Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Controversy over End of the Spear

First, a quick answer to Cara who asked in her comment yesterday: Do you go into a book knowing the spiritual theme and then weave it in the second time through, or is it so settled in your mind that it twists and turns seamlessly with your whodunit plot?

Neither, Cara. I don't a story's spiritual theme when I start writing. I know only the suspense plot, and the spiritual aspect grows naturally from events in the plot, plus the characterization. This is why my novels aren't consistent as to level of spiritual issues. For example Brink of Death, first in my Hidden Faces series, had less of a spiritual emphasis than the third book of the series, Dead of Night. In the first book Annie wasn't a Christian and knew very little about Christian teaching. It wouldn't have felt natural to take her from such a place in her life to a sudden conversion (given all the pages that need to be spent on the suspense plot.) By Dead of Night, Annie is a Christian and during a crisis is called to pray with power. That book is heavy on the Christian emphasis. But much or little, readers tend to react favorably when the spiritual journey arises from the plot in a natural, believable way.

So my encouragement to you is, focus on a rip-roarin' suspense plot and let the spiritual part develop out of the characters' needs for help beyond themselves during such a crisis.

Now to today's topic. If you blitz around the Christian blog world, you may be aware of the controversy over the recently released movie End of the Spear. The brouhaha began when one Christian blogger took to task the movie’s producers Mart Green and Steve Saint for hiring Chad Allen, a gay man and vocal advocate for homosexuals, to play Steve Saint’s father in the film. Unfortunately, the blogger quoted information related to this issue that was not true. This information then was passed around the Internet, resulting in over 100 pastors calling upon Green and Saint to “repent” and also resulting in boycotts against the movie. Green and Saint, two men strong in their Christian faith, were badly hurt in the fallout, and few seemed to want to hear their answers to the charges.

How unfortunate that any Christian would call upon others to avoid seeing this film, which carries such a message of Christ's redemption.

Two things are evident to me. One, in the blogging world, it’s so easy to pass untested information around as fact, and hurt people by doing so. Two, how sad that Christians are sometimes worst hurt and judged by other Christians.

For the truth of the story, I send you to Randy Alcorn’s site. (Many of you either know, or know of Randy as a respected author and pastor.) I and a few other bloggers are doing this to help spread the word of what really happened in the casting for End of the Spear. Even though the initial blogger of disinformation is correcting himself online, some who’ve read his previous opinions may somehow miss the follow-up corrections. If you know anyone who has been upset over this controversy and refused to see the movie as a result, please send them to Randy’s site.

First, Green’s and Saint’s answers regarding what happened:

Second, Randy’s lengthy article about the controversy and how it is being corrected. And more important, how we Christians should watch out own behavior in situations such as this:

Once you have read the articles, please return and post your comments here.


Gina Holmes said...

To be honest, I've never heard this controversy, but I'm glad you're addressing it. Sometimes the biggest persecution of Christians comes from other Christians. That's a shame.

Tina said...

I was completely unaware of this controversy and of Chad Allen’s lifestyle. I’m glad I didn’t hear the false accusations before I heard the responses of Steve and Mart. I haven’t had the opportunity to see End of the Spear yet because I live in small town that hasn’t brought it in, and probably will never show it. Instead they chose Underworld: Evolution and Brokeback Mountain.

But our church showed the documentary, Beyond the Gates of Splendor. It’s a powerful story that really moved me. It’s a shame that this had to happen to the Saint family. I can only pray that for every Christian who hasn’t learned the truth and continues to boycott this movie, ten more non-believers will see it out of curiosity for the controversy. And that they will see the story for what it is—the redemptive power of Christ.

Randy’s article was very well written. He came back with Scripture after Scripture of how we are to behave as Christians toward one another. His point about careless words was really driven home to me. He delivered it with humility and was speaking to himself as well as everyone else. We all need to be careful what we say in every situation, every day of our lives, in private as well as in the public arena. I was impressed to see how carefully Randy chose his words for this article and that he had spoken with the offending blogger beforehand.

Thank you for sharing these links.

ValMarie said...

I heard about the controversy when it first started. Since I noticed that the original person who posted didn't have any comments from the people involved, I chose not to pass along information that was hurtful and damaging. I've been around the Internet long enough to see how quickly false information is spread.

I am very glad to see that the truth is coming to light in this situation especially since it's being facilitated by Randy Alcorn who has been so careful to show everything in light of God's Word. But I am very sad that so many people received the misinformation and may never learn the true story. It makes me think twice about my responsibility as a Christian to guard my words.

