Posted in a matter of faith, discernment, encouragement, movie review

Movie Review: "A Matter of Faith"; plus, ‘PureFlix’

A friend recommended the movie A Matter of Faith and I watched the movie. Released in 2014, the film is directed by Rich Christiano and stars Harry Anderson, Jordan Trovillion, Jay Pickett, and Clarence Gilyard. Christiano is an American filmmaker, who has directed, produced and written many Christian films, such as The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry and Time Changer. I’ve watched the former two and they are good.

Harry Anderson (Cheers, Night Court) was the standout actor amid some good-ish but slightly amateur actors, which is usually the case with under-budgeted Christian films. However that was not a deterrent since the film’s premise was so well unfolded.

A Matter of Faith

The movie begins with a family delivering a young college girl to her dorm and encouraging her as they leave her to begin her first year of college. She was raised a Christian and claims to be a Christian, but the girl finds her faith challenged by her biology professor (Anderson) who is an atheist and totally committed to evolution.

A Christian friend supports her but other friends she meets in the dorm and around campus draw her away from her Christian stance, and soon she does not know what to believe. She is freewheeling in limbo, a position that becomes more untenable as the dad’s concern over his daughter increases and he travels to the college to meet with the biology professor. The dad is trapped into agreeing to debate the Prof in public over evolution v creation, which embarrasses his daughter to no end and causes a split between them.

A sub-story that emerges is that years ago, the Biology professor had gotten his creationist colleague fired. Bitter and unhelpful, the ex-professor refuses to help the dad when the dad appeals to him for help in researching material for the debate with the atheist evolutionist.

The dad fears he is not up to the task of debating a superlative speaker such as the biology professor and wonders how to mend the rift with his daughter, and the plot builds to the climactic moment when the debate opens.

I thought the writer did a god job of presenting the myriad issues in a subtle but realistic manner. Any young girl or guy attending college away from home for the first time will be tested, and the world is experienced at drawing away the unwary.

One of my favorite lines is when the girl’s Christian friend at college explains to her that the reason the biology professor is so popular is that he gives a grade of C just for showing up. The girl agrees. Yet the boy says that underlying this unusual grading scheme is a satanic ploy to get as many people as possible into his classes, for the express purpose of delivering atheistic philosophy so as to confuse the weak in faith. “The world is not our friend. The professor has an agenda.” Connecting the grading scheme to the Professor’s intent to delude seemed to surprise the girl. “But he’s so nice! And popular!”

Though we who are more mature readily see these things, youth who are out from under a parent’s wing for the first time may not immediately see the connection.

The girl’s spiritual disciplines waned as other, worldly temptations came her way. She delays finding a church, she has drifted away from reading her Bible, she has not made any Christian friends, nor has she sought out any Christian activities or clubs. And this leaves a vacuum for the ideas of the plausible biology professor to enter in.

The film was clean, with no modesty issues or profanity. It showed the issues facing youth when they leave home for the first time, whether it is to a job, college, or military. The dad was shown as grounded in his church, submitted to his pastor, and leading his family as a shepherd. The usual worldly temptations were shown yet without the usual explicitness. Recommended.

The film brought to mind the testimony of Michael Kruger. Below at the link to The Gospel Coalition, Kruger describes his first year at college in a 6-minute video. Kruger gives students, parents and guardians some solid advice. The essay with accompanying video is titled How to Survive World Religions 101 but could just as easily be titled How to Survive Biology 101.

How to Survive World Religions 101

Michael Kruger on Facing the Challenges of a Secular University Environment
August 27, 2015 

Michael Kruger entered his freshman year at the University of North Carolina as a committed Christian. He thought he was ready for the intellectual challenges college would mount against his faith—that is, until he found himself sitting in a New Testament introduction class with Bart Ehrman as his professor. It left him shell-shocked.

Many students can relate. Churches often have a hard time preparing their youth for a secular university environment. They equip them on a moral level, which is good and important, yet fail to prepare them intellectually and doctrinally. So how can churches better brace young people for the day their faith will be challenged, attacked, and deemed intellectually indefensible by professors and peers? 

In this new video, Kruger, president and professor of New Testament and early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, shares some of the lessons he learned in college. He encourages students to check their expectations, prepare for opposition, dig for answers, and more. Above all, he urges them to anchor themselves in the local church.

