is another matter. I find it to be — as stated and for the reasons stated — very bad religion. I find its message questionable and I think Pastor Dave is irresponsible. (Plus, if I’ve just been hit by a car, I’d hate to have my impending demise decided by a missionary — with no apparent medical qualifications — on a very cursory examination. I confess I actually chuckled at this.)

    I disagree that this movie isn’t “about spreading the word; they’re about playing to a pre-sold audience. This is less faith-based than faith-pandering.”

    You are entitled to disagree, but I think you’re kidding yourself if you really believe this movie is an evangelical tool. It is preaching to the choir, nothing more. Almost all agenda-driven movies are. (I think you confuse agenda-driven with subtext in a lot of cases.) To take a secular example, look at Fahrenheit 9/11. Sure it made tons of money. I believe it is in fact the most financially successful documentary of all time. Did it alter the outcome of the election? No. What defenders of things like God’s Not Dead don’t realize is that these films likely move the unconvinced further away from Christianity not closer to it. You rail at me about evil atheists and persecuted Christians for two hours and you aren’t like to sell me on anything. This one does that more than most. The only “faith-based” film that I thought tried to take a different tack was Blue Like Jazz, but it has problems of its own.

    I think you are pre-sold? unable to find a single redeeming quality in the film. Try listening to the dialogue and examining the script with a truly “critical” mind and I think you’ll find GND isn’t as “faith-pandering” as you make it out to be.

    I was and remain pre-sold against the film, but not for the reasons you think. That was based on having slogged my way through far too many of them. I expected nothing different. I expected contrived situations, stacked-deck arguments, and tin-eared dialogue. That’s also what I got. Am I in tune with its message? No, but then I am not what you would call a Christian. That does not mean I am holding the film to that standard.

    The atheist’s convictions are founded in real pain of real loss and treated with sincerity.

    This to me is one of the movie’s weakest points. The professor isn’t an atheist for intellectual reasons. He doesn’t simply reject reject religion because it seems absurd to him. That would make for a very different movie. He’s not even an atheist. He’s got a hard-on for God because God dealt him a bad hand. (Personally, I think he’s more of the Woody Allen school of God as “an under-achiever.”)

    The Christian Josh’s arguments for Christianity aren’t the strongest.

    This is an understatement. And yet the movie insists that he convinces every single person in that class that he’s right. Seriously?

    The Christian pastor is portrayed as a man of weak faith.

    Even without getting into the area of me thinking that he’s an irresponsible jerk, this is another weak area of the movie. He has weak faith because he isn’t having to go best two falls out of three with Satan on a daily basis, and becaus he doesn’t have faith that a rental car will start. That latter, of course, is also the movie’s idea of a running gag. This is just lousy writing.

  52. Bundy

    “You obviously have a lot more spare time than I do…”
    Hooch, its obvious that Ken is much busier and important than you. I’m surprised he has even stooped so low as to respond. You obviously work for Fox News or are a right wing blogger living in your parents basement.

    “And I have never seen anyone who doesnТt self-identify as a Christian mount a defense of one of them.”
    Case closed. Ken’s never seen it so it never happened. Hooch, why can’t you be more objective like Ken?

    “The movie is pure Fox News in this regard.”
    Ken and I are much more discerning than you. We are able to see the evil hand of Rupert Murdoch even when you don’t. You can tell by how we randomly inject Fox News into a discussion that has nothing to do with Fox, the News, or TV. We prefer serious, unbiased news stations like MSNBC.

    “I would love to see a factualЧnon-biasedЧlook at the specifics of the existing legal cases.”
    But of course as a journalist and as Ken already said in the beginning, he doesn’t have the time nor the obligation to do any research before calling people liars. Get real Hooch. Better yet, get a job.

    “I think Pastor Dave is irresponsible.”
    Sorry Ken, I have no help for you here. Dave’s not real so I can’t really delve into the fantasy world of what Dave might or might not have done off camera, um, because, there is no Dave. Its ok though, at least you didn’t try to convince me that Einstein wasn’t an atheist.

  53. Ken Hanke

    Though I think it’s nice that Hooch has friends to rally around him, there is not one thing in that post I am bothering to respond to. I will go further — any more posts that are nothing but personal attacks will be deleted.

