God’s Not Dead; There’s Something Happening Here

Sunday, March 30, AD 2014

There’s something happening here, but what it is ain’t exactly clear…The opening words to the Buffalo Springfield (the band that would introduce to us the likes of Stephen Stills and Neil Young) classic song written in 1966, but released in 1967 certainly resonated to those who heard it whatever their political leanings. There was a sense even before the famous or infamous 1967 events, like the Newport Folk Festival and San Francisco’s Summer of Love that something in society was changing. The same could be said today in light of a flurry of religious themed movies that have come out in the first three months of 2014.

One could argue that the first signs of the secular sea change we have been under were first seen after the mid-term elections of 2006. By November of 2008 there was no doubt the western world was changing. However, for every action there is a reaction. It may have taken the world of faith a bit longer to react but it has. Already in 2013, the Bible mini-series caught the attention of those in Hollywood who notice TV and cultural move watching habits. The Bible mini-series, the brainchild Mark Burnett and Roma Downey literally spun off into the Son of God film which is currently one of the year’s early top grossing films.

However, it seems that what is bubbling under the current is what catches everyone by surprise, and so it is with the year’s first big surprise, God’s Not Dead.  The film’s entire production budget was between 1-2 million dollars, the mere advertising budget of most medium size films. The screenwriters are faithful Catholics Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, whom I met some four years ago while giving one of my talks at Family Theater in Hollywood (founded by Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton CSC also known as The Rosary Priest.) I was impressed by Cary and Chuck, their frequent Mass attendance during the week, their fervent study and practice of the faith (as evidenced by the St. Thomas Aquinas type logic used in some of their arguments in God’s Not Dead,) and their embrace of the sacramental life, especially the Sacrament of Penance.

Both men weren’t living some fantasy of wanting to hobnob with Hollywood’s hipsters. They had been down that road successfully working and mingling with the likes of Sylvester Stallone among others. Cary and Chuck felt called to write faith based scripts. In an interview with me featured in the National Review both men spoke of the hypocrisy that the faithful have to endure in the public square.

  Hartline: I think a faithful Christian, or anyone of faith, feels a lot has changed in the last five or six years. People of faith are often mocked or belittled in popular culture, and the faithful are accused of all sorts of bigotry and ignorance. We are told to get with the times, as if our consciences could really leave the truth behind. It seems the movie is addressing that underlying feeling in the faith community.

Solomon and Konzelman: Yes, that’s definitely the nerve that’s been touched. Secular humanists insist that Christians in general — and Catholics in particular — are supposed to leave their belief system at home when it comes to matters in the public sphere. So according to the rules they propose, their belief system is allowable . . . and ours isn’t. Which is a deliberate attempt to subvert the whole democratic process. As someone else pointed out: Democracy is supposed to be about more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

 I then posed the question as to why some are willing to defend their faith as did the college student in God’s Not Dead, but sadly most do not.

Hartline: College student Josh Wheaton appears to be the nondescript everyman. While everyone else accedes to the professor’s atheistic rants, Josh decides to take up the challenge, even though he’s far from being a theologian. Is there a message there for most of us?

Solomon and Konzelman: It’s a question of being willing to try . . . and fail, if necessary. Mother Teresa got it right: God does not require us to be successful, only faithful. Secular humanism has really been racking up the score in the culture wars lately, largely because of the unwillingness of many Christians to counter their efforts. Unfortunately, doing nothing is doing something: It’s enabling the other side. Every time we roll over and don’t confront the challenge, our forfeit shows up as a win in the other team’s column and encourages them to push further.

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11 Responses to God’s Not Dead; There’s Something Happening Here

  • Very encouraging! Here’s something else: http://www.nicaeathemovie.com/ .