I know that many of you are looking for good, clean movies for yourselves or for your children or family. They are hard to come by, we all know this. A friend sent me a link to a movie streaming site called PureFlix. It is based on Netflix, the original streaming movie site, and claims to show only pure films, good for the family of faith. However as the friend says also, one would suppose one would need as much discernment on PureFlix as would be needed at any “Christian bookstore” since so much heresy and doctrines from other faiths is mixed in with the gold. Here is the synopsis of PureFlix,

Pure Flix Entertainment is a Christian film production company, headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. The company produces, distributes, acquires and markets Christian and family-friendly films

Just an FYI for you guys. I do not subscribe to PureFlix so I can’t review it. However I see on the home page I see that at least, blessedly, one can scroll through the offerings safely without having to shield young eyes as you have to do on Hulu or even Netflix. The movie covers shown are clean.

Posted in children, documentary, movie review

Movie review: Brownstones to Red Dirt

Brownstones to Red Dirt is a 2010 documentary about children living in a violent part of Brooklyn NYC, whose middle school teacher initiated a pen pal program with children in civil war torn Sierra Leone.

The unique aspect of this documentary is that there is no voice over, intoning and opining. No narrator and no narrative. The movie features the voice of the children (and parents and teachers) exclusively. The kids are the ones telling the story.

And what a story it is. The movie blurb at summarizes:

A sweet and lyrical documentary about a simple pen pal program, BROWNSTONES TO RED DIRT captures the growth of sixth graders from housing projects in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn and war orphans from Freetown, Sierra Leone. Though the kids know nothing about one another when they write their first letters, they learn that while their environments are vastly different, the struggles they face make them more alike than they realized. This revelation brings them closer together and teaches us all inspirational lessons about friendship, love and humanity.

The Brooklyn Film Festival blurb has more details:

Brownstones To Red Dirt follows four pairs of pen pals from housing projects in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn and the slums of Freetown, Sierra Leone. These two “lost” groups help one another find their way as they are confronted by remarkably similar issues despite the vast differences of their environments. Through endearing glimpses into the lives of these children, the film highlights the failure of governments and societies to protect their youth.

Each pair of pen pals highlights a major issue faced by kids across the world: Isaiah’s father left him as a baby; Abdul was first taken, then abandoned by the rebel commander that killed his parents. Malik and Balla each use art, not vengeance, to heal. Augusta’s peaceful definition of friendship reaches Destiny in Bed-Stuy, where loyalty is often proven with violence, not love. Fred and Emmanuel, both cast aside by a world that expects little from an inner-city black teen or a third world orphan, are defiant in their quest to better themselves. As the school year progresses, the children use their experiences to unknowingly teach one another simple lessons that will last them a lifetime.

Though this film is not a Christian film, anyone who has a biblical worldview will no doubt see Godly principles expressed through the children. Their initiative, trust, and generosity is a major theme throughout. Their child-like faith is remarkable. In one scene, a desperately impoverished girl in Sierra Leone writes in closing to her pen pal in Brooklyn, ‘No matter what happens I want you to know you have a Godly friend.’ One is reminded of Bible verses which focus on children and their child like faith, trust, and willingness to share sacrificially.

But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,  “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” (Matthew 21:15-16)

The civil war in Sierra Leone took its toll on an entire generation of children. Wikipedia explains the basics of this devastating event:

The Sierra Leone Civil War (1991–2002) began on 23 March 1991 when the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), with support from the special forces of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), intervened in Sierra Leone in an attempt to overthrow the Joseph Momoh government. The resulting civil war lasted 11 years, enveloped the country, and left over 50,000 dead.

Adults were slaughtered by the tens of thousands, often in front of the children. Later, children under the age of 15 were recruited for the cause. When the war ended, tens of thousands of lost and abandoned children littered the landscape, starving, dying, and ripe for further exploitation.

In one heartbreaking scene, a Sierra Leonian child had been asked what he thought America was like. He said “I want to go there. They have their own mommies and daddies.” 

In one scene a boy said his parents were killed in front of him and the rebel commander took him ‘for his own.’ After several years of forced servitude in a rebel army, the commander was surrounded by opposing forces and he abandoned the boy. ‘I can’t keep you any more’ he said. When the battle concluded, orphaned and separated from his sister whom he did not know was alive or dead, the boy didn’t know what to do or where to go. “So I just sat down in the road,” he said.