  54. Bundy

    Censorship Ken? Shocked. Shocked I tell you. I had you down for being open minded (and dare I say tolerant) with a monopoly on being “fair and balanced”. I thought Hooch was the closed minded Fox News watcher? I’m sure he can take the satire. No really, I’m sure. He delivered much worse when we were flying night missions off aircraft carriers in hostile countries to defend the rights of self righteous, thin skinned liberals like you including the right to a free and un-censored press! So stop being so reactionary, get your panties out of a wad, climb off that high horse of self important-too-busy-to-interact-with-my-readers-also-known-as-customers and get back in the fight…or continue to be a Nazi propogandist and delete this and other opposing views that refuse to lick your boots. Heil Hanke! You can do it Ken. I have “faith” in you.

  55. SloppyJ30

    “KenТs never seen it so it never happened. Hooch, why canТt you be more objective like Ken?”

    Bundy declines to draw on past personal interactions to recognize obvious patterns and make inferences about common reactions of a certain type of person to certain types of films. This unfortunately leads to him repeatedly strong-arming his grandmother into attending Tarantino movies, routinely suggesting the latest Katherine Heigl rom-com is the perfect “guys’ night out” activity, and reacting to someone self-identifying as a Jacque Tati fan by offering to let them borrow his “Scary Movie” box set because, hey, comedy.

    “You can tell by how we randomly inject Fox News into a discussion that has nothing to do with Fox, the News, or TV.”

    Ignoring the fact that Fox News was already pulled into the discussion days ago, whatТs with the refusal to see (read: acknowledge) obvious patterns linking two seemingly unrelated entities? Are we really denying that the message “Christians are under A-TACK-ACK-ACK-ACK-ACK!!” isn’t a common Fox News theme and is also a good part of the core message of GND? ItТs a cheap yet effective ploy to fire up the troops. Convince someone that theyТre being assaulted from all sides and that you are in their corner, and youТve got Сem right where you want Сem, eager to buy a ticket to your next feature.

    ” . . he doesnТt have the time nor the obligation to do any research before calling people liars?”

    Well . . no? Responding to a message board/blog post about a movie does not demand hours of poring over court documents and scholarly legal analyses. Is simply saying “I would love to see researchФ tantamount to calling someone a liar? A tad strident, donТt you think? Implying a vague reference to a slew of kinda-sorta-related court cases as the symptom of a large-scale attack on oneТs faith places the onus of proof on the filmmakers and its fans, not to someone who doubts the attack is happening.

    УDaveТs not real so I canТt really delve into the fantasy world of what Dave might or might not have done off camera, um, because, there is no Dave.Ф

    Oh. One canТt question the motives of a fictional character in a movie without drawing sarcastic suggestions that maybe we one doesnТt understand the difference between fiction and reality. This is apparently even true when the movie in question is ostensibly designed to emulate Very Serious Real-Life Situations Involving Personal Faith and understanding various charactersТ motivations are essential to getting anything at all out of it.

    In the end, the two sides are arguing different things, so neither one can УwinФ. If you liked GND, you liked it because of its message and how it aligns with your faith. For many of its fans, as long as the message provided warm fuzzies, it was going to be ERMAGRD, the BEST MOVIE EVER! Any decent film critic has to at least attempt to evaluate it outside of how much he/she may identify with the obvious beliefs of the filmmakers. ItТs apparent from the majority of reviews out there that, viewing it as a FILM, itТs pretty bad. If your tastes tend to align with the critical majority, then why pay $12 to see GND? If you tend to like every heartwarming Christian-themed movie you see, reviews were never going to matter to you anyway.

    Though IТd guess that a very, VERY low percentage of GND fans ever seek out movie reviews in the first place, a few of you made your way here. The question is, why? How much stock do you generally tend to put in movie criticsТ opinions? Do you often respond when a non-religious movie you like gets panned? If the answer is Уno,Ф that should be telling.

  56. Ken Hanke

    Censorship Ken? Shocked. Shocked I tell you

    Here it is — you want to discuss the movie, have at it. You want to be a jackass, do it elsewhere.

