You are “Chosen”

22 10 2020

 

Approximately one year ago, I visited the Jerusalem and the holy land for the first time. One of the feelings one experiences during visits to the Holy Land is the desire to see Jesus, to get a behind the scenes, to turn back the hands of the clock and be there. There comes a time when the rocks aren’t enough, you wish to be transported back in time, to smell Mary’s cooking and watch Jesus  and laugh and play, and sorrowful, you wish to help him with the cross on Calvary. Sadly is only the imagination left to fill in the gaps of centuries, and recreate the scenes and atmosphere and only very few and very gifted people are able to use their imagination so prodigiously, as for the rest of us, any means, or anyone who can assistance us see what happened there many centuries ago is more than welcome. It is craved. Thus you can imagine my joy when I came across the film, Chosen, directed by a young man named Dallas Jenkins recreating the life of Jesus so that the less imaginatively endowed can get close up view of the greatest story ever told.

Chosen

Jenkins must have inherited his father’s knack for telling stories, and I must add, for using stories to try to spread the word of God. Jenkins’ father was a Christian novelist whose bestselling novel, Left behind, sold over 60 million copies and has been adapted to serial television programs. Both father and son, teamed up to start a movie company and intent on producing family friendly Christian movies, they launched several attempt that has been successful such as “What if” a 2010 international bestseller staring Kristy Swanson, a film about a business man whose guardian Angel appeared to him to show him what he would have become if he followed the will of God for his life, a story that is so relevant to all.

Nevertheless, Chosen would appear to be the most successful of Jenkins endeavors and the one that will endear him to the hearts of millions of Christians he would have helped to get to know God and Jesus Christ even if it is only one inch better. The project started as a short film clip called The Sheppard which Jenkins made to help his church members visualize the birth of Jesus from the perspective of the Sheppard. He shot the entire movie clip at a friend’s farm, but the clip was so go that it caught the attention of VidAngel, an online streaming service looking for original content, who encouraged Jenkins to post it up on Facebook to see if people would be interested. The clip received 15million views around the world and gave birth to a multi season series  about the life of Jesus called Chosen, and it is said to be the to be the highest  crowd funded movie of all time.

“I’m trying to justify the faith of those who invested in this project and I’m also trying to, of course, please my Savior, and make sure that we’re doing this project for Him,” Jenkins said.

It’s sad that Christians has been edged out of the competition in the movies to the disastrous consequences and missed opportunities of bringing life savings and healing doctrines too the lost and often deceived people whose only means of knowing the most important truth of gospel comes from what they glean from poor scripts and bad acting in most Christian movie, or from the ideologically manipulated and religiously hostile Hollywood blockbusters. Jenkins has shown a good example of how to use motion pictures to bring the gospel to the hearts and minds of many.

It is the same zeal that burned in the heart of Monsignor Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, when he wrote in 1959, “I found my love for God enkindled by considering Jesus’ zeal to set the world ablaze with his fire. I couldn’t contain the irrepressible ardour that welled up within me, making me cry out with the very words of the Master: I’ve come to set fire to the earth and what will I but that it be enkindled?… Here I am, for you have called me! He encouraged good people, Christians to get involved in the movie industries.  Recalling the first time Escriva saw a color television in 1972, those who were with him wrote this account:

“At Civenna, just over four kilometers from the Swiss border, and less as the crow flies, they could get Swiss television channels. Their house had a color television set, and the first time they turned it on Monsignor Escrivá was as surprised as everyone else. “Isn’t it good?” he exclaimed. “I had no idea the image would be so clear and the color so natural. The color’s so attractive that you’re captivated no matter what program is on.”

After the television set had been turned off, he reflected aloud, “All this progress, great and small, has to bring us to give great glory to God. All noble human work, done well and used properly, is a fabulous instrument for serving society and sanctifying ourselves. I suppose the same thing happened to you as to me a moment ago when we were watching television: it was easy to raise one’s heart to God, thanking him for the technical perfection of the image and the color. And then there’s an idea which is always going around my head. I thought of the good and the evil which can be done with television and with all the media. Good? Yes, because it’s a wonderful vehicle for reaching out to so many people, capturing their attention in such an attractive way. Bad? It’s that too, because images and words can be used to spread bad doctrine and false morals. And people swallow these errors and falsehoods without realizing it, they welcome it like pure gold. That’s why I insist so much that the apostolate through the media will always be very important. And Catholics who have a professional vocation to the media, journalists, people working in the press, radio, and television, have to be present and active: to be absent would be a shameful act of desertion.”