Though life in Bed-Stuy is not as dire as it is in Sierra Leone, with starvation, exploitation, and pervasive hopelessness, life is still not easy. Violent gangs are rampant. At one point during the height of the violent era in NY, one mom said her children playing in the apartment courtyard and bullets were flying over their heads. Every time a child stepped outside there was a chance they would either be recruited by a gang or killed as a bystander in gang warfare. One piece of graffiti art depicts chalk outline of a man on a wall, his body filled with names of the killed.

The children realize they share common goals despite the vast chasm in their geography and differences in culture and circumstance. They realize they have the same desires. They want education, a fulfilling career, safety, and to love those around them. They have drive, initiative, all for making their part of the world a better place. Despite their surroundings which might defeat an adult’s outlook, these children are optimistic.

It’s a wonder to see kids like this. One begins to understand the soft place Jesus has for children. They truly are an inspiration.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:1-4)

Watch on Hulu or free on

Posted in clean entertainment, movie review

Movie Review: Finding Normal

Opening scene. A busy city emergency room. An attractive emergency room doctor is hustling down the hallway clutching a clipboard while talking with a female doctor friend. The friend comments that the doctor only has a few more hours to go in her shift and then she’s off to the Hamptons for her new life with fiance. Just then a sick woman pops her head into the hallway, saying “I’ve been waiting 6 hours…please…” The doctor doesn’t give her a second glance, replying, “Let us know when it’s been 8.” Both doctors laugh, walk away, and resume talking about her upcoming cushy life in the Hamptons.

By this we know that the main character is a physician who lacks compassion and has a high opinion of herself.

Finding Normal is a Christian movie and a very well done movie on all levels. Here is the official synopsis from Internet Movie Database.

The only thing standing between Dr. Lisa Leland (Candace Cameron Bure) and the wedding of her dreams in the Hamptons is a 2600-mile drive from Los Angeles to Long Island. However, a run in with the law in the country town of Normal, Louisiana leaves Dr. Leland with a choice–Jail or community service. Sentenced to serve three days as the town’s doctor, Lisa has her world turned upside down by a man she would never expect. Quickly, Lisa finds that there’s a lot more to Normal than she could have ever imagined.

Candace Cameron Bure is little DJ from the 1980s television show Full House. She has grown up to be a stunning young woman, and she is Christian. Lou Beatty Jr as the judge is tremendous and steals nearly every scene he’s in.

The premise for keeping the Doctor in Normal, Louisiana may be far-fetched, but after all, it’s a movie. The rest of the movie moves along beautifully in illustrating that Christian love can melt even the most compassionless, or selfish heart. Dr. Lisa sees people who have different priorities than she does, which are prayer, church, love to neighbor, and a simple lifestyle where the community comes together and shares with those in need, or just to have fun. It doesn’t involve high pay, glitzy parties, or fancy cars. It involves pastures, children, God, fireflies, and genuine care for people- including patients.

The Doctor begins to re-examine what it means to be a Doctor and soon understands that without compassion and love, the medical care she had been dispensing definitely has a missing element to it. Now that this missing element had been made apparent to her, she becomes less than satisfied with the promise of her future practice as an expensive concierge doctor in the Hamptons or as she realizes, simply an expensive billing asset for her fiance who started the business.

And of course, Dr Lisa Leland has a love interest in Normal…

There is a subplot that takes little screen time but is important nonetheless. The ACLU wants a white cross standing on public property just outside town to be removed. One telling and well done scene occurs when the Doctor and her potential love interest are in his truck. He had been taking her on rounds to make home visits with some patients on the main road into town. Here is how the conversation went, to my memory-

As they pass the cross, she asks, “What’s that?”
He replies, “It’s a cross. You passed it when you came to town.”
“What’s that?”
“You mean you don’t know what a cross is?”
“Well I guess so, but what’s it doing there?”
“I think it’s supposed to help people stop and pause for a moment, think about Jesus.”
“I guess I never noticed it before this…”

John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

The movie does a good job of subtly showing how the Lord draws a person to Himself and in the process, changes hearts and minds. That scene spoke to me personally. I had written before about visiting the Colosseum in Rome and spending a great deal of time there and admiring the architecture, history, and scenery. However, it was not until many years later when I was a Christian, that reminiscing one day, I looked at the photo of the Colosseum interior and immediately noticed the simple wooden cross sunk in the center of the underflooring. I had never noticed it before. When the Lord draws a person to Himself, suddenly the mind and the heart begins to be transformed and prepared for the important step of repentance.

