Exodus Movie takes Criticism for All White Cast

Exodus-Gods-and-Kings

The movie Exodus hits theaters next Friday, and many in the African American Community are planning to boycott the movie. Even many in the black church are planning on boycotting the movie, but why?

Apparently the movie, which is about Moses leading the Israelites out of Egyptian captivity, is set in Egypt, yet has an all white cast. This has caused an uproar in the black community and has caused it to lose support of the black churches.

The response from the studios is that the movie business is just that– a business. The A listers that star in the film, Christian Bale, Joel Egerton, and Sigourney Weaver, are all big box office stars, which can draw people into the theaters.

Such big box office stars will also allow the film to do amazingly well overseas.

So here is my question to those reading: is it ok to change the background of the movie for the purpose of making more money?

Would as many people support the movie if it had a darker-skinned cast?

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Is Riotting in Ferguson the Answer?

Bret Barnum, Devonte Hart

As a young African American male, I can understand the rage that many are going through this evening. We feel as though our voice is not being heard. We feel as though our lives are not as valuable (being shot down and no one seems to care). I get it, I really do.

So what is the solution?

Many think that burning down buildings or commanding attention by doing riotous acts will cause mainstream media to take notice. Many of my own colleagues have contemplated doing something over the top, to make people pay attention.

In the classic movie Boyz in the Hood, Ice Cube makes a dramatic monologue that still resonates today. He says “Either they don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care to know what’s going on in the hood”. The only time that it raises the consciousness of mainstream America is when there is a tragedy like this one, or the senseless black on black crime that is taking place in Chicago. Most in mainstream America have no clue of the dynamics that take place in these poverty stricken African American neighborhoods. But I still say that rioting or acts of violence further perpetuates the stereotypes that most of America has about African American men, or the neighborhood as a whole.

As Christians, the answer is to show love. The foundation of all of Christ’s teaching was to love. And this is the time to do just that. This is a time to show forgiveness. A time to show compassion. Only in doing this will communities begin to improve, and break the cycles of poverty, teen pregnancy, and high crime.

I think we should start a revolution of random acts of kindness. Find a stranger, and just do something so good towards them, that it blow their mind. Similar to the movie Pay it Forward, do something good, and expect them to in turn, do something good for someone else. Isn’t this the essence of what Jesus was teaching?

I believe a revolution of love, compassion, and forgiveness is the only way to save these communities, and begin to let the world hear your voice. It has happened before. In the 1970’s and 1980’s in South Africa, in the midst of a racist, horrible apartheid system, the people did not riot, use violence, and burn down their own buildings. In the city of Soweto, they used peaceful protests, forgiveness, and love and changed not only their city, but the entire nation. When Nelson Mandela took office, this powerful platform was known to the entire world.

Love and forgiveness is the only way to effect lasting change in a community

Are We True Followers, or Are We Fans?

I recently went on a brief mini-vacation to Vancouver, Canada for a few days and while I was there, a few things dawned on me. In our Christian walk, are we genuine in saying that we follow Jesus, or are we just fans of Jesus?

What exactly is the difference?

A fan is someone who admires someone else. For example, I am a fan of Lebron James. When I see him play, I wear his jersey in the arena. I appreciate his style of basketball. I can tell you his stats and his career wins and great moments that I have witnessed. But that is about it. I do not have a relationship with him. I do not know him personally. In fact I have never met him. I am just a fan.

I believe that is how many people interact with Jesus. They are fans of Him. They know the miracles He performed in the scriptures, they can tell you the places that He went, and even some of the many things that He said in the scriptures. Yet they do not know Him personally and are not true followers of His.

So then what is a true follower?

A true follower, or a disciple, is one that adopts the teaching of Jesus. Jesus gave only 2 commandments, yet we see very Christians living by these commandments. The commandments are to love God with all of your heart, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Do we see many people loving their neighbor as themselves? Not really. We see a lot of people calling themselves Christians, but cursing out their neighbors, or cutting them off on the freeway and yelling profanities at them.

The purpose of this writing is not to condemn anyone, or make them feel guilty, but just to encourage you to not be a mere a fan of Jesus. But to actually resemble Him in everything that you do. Remember, He lives through you, so it is time we represent Him fully!

Justin Beiber, the Christian Evangelist??

Recently TMZ reported that Justin Beiber spent 2 weeks in Rancho Mirage (next to Palm Spring, CA), for an evangelism retreat. Could this be for real?

It was also noted that last summer Justin Beiber was baptized in New York City after a church meeting. He was apparently so moved by the service that he was looking around New York for a bathtub to be baptized that same day. Looks like he is serious about his religious conversion.

