Toppling Iron Man from its first place box office status, the second installment movie from C. S. Lewis's famed Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian, grossed $56.6 million for its first weekend outing. The Disney action movie, characterized as both darker, more violent; but also more obviously spiritual, even Christian film, is expected to keep the top spot through the lucrative Memorial Day weekend upcoming. Nevertheless, last weekend's opening was a little lower than that for its predecessor, the adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe, released in December 2005, which grossed $65.6 million in its first weekend.
According to the family-friendly Christian media reviewer Movieguide, "Right up front it needs to be noted that the book has been re-imagined to make the movie. In most cases, this re-imagining has helped the drama considerably. Better yet, the filmmakers have kept the integrity of and even highlighted the theological points C. S. Lewis was trying to make." The on-line review encouragingly concluded, "Expect to see a wonderful movie that retains the faith of the book."
Actor Kirk Cameron & his colleague, best-selling author Ray Comfort, will face 2 atheists in New York this coming Saturday, May 5 for a 13 minute opening argument on the existence of God that will be aired on the Internet on Sunday. The debate is sponsored by ABC.com & was developed out of a challenge from Cameron & Comfort after ABC ran a story in January about atheists taping themselves blaspheming the Holy Spirit." Comfort, who claims he can prove the existence of God scientifically, without mentioning faith or the Bible, asked, "Why should so many be so bitter about Christianity in particular? Why aren't they making videos that blaspheme Buddha or Mohammed or Gandhi?" Cameron added, "We will not only prove that God exists, but as an ex-atheist I'll show that the issue keeping so many people from beliving in God -- Darwinian evolution -- is completely unscientific. It's a fairy-tale for grown-ups."
The debate allows for 13 minutes for each side to promote its position, with some back-and-forth interchange & selected questions from virtual & live audience members.
Cameron & Comfort co-host the website, television, & radio programs The Way of the Master, all of which are designed to inspire & equip Christians to share their faith. Comfort is a long-time Christian platform speaker & author who has written more than 40 books. Cameron is an experienced actor who played the character Mike Seaver on the popular television series Growing Pains & Buck Williams from the popular Left Behind movies.
ABC.com will air the entire debate on Wednesday, May 9 at 2 PM EST.
Hoping to renew interest in Christianity in a part of Europe where church attendance has plummeted & most people don't consider themselves religious, Christian Dutchman Johan Huibers is building a working replica of Noah's Ark as an educational & evangelistic tool. Johan's Ark will include a petting zoo, museum, display center on exotic animals, & a refreshment stand on the top deck. Built to scale 1/5 the size of the ark described in the Bible, Johan's ark has a steel hull, wooden siding & decks made out of American cedar & Norwegian pine, meets all local, national, & international maritime regulations, & can pass under every bridge on its designated tour route through Holland.
Huibers says, "This will speak very much to children, because it will give them something tangible to see that Noah's Ark really existed. They'll hear the creak of the wood, smell the smell of the dung."
He expects the modest entrance fee ($2.40 for children & $3.60 for adults) & concession profits to repay the nearly $1.2 million in development & construction costs covered by a bank loan. Huibers says he's not concerned that global warming will flood his country of Holland, reminding the reporter, "It won't happen again. You know the rainbow," he gestured, referring to God's promise never to destroy the earth by flood again. Although his wife wishes he would have stuck to the traditional social service ministry tasks he has done in the past, Huibers says this project is his heart's desire, & that through it many thousands of people will experience a little bit of the Bible tied up to the dock in Holland.
Acress mom Katie Holmes, wife of actor dad & leading Scientology follower Tom Cruise, is reported to have disclosed she wants to expose their one year old daughter, Suri, to the teachings of the Catholic Church as soon as she is old enough for "kiddie classes." Holmes was raised a Catholic but reportedly abandoned her faith when she met Cruise in 2005. Cruise is a strong Scientologist. Differences over religious upbringing of their children were cited by friends as part of the reason for his acrimonious divorce from actress Nicole Kidmann earlier.
According to friends' reports to the magazine Life & Style, Holmes is attempting to repair friendships, heal the rift with her parents, & renew her Catholic faith commitment. The magazine said Holmes told one friend, Maghann Birie, that she can't believe she abandoned her old life.
Friday, February 23 2007 @ 04:27 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
According to his brother Jermaine, who became a Muslim in 1989, pop superstar & controversial figure Michael Jackson may convert to Islam. The Jackson children were raised in a Jehovah's Witness family, but none of the adult children appeared to stick with the fringe Christian group.
Michael has previous associations with the Nation of Islam, which provided body guards for him during the trial at which he was acquitted of child molestation charges. Since the trial he has spent much of his time in the Muslim country of Bahrain.
Jermaine said, "When I came back from Mecca I got him a lot of books & he asked me lots of things about my religion & I told him that it's peaceful & beautiful." He continued, "He read everything & he was proud of me that I found something that would give me inner strength & peace. He could do so much, just like I am trying to do. Michael & I & the word of God, we could do so much."
Monday, November 13 2006 @ 05:52 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
Pop singer & homosexual rights advocate Elton John told the British Observer's Music Monthly that organized religion fuels anti-homosexual discrimination & other forms of bias & should be banned. He remarked, "From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings, & it's not really compassionate." He admitted that many homosexuals are very religious & that there are churches which advocate acceptance of homosexuals.