What I liked about the movie:

  • The women are modestly dressed.
  • Church is held, and people attend and it is seen to be a positive thing.
  • Neighbors care for each other in demonstrable ways. In one example, the Deputy shares with the Doctor at the church breakfast that if anyone is having a hard time, they make sure to give that person the leftovers.
  • A sermon is given (it’s movie-short); the scriptures are handled correctly. As a matter of fact, the preacher (who is also the judge and also the town’s doctor) not only refers to “the bible” as many Christian movies do, but he reads the verse and refers to it by chapter and number, something that you will notice is rare in Christian movies. Hardly ever in a Christian movie does the preacher or a character say “In 1st Corinthians, the Apostle Paul says…” as the preacher does in this movie.
  • There is a lot of prayer seen, and prayer is spoken of and the doctor is even taught how to pray. Most happily, the notion of God’s sovereignty and providence is strongly inferred and even overtly mentioned. Prayer is not done to “get” something (unlike the miracle asked for, or else,  in another Christian movie I’d reviewed, Raising Izzie), but as a way to have a relationship with God and to discern His will.
  • Jesus is also overtly mentioned. Many Christian movies will give a nod to God but fail to mention the Son.
  • Christians are portrayed as loving and sincere

Here is what one reviewer on Internet Movie Database wrote, and I could not have said it better:

something amazing happens which is eye-opening in that that you come to realize that something so ordinary is basically never seen in this genre of movie. The characters of this middle-America town are revealed to contain large numbers of practicing Christians who seem to actually take their faith seriously as a part of their life, and are nevertheless portrayed as, well, normal folks.

They go to church on Sunday, they attend pancake breakfasts where they actually socialize like normal folks, and they seem like genuinely nice people. They’re not a secret glassy-eyed cult; they’re not simpletons or hateful bigots who treat outsiders with disgust; they’re not covert hypocrites living out endless perversions in private while breathing fire and brimstone at the pulpit… or any of the countless tropes that have been beaten into the ground for decades by Hollywood.

Perhaps most shocking, they also don’t express the sort of lukewarm, formalistic faith which is the only sort that Hollywood seems to allow Christians to possess on film–the kind that makes mealy-mouthed reference to “some greater power” while never actually saying the “G” word. Instead, the characters in this town are regular folks who believe in God, and are just fine with that. They’re open, non-self-conscious, and frankly, a lot like the actual people of faith in the real world.

But perhaps the most subversive thing that Finding Normal manages is to actually incorporate Christians into a romantic comedy without turning it into a religious film.

Exactly. It’s a movie with Christians in it, not a “Christian” movie. Watch, and you will see the difference.

What I didn’t like about it:

Nothing. It’s all good. I wish Director Brian Herzlinger and Writers Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon would write and direct more films like this. In addition to Lou Beatty Jr and Candace Cameron Bure, Finding Normal also stars Andrew Bongiorno, Valerie Boucvalt, Mark Irvingsen.

Finding Normal is on Netflix, Google Play, and Amazon for pay. The trailer is on Youtube for free.

Candace’s testimony is here.

Posted in birds, creation, movie review

Movie review: "Birders:The Central Park Effect", comments on creation & biophilia

E. Prata photo

Birders: The Central Park Effect is a movie about, well birds and the people who look at them.

Each spring when the great migration of birds from the southern climes in Central & South America migrate north to Canada to breed, and then in the fall when they migrate south to their homes in the south again, huge flocks of birds descend on Manhattan’s Central Park. Of the millions which pass over, thousands at any given day will choose to swoop down and take their several day rest in the greenery that is this magnificent park. The northeast corridor is pretty well filled with wall-to-wall cities, and Central Park is just too good of a stopping place to ignore.

This one-hour film is a documentary which documents this fact, it reveals what drives birders who stumble around the woods looking up with binoculars, and it lovingly and lushly films the stars of the show: the birds.

E. Prata photo

One woman who is featured is Starr Saphir. (pronounced, sapphire). Starr has been leading bird-watching tours of the Park for almost 40 years. Her love for the park, for birds, and for leading people to birds is evident in her voice and eyes as she describes the winged creatures that she has counted and the beauty she has been privileged to share with newcomers to the hobby.

The documentary opens with Spring, and the birds’ arrival. It chronicles the park in all four seasons and ends with spring again. The people interviewed range from famous (novelist Jonathan Rosen) to anonymous bird lovers. About 200 species stop by the park during Migration, about a quarter of all species found in the US.

