1) What’s the movie about?
The plot, via the movie’s official website:
“Present-day college freshman and devout Christian, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), finds his faith challenged on his first day of Philosophy class by the dogmatic and argumentative Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo). Radisson begins class by informing students that they will need to disavow, in writing, the existence of God on that first day, or face a failing grade. As other students in the class begin scribbling the words “God Is Dead” on pieces of paper as instructed, Josh finds himself at a crossroads, having to choose between his faith and his future.”
2) If I wanted to see a movie about a straw man, I’d go see The Wizard of Oz.
But also, that’s not a question. Next.
3) Is the movie any good?
Not if our friends at Rotten Tomatoes can be believed. Or IMBD. Or Metacritic.
4) What’s with the title?
Assuming they’re not referencing subpar Sabbath songs, the title is a rebuttal of sorts to philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s statement that “God is dead.” Nietzsche believed that the power and importance that God held over and to Western society was waning, or “dying,” due to our increasing secularization.
Nietzsche was not mourning the passing of God, nor was he celebrating it. He was much more concerned about whether or not humanity would find meaning in its existence if its traditional source was gone.
5) How has it taken this long to figure out that religious people like movies too?
I don’t know.
Hollywood often seems to shy away from most movies that get horrifically preachy, as do a great deal of movie-goers. On the other hand, I don’t know of any film companies that actively avoid money.
God’s Not Dead only took in $62 million at the box office, but that’s still pretty great considering the film’s $2 million budget. The bigger budget Passion of the Christ cost a cool $30 million, but pulled in almost $612 million.
There’s no reason to believe that an interest in Jesus disqualifies an interest in movies. Even if the big studios want to stay away from niche Christian films, it seems like there’s a lot of money out there to be made by somebody.
6) What can we learn from this movie?
From the movie itself? Probably nothing.
From its existence? A lot more.
A discussion of the artist merits of God’s Not Dead or its opening weekend gross miss the point. That the movie is based on specious reasoning, logical fallacy, and the tired trope of the arrogant professor challenging a heroic student, as seen in your least-favorite aunt’s chain emails, isn’t the point either.
The point is that even if God is dead, fear is not.
This movie doesn’t get made if our nation’s more religious individuals don’t think their values are under attack. This movie doesn’t get made, and not coincidentally, Bill O’Reilly doesn’t have a job, if people didn’t think there’s a “War on Christmas.” This movie doesn’t get made if people don’t believe that their most deeply held beliefs are under siege by heathen elites, atheists, political correctness, sodomites, or the “those people” du jure.
I’d suggest that what the religious community is experiencing is not discrimination, but the slow disintegration of the advantages they previously enjoyed. It’s not a matter of being “the last minority left,” but rather the elimination of what we’ve always considered a “minority” to be.
But that’s not going to make it far with someone who is utterly terrified of the secularization of American society, the marginalization of their beliefs, or the slow erosion of their societal advantages.
7) Wouldn’t it have been a better idea to have done this three months ago when this would have been topical?
Yes, it would have.