  • God is Not Dead. Only the love of God in some men’s hearts is dead. If man is called to love God with his whole heart and man refuses, it is man who has no heart. It is man who becomes heartless, a bully and a hypocrite and practices bigotry.
    When a self-professed atheist says: “I AM”, using God’s name in vain, the atheist contradicts himself. When an atheist breathes God’s air, the atheist confounds himself. When an atheist exercises his free will, the atheist bears witness to his immortal human soul. When an atheist enjoys his freedom, the atheist gives testimony to God. When an atheist exists in time, the atheist is the proof of God.
    Only the love of God is dead in some men’s hearts. As nature abhors a vacuum of the love of God in men’s hearts, the atheist will soon come to the realization that God is love and man is made for love.
    The freedom of religion must remain absolute so that when the atheist comes to the knowledge of God, the atheist may be free to express his love for and his belief in God. The atheist must be free to acknowledge God.
    The atheist will have found freedom from discrimination, prejudice, bullying , hypocrisy and ignorance.

  • Something else is happening here. The NY Times is out flogging the priest sex abuse garbage again.
    I wish Catholics would boycott that birdcage lining waste of ink. Can somebody please advise why that rubbish is “influential”?
    In a somewhat related note, I read a review of the new Jesus movie in Yahoo. In the review, the critic, who is a young Jewish woman, calls Catholic icons (such as her former boyfriend’s crucifix) “trinkets”, and concludes that Judas is the real hero of the passion.
    We should all feel good that the media is taking a brief respite in their war on on our beliefs and morality, but do not kid yourself for a second. Trashing Christianity (and Catholicism in particular) sells. To me, it looks like they may be simply re-setting the target for a fresh onslaught in the near future.

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  • The Supreme Sovereign Being is infinite and everlasting from age to age, before all ages, infinite, and cannot die. God, our Creator, is infinite, the Endower of unalienable rights and the reason there is a First Amendment.

  • Me, my wife, my three kids, and two of my kids’ friends went to go see God’s Not Dead yesterday. We all loved it. Instead of wasting their money on something like Noah, Catholics should be going to see this movie.

  • The infinite God is infinite. God’s Not Dead
    .
    God and The Son of God, Jesus Christ, had to be vanquished from the public square before the government could ignore man’s dignity and confiscate the work of his hands.
    .
    “They shall live in the houses they build, and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant; they shall not build houses for others to live in, or plant for others to eat. They shall not toil in vain, not beget children for sudden destruction; for a race blessed by the Lord are they and their offspring. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hearken to them.” Isaiah 65: 21- 24.
    .
    The New york Times must be flooded with the truth. Why is the statute of limitations without limit for the Catholic Church for the prosecution of child sexual abuse and only 90 days in New York Public schools? See the open thread at Starry, Starry Night for some rather unpleasant antics of the courts. The Catholic League and Dr. William Donohue will have something to say too.

  • The atheist must be tolerated. Atheism is unconstitutional. Atheism denies the freedom of religion to respond to the gift of faith from God, a relationship between God and man that cannot be interdicted by anyone claiming to be an atheist. No one has ever claimed to be atheism, not ever and especially not even the devil. The devil is not an atheist. The devil knows that God created him and the devil spends eternity frozen in the bottom of hell rejecting God.
    .
    I hope and pray that the New York Times does not join the devil frozen to the bottom of hell rejecting God.

  • Loved this movie! Went to see it with my wife and 6 children!! Also loved the Louisiana flavor as I’m a former Tiger! So thankful for the courage and wisdom infused in this movie as I believe God has called us all to fight!! As St. Francis of Assissi said “Go and spread the Gospel, and when necessary use words”.

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Both World Wars Were A Catalyst For Religious Growth; What Future Tragedy Will It Take For Another Revival?

Sunday, December 16, AD 2012

Sadly it often takes tragedies for religious faith to grow. It seems an unfortunate part of our fallen nature. We have been hit by a spate of tragedies as of late; in its wake we often see churches full of worshippers seeking answers where once there were but a few. Following both world wars, there existed a religious resurgence that unlike the recent tragedies did not ebb and flow. It remained constant due in large part to the horrific loses of human life.

Modernism was alive and well and condemned by the likes of Pope Pius X even before the Guns of August began in 1914. The Catholic and Protestant churches were increasingly seeing relativistic elements entering their seminaries. However unlike recent times, they were quickly addressed. Though we are gaining the upper hand, it has been 40 years since Pope Paul VI lamented that “The Smoke of Satan” had entered the Church. In my just released book; The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn, I speak about the positive events occurring within the Church, as well as those movements who aim to do us harm. In addition, the book delves into how we got into this mess in the first place.