  57. Ken Hanke

    Do you often respond when a non-religious movie you like gets panned? If the answer is “no,”

  58. Hooch

    “I’m not even sure why I’m reviewing it”

    We agree on that point… I’m not sure why you reviewed it either. Your openly & honestly admitted pre-viewing bias, based on having had to “slog through” films like these. Technically, then, you can’t give an actual “critique.” Your opinion, yes, but that was pre-determined & pre-sold, as you say. It’s hypocritical to then point your “narrow-minded” guns at the so-called pre-sold Christian.
    Are you somehow able to rise above your bias, while assuming Christians cannot? That would fly in the face of our “sneering professors’” astute observation that some of the stongest athiests were once Christians.
    Can you bring yourself to admit: “That was a compellimg line”?

    “A very, very low percentage of GND fans ever seek out movie reviews, a few of you made your way here… Why?”

    Really good question, since I haven’t even been to a movie in about 10 years, right?
    Well, it’s because after going to see the movie (seats are more cushy than I remember in 1993) I used my computer (like a scientist might) to see what other people thought (since I can’t think for myself).
    Sorry, I didn’t mean to crash your religion bashing party disguised as a “film review.”

    Ken, thats no slam on you, personally… I agree with the very small portion of your review that actually assessed the “film” (skit-like), rather than the message you found so repulsive.

    I’m not a “GND fan”…
    I’m a fan of going to the movies, being entertainment, being challenged, being encouraged, escaping, relating, laughing, crying, and working through any thought provoking ideas (sub-texts) the director may have intended to convey visually or verbally, obviously or subtly.
    GND did that for me, even if in a different way than The Great Santini, Inglorious Bastards, 28 Days Later, Galaxy Quest, The Debt, The Guard, Rob Roy, Princess Bride, Outlaw Josey Wales, The Right Stuff, and the Lego Movie.

    As you contemplate closing the commenting on this film, know that the overall tone of the anti-GND crowd toward anyone who dare “defend this film” (those dying off religious types) has been dissapointingly over-generallized & disparaging… as some sort of half-witted, low-brow, pollo-wearin’ asshole who hasn’t been to a movie in 10 years, is brainwashed by FOX & doesn’t know a “good film” from “crap.”
    Do you hear yourselves?
    That’s just wrong.

    I admit, it would be nice if FOX news went away, because all the world’s fake problems would vanish, too. Muslim families don’t really regard convets as apostates worthy of death… FOX made that up.
    Do you really believe that?
    That’s how you come across.

    I stumbled onto your website from rotten tomatoes.
    I like reading other peoples opinions & hope to learn from them.
    Didn’t mean to detract from your dialogue… tried to elevate it.
    Peace out

  59. Ken Hanke

    We agree on that point… I’m not sure why you reviewed it either.

    I reviewed it because it is my job. Do you think I actually wanted to see, say, Mr. Popper’s Penguins either? This sort of thing comes with the territory. Had I realized that just about everyone else in the critical world — this movie only has ten reviews, for Clapton’s sake — had decided it wasn’t worth bothering with, I would have left it alone.

    Your openly & honestly admitted pre-viewing bias, based on having had to “slog through” films like these. Technically, then, you can’t give an actual “critique.” Your opinion, yes, but that was pre-determined & pre-sold, as you say.

    First of all, a review is an opinion. However you want to slice it that’s what it is. And reviews are written by people and people come to everything with all manner of prejudices. (You do, too. You are not immune.) Anyone who claims to be giving you his 100% objective take on a film is either deluded or lying. The thing — other than, hopefully, writing skill — that separates it from the person who comes in claiming, “This movie was one of best movies ever. Yes I am a Christian and God’s Not Dead. Hannah go see it and enjoy yourself,” is that the reviewer tells you why he thinks it’s bad or good. And if the critic tells you upfront he’s not keen on the movie’s message and was predisposed based on a history of seeing other faith-based films not to like it, he’s being honest with you. You really have little room to call “foul.”