The star of the show is the nature that is presented as the backdrop for the birds, all the more remarkable for being totally man-made. (Central Park is totally man-made and carefully managed, down to switches which govern the pipes that gush water from pretend brooks and streams). A few sobering facts are given, for example, that in the last four years, (the movie was released in 2012), bird counts of many different species has been dropping by as much as 50%. The documentary however thankfully stays away from preaching ecology, and simply lets the birds and their watchers be the star of the show. One thing I really enjoyed was that since this documentary is set in New York City, and most New Yorkers are highly literate, these people could speak well and used language in almost poetic and vivid ways.

E. Prata photo

For example, of the birds, one man said “I realized the trees were hung with ornaments!” Like that.

For Christians, within the first 6 minutes, there are three objectionable comments:

–Oh My God!
–Holy frikken Moses!

Both of the above occur at 2:20 into it.

–and one man used the real f-word. (6:41 into it)

After that, there is no language, no adult situations, no innuendo, and no one is underdressed. It is an interesting little documentary and a pretty movie. I recommend it.

As far as spiritual matters go, I have some additional thoughts. All the people interviewed and even those who weren’t but were simply filmed, brave the cold, the rain, their schedules, all to go look at a bird in the wild. Why?

One man attempted to explain this innate attraction to nature, by saying that “the birds awaken something in my soul. If I had one.” He wasn’t joking.

Another interviewee said that he feels strongly attached to the Park as well. He said that the nature there soothes him and he feels more complete when he is there, among the birds. He said that scientists have a name for this feeling: “biophilia.”

The Online Free Dictionary defines biophilia as a psychological term, “an innate love for the natural world, supposed to be felt universally by humankind”

The biophilia hypothesis is stated on Wikipedia as “an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. Edward O. Wilson introduced and popularized the hypothesis in his book, Biophilia (1984). He defines biophilia as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”. The term “biophilia” literally means “love of life or living systems.” It was first used by Erich Fromm to describe a psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital. Wilson uses the term in the same sense when he suggests that biophilia describes “the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life.” He proposed the possibility that the deep affiliations humans have with nature are rooted in our biology.”

Yes. Deep affiliations with nature are rooted in us. Genesis 1 and Romans 1 shows us this. We do not need modern psychology to coin a term and explain the obvious.

In Genesis 1, God created man, and set Him in the perfect Garden, and gave him a command to take care of it and to name and take care of the animals. God revealed Himself in creation and since we are made in His image we share that affinity with creation, and also are a part of it. (Genesis 1:26-30, Genesis 2:15, Romans 1:20, Romans 1:23).

As Adam, He made us in His image, and since he had instilled in Adam a command to take care of His creation. When Adam and Eve sinned, he ejected them from the Garden and cursed the ground. Even though we have a sin nature now and try to exercise dominion of the earth thru flesh, and do it badly, we still possess that innate love for creation and the instinct to shepherd it. However also because we have a sin nature, satan corrupts our tie with the natural world, from gentle shepherding as creatures made in His image, to idolaters worshiping the creation instead of the Creator. Satan claims our flesh nature and corrupts what is a natural feeling of love for the One who created the creation, including ourselves, part of that creation and creatures we are.

E. Prata photo

So biophilia is a fun-to-say psychology word and not much else. It stops there. It simply acknowledges the affinity we have with creation, but does not acknowledge the creator. The interviewees in the documentary acknowledged their attraction to nature, acknowledged the beauty of the birds, acknowledged the wonder of precise migration patterns, but did not acknowledge the Creator who made it all.

It’s not biophilia. It’s God. And praise Him for it all!

“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” (Psalm 104:24)

E. Prata photo


Further reading:

What the bible says about God and the natural world

Posted in jesus, life of pi, movie review, satan

Life of Pi: A Christian review

A new movie by Ang Lee is hitting theaters and the movie-appreciating audience is making a buzz over it. Ang Lee was the man who directed Brokeback Mountain (an ode to homosexuality) and the beautiful and absorbing fairy tale Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Lee is considered one of contemporary filmmaking’s best directors. He has been nominated for Oscars and has won Oscars. He is well regarded and has a unique visual style that he brings to the screen which immediately identifies his work.

The movie that’s making so much buzz Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. It won the Booker Prize, garnered other prizes and went on to become a best-seller. This is a story that Hollywood initially sought to bring to the screen because the book was so well-written, unique, and salable.

