Bronze Age for Christian Movies. The quality of most Christian movies still leaves much to be desired. Therefore, it’s perhaps premature to call this the “Golden Age” of Christian movies. However, it is fair to say that movies with Christian themes are getting better, and they are undoubtedly performing better at the box-office. The success of “I Can Only Imagine” is a case in point. The movie has so far pulled in $38-million against a $7-million production budget. It’s also getting decent if not great reviews. Last year’s “The Case for Christ” did $15-million and turned a profit in its theatrical run. You can now find that movie on NetFlix. Of course, there are still flops, as there are in any genre. “Paul, Apostle of Christ” is underperforming at the box office despite the star-power of Jim Caviezel. And “The Same Kind of Different as Me,” based on the blockbuster book, was a box-office bomb. Still, of the top 20 Christian movies of all time, 10 of them have released in the last five years. The industry is definitely maturing, both commercially and artistically.
Man Knows Not His Time. I cannot help noting the deaths of two remarkable men I had the privilege of knowing. Wayne Huizenga was a serial entrepreneur who made billions in “blue-collar” industries. He turned his family’s local trash-hauling business into the multi-billion dollar giant, Waste Management. When VHS videos came on to the scene, video stores were a decidedly down-scale business. (Have you seen the movie “Clerks”?) The stores were dingy and often sold pornography under the counter. Blockbuster consolidated and cleaned up the industry, and at its peak had 9000 stores. He also co-founded Extended Stay America, a chain of low-cost hotels catering to construction and other nomadic workers who would stay in one area for a week or a month and move on. The Huizenga family has also been active contributors to conservative and Christian causes over the years. Zell Miller was a pro-life Democrat, a former lieutenant governor and governor of Georgia, as well as a U.S. Senator. One of my first jobs out of college was as a staff member with the Georgia legislature. I had many occasions to interact with then-Lieutenant Governor Miller. He was always a perfect gentleman, gracious and generous with this low-level staffer. I will miss them both.
The Sex-Change Police. A British woman who criticized transgenderism on Twitter is under investigation. Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull faces charges of “malicious communication” for criticizing sex-change operations for minors. The mother of four posted eight tweets in 2016 and 2017, but the investigation came only after transgender activists filed a complaint with Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service. Keen-Minshull describes herself as a pro-abortion liberal, but she believes sex-change operations for children is wrong. “I will not kowtow to an ideology that demands I cannot speak the truth,” Keen-Minshull wrote on her blog. “I will not be compelled to say a man is a woman, or that sterilizing children is okay, [nor encourage] kids who don’t fit in or who struggle with their identity that a good solution is puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and a lifetime of drugs.”
Jesus Christ Superstar Returns. NBC is bringing back the 1970 Broadway musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” as a live television event. The musical returns this Sunday, Easter Sunday, with John Legend as Jesus, Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene, and R.C. Sproul’s one-time golf partner Alice Cooper as Herod. The play tells of the final week of Jesus’ life, based loosely on the Gospel of John, though the play has generated controversy since inception for leaving out any reference to Jesus’ divinity. It also subverts the biblical story by sprinkling in cultural references that in 1970 must have seemed hip but which today sound irrelevant and irreverent. Still, millions of people will likely watch, and Christians would do well to use the event as an opportunity to talk with their neighbors not just about the Broadway Jesus, but the Biblical Jesus.