    Let’s take this — “that was pre-determined & pre-sold, as you say” — separately. That’s pretty much bullshit. A number of my favorite movies — Love Me Tonight, Tommy, Moulin Rouge!, The Rules of Attraction, Kill Bill, The Hours, Running Scared (to name a few) — were things I went to see expecting to dislike. There are many more less extreme examples. I did not go to see (for instance) Freaky Friday or The Princess Diaries with anything approaching keen anticipation. I would never have gone to see them on my own hook. But I enjoyed them both immensely. It is no one’s responsibility to expect to like a movie. It’s the movie’s responsibility to make you like it. (And what about the people — believe it or not critics are people — who were all pre-sold on loving, say, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and came out claiming that Spielberg had ruined their childhood? Pre-disposed is a two way street.)

    “A very, very low percentage of GND fans ever seek out movie reviews, a few of you made your way here… Why?”

    That was not, I think, aimed at you. (I didn’t say it and I am not in cahoots with the person who did.) While I don’t agree with your assessment of the movie, you have established yourself as someone who actually appears to be a moviegoer with reasonably eclectic tastes.

    As you contemplate closing the commenting on this film

    I don’t believe I said anything about closing the comments on this film. I did start deleting “Bundy”‘s posts because they had nothing to do with commenting on the movie and were becoming increasingly abusive.

    That would fly in the face of our “sneering professors’” astute observation that some of the stongest athiests were once Christians.
    Can you bring yourself to admit: “That was a compellimg line”?

    It might be a compelling line with some context around it. Unfortunately, it’s housed in a movie where the only Christianity-rejecting atheist is a character who thinks God played a dirty trick on him. Where are the former Christians who just decided it made no sense to them?

    I stumbled onto your website from rotten tomatoes. I like reading other peoples opinions & hope to learn from them. Didn’t mean to detract from your dialogue… tried to elevate it.

    Just as a matter of curiosity, did you attempt to “elevate” the dialogue on the other sites?

    Before you go, I’d like you to consider an idea put forth in another movie called The Stunt Man in which a director (Peter O’Toole) making an anti-war film talks about how a friend of his made an anti-war film — “a good one, too, and when it was shown in his hometown enlistment went up 400 percent.” He then tells his writer, “We’re shaking a finger at them, Sam, and we bloody well oughtn’t be. If we have anything to say we need to slip it in while they’re all laughing and crying and jerking off.” You might want to consider that when you wonder why people who aren’t already convinced might react negatively to a movie that’s shaking its finger and preaching at them.

  60. SloppyJ30

    “Though IТd guess that a very, VERY low percentage of GND fans ever seek out movie reviews in the first place, a few of you made your way here.. Why?”

    Just to clarify, this non-Ken quote was not aimed at anyone in particular, but was, as stated, a GUESS about the general tendencies about the target audience for GND. I admit I could be wrong. Many of them may be Cahier du Cinema subscribers and only ended up at God Is Dead because there was no Michael Haneke film playing at the local mall. Or, the majority could be die-hard Troma fans. If youТre a betting man, whereТs your money?

    ” . . some sort of half-witted, low-brow, pollo-wearinТ asshole who hasnТt been to a movie in 10 years, is brainwashed by FOX & doesnТt know a ‘good film’ from ‘crap.’

    You’re exaggerating for effect (I hope), and fair enough. Enjoying or not enjoying any particular film (other than “Bucky Larson,” anything with the words Seltzer & Friedberg attached to it, or any live-action movie starring Larry the Cable Guy) says exactly nothing about one’s overall wit or intelligence. Ditto oneТs predilection to wear chickens or state of being the hole of an ass. I wouldnТt be surprised if many Christian engineers, physicians and astronauts bought a ticket to GND.

    The term УbrainwashedФ is thrown around too easily, and where they get their news (if they do at all) is really irrelevant, but itТs not much of a leap to state that the message УChristianity is under siege!Ф is a theme commonly repeated by Fox, hence Fox gets pulled into these discussions. Is УYou probably listen to Fox News!Ф a lazy cheap shot? Probably, but IТve always felt that particular message to be beyond silly and harmful, even though itТs repeated, loudly, by people around me ad nauseam. ThatТs right . . I am an actual weekly church-goer, if an unenthusiastic one. I get sick and tired of my fellow parishioners whining about the world persecuting them, even though most (all?) have never been denied anything resembling a basic human right in their cushy lives.

