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  1. Boards
  2. Religion
  3. God's Not Dead 3

User Info: SockThief

SockThief
4 weeks ago#1
I rewatched the God's Not Dead trilogy the past week and I'll be honest, I always liked the first two as far as Christian movies are concerned (one of my kids asked me what I'd rate the first one out of 10 as we were starting it and I said a 9/10 in Christian films. Then he asked me how I'd rate compared to film in general and I said a 4 or 5/10. That's how much of a weaker caliber Christian movies generally are).

So I got a little bit of a refresher on the series and I still enjoyed the first God's Not Dead (the second had a very weak lead character and wasn't as focused as the first). Some complain about the movie's flat characters and, yes, it's true that there are several side characters that are pretty one-dimensional and only exist to embody a stereotype, but the main characters are given sufficient characterization to justify themselves. And many movies rely on stereotypical side characters. I'll defend the first two GND films to a certain extent in comparison to the typical Christian indies, but I don't pretend that they're great movies.

Anyway, I finally watched the third film in the franchise this week: God's Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness, and it threw everything about the first two movies out the window and did a completely different story. And I think it was far-and-away superior to the first two movies, making them look like cartoons in comparison. The third one starts off in the first five minutes looking like it's setting up a religious freedom/persecution story about this pastor who is jailed for not turning in his sermons to a city government official (something churches have actually been ordered to do in the recent past to intimidate pastors into silence, though it got thrown out). They abandon that thread (it was set up in the past film) pretty early on though and make the movie about something entirely different: a historic church sits on property owned by a university and several of the non-religious students at this university are upset that a church is allowed to continue to operate on their campus. The church is self-supporting and not relying on university funding, but the students push for the school to use eminent domain to seize the land and tear down the church.

What I liked about the movie was that it didn't paint the atheist characters as caricatures of the anti-theists in their past films, but it actually gave them a lot of screentime to make their case for why they didn't think it was appropriate for a church to sit within "school property." The pastor (the main character of the movie) goes through a personal angsty struggle where he, frankly, doesn't much act like a pastor at all, which I found incredibly humanizing and relatable, as we usually put pastors up on this pedestal and expect them to never show emotions like everybody else. The pastor's non-Christian estranged lawyer brother comes along to help with the legal side and the movie allows him to let lose on some of the church's (and this pastor specifically) lack of compassion on doubters in the past. Another character is given an opportunity to tell an incredibly realistic story about how his church mistreated his mother who left an abusive husband and raised him alone. These stories are given without being challenged, explained away, defended or shoved under the rug. It was an eye-opening experience for me as a Christian.

The ending was the most shocking (SPOILERS AHEAD): unlike the last two movies, which ended on a triumphal note of winning a big court case or convincing a classroom of students that God is real, this one ended with the pastor deciding that ending the conflict tearing the school community apart is a higher priority than fighting for his church, and he decided to allow the historic church to be torn down so that he can start a new one in another part of town. He decides the fight has brought out the worst in him and everyone around and would rather bypass it than let it continue.
I steal your sock.

User Info: SockThief

SockThief
4 weeks ago#2
It's a shocking conclusion, but the more it has sunk in, the more I realize this was a much bolder and more mature reaction to religious persecution than the characters in any of the past movies have shown. There are no conversions to the Christian faith or atheists being shamed.

I just wanted to throw this movie out as a recommendation to the board. I think non-religious-people and Christians alike would find it eye-opening and a step in the right direction when it comes to understanding each others' concerns and seeing each other as good-intentioned rather than our enemies.
I steal your sock.
(edited 4 weeks ago)

User Info: CoyoteTheGreat

CoyoteTheGreat
4 weeks ago#3
So why did they take such a different tack with this movie than the other two, do you think? Was it a different director/producer?
Disobedience is the stamp of the hero. -Ragnar Redbeard
Also, this is Kagata..

User Info: LinkFanatic

LinkFanatic
4 weeks ago#4
SockThief posted...
as we usually put pastors up on this pedestal and expect them to never show emotions like everybody else.


I agree. I definitely did this when I was still a Christian.
Islam is Chaos Control.

User Info: PokemonExpert44

PokemonExpert44
4 weeks ago#5
LinkFanatic posted...
SockThief posted...
as we usually put pastors up on this pedestal and expect them to never show emotions like everybody else.


I agree. I definitely did this when I was still a Christian.


You were never a Christian, dude.
I might just 6-0 you in Pokemon. Watch out for my awesome teams.
SockThief posted...
Then he asked me how I'd rate compared to film in general and I said a 4 or 5/10.


That's... way too high a score. Those movies were trash fires.

It's interesting that they've decided to make a less hateful and masturbatory ending than in the previous movies, but it very much seems like they still have the same removal from reality and the same blindness to the other side.

From your synopsis it very much sounds like the pastor was the one who estranged himself from his non-Christian brother because of said brother's lack of Christian faith. Does he grow to realize how f***ed up a thing that is to do? It sounds like the movie acknowledges in-story that the church has a history of neglecting the needy and furthering abuse, does the pastor do anything to change that or does he just wring his hands and conclude that this is just "the worst brought out in everyone"?

I just love the idea that a university would tear down a historic building rather than, say, reappropriate the building for something else. Or that the pastor is doing something momentous by ceeding what is ultimately an open-and-shut case, since his church was using facilities they didn't own and didn't have a binding claim to.