Domino said...

Being a Christian has never been all flowers and chocolate. Everyone has their tough moments of various kinds. It's what you do with your tough moments that strengthens who you are.

I was impressed with how Mart Green had fasted and prayed for people for seven years. If we pray and expect God to respond, we shouldn't try to undo what God has done - especially if we believe God answers our prayers. I believe Mart Green did the right thing.

If I'm holding open a door for someone to come into the house, I don't want someone in the house to slam the door closed before that person has a chance to come in. And I would be furious if the door closer complained that holding the door open lets all the air conditioning out, and if that sweaty person came inside, his body heat would make everyone uncomfortable.

Showing mercy sometimes means ignoring our own comfort while the conceited are content to lie back on their couches spouting their contorted views of spiritual contraception.

God forgive those who oppose the lost. May they join us in holding out their hand to help others into the kingdom. May they realize that after Matthew (one of 12 disciples) found Jesus, he invited his sinner friends to party with Jesus.

Did God allow this controversy? If so, was it to embolden our voices of mercy and strengthen our outstretched hands?

Corina Bowen said...

We took our men from the men's home and our teens from our youth group to watch this movie... We loved it.
I am thankful that thousands will watch what God can do!!
As for the controversy... I think its sad- yet funny... We all know who wins in the end! The world can try all it wants, but the truth has a way of shedding light on every situation! Praise God!

Karen Wevick said...

I haven't seen End of the Spear yet, but intend to soon. I had heard of the controversy, but was actually more concerned with how Satan was using this to dissuade people from seeing a movie of substance. I pray the whole controversy backfires on him and that droves of nonbelievers will go see the movie and be impacted.

Randy's comments as always were right on and we do need to guard our tongues (and printed words) from harming others and gossiping. Blogs and websites have provided a lot of people the ability to communicate their thoughts and beliefs, as Christians we must be diligent in making sure that we only write and post what is verified true and don't even write that without going to our brother. It is not necessarily our responsibility to be the watchdog of the planet. I'm so glad we report to a higher authority.
Thanks for sharing this Brandilyn, because like many I got the first information, but not the clarification.
God Bless

Bonnie Calhoun said...

The book of James is about taming our tongues. I sometimes wonder how many well-meaning Christians have inadvertently furthered the cause of satan, rather than expand the family of God.

Fortunately I hadn't heard of the controversy, but now I know why the banner for the movie was removed from my ISP homepage (It's a christian provider).

I think the whole thing is just sad and I hope that if a door was opened for that young man to find Jesus, by playing this part. That the door wasn't slammed shut by part of the christian community.

Dineen A. Miller said...

Brandilyn, this whole thing is very sobering to me, because it reminds me how important it is to examine our motivations and be sure of our facts. I'm a firm beleiver in Matt. 18 being the proper way to confront a fellow believer about "possible" sin. But this shows me how easily we can think we're doing the right thing, but we go about it the wrong way and hurt others. Thank you for addressing this.

Becky said...

Wow! You and Sally are responding to this at the same time again. Are you guys in secret cahoots or something? Hahah.

Seriously, I know from hearing Mart Green and Steve Saint on Family Life Today (radio program of Campus Crusade for Christ) that they desire to honor God with the depiction of this powerful story--even to challenge believers to take a risk for God.

I know Through Gates of Splendor had a huge impact on me, and my hopes have been that this movie could have that kind of power in the lives of viewers, too. With the controversy, it was looking like the movie might not have much support from the Christian community, and it was already being largely ignored by the secular entertainment gurus.

Above all, I guess I need to be praying for God to use it how He wants and in the lives of who He wants.

Maybe the best thing to come from it is this chance to address Christians bashing Christians.


Camy Tang said...

Thanks for posting the links, Brandilyn. I'm also fortunate that I hadn't heard about the controversy before Randy Alcorn's response was published. Matt and Steve's responses made me cry. And the amazing thing is that I think lots of people will be praying for Chad Allen after this, too.


Lynetta said...

Thanks for addressing this and posting the links, Brandilyn. Camy has the right perspective--pray for Chad Allen (and the movie makers!) Despite the backlash, we can pray that God would work through this powerful story to change lives.

How many other sinners have acted in Christian movies, anyway? Why take this one sin and get so riled up about it? Why not boycott films that feature actors who lie, cheat, gossip and lust after material things? Chad Allen may be a bit more vocal about his sin, but is he any more guilty than any of the rest of the actors who haven't found redemptive grace in Jesus? There are only two camps: saved and...well, not saved.