    Now the last part is probably less of an exaggeration, but IТd re-emphasize that I doubt many people praising GND really CARE what The Village Voice, Variety, Rolling Stone, or The Mountain Xpress say about this movie or any other. The not-knowing is mostly a by-product of the reality that, movies are approximately #312 on their list of priorities. I just donТt believe that many people who believe GND is a Уgood filmФ would be able to name a current director besides maybe Steven Spielberg, have ever seen a single Fellini or Bergman film, or would ever under any circumstances choose to watch a subtitled film. Are there exceptions? Sure, but IТd wager they are few. Can I prove this? Of course not. ItТs just one small personal theory supported only by 42 years of existing on Earth and paying occasional attention.

  61. Dionysis

    Hmmm, not only (as I noted in an earlier post) do the worst films continue to generate the largest number of posts, but in this case, the amount of words expended on this facile dreck seems to have an inverse correlation to the actual merits of the film.

  62. Ken Hanke

    I can’t argue with that. Would that we were seeing this kind of action applied to Grand Budapest or even Noah.

  63. Hooch

    “Only 10 reviewers bothered with it.. one has (perhaps wisely) closed the commenting on this film”

    My bad. I thought, perhaps, you were getting ready to follow the wise one, who is no longer “bothered with it.”

    “sneering atheistЕ nasty atheist”
    Ken, 5 times in your review/opinion, you balk at how GND portrays the “sneeringЕ nasty atheist.” You are right to do so; my atheist friends are polite and treat others with respect. In fact, the GND puppet-masters allowed the sneering atheist to make a related pointЕ that atheists don’t need religion to be moral/ethical.

    I could only guess who the atheists are in this blog (that apparently no one really wants to read), but the more responses I read about my “facile dreck” on this “superstitious drivel” & “absolute garbage” that makes God “nauseous” the more I realize the reality & the irony of the situationЕ atheist or not, they are in large part sneering and nasty. If the shoe fitsЕ don’t blame it on FOX news. But hey, at least it “drives up the website traffic.”

    When I said I was trying to “elevate the conversation,” it wasn’t a high & mighty put down as if I’m God’s gift to anything. I came in late to the conversation & it seemed like the better/deeper topics of the blog (film, faith, culture, intellectual curiosity) were being held down by petty anti-religous slander, rather than facing the arguments as presentedЕ which you seem to try to do, but I can’t tell if you’re really interested – since it’s your “job.”

    “It is no oneТs responsibility to expect to like a movie. ItТs the movieТs responsibility to make you like it.”

    I like your line here. (though, I think you missed my point – I know we all have bias).
    I’m not defending the quality of the film.
    I am suggesting the message, cheesy/imperfectly as it may have been delivered at times, is worthy of consideration, and isЕ
    (1) not “absolute garbage.” If T.Rex & Co. can’t begin to recognize what Einstein & Newton recognized (Уeveryone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the UniverseЧa Spirit vastly superior to that of man”) as anything more than “absolute garbage” then he’s in denial. His ignorance is only exceeded by his arrogance.
    (2) not being shoved down anyones throat.” Whoever went to see this movie, went voluntarily. If they didn’t leave after the 1st perceived finger preaching, or get up and walk out after Josh’s vile comments, then blame yourself. You can’t have it both waysЕ claiming the tolerant virtue of the open-minded scientists, and then turning instantly around to proclaim: “keep this crap out of the cinema.”

    “people who arenТt already convinced might react negatively to a movie thatТs shaking its finger and preaching at them.”

    I agree 100%.
    Yet, while this movie preaches Jesus from beginning to end, I don’t see this movie shaking its finger. Yes, it is pro-God & predetermined, as the title “GND” suggests, but where is the finger shaking?
    I saw praying for the sick, responding to embarrassment with dignity, and debating “with all due respect professor.”
    And, if you are correct that this film wasn’t intended to be an evangelical too (being pre-sold to church groups) then why would there by ANY finger shaking or preaching at all? There’s no intended heathen target audience expected to be thereЕ just mindless lemmings foraging for corn dogs & comfort food.

