With that ending, the movie title ought to be "Depraved!"
In this film, every committed Christian is either an uncharitable hypocrite, a fairy-tale-believing fool, or perhaps even a violent killer if challenged too mightily. You know what that means. Film critics loved it. The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday, the same one who thought "The Passion" was troubling in its "inaccuracy," declared this corrosive screed "bears the unmistakable stamp of authenticity, even at its most outrageous."
Poor Roger Ebert was even worse, suggesting the filmmakers had to destroy Christianity in order to save it: "Jesus counseled more acceptance and tolerance than some of his followers think. By the end of the movie, mainstream Christian values have not been overthrown, but demonstrated and embraced. Those who think Christianity is just a matter of enforcing their rulebook have been, well, enlightened."
Not everyone was so sanguine. Some questioned the film's plasticity; another Post critic, Michael O'Sullivan, protested that he thinks "right-wing moralists" don't deserve any sympathy, "But I do think they deserve better than this film, which paints a derisive portrait of believers as folks who are not just naive but vicious idiots who vacillate between nastiness and hopeless nerddom. ... It's two-dimensional stereotyping of the worst kind." Amen to that.
There is, sadly, enough of an anti-Christian market in America -- certainly in Hollywood -- to make the most obnoxious Christian-bashing films acceptable for mass distribution. As some of the film's detractors have noted, it would have never made it to theaters if the producers and writers savagely mocked a Jewish school or wickedly satirized an Islamic academy. "The Passion" was the exception. The rule is back.
Serious Christians have to travel through a world with enough ridicule and loathing and snarky satire to know that heaven is still a sweetly different destination. Thank God they don't have to waste their hard-earned dollars viewing this act of cinematic vandalism. May it sink to the bottom of the rotten barrel where it belongs.
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