As always, it sounds like these movies are so busy selling persecution-porn to a group that does not face persecution that it needs to invent dumb situations and hopes very much that the viewer is too busy getting off to notice.
"The US military is not an effective proxy for humanity" ~ Folding Ideas
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User Info: SockThief

SockThief
4 weeks ago#7
CoyoteTheGreat posted...
So why did they take such a different tack with this movie than the other two, do you think? Was it a different director/producer?


Yes, the writer/director is an unknown quantity. According to his IMDB page the only movie he's ever been involved with is GND3. I saw online that he is a pastor from down south, and I also saw it said that his name is just a pen name for a better director/writer who didn't want his name associated with the movie or to be anonymous for whatever reason. Regardless, the guy knows how to set down a camera and film a scene properly, and his writing is much more mature than the past two movies. As my wife said, she forgot we were watching a Christian movie as we watched this. There were only a couple times that the dialogue felt overly expositional or heavy-handed (which is pretty typical for movies in general but something that was constant in the last two movies of the series). The conversations felt extremely real. There were no cheesy resolutions to the individual conflicts the characters faced, and like I mentioned, nobody becomes a Christian who wasn't a Christian at the start of the movie and the story doesn't punish anyone for being a non-Christian.

the final bahamut posted...
From your synopsis it very much sounds like the pastor was the one who estranged himself from his non-Christian brother because of said brother's lack of Christian faith. Does he grow to realize how f***ed up a thing that is to do? It sounds like the movie acknowledges in-story that the church has a history of neglecting the needy and furthering abuse, does the pastor do anything to change that or does he just wring his hands and conclude that this is just "the worst brought out in everyone"?


I felt as though yes, the movie threw this in the main character's face, and yet he (surprisingly) didn't have a moment where he went to his brother and apologized for how he had treated him. The non-Christian brother (the movie doesn't have him comment on his personal stance on God's reality in the movie so I hesitate to call him a Christian) has his own character flaws to answer for, like why he didn't help take care of his parents as they got older and sick and left all that responsibility to his brother. They both have things to forgive each other over but about 80% of the way through the movie their anger boils over and the lawyer brother decides to leave and go back home (he had moved in with the pastor brother from a long distance away to help for the duration of the case). It seems that their relationship issues won't be resolved but after the pastor decides at the end not to fight the legal case any longer, they have a phone call in which its made clear that both brothers are going to continue to have a relationship and no longer be estranged over their past failures.

In short, both brothers make each other known of their character flaws and the movie ends on a note that they're going to work on their relationship but that neither of them is entirely fixed yet. For better or for worse, this is realistically how guys often deal with their issues (fight about it, get the words out, perhaps they don't verbally apologize but they treat each other better in the future and try not to make the same mistakes again). I liked that the movie ended in this way rather than having a cheesy reunion where both brothers cry it out. It felt a lot more real the way the movie handled it.

So I found the movie extremely evenhanded in the way it placed blame and let all characters have their say. I can't think of another movie (either pro- or anti-Christian) that was able to do this so well. It was probably too "morally ambiguous" for most Christians to handle which is why this movie flopped compared to the last two.
I steal your sock.
(edited 4 weeks ago)

User Info: PokemonExpert44

PokemonExpert44
4 weeks ago#8
the final bahamut posted...
SockThief posted...
Then he asked me how I'd rate compared to film in general and I said a 4 or 5/10.


That's... way too high a score. Those movies were trash fires.

It's interesting that they've decided to make a less hateful and masturbatory ending than in the previous movies, but it very much seems like they still have the same removal from reality and the same blindness to the other side.

From your synopsis it very much sounds like the pastor was the one who estranged himself from his non-Christian brother because of said brother's lack of Christian faith. Does he grow to realize how f***ed up a thing that is to do? It sounds like the movie acknowledges in-story that the church has a history of neglecting the needy and furthering abuse, does the pastor do anything to change that or does he just wring his hands and conclude that this is just "the worst brought out in everyone"?

I just love the idea that a university would tear down a historic building rather than, say, reappropriate the building for something else. Or that the pastor is doing something momentous by ceeding what is ultimately an open-and-shut case, since his church was using facilities they didn't own and didn't have a binding claim to.

As always, it sounds like these movies are so busy selling persecution-porn to a group that does not face persecution that it needs to invent dumb situations and hopes very much that the viewer is too busy getting off to notice.


tfb shows his colossal ignorance of these movies once again, I see.
I might just 6-0 you in Pokemon. Watch out for my awesome teams.

User Info: SockThief

SockThief
4 weeks ago#9
the final bahamut posted...
I just love the idea that a university would tear down a historic building rather than, say, reappropriate the building for something else. Or that the pastor is doing something momentous by ceeding what is ultimately an open-and-shut case, since his church was using facilities they didn't own and didn't have a binding claim to.


It's more complicated than this. The church owned its own facilities and was self-supporting, yet it was within the campus of a university. Unlike the last two films in which the plot was unrealistic and Christians were put in positions that don't actually happen in American schools, this one had pretty equitable arguments to make on both sides. It's ambiguous as to what the "right" answer is in the case. Within this movie, public support was on the side of the church and it seemed that a jury would likely support the church while a judge would likely support the school. The battle of the movie is really more over public opinion than the legalities; both the school officials and the pastor/lawyer brother are essentially running PR campaigns and seizing on each other's public mistakes in order to win the battle for public support.
I steal your sock.

User Info: SockThief

SockThief
4 weeks ago#10
@PokemonExpert44

go away
I steal your sock.
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