Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Unstoppable: the Christian movie meant to answer life's tough questions

Advertised as a movie that “answers some of life’s most difficult questions about suffering and explores the victory of the Gospel throughout history,” we couldn’t help but be curious to see Kirk Cameron’s “Unstoppable” production that aired live simultaneously in 700 movie theaters around the US on Tuesday night. In his trailer, Cameron stated that he had traveled across the country, and had gone through an emotional and spiritual “meat grinder” searching for answers.

Dave and I both grew up in traditional protestant churches and are more than familiar with the reasoning Christians offer of why good people suffer.  I asked questions like this so many times in my own life…why can’t I be healed, what’s wrong with my faith, are you punishing me God, don’t you even care, why does life have to hurt so bad? I asked and asked and sought for answers, and the ones my Christian friends and counselors came up with were vague and philosophical. I had to conclude that nobody knew the answer, that I was supposed to hold on to God for dear life, and when I died and went to heaven, it would all make sense.  God was still good, God still loved me, God was still in control, even when depression and fear were swallowing me into a bottomless pit.  I was wrong to demand or expect anything from the perfect all-knowing God who chose to leave me hanging by a thread, because somehow it was all good for me.  That was the best anyone could offer me then – and that was all the “Unstoppable” movie had to offer as well.

Since the live showing at 7pm was sold out earlier in the day, we found a cinema in a neighboring town that would air it again at 9:45, so we planned for a late night.  The late showing wasn’t packed out, but a good number of good Christian Texans filed in and patiently waited as the movie technician tried to figure out how to fast forward the recording to the beginning of the show.  His ineptness was funny and exasperating as the audience started to shout, “No, no, more, more!” and “Stop! No further back! No! Keep going!”  It finally got under way half an hour late, and we were already tired.

The movie that claimed to grapple with earth-shaking themes, began with a whimper.  Cameron appeared onscreen and introduced two guys with personalities as exciting as their grey suits.  We discovered we had to endure a long monotone speech by the president of Liberty University, the film’s sponsor and host, on the wonders of his institution. It even looked like some of their student film projects got to be a part of the production, adding to an amateurish feel to the show. I felt like getting up and leaving at that point, but the tickets were too expensive and we had committed to seeing the whole thing.

Next a variety show began with the singer Mandisa, performing in front of 10,000 Liberty U. students who filled up their school stadium.  A Vietnam vet shared a rapid-fire and hard to follow testimony about losing his legs in a landmine and turning to Christ, then a dad of one of the Secret Service agents who died in the Benghazi embassy attack talked about how Psalm 145 comforted him.  Nothing wrong with people saying how God has helped them through tough times, but I felt like I had been tricked into paying $15 to watch a TV church service.  The only piece of the variety show that was truly original was Warren Barfield, the writer of the theme song, “The Time is Now.”  With a simple acoustic guitar, he performed an amazingly good song with a great message, which I have now purchased on iTunes and highly recommend.

When I thought this was all it was going to be, the actual movie finally began.  The tough questions.  The hard-hitting answers. The meat-grinder... (read the full review here)


Estella Arroyo said...

so this movie is not worth watching?

Evelyn Higginbotham said...

There are definitely positive teachings in this movie, but there is so much left unsaid and unanswered, that I think anyone who seriously wants to know how to deal with grief, loss and injustice will leave feeling like there are no answers. Watch with the knowledge that this movie is not what it purports to be... Thanks for the question Estella!