Reviewed But Not Recommended: Facing the Giants

Facing_the_giantsI’m a big fan of the Christian movies Fireproof and War Room, so I was looking forward to Facing the Giants, which looked like basically the same thing, but with high school football.

The other two movies have actual struggles and hard change and some serious real world difficulties in them…but not Facing the Giants.

In the first act of this movie, we see all the things wrong in the life of a losing football coach at a private Christian school: a failing job, a broken down house and car, infertility. Then he decides to turn his life over to God more fully, and suddenly everything magically turns around. He gets a new car. His wife gets pregnant. His team wins the state championship.

No, I don’t have a problem with the concept of miracles, but I don’t like a story where it’s that easy, or that selfish.

This movie turns God into Santa Claus, just waiting for us to say the right words politely enough before showering us with all the toys we want.

The big change he makes as a coach is really just doing his job a little bit better than before. And merely for that, a player’s father buys him a new car. What a materialistic gospel this movie preaches! It’s the definition of cheap grace.

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I Did The Love Dare

After seeing the movie Fireproof with my wife recently, I wanted to do the love dare in it for my wife.  I put the book on my hold list at the library.  I couldn’t publish this until after the whole 40 days, because my wife reads this blog and I wanted it to be a surprise.  Here are some notes on what happened, but since I don’t want to ruin the book (or infringe on copyrights!), I won’t list the dares here.  (Update: the book’s web site actually has the full list.)  You just need to pick up your own copy. 

In the movie, all that stood in the way of their perfect romance was their fading feelings.  Real life is more complicated.  Just in the last forty days, some of the things that made it harder for me to do this included: a kid got sick and threw up seven times in one morning, my wife and I were taken to court (where we did not do well), I got sick (twice–once during the first week of the dare, and again during the last week), our refrigerator broke down and got repaired, work and other responsibilities kept us apart all day and up very late, the lock on my car door broke (and the dealer didn’t even fix it right!), the battery in our van died, and a motley assortment of other irritations, distractions, and adversities made their merry way into the path of my earnest scheduling.  In short, life happened. 

So it was hard at times, but I think my wife appreciated it, so it was absolutely worth it. 

My only frame of reference for ideas was the character in the movie, and at times I felt a little bad that my gestures weren’t as dramatic as his.  I guess that’s to be expected: my life isn’t scripted, nor does it have a movie studio’s budget.  I, alas, do not have twenty grand stashed away for a boat that I can dip into to help make her dream come true. 

Days 1-5 (May 20 -May 24)

Day 1: The day I picked this up from the library was one of the hardest, most discouraging days of work I had all year.  I wanted to complain about it and dump it all on my wife, but I took the injunction to not be negative as literally as I could, and held my tongue.  At least for today!

Day 2: foot rub

Day 3: Star Trek glass from Burger King.  We’re awesome. 

Days 6-10 (May 25 -May 29)

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Fireproof: A Great “Mormon” Movie

200px-fireproof_posterMy wife and I rented this movie for date night on Friday, and we were both struck by how powerful it was.  Fireproof is an independent film produced by a team of evangelical Christians.  To the best of my knowledge, no Latter-day Saints were involved in any aspect of it.  And it’s just about the best Mormon movie I’ve ever seen.

By which I mean that this film better reflects the values of Latter-day Saints about marriage and family than anything I’ve seen that actually was produced by Mormons.  Fireproof treats marriage overtly as a “covenant,” and praises it as a joyful and integral priority in life.  Fireproof also makes it stunningly clear that no relationship is whole and complete until God’s love is brought into it.  Indeed, none of the relatively few doctrinal statements in the film would be uncomfortable for any Latter-day Saint.

But it’s not a dry, didactic documentary.  When Fireproof was released last year, critics panned it, so you know right away that it’s probably pretty good.  Continue reading