The numbers have driven Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to create a new distribution label to manage its growing list of faith-based programming. The huge commercial successes of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, the adaptation of C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe, as well as acclaimed lesser known films such as this fall's currently playing Facing the Giants & last year's The End of the Spear have encouraged this special niche market provider. The new consumer & retail brand will include filmed entertainment with a clear Christian message or based on material by a Christian author. Fox hopes that the line will be recommended by Christian retailers, ministries, churches, & leaders & will become the "go to" source for families interested in enjoying faith-based entertainment.
Foxfaith is a new home entertainment distribution label & marketing engine for theatrical releases & ongoing distribution of films specifically made for & targeted to Christian audiences.
"We're in the business of entertainment, not proselytizing," warned Jeff Yordy, Vice President , Marketing, Foxfaith. Nevertheless, he continued, "We recognized that there was a hugely underserved audience & seized the opportunity to provide them with high-quality entertainment that reflects their values. And, as a result, we've seen explosive growth in this marketplace over the past few years, which only proves to us that we're successfully tapping into our core constituency."
Foxfire promises new productions, both made for theatrical release & television or straight to home sale, as well as a rapidly growing backlist of popular titles.
Although none of the 4 brothers is as vocally politically & religiously liberal as Alec, Stephen has charted his own way since 9/11, becoming a born-again Christian & devoting his life & career to promoting the gospel in his own unique way.
"I want it to be something where kids who are believers or non-believers can come to an arena & have an entertainment experience that is just as fun as the other stuff out there, but you're going to get this positive message somewhere in the experience," Baldwin said in an interview.
The church, noting that movies seem to influence people more than sermons, got into the movie-making business a couple of years ago. Their first film, Flywheel, was about a used car salesman who turned his life around by finding God. It played only in local theaters & was immediately available on DVD.
To produce Facing the Giants, the congregation put up money for the $100,000 production budget, &500 church volunteers & a handful of professional technicians provided the rest -- cast, crew, & everything else. Senior pastor Rev. Michael Catt said, "Every church has to find out what they're supposed to do. For us, it was making movies."
Pastors Alex Kendrick & his brother, Stephen Kendrick, wrote the script & helped produce the film, about a coach of a losing Christian high school football team. Alex also plays the lead role as Coach Grant Taylor, whose fictional Shiloh Christian Academy has a contingent of unhappy parents who are threatening his job because of the team's poor performance record. In addition, the coach is struggling with marital & fertility problems. The story line finds Taylor praying & searching his Bible for answers for his family & his team -- finally turning the team around by telling players they need to believe in God as well as themselves.
The film came to the attention of the Hollywood bigwigs when the production team approached Nashville-based Provident Films for permission to use some of their inspirational music in the soundtrack. Provident, which merged with Sony last year, then asked to see the film & things snowballed from there.
The film & the plucky congregation received national attention when, with the help of national conservative talk radio show hosts, the producers appealed to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which had rated the movie PG. Fearing the rating was religious discrimination, more than 15,000 inquiries from the concerned public led the MPAA to respond that the rating was made purely on the film's "mature" subject matter -- football violence, depression, & infertility -- & had nothing to do with its religious content.
The church spent 9 months filming, including using its own high school, Sherwood Christian Academy, for many scenes, & for many of the on-screen football players. Church member Jason McLeod (20) landed a leading role as football team captain Brock Kelley. "It's so cool how it's come together. We want to get the Gospel out there & reach people in a different way. We're just very excited about what God is doing."
"We thought it was a tear jerker & we worked with Provident to get the rights," said Benjamin Feingold, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which will handle DVD distribution.
"We're always looking . . . for compelling, uplifting, & inspirational stories, whether they're religious based, or emotional or human based," explained Meyer Gottlieb, president of Samuel Goldwyn Films. "We're catering to the audience that is moved by the characters & the story line, rather than the pyrotechnics of blowing people up." Gottlieb concluded, ""We're a company that tries to reach our audience through their emotions. So this picture, when we saw it, we fell in love with it right away."
A Southern California Little League mom whose self-published mystery novel has been picked up by Simon & Schuster Publishers says she's a direct descendant of Mary Magdalene & Jesus & that the conspiracy theories of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code are true -- her family traditions say so.
Simon & Schuster is spending $275,000 to promote its publication this year of Kathleen McGowan's autobiographical novel The Expected One. The novel is the story of Maureen Paschal, a woman who begins to have visions of Mary Magdalene, discovers she is a descendant of Mary & Jesus, & undergoes a dramatic search for a gospel written by her famed ancestress that is hidden in France.
McGowan says that the story is marketed as a novel because family constraints keep her from revealing her documentation, but the story is her own. "Maureen is a fictional character, but there is a lot of me in Marueen. I know it will be hard for people to accept this, but it's true."
McGowan, a journalist who has worked for various Hollywood film companies over the years, says she received her first vision in 1997 & "knew what I was seeing was real & it was true & I was being shown it for a reason & that I had to keep going."
The whole range of biblical & historical scholars discounts the theories relating to a supposed relationship with Mary Magdalene & Jesus, or any descendants therefrom, & even McGowan says she is not prepared or able to prove it. She says her family is descended from a French family that is supposedly descended from Mary; that the traditions have been passed down through many generations of the family, but admits "there are certainly holes in it." She claims that much of the documentation was destroyed during the French Revolution.
Credible critiques of the theories, including the version popularized in Dan Brown's book, are available elsewhere on the Answers In Action website.
The Lord's Servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will give them a change of heart leading to a knowledge of the truth
II Timothy 2:24-26