    FWIW: I’ve never been persecuted, except for being rightly called out for my “predilection to wear chickens” (good one – it was late).

    I expect the God of wine & fertility will weigh in with another “sneering” jab to lament my verbosity. I obviously hope to join a real conversation. And Ken, I apologize if your film-review-blog was the wrong place to do that, it wasn’t my intention to drag on & on. IMO the “film” has little to discuss in terms of production quality (your expertise), and much in terms of what matters most… if anything matters at all (?).
    Peace out

  64. Ken Hanke

    You are right to do so; my atheist friends are polite and treat others with respect. In fact, the GND puppet-masters allowed the sneering atheist to make a related pointЕ that atheists don’t need religion to be moral/ethical.

    He says it, but I would not say the film lets him make the point, because it shifts back to “then everything is allowed” as if a moral compass requires a cosmic traffic cop.

    When I said I was trying to “elevate the conversation,” it wasn’t a high & mighty put down as if I’m God’s gift to anything. I came in late to the conversation & it seemed like the better/deeper topics of the blog (film, faith, culture, intellectual curiosity) were being held down by petty anti-religous slander, rather than facing the arguments as presentedЕ which you seem to try to do, but I can’t tell if you’re really interested – since it’s your “job.”

    Reviewing the film is my job. After that, the rest is my choice. I am not told to participate. I am not paid to. Most critics do not participate to this level — and most are a lot more snarky than I am.

    The biggest problem I encounter with your argument is that you’re not defending the movie — even you admit that it’s no great shakes as a film — but your subjective view of the importance of its subject or message. This is supposed to cut it slack. In essence you are agreeing with my own “A movie like this is aimed at an audience who isn’t interested in whether or not it’s a good film, but merely whether or not it espouses ideas and agendas with which they’re in agreement.” You will argue this, but it’s what it comes down to.

    Yet, while this movie preaches Jesus from beginning to end, I don’t see this movie shaking its finger. Yes, it is pro-God & predetermined, as the title “GND” suggests, but where is the finger shaking?

    Uh in its depiction of every non-Christian as nasty or downright villainous.

    And, if you are correct that this film wasn’t intended to be an evangelical too (being pre-sold to church groups) then why would there by ANY finger shaking or preaching at all? There’s no intended heathen target audience expected to be thereЕ just mindless lemmings foraging for corn dogs & comfort food.

    It’s not so much that its makers don’t see it as an evangelical tool (the people selling it may be a separate matter), but it’s a piss poor one — from the hopeless heathen standpoint.

    And Ken, I apologize if your film-review-blog

    This isn’t mine and it isn’t a blog. The Xpress is an actual publication with an internet presence — part of which is a comment section.

    IMO the “film” has little to discuss in terms of production quality (your expertise), and much in terms of what matters most

    Again, you’re endorsing my own statement that the film isn’t ultimately of much interest to anyone who isn’t sold on its message. It may think it is, but I see no evidence of it.

  65. Just Wondering

    I’m just wondering. If a major argument for believing in a particular version of religion is the FEAR of ETERNAL MISERY for failing to believe in that particular version of religion — then — is that religion based on a love of God or a FEAR that some nasty OGRE is going to hurt you if you don’t go along with his program. Seriously, I’m not being sarcastic here — that logic leads to “My God is bigger than your God” conflicts. And it’s not based on “love”, is it?

    • Beeyl

      Moreover, how could something like Pascal’s Wager come from the mind of anyone but an innumerate? It supposes only four combinations of possibilities: (+ Belief, + God) (+ Belief, – God) (– Belief, + God) and (– Belief, – God). Of course, this should persuade someone to believe in God because the risk of non-belief when God truly exists is eternal damnation. Of course, among dozens of replies rational people have, my first question is, How close do(es) the God(s) I believe in have to be to the actual God(s) in order to go to Heaven and escape eternal Hellfire? For instance, if the Christian God is the actual God, will Jews get thru the Pearly Gates? How about Muslims? Baha’i, Hindus, or Deists? Buddhists? And what about those searchers Pascal talked about who just never found God, who could be called true Agnostics?

  66. Ken Hanke

    For those no longer keeping track. God’s Not Dead has grown another negative review on Rotten Tomatoes.

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