I’ll be the last one to judge him, as to whether his conversion is real or not. I think we all have our own issues to deal with. Many would have probably debated my conversion to Christianity, seeing as none of us are actually worthy to be followers of Jesus. But luckily for us, all it takes is belief on His name!

To read the full TMZ article about Justin Beiber’s 2 week missionary retreat, click here

Is the Increase in Big Budget Hollywood Films a Good Thing?

Recently there have been a rise of big budget Hollywood films portraying traditional Biblical stories. The question to ask however, is this a good thing?

3 Movies that have been produced by the major studios are the Son of God, Noah, and Exodus. I have seen Son of God and Noah, and the movie Exodus is set to come out in December.

These movies have taken much criticism from the Christian community. Some say there are sacrilegious because they stray away from the teaching/story line of the Bible. Yet I have seen Son of God and I thought the movie was very true to the written gospels. I could understand some having a problem with the casting (which is subjective), but the storyline was very much in line with the scriptures.

Yet the movie Noah takes creative license to add much to the story. But we must understand that the story of the flood in the Bible is only 3 chapters (Genesis Chapter 6-9), and this covers almost 150 years! In contrast, the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, (4 whole books) cover only 3 and half years of Jesus life; so there is a lot more detail that we have about Jesus.

My personal opinion, whether you agree with the story line or not, is that these stories are shedding light on the Bible. I believe that any attention given to it is a good thing. For example, a few years ago, football player Tim Tebow, wrote John 3:16 on the shadow under his eyes, and it resulted in millions of people Googling ‘John 3:16’, bringing much attention to the holy scriptures.

So in conclusion, I believe that any attempt to shed light on the gospel is a good thing. The scriptures are rarely covered in main stream media, so these movies are creating mass exposure and causing a whole new generation to experience Christianity. After all, didn’t Jesus command us to publish the good news?

Actor Shia Lebouf Finds God while Filming Fury

Actor Shia Lebouf reportedly found God while filming the move Fury recently. His character plays a deeply religious man, moved by his convictions. To get into character, he researched the scriptures and became heavily engrossed in it. He became so engrossed that he eventually converted to it, from Judaism.

Is he being serious? Who are we to judge. If the man says he believes in Jesus, I will take his word for it. However many are not so convinced.

Laura Turner, of Christianity Today, makes the claim that Shia Lebouf was just ‘in character’ for his conversion, as part of his method acting style. Method acting is when an actor totally engrosses themselves in the character that they are playing, often times even when the cameras are not filming. She claims that Lebouf has a history of going over the top for his roles. This includes sending the production team of Nymphomaniac, a picture of his penis while filming, and even pulling out his tooth, while filming Fury. She goes on to say that after Lebouf’s role was over, so was his conversion to Christianity.

I watched an interview that he gave recently, and he sounded pretty sincere. Why go through all the hoops if it was just a role? I hope for his sake that he sticks with it. But then again, who am I to judge?

Shutting Off Everything… (RESULTS)

So this weekend I decided to go ahead to accept the “shutoff” challenge. (I guess that is what I am calling it). I went from Saturday morning, to Sunday evening, out of contact with the known world. Despite pissing off people that were trying to get in contact with me, I experienced some great results. In fact, I am thinking about doing it on a regular basis.

To recap, the shutoff challenge is to go 24 hours, ‘shutting off’ everything electronic. Similar to the concept of fasting, when you fast from food, your spirit become more open to being spiritual. Likewise, if you starve yourself of receiving these stimuli from electronic sources (television, internet, etc), your spirit will thrive.

So I experienced just that. I felt more in tuned with my spirit after turning off my devices.

My conclusion is that we naturally crave some form of interaction. Whether it is from other people, the television, or even the internet. So when we shut off the electronic form of interaction, we open ourselves up to being interactive with our spirit. In my opinion, this type of “electronic fasting” is even more powerful than fasting from food, because it involves our most basic form of communication.

One of the things that I noticed almost immediately was a relief of stress. No pressure. Being connected all the time almost always leads to heightened levels of stress anxiety. So what are my takeaways from this experiment? I think I learned three major things from this:

1. Appreciate your alone time. When you are alone, you create an atmosphere of communication with your spirit.

2. Take time out of each day to ‘shut off’. This will ground you, and relieve you of stress

3. Being in constant communication with all of your devices is not as important as you think. After almost 2 days being out of touch, I really didn’t miss much at all. If you would have asked me to do this a month ago, I would have assumed the world would have ended, and I would have been out of the loop.

So in conclusion, being in touch all the time is just an illusion. It is just as important to be in touch with your spirit. So I guess I am not a ‘nomophobe’ after all?