Since I’m going to see the Gosnell movie today, I thought I would read a few articles to remind me of the facts. The best article was by the film makers themselves, writing for the Daily Signal.
In progressive Pennsylvania, here was a doctor, Kermit Gosnell, an African-American, he’s in his early 70s now, who ran an abortion clinic for 30 years, where he routinely, and these are not my words, this is the grand jury’s words, where he routinely delivered babies alive and then cut their necks with scissors.
And he did this for 30 years. That’s why in the eyes of the grand jury and also ABC’s Terry Moran, he was described as America’s biggest serial killer, which is the phrase we use in the film.
There’s so many details that are worth dwelling on in a way. He trained his untrained staff to do this while he wasn’t there, and when I say untrained staff, these are people posing as nurses, who have a seventh-grade education and have a cocktail of alcoholism, mental health issues, and criminal difficulties. People who would not be … as the detective in the case, Jim Wood, said, “You wouldn’t let them mow your lawn, let alone give people anesthesia.”
This is who gave anesthesia and, in fact, the best anesthesiologist in the premises was a 15-year-old. I’ll just repeat that once more for anyone who didn’t hear it. A 15-year-old, one-five, a teenager, who actually took her job very seriously and created a cheat sheet for herself so that she could try to remember, so she’d look at somebody and go, “A bit of pink, a bit of red,” and she would do kind of a cocktail of the anesthesia drugs based on that.
There are cats walking around in this clinic. The doctor, when he did turn up, which was late in the evening, would eat breakfast cereal in the same room where people were having these procedures. Plus, he cut the legs, the feet and legs in some cases, off some of these babies and kept them in jars like trophies.
And two women dead.
Here’s the trailer (2 minutes):
What’s interesting about the story is how many people on the left covered for Gosnell, and how many more people on the left tried to censor the Gosnell movie. The Federalist had a good article about it. The (very left-wing) Pennsylvania government refused to do anything about Gosnell, the (very left-wing) Philadelphia authorities didn’t want to do anything about Gosnell, the mainstream news media, e.g. – CNN, the Washington Post, NPR, etc. refused to cover the trial, Kickstarter banned the campaign to fund the Gosnell movie, and now far-left Facebook is censoring ads for the movie. And finally, after the movie was made, theaters didn’t want to show it, because it was “too controversial”. Nobody wanted to cover the trial, and nobody wants you to see the movie.
The screenplay was written by famous Hollywood screenwriter Andrew Klavan, and has some well known actors in the cast. The trial dialogue is taken directly from the court transcripts. It’s opening in 750 theaters today. And it’s rated PG-13, because they aren’t showing any graphic images. The emphasis will be on the trial, the conflict will be between the police and those wanting to cover-up the crime, and the suspense will be over the jury’s verdict.
I see one movie in the theaters every few years. The last one was “13 Hours” in 2016. But I’m going to go see this one, because I wrote about 25 posts about the story, and I want to see what went on at the trial.
This review is from Ed Morrissey of Hot Air, a major conservative news and commentary web site.
[T]he pursuit of evidence forms the core of the film’s narrative. In 1980, Lee Strobel (Mike Vogel) finds his marriage and professional life turned upside-down when his wife Leslie (Erika Christiansen) converts from their shared atheism to Christianity. Convinced that his wife has been brainwashed by a cult — being just a couple of years removed from the Jonestown massacre — Strobel decides to apply his journalistic expertise to debunk the central core of the Christian faith: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Can Strobel find an evidence-based argument to refute Christianity, or will he be forced to face his own biases and assumptions?
Given that this is explicitly a conversion story (and that Strobel’s book sold 14 million copies over the last two decades), that outcome isn’t exactly a mystery, but the film isn’t intended to be a mystery anyway. At its core, The Case for Christ is a love story on multiple levels rather than an exposition about evidentiary support for the Resurrection. The love Lee and Leslie have for each other becomes redemptive, but so too the terribly strained relationship that Lee has with his father, and that Lee also has with The Father.
I think the love story is fine, because it is an winsome invitation for people watching who are not yet Christians to take a look at the evidence. People today are really struggling in their relationships because they have kicked God out of their partner-selection and how they relate to their partners. Most people today conduct their relationships as functional atheists, including Christians. Atheism is the denial of objective purpose in the universe, and a denial that there is any design for human behavior, and human relationships like love and marriage. Everyone is floundering about in a sea of relativism, trying to use each other like commodities in order to scrape out some happiness without having to love anyone else self-sacrificially. The idea that loving others self-sacrificially could actually be what we were designed to do (as revealed in the example of Jesus) is intriguing. But since it goes against our natural self-centeredness, something other than desire and emotion is going to have to drive the search for a better way forward. That something is God himself, revealing his existence and his character to us through evidence in nature, and through the historical evidence around the life, death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus. Evidence has the power to drive us against our own selfishness and hedonism, making us capable of loving others, and helping us to choose those who will love us like Jesus, because they love God first and foremost.
The production values match those of higher-level independent films. The casting of Vogel and Christiansen is especially successful, as they present a very realistic depiction of a young married couple in serious trouble. Faye Dunaway and Frankie Faison have smaller but notable roles, and the ever-estimable Robert Forster portrays Lee’s estranged father. Eight is Enough’s Grant Goodeve has a cameo, but veteran character actor Mike Pniewski’s turn as the Chicago Tribune’s religion editor might be the most memorable outside of the featured cast. The direction and cinematography are straightforward and not at all overdone, with no “shaky cam” usage to generate a false sense of style. The film does an excellent job of recalling the 1980-81 period without making the mistake of falling back into kitsch, opting instead for a look as realistic and nuanced as the film itself.