Following World War I there was a great return to religious devotions, especially those having to do with the Blessed Mother. The events of Fatima which had occurred during the war and were being followed closely around the Catholic globe. As I mentioned in my article on the Schoenstatt Movement, the likes of Father Josef Kentenich chastised theological authorities who were giving short shrift to these devotions as well as those who dismissed popular devotions to those who recently passed away like the future Saint Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower.) Father Kentenich reminded these scoffers that Jesus did indeed say that we must become like little children if we are to enter the Kingdom.

The well heeled of Europe and many American ex pats found their way to Paris to rebel against the religious side of the equation. On the whole, they were a gloomy lot who seemed to drown their sorrows in all matter of drink and sexual exploits which only made them more unbearable. Some even found their way to more exotic locales like Casablanca, as did the fictional Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) in the epic film Casablanca.

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7 Responses to Both World Wars Were A Catalyst For Religious Growth; What Future Tragedy Will It Take For Another Revival?

  • In Spain, the Franco regime and its views led to pent-up hostility towards the Catholic church after Franco died.

    France began slipping away from the Faith at the time of the Revolution and not even the numerous apparitions of Mary have been able to return the French to her former status as Eldest Daughter of the Church.

    The unification of Italy in the 19th century unleashed hostility towards the Catholic clergy, seeing them as privileged (gross oversimplification).

    Germany, Holland, Austria….others know the reason for the decline better than I do.

    In the USA, I blame the turn in popular culture as well as the Kennedys. In the 1950s, during the beginnings of the Cold War, Hollywood made many movies based on Old Testament stories. Fr. Peyton and Loretta Young made Catholic themed programs and Bishop Sheen was popular.

    The 1960s…there was the heartwarming Dragnet episode where the little Latino boy returns the Baby Jesus to church before Christmas Eve Mass.

    The 1970s were indifferent to religion.

    Today, there is open hostility to religion from Hollywood and academia, and far too many young people eat it all up.

  • Dave.
    Fr. John Hardon, (d.2000) gave striking warnings of a future American landscape if Catholics didn’t return to the sacraments.
    Catholics because they are the privileged members of the Body of Christ.
    Fr. Hardon; “If American Catholics do not return to the true faith, return to frequent the sacraments, then they will experience the sufferings of First century Christians.”

    The battleground is Christian America.

  • Penguins Fan wrote

    “France began slipping away from the Faith at the time of the Revolution…”

    The “slipping away” began almost a century and a half earlier, in the aftermath of the Wars of Religion in France (1562-1598) and the Thirty Years War in Germany (1618-1648) These ended in a stalemate; the Reformation gained no new territory, but it proved impossible to restore the unity of Christendom. The all but inevitable result was the growth of scepticism: both sides could not be right, but they could both be wrong. Theology, as a science (a means of knowledge) was generally viewed as discredited. It was to such people that the Pensées of Pascal were addressed.

    On the eve of the Revolution, few of the middle classes went to Mass in the great towns, hardly any of the artisans. The faithful were a sincere though ill-instructed and dwindling minority. Nothing better illustrates the condition of the Church than that priests like the Abbé Sieyès and bishops like Talleyrand were not untypical. Acton notes that “Those among them who had been chosen by the Church itself for its supreme reward, the Cardinal’s hat—Rohan, Loménie de Brienne, Bernis, Montmorency and Talleyrand—were men notoriously of evil repute.” Maury, afterwards Cardinal and Archbishop of Paris, was a man whose character was below his talents.

  • ‘However, what price will it take for our hubris and narcissism to defer to God’s love, truth and reason?’

    Vital question. Something like pulling the plug or a ‘forty’ day or year span of character building or voices to balance the scale in culture.

    ‘In the USA, I blame the turn in popular culture as well as the Kennedys. In the 1950s, during the beginnings of the Cold War, Hollywood made many movies based on Old Testament stories. Fr. Peyton and Loretta Young made Catholic themed programs and Bishop Sheen was popular.’

