Nike’s marketing slogan “Just Do It” has made that company a fortune selling shoes that cost a few dollars to make but routinely sell for ten times that.
With apologies to Nike, after seeing God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, I’m encouraging everyone I know to “Just See It.”
This is the third installment in the GND franchise, and in my thinking the best so far. The excellent screenplay by Michael Mason plays as if it was lifted from the day’s headlines.
A random act of vandalism in the form of a tossed brick through the basement window of a historic church sets off a gas leak. That leak serves as the spark in a burst of spiritual enlightenment that involves the entire college community.
Historic St. James church is pastored by Pastor Dave (David A.R. White), an amiable shaggy haired pastor who grew up with his now estranged brother Pearce (John Corbett) in the church pastored by their late father. Tragedy and anger ensue when Jude, a newly appointed co-minister from Ghana (Benjamin A. Onyango) is accidentally killed in the course of events.
The contemporary story line occurs when Hadleigh University, on whose campus the St. James church is located, rebuffs the church’s plans to rebuild in favor of building a new student union building on the site of the burned church.
College administrators and students argue that the church isn’t relevant in today’s culture.
That contentious decision sets the stage for battles on multiple fronts as Pastor Dave and his athiest brother Pearce work together to rally public support for rebuilding the church via social media, TV interviews and newspaper coverage.
One of the movie’s strengths is the multiple sub-story lines. For example:
*Pastor Dave and Pearce are estranged for unknown reasons initially but join together to fight for the legal right to rebuild the church;
*How a young female college student (Jennifer Taylor) questioning her faith unwittingly sets off the spark that lays bare the church vs state issue and pits the college against the local churchgoing community;
*Why Pastor Dave and his friend and fellow Christian, the school chancellor (Ted McGinley), find themselves at odds during the controversy and even resort to fisticuffs;
*Why Pearce lost his faith in law school and became estranged from his family, essentially leaving his younger brother to care for the pair’s parents;
*Why a gifted and promising law student (Shane Harper) told Pearce he abandoned pursuing law to serve as St. James youth minister. Spoiler alert: Because “Jesus was the ultimate social justice warrior”;
*The moving backstory of how the college student who threw the brick through the church window (Mike C. Manning) lost his faith and resented his girlfriend’s struggle in searching for hers;
*How Pastor Dave overcame struggling with his own faith and anger after Jude’s death to help bring the college and community back from the brink of animosity and help “stop the shouting.”
GND3 emphasizes that listening to others is better than shouting slogans, seeking understanding is better than stoking strife, and love always triumphs over hate.
Most importantly, the movie shows that if we check our egos and emotional baggage at the door, and treat others as we wish to be treated, it is then that God works through us and helps fulfill His purpose.
Thanks for reading Dean Riffs. Welcome to those who love American liberty, free enterprise, and who believe God has blessed our country. For those who believe in open borders, safe spaces, and who think free speech is hate speech, move on – there’s nothing here for you to see.
Sources: pureflix.com, youtube.com, rottentomatoes.con, variety.com, rogerebert.com
Photo sources: metro.us
Copyright 2018, Dean A. George©