It all adds up to a compelling and very human story about love, redemption, faith, reason, and finding peace with all of them. With the emergence of Risen and The Case for Christ, the faith-based segment of the film market has come into its own. On the Hot Air scale, I’d give it a five:
5 – Full price ticket
4 – Matinee only
3 – Wait for Blu-Ray/DVD/PPV rental or purchase
2 – Watch it when it hits Netflix/cable
1 – Avoid at all costs
If Christianity is anything, Christianity needs to be a worldview – a picture of reality. It’s not a set of stories designed to make us feel good about our attempts to eek out pleasure by doing whatever we want. It’s not a community, nor even worship songs that make us have feelings. There has to be something objective that is incumbent on us whether we like it or not. The call of Christianity is to turn around and go in a different direction, re-prioritizing goals in our lives according to someone else’s leadership and example. That’s not going to be possible unless we really believe that this behavior is in line with the way the world really is. For those born and raised in a society infused with secularism, we are already confronted with widespread beliefs that challenge the existence of God and miracles like the resurrection. We have to do something to break out of those background beliefs that we just absorbed uncritically. We have to pursue truth and conform our worldview to the evidence so that the behaviors of a Christian become natural and normal, against our natural self-centered desires and feelings.
My hope is that a large number and people will watch this movie and understand the factual foundations of Christianity for the first time. Maybe they will finally see themselves as guilty or refusing to take a look at the evidence. The problem with unbelief is that it really is a willful closing of one’s eyes against reality, so that one can continue to be in control. To search for the evidence is to be open to changing our deepest desires to match reality. Something that no non-Christian in the history of the world has ever done.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Exactly right. Jesus came to demonstrate the reality of God’s existence and his power as Creator by giving us a historical resurrection that we could investigate using the ordinary methods of doing history.
And we know that miracles like the resurrection are possible from the scientific evidence for a cosmic beginning, and for cosmic fine-tuning, as Romans 1 explains.
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,so that people are without excuse.
This is the way the world really is, and we have to adjust to reality, because of the evidence.
Let’s hope that God uses this movie to get a lot of people to re-think whether they have been pursuing truth the way they should be. It’s very tempting to forget evidence and just pursue pleasure, but we were not intended to do that by the God who made us and everything else.
A former reporter and atheist who set out to disprove the existence of God – and came to “quite a different conclusion” – said Monday it is “disconcerting” to see his tumultuous story portrayed in a new film.
The movie based on the book “The Case For Christ,” which opens Friday, has had encouraging feedback at test previews, author Lee Strobel told Newsmax TV host Miranda Khan on Monday’s “Newsmax Prime.”
“A lot of faith-based films tend to be, if we’re honest, a little cringeworthy, a little cheesy,” he said. “And there’s none of that in this movie. This is a movie that is so well done from a production standpoint, the acting, the script, that we really are convinced that Christians will go to it, they’ll be encouraged . . . to come and see this story about a marriage, a love story, about a father-son story, and be drawn into the evidence.”
The movie stars include Mike Vogel, Erika Christensen, and Faye Dunaway.
Strobel said after his wife converted to Christianity, he was anxious what it would mean for his marriage and “decided to . . . use my journalism and legal training and investigate the resurrection of Jesus, because I figured if I could disprove that, then the whole thing collapses.”
He said he came to “quite a different conclusion.”
“The evidence of history, I think, points powerfully and persuasively toward the conclusion that the resurrection is an actual historical event,” he said. “So, I became convinced that it’s true. I ended up becoming a Christian, and our lives changed from there.”
“It’s a little disconcerting because it’s my story, and it’s not a pretty story at some points,” he added. “A lot of our private arguments that we had about faith, they’re very personal, they’re now on the big screen.
“But we felt like there’s a lot of people who are curious about faith and wonder whether there’s any real evidence that God exists and that Jesus is who he claimed to be, and we thought, you know, if it can help people come to some resolution of that or begin their own investigation, then it’s worth kind of putting ourselves out there that way.”
I know what you’re thinking. Is this going to suck like so many other happy-clappy Christian movies, e.g. – God’s Not Dead 1?
Last night when my wife and I came to an early preview of The Case for Christ movie we had high, but hesitant, hopes. Far too often we have seen a trailer for an upcoming Christian movie that looked pretty good, only to be disappointed when we saw the actual movie. I’ve often used the qualification for half-way decent Christian films, “That was pretty good for a faith based film.”
No such qualification was necessary for The Case for Christ. It was well written and superbly acted. It triggered both cheers and tears. It was a good movie.
This film was as much of a love story and a mystery as it was an apologetic for the Christian faith. It was equally relational and relentless. It kept you locked in right up until the climactic and emotional finale.
I can’t think of a movie better suited for you and your spouse to invite an unreached couple out to enjoy than this one. Afterward you can unpack the powerful message of the movie together. I call it a “popcorn and coffeedouble date.” Invite a couple out for a movie night, buy them tickets and popcorn and enjoy the movie together. Then take them out for coffee afterwards and ask,“What did you think about the message of the movie?” From there just let the conversation flow.
I almost NEVER go see movies in the theater, but I’m going to see this one for sure. I’ve read every single one of Lee Strobel’s books. It’s hard to say that they changed my life, because I was already a well-grounded Christian at that point. But it certainly gave me thrills to think that a very broad audience was going to get an evidence-based look at Christianity from those books. I expect the movie to reach an even larger audience than the books.
Here’s a passage from the Bible that I think is suitable, although the historical context of the passage is admittedly not especially applicable to Lee.
10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.