    The 1960s…there was the heartwarming Dragnet episode where the little Latino boy returns the Baby Jesus to church before Christmas Eve Mass.

    The 1970s were indifferent to religion.

    Today, there is open hostility to religion from Hollywood and academia, and far too many young people eat it all up.’ –

    … to the point of Churches being locked due to the victimization.

    The violent insane seem to attack the defenseless, such as in schools, theaters, and gatherings. What provokes violent behavior are celebrated elements of the culture which have lost civility and balanced character traits of decent restraint.

    I think of some not funny comedians, the loss of board games to computer ones played alone, the gang phenomenon, the irony of the women’s liberation movement and the outrageous displays of today’s women, artisans becoming ‘artists’ of the useless, and more, and vaguely, electronic replacement of human activity/work. Mental inability and illness, loss of human care to gov. regulations and courts strangling progress.

    ‘On the eve of the Revolution, few of the middle classes went to Mass in the great towns, hardly any of the artisans. The faithful were a sincere though ill-instructed and dwindling minority.

    … a man whose character was below his talents.’ ***

    Education becoming unrelated to the character building of good judgement or virtue. Lifetimes given to learning from the inspirations and beauty of our Creator have value. So what will bring more than a temporary turn to religion in reaction to sorrowful tragedy is what M P-S wrote. Character. The culture of death is deterring religious growth and its strength of character; so maybe, simply accepting God’s gifts of Faith, Hope, and Love (in even horrible circumstances brought on by evil afoot) would serve to rebuild His recommended culture of life.

    People finding the great comfort of a more religious life, however found, will grow to see the discomfort in a solely material world and loss therein. Hunger and thirst for more works both ways.

  • I think this is a complete misreading of the past century.

    WWI saw the collapse of faith in state, royalty, race, and progress, which were the reigning beliefs in Europe. The facade of faith was slipping away, and France drifted into despair. Nihilism, drugs, and eventually existentialism did little to fill the void. Russia fell. The US won the war and retained its optimism or something like it, until the decadence of the 1920’s collapsed into the Great Depression. Germany went a different route, re-embracing race and progress in an awful way. By the end of WWII, the spirit of despair ruled most everywhere. European countries gave up their empires and gave in emotionally to the Soviets. America held together because of its devil rather than because of its god.

    There are little ripples throughout history which can make it seem like one decade is holier than another. And we are affected by (not controlled by) our culture, so I shouldn’t say that all of us within a given country move in lockstep. But the trendline for the past 100 years has been ugly. The wars led to loss of faith among millions.

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  • There are some great posts here. Yes, Penguins Fan when faith begins to slip it can fall in a hurry, much like someone climbing a mountain, a momentary slip can take the climber a great deal of time to return from where he momentarily slipped.

    Philip, Father Hardon was prophetic, he was fond of saying the modern rebellion began in the 1930s. I can’t remember exactly the date he was referring to but it had to do with a group of priests in pre- WWII (Belgium?) taking liturgical matters in their own hands. He saw the slipping away of reverance and the degree to which the sacraments were being dismissed as a harbinger of something awful to come.

    Michael Paterson Semour, yes few realize the true impact of the Reformation when it was put into the hands of men like Jean Calvin who saw to it that mystery was dismissed. In addition, Calvin saw to it that churches were closed during the week to prevent “superstitious rituals” like Marian Devotion and Eucharistic Adoration from continuing. Putting doubts in people’s minds certainly set the stage for the unholy terror that was the French Revolution. George Washington and Alexander Hamilton saw it for what it was but even thinkers like Thomas Jefferson were fooled into thinking that it was an Englightened event.

    PM, yes as I indicated in my article it is hard to believe that Hollywood helped the faith with many fantastic films, and it even had powerful messages in TV dramas as late as the 1970s. However, Father Peyton saw the troubling signs years before and tried to prevent the catastrophe which is now controlling our media culture. In the 1940s, Father Peyton believed Hollywood could evangelize the world through films, but he also knew it would also become a target of the dark side.