However, Hollywood soon dropped the idea of making the book into a movie due to the inherently exquisite difficulties of bringing the otherworldly narrative to film. Eventually, most producers thought that it would be too hard to relate the mystical beauty of the tale to film in a way that would hold audience attention.

Ang Lee’s incredible talent was brought to the fore and he surmounted those difficulties. The film was released yesterday. By all accounts it is a visual triumph and a stand-out, unique film compared to the fodder and tripe that usually permeates the theaters at this time of year.

Wikipedia reports, “In a letter directly to Martel, Barack Obama described Life of Pi as “an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling”. Brian Bethune of Maclean’s describes Life of Pi as “[a] head-scratching combination of dense religious allegory, zoological lore and enthralling adventure tale, written with warmth and grace”. Master Plots suggested the “[c]entral themes of Life of Pi concern religion and human faith in God”.

Apparently not only is the story well-told on film, not only is it a feast for the eyes in lyrical beauty and lauded its ability to transport the viewer to another place of peace and transcendence. Not only is it a box-office triumph, but many Christian reviewers are rating it highly also.

This fact has piqued the interest of a usually under-served Christian segment of the movie-going population, and so Christian families are streaming to the movie in droves. This essay is to determine if the movie is good food for Christian families to absorb.

We long for family movies that honor God and exalt Jesus. We are thirsty for some good food to take in, where we can relax in our seats and know that nothing we that we’re presented on the film will assault the eyes or offend God.

Life of Pi is NOT THAT MOVIE.

I have not seen it. Yet I am reviewing it. How can this be? Well, sometimes one can read an outline of the plot and know immediately that it is not worthy of attention. Do I need to watch Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ to know that it is not something I want to enter my mind? No. I don’t have to watch Jesus repudiate God’s plan and descend from the cross to live a fleshly life with Mary to understand it wasn’t something that God wants us to entertain.

One part of Wikipedia’s synopsis caught my attention.

“Pi is raised a Hindu, but as a fourteen-year-old he is introduced to Christianity and Islam, and starts to follow all three religions as he “just wants to love God.” He tries to understand God through the lens of each religion and comes to recognize benefits in each one.”

Right away I know this is not a movie for me. Anything that competes with or elevates anther god to equal status with the One True God is not worthy of my money, time, or attention. Pi, who is born a Hindu, at his mother’s behest to embrace plurality in everything, praises Jesus for bearing our sins while reciting the Quran? No thanks.

But that’s one person’s synopsis, what do others say?

CBN is Christian Broadcasting Network. CBN’s Movie Review says-

“While Christian audiences will be thrilled with the amount of onscreen time devoted to the cause of Christ and what it means to believe, they will also be quite disappointed as Islam and Hinduism receive equal representation. However, when viewed through the eyes of evangelical Christianity, you can’t help but be encouraged by the flickers of faith being projected onscreen. … Filled with thought-provoking moments of self-discovery, redemption and God’s unrequited grace, Life of Pi is an exploration into whether a person truly believes what they say they believe. For Christians, that is whether Jesus Christ went to the Cross as the ultimate sacrifice for sinners to be saved by grace. Unfortunately, this quest is played out for the other three religions as well.”

Are we so desperate for crumbs of a true holiness presented on screen that we are willing to eat the crumb off the corner of satan’s lip after having spewed Allah, Vishnu, and Catholic gods? Why do we settle for “flickers”? And lying flickers at that? Is that what encouragement has diluted down to? Apparently.

Christian Science Monitor wrote:
“Young Pi, raised in a not-very-strict Hindu household, tries his hand at Christianity and Islam as well. He’s an ecumenical free spirit who sees all religions as equally affirming.”

They called it a “sane movie” and gave it a B rating. That’s insane.

Christian Cinema gave it ‘five doves’ and referred to the fact that the movie is ‘Dove Family Approved’ by the Dove Foundation several times in its review. So let’s see what they wrote:

“Pi’s agnostic father taught him, “Faith is a house with many rooms.” Pi himself is a religious person, but without a specific doctrine. He often prays to the God he learned about from a Catholic priest, but occasionally sends up an appeal to Allah, Vishnu, and Krishna. One desperate prayer Pi cries out when he’s nearly lost all hope is, “God, I give myself to you, a vessel.” The cinematography is spectacular, and the CGI and 3D effects rival those in “Avatar.” The movie is rated PG, however, there are several tragic events that are better taken in by older audiences. Therefore, we are pleased to award this profoundly moving story on film the Dove “Family-Approved” Seal for audiences over age 12.”