Thus, any Christian who is not eager to share Christ with others, to make his humanity known and loved, using whatever talents, few or many, is not doing well, in fact he is lukewarm. Jenkins striving to use his talents as a movie maker to make Jesus better known is commendable. Jenkins urged on by the burning desire to tell Jesus story the way it should be told, with the pump, brilliance and genius of great masters of the big studios has come up with the brilliant master piece Chosen and on behalf of many millions of Christians the world over, I would like to say a very big thanks to Jenkins for making this effort, for not giving up and for helping us see even if minutely a little more background story of Jesus life. His adaptation are brilliant, his ability to help us visualize the real environment most of us are only able to conjure and some with great difficulty is inestimable.

By Chinwuba Iyizoba

Dallas Jenkins

by Chinwuba Iyizoba




“Cuties” is generating a lot of fury

3 10 2020
Cuties is generating a lot of fury

Netflix movie “Cuties” is generating a lot of fury and rightly so.  Every sane person would agree that there is something disturbing about watching a movie where minors are dancing seductively and sexually suggestively. It makes one feel uncomfortable. Even the name “Cutie” is resoundingly deceptive and is a reflection of the dishonestly misappropriated language that has a clear meaning and attributing to something else. The word “Cute” according to the dictionary is defined as something attractive or pleasing in a youthful, dainty, quaint or fun-spirited way.  This is not what sexually suggestive twerks by 10 yr old girls is, and people who think otherwise may rightly be suspected of harboring deviant desire. The rest of the normal people these dances less than cute, at best disturbing, or outright offensive and since it involves minors, criminal.

Why would a minor dance in a sexually provocative way? Is it to attract a mate? Minors aren’t legally permitted to mate, nor marry nor give birth. Why then would a minor be directed in a movie to perform sexual seductive acts? Is it to attract men?  Its crime for a man to be sexual involved with a minor. People who denounce this movie for preparing the ground for criminal acts are on track.

Perhaps, Netflix, together with those who produced the movie are aware of the hypocrisy that led to the success of playboy magazine back in the 50’s. When Hugh Hefner launched playboy in 1953, there was certainly a loud public outcry, and people lashed out against playboy and many families avoided going to a cinema advertising pornography, yet astonishingly, even as protests were on going, private purchase of pornographic VCR tapes was skyrocketing, and thus Hefner who was making big bucks couldn’t care less about public protest. He saw the protest for what it was worth, worthless hypocrisy.

Perhaps, Netflix, like Hefner, is determined to ride out the storm, stay the course and in the end make a lot of money. By being innovators of child pornography, they are rest assured that there will be plenty of bucks at the end of the tunnel. It may even be that Cuties is even at this moment experiencing a windfall in spite of the pretense at protest. Thus, those of us who wish to resist the Cuties “new normal” must guard against curiosity, and hypocrisy and stop privately funding Cuties by watching it in private or else we would be hypocritically cooperating in the triumph of sexual objectification of minors and would be no different from pedophiles for whom Netflix made this movie .

Furthermore, this is not an isolated incident. There are far worse content that we should all stand up against. The Internet is brimming with pornography websites, chief of which is Porn hub, a publicly listed company in USA, with more than 40 billion visitors yearly, where anyone can upload pornographic content no matter how deviant.  Research confirms that many of the content in these sites involve minors, kidnapped or trafficked women and children. Society cannot afford to turn a blind to these extremely hard core sites while fretting over Cuties because again, that would be hypocrisy. It is sad that studies has it that pornography addiction is very high among Christians who attend Church regularly, people who should be at the vanguard of the fight against pornography. Little wonder then that pornographer are getting richer by the hour. We all need to join hand together to fight this or else Netflix’s persistence will eventually lead to the normalization of film like Cuties.

by Chinwuba Iyizoba





Do you know what it means to forgive? What the movie “A beautiful life in the Neighborhood” teaches us about forgiveness

31 08 2020
Susan Kelechi Watson(Lloyd’s wife), Tom Hanks(Roger), Marielle Heller(Director), Matthew Rhys(Lloyd) and Chris Cooper(Dad) attend the Photo Call for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” at Four Seasons Hotel in New York City.

To err is human; to forgive is divine is perhaps the central message of the movie, A beautiful day in the Neighborhood, based on a true-life story of a famous TV icon, Fred Rogers, who inspired and comforted many people with his marvelous stories in his acclaimed children’s TV series which ran from 1968 till 2002 . In the opening lines of the movie, Mr. Rogers (Hanks) asks, “Do you know what it means to forgive? It is a conscious decision we make to release someone from the feeling of anger we have against them,” and he goes on to narrate the story of his encounter with a troubled journalist, Lloyd Vogel who was having a hard time forgiving his father who had abandoned his mother for another woman while she was dying of cancer. One night, at a party, Lloyd anger boils over and he punched his dad in the face and things turned ugly. Luckily, Lloyd meets Rogers when his editor sent him to Rogers’s studio to interview him for an article.