    Pinky, true we are responsible for our actions but wealth and prosperity have always been the tool to which the dark side lures societies going back to Sodom and Gomorrah, Nineveh, Rome etc to walk away from God. However, tragedies have sobered people up long enough to see the error of their ways. For a decade starting in the mid 1990s, Poland was ordaining half of Europe’s priests. Look at the saints France gave us after the nightmare of 1789.

    It is important to note that we will be the last man standing so to speak. The faithful will come our way because Jesus predicted that it would happen (The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.) Let’s hope and pray that in the final showdown large segments of the populace see through the demonic disguise of the evil one.

Servant Of God Father Patrick Peyton CSC, Leader Of Rosary Rallies, Founder Of Family Theater

Wednesday, February 9, AD 2011

Many have heard the term, The Family That Prays Together Stays Together. Yet, how many are familiar with the life of Father Patrick Peyton, his rosary rallies which drew millions, and Family Theater which he started in Hollywood in 1947 and is still going strong today?  How many are aware that Father Patrick Peyton drew over 1,000,000 people to several rosary rallies in the 1950s. He even drew over 550,000 to a 1961 San Francisco Rosary Rally, six years before the city became a focal point for the 1960s counter culture revolution and subsequent 1967 Summer of Love. As you can see, when we turn our back to faith, we find ourselves going down a very slippery slope. Yet, Father Patrick Peyton was a true visionary. He saw the slippery morals in tinsel town long before the 1960s and knew he needed to do something to counterbalance what was going on. He knew of Hollywood’s bad influence and moral collapse long before most realized it, and yet he truly believed that Family Theater would one day bring faith back to Hollywood and all who are influenced by her.

Who was this Renaissance man, a man of wealth and privilege, a man of many letters? Hardly, Father Patrick Peyton CSC came to the US during his teen years, penniless, uneducated and according to the world’s precepts harboring little potential. However, before he left the docks of Ireland his mother told him in no uncertain terms that with the Blessed Mother’s aid, he could do great things. After doing manual work for the Holy Cross Fathers he was allowed to enter the seminary at Notre Dame. Yet, shortly before he was to be ordained, he received a dire medical prognosis and it appeared that not only was his ordination in question, but his life itself was in peril. He did the only thing he could, pray unceasingly. His prayers were answered and he thanked the Blessed Mother along with St Joseph, both of which he had a strong devotion. He along with his brother was ordained in 1941.

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3 Responses to Servant Of God Father Patrick Peyton CSC, Leader Of Rosary Rallies, Founder Of Family Theater

  • Why are there no Rosary Rallies?

    In the early 1950’s, as a small child, my father brought me to a Catholic rally in the Polo Grounds in NYC. Not sure if it was a Rosary Rally. One never hears of anything like that in 2011.

    Also, as a child, we lived just north of Yankee Satdium. Each year the Jehova Witnesses would hold a rally there.

    I recommend we Catholics say the Holy Rosary (soup to nuts) each day.

    Today, it is the Glorious Mysteries.

  • T Shaw, good idea about more Rosary Rallies. In 1985 in the twilight of his life Father Peyton led almost 2,000,000 in praying the rosary in Manila. In 2007 Family Theater was part of the Rosary Bowl at the Rose Bowl in Pasedena, even though the stadium was filled, it barely garnered a peep in the mainstream media. Finally, there was another Rosary Rally in Manila in 2009 to mark what would have been the 100th birthday of Father Peyton. Something tells me more people are familiar with him there than here.

    Father Peyton was an amazing man, I heard about his legend first hand when I spoke to Family Theater in 2007 and again last December. There are endless documentaries celebrating what happened in San Francisco in 1967, but barely a peep about the 1961 Rosary Rally. The Archdiocesan Historian for San Francisco named it as the most important event in the Archdiocese’s history. Yet, you can barely find any info on it even from the Archdiocese. This paradoxes amaze me.

    I have been to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and there is plenty there about San Francisco, Monterey and Woodstock, even though Woodstock was by all accounts a logistical and an acoustical nightmare. Yet, the pop culture gatekeepers would have us think it sounded as if you were in Carnegie Hall. Have you ever seen a documentary from Catholic sources or otherwise on the 550,000 who came to the Rosary Rally, six years before fewer came to Haight Ashbury?

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