How can this be a Christian-approved movie when it is blatantly stated that the main protagonist prays to false gods, and when all his hope is lost, gives himself to one of them? Which one? The Catholic false god? The Hindu false God? The Muslim false god? And the Dove Foundation calls this “profoundly moving?!”

Crosswalk is the only Christian review I’ve read that calls it what it is, ‘full of wonder but a poison pill’. They write-

“English theologian Ronald Knox once quipped, “Comparative religion is an admirable recipe for making people comparatively religious.” The current spirit of our age is to embrace many faiths as leading to the same god, not a philosophy that works with orthodox Christianity. The Bible practically screams warnings against such thinking, such as in 1 John 4, 2 John 1, 1 Timothy 4, 2 Corinthians 11—the list goes on.”

Life of Pi“, the new film from director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) and based on the bestselling book from Yann Martel, has, at its core, a message that Christians reject. But—can there be a “but” after that?—the filmmaking in Life of Pi is often nothing short of spectacular. It has images of beauty and power that won’t be matched by any other film this year. Visually, it’s marvelous—it literally contains one marvel after another. But sandwiched in between those thrills is a message that’s contrary to the Gospel.”

That is how satan works. Sinuously. Beautifully. He comes as a beautiful angel of light but he brings death.

You will be tempted to view the film for its vaunted visuals. In 3D I hear it is even prettier. But do you want to violate the scripture that says–

“Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.” (Proverbs 23:31-32)

Gill’s Exposition says
“when it moveth itself aright; sparkles in the glass, or goes down the throat pleasantly; or rather looks well to the eye, and appears right and good, and promises a great deal of satisfaction and delight.”

You say, ‘But that is a prohibition against drinking too much wine! It has nothing to do with a movie!”

The principle is the same. It sparkles… you’re attracted to it… you drink it in… it poisons you.

Listen to what Psalm 101:3-4 says- “I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them. I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil.” (NLT)

I would rather you go to see Brokeback Mountain, because it is honest in its lies and perversity. At least it is what it is. Life of Pi is what it isn’t. Mixing our Holy God with other gods and equalizing them is a worse blasphemy. Why would a Hindu or a Catholic think he needs Jesus after seeing this film, and especially if you are sitting next to him enthusiastically affirming the movie’s premise? Why would a recently saved youth or a weaker Christian brother see the need to repent of his Oprah-Osteen “many paths” apostasy when he sees you taking in the same lies, and liking it?

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21). An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God. Or competes with Him.

Read this from 1 Samuel 5:1-5:
“When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.”

God tolerates no others in His house. Now your body is His house.

GotQuestions asks, “Should a Christian go to movies?
“The Bible tells us that many things are permitted, but not all things are beneficial or constructive (1 Corinthians 10:23). It also says that whatever we say or do (or watch) should be done to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). We are to set our minds on things that are noble and pure (Philippians 4:8). If—and this is a big if—we can watch a movie or TV program that contains questionable content AND still be in agreement with these commands from the Bible, then it’s hard to see a wrong in this. The danger lies in (1) how what we are watching affects our heart and (2) how it affects others.”

It IS a danger, especially in this day of the last days when satan’s encroachment into everything is so pervasive. MacArthur said in his sermon, The Danger of Being a Friend of the World, “The evil impulses of man’s heart draw him toward worldliness and a worldly life brings one into a conflict with God.”

This movie will draw you, beautifully, but it is a draw toward compromise nonetheless. I take a hard line, as you know. I believe I could watch that movie and enjoy its visuals and its reported life-affirming message without compromise to my faith. I believe that my watching it would not present a stumbling block to weaker ones in my sphere. I believe my faith is very strong and that it would not be a problem. However, I will not watch it. Why?

Because my faith is so strong! It pains me to see other gods given equal time. It hurts to see others fall under satan’s lie that there are many paths to ‘life’. I mourn over the lies satan so easily sends out in tendrils that choke a heart. Unless the movie clearly identifies Jesus as the only way by the end of the film, it is not life-affirming. It is death affirming. My faith won’t let me spend two hours in a death-affirming event, no matter how prettily it’s presented.

Proverbs 26:23 says it best, “Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart.” The heart of Life of Pi is evil. I reject the crumb satan offers from his lips and I will stay away.