As he enters, Rogers walks off the stage, camera rolling and all, and greets him, introducing him to the rest of the crew. After the shooting, they sit down and talk and Lloyd discovers that Rogers had a great love for people, and the genuine concern he saw in Rogers eyes when he told him about his fights with his father profoundly affects him and perhaps for the first time, Lloyd gets insight into Rogers’s pleasant personality.

 When he asks Rogers if he had burdens and how he deals with them. Rogers admitted that like every one, he too has burdens but that he tries deal with them without taking it out on others. For instance, if he was having a bad day,  he would swim as hard as he can, or even bang out a single note on the piano keys, but more important he had learnt to accept people they way they are.

Rogers made Lloyd understand that these virtues were what made him attractive to many people because his message uplifts them and they felt understood and loved, and therefore many open their hearts to him.

“He is the nicest man I have ever met,” Lloyd announced to his wife, Andrea when he returned home.

When Lloyd met Rogers’s wife, he could not but blurt out the question that was topmost in his mind. “How does it feel to share the same house as a living saint,” he asked her. To which she replied with a sincere smile, “Roger is not perfect, he has his flaws, but he is always striving to overcome them.”  “Furthermore,” Roger wife adds, “he prays for people he meets by name every day.”

Her answer is similar to what saint Josemaria, the founder of Opus Dei, used to repeat so often, that a saint is not a person who has no defect but one who continually struggles to overcome them with the grace of God and by forgetting himself and concerning himself with the problems of other people.

Rogers’s affection finally helps Lloyd deal with his anger and make up with his father after a final row in his apartment precipitated his father’s heart attack and his father was rushed to the hospital. This marked the turning point for Lloyd who healed by Rogers’s words and examples returned repentant and apologized to his wife and firmly determined to patched things with his dad who was dying..

In the end the healing process was completed when dad and son shared a glass of sherry, his dad assured him that he had always loved him. “I love you too dad” he replied bringing tears to the old man’s eyes. This reconciliation reunites the entire family, and Lloyd sister comes in to share the moment. Lloyd’s dad died a few days later after meeting Rogers who helped him overcome death fears by asking for his prayers. Lloyd became a more caring person, even to his wife, offering to stay home and take care of baby so his wife could get back to work.

A beautiful day in the Neighborhood was a successful movie that made a stunning $42.8 million at the box office profit  and Times Magazines voted it the best film of 2019; in contrast, the sex themed Hologram for the King (2016), made a $23.2 million loss.

With its good humor, family, and children friendly entertainment, this movie proves to be timely in an industry fast normalizing hard core on-screen sex and foul language.  I hope that its success sends right message to Hollywood producers and encourage them to produce more movies like it, and thus contribute in making a better world.





Why is Hollywood is obsessed with sex?: The movie “Hologram for the King” should have been about other things

25 06 2020

To begin, I recently watched an old movie called “Hologram for the King.” In the movie, a mid-aged man (Tom Hanks) traveled to Saudi Arabia to pitch a proposal for a hologram to the oil rich king of Saudi Arabia. On arrival, he discovers to his astonishment that things were not what he expected. Apart from having to deal with the heat and the dust, the culture clash left him reeling, and to make matters worse, he had no clue when the king who is traveling all over the world was going to show up for the meeting. The king’s cousin who was in charge during his absence was equally elusive. To add, he had to deal with a mysterious lump on his back, which he attempted to explore with a kitchen knife causing enough bleeding for his friend and driver, Kareem, to convince him to see a doctor.
At the hospital, he encounters a middle-aged Saudi woman- doctor and of course, they fall in love and begin a secret escapade. Finally, Hanks abandons his wife and daughter in America and settles down in Saudi Arabia with his newfound love.
It is striking how quickly an apparently solid story rumples down to sex and animal attraction between two mid aged people.
I wonder why they did not call it “The sex life of a mid-aged couple.” It is a pity that in the entire length of the movie, the king, and the hologram appeared only for a few flickering seconds.
Why is sex, divorce, and marital infidelity so important a theme in Hollywood films?
Hanks ditches a daughter who loves him dearly. He ditches friends, family, and relatives—chuck all out to live in Saudi Arabia with a woman he barely knows and whose culture and life would be burdensome. With any luck, right thinking people would know that this is widely unrealistic and any man that does that deserves a movie made about him even less.
It is not very hard to imagine a better ending for this movie. Hanks, if he were a real man, would have realized immediately that relationship with this Saudi woman would be self-defeating. That it would end up hurting him and the people he loves. It should have hit him like ice water that a life’s commitments he has with his wife and daughter is invaluable and should not be traded for quick fixes and, moreover, in a few years, he would be old and wrinkled and she even more, since science says women age much faster than men do. If Hanks were a real man, he would have thought through and walked away from that short-lived pleasure. That would have been a better ending.

by
Chinwuba Iyizoba








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