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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Expelled

Last night I went with some friends, both old and new, to see Ben Stein’s movie Expelled. I’m a little skeptical whenever Evangelicals jump on the bandwagon of some movie or another, as they have with this one. Too often it is an indicator that the movie in question is morally sound but talent deprived. It also is indicative of the fact that Evangelicals have allowed themselves to be so shaped by Hollywood that they really think that revival will come if we go to these films in mass numbers. A good movie can be a help, but it’s more important that we worship God well and love our families and neighbors. That’s how revival happens – or, maybe better, reformation.

The safeguard here, I guess, is that the movie wasn’t made by Evangelicals, but by a Jewish man. Thankfully, Expelled is not only morally sound but also full of talent – at least, insofar as a documentary can be. Ben Stein, of course, is a class act himself. The movie didn’t go heavy into the details of science with regard to the debates over Darwin’s theories. I consider it more of a popularizing film – designed to bring awareness to the issue at hand so that those who have been ignorant of it can pursue the subject in more depth on their own as they desire. Nonetheless, the subject matter was handled well considering, and it was very entertaining. The cinematography and music were both excellent. And the final interview with Richard Dawkins was alone worth the ticket price.

Highly recommended.

2 Comments:

Blogger Benjamin Franklin said...

sorry to burst your bubble, but in an interview with Logan Craft, executive producer of Expelled, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention magazine Texan the question was raised-

TEXAN: How did Ben Stein come to be involved in the film?

CRAFT: Well, John Sullivan (producer of Expelled) had a real insight, we believe, into the necessity to have a person, first of all, who wasn’t overtly Christian or overtly religious...

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The producers of Expelled are, indeed, evangelical Christians.

Premise Media is a film production company based in British Columbia, Canada. According to its website, Premise Media “develops, finances, and produces independent films, books, and DVD’s [sic] for the domestic and international marketplace.” Its motto is “Producing world class media that stirs the heart and inspires the minds to truth, purpose, and hope.”

Premise Media’s top management consists of two men. A. Logan Craft is Chairman of the Board of Directors and a Presbyterian minister from Santa Fe, New Mexico. He also produced a television show called “Church and State TV.” Walt Ruloff is Premise Media’s CEO. Prior to joining Premise Media, Ruloff was a salesman and entrepreneur who founded the software company ILTS in 1991, later selling it to Microsoft. Craft and Ruloff also appear to be the source of much of the funding for Premise Media and for Expelled.

Additional staff listed on Premise Media’s website included several that are associated with Rampant Films, including Mark Mathis. Also of interest is Paul Lauer, who is listed as the “Grassroots Marketing Director.” Lauer is the founder of Motive Marketing, an entertainment marketing firm that specializes in promoting entertainment geared towards the faith and family markets. Motive Marketing was behind such grassroots marketing campaigns as Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, and Walden Media/Disney’s The Chronicles of Narnia. Lauer himself is described on the Motive Marketing website as “one of the most well connected entrepreneurs in the faith and family market.”

The connections between Premise Media and Motive Marketing, as well as the strong religious background of Craft, all point to a religiously motivated film. It is not surprising, then, to find that Expelled is not an unbiased documentary, but rather a movie with a clear religious agenda: to attack mainstream science, falsely presenting it as being anti-religious.

9:47 PM  
Blogger Kerry Lewis said...

Thanks for the comments.

If you’re right that this was an Evangelical enterprise, then all it says to me is that Evangelicals are improving in their film making, which I welcome most heartily. But I’m not fully convinced by your comments. For one thing, not all Christians are Evangelicals. Mainline Christians (liberal Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, etc.) wouldn’t fit into the category “Evangelical”. Neither would Roman Catholics or Eastern Orthodox. So you’ll need to be more specific on the folks you’ve listed in order to prove you’re assertions. I’m a Presbyterian in my creedal affirmation, but I don’t necessarily call myself an Evangelical, especially when I’m trying to distance myself from some of the cultural silliness that, at times, goes under the banner of “Evangelicalism”.

As far as Premise Media’s motto is concerned, the language of the motto is too generic to prove anything to me. I’ve heard plenty of non-Christians, such as New Agers and self-help gurus, use the same language. I searched Premise’s website, and other than a couple of particular connections with Christianity (one out of the whole staff attended a Christian college, for instance), I found nothing to support you assertions. You mentioned Ruloff, but you didn’t show that he was in anyway affiliated with Christianity. Mark Mathis also has done work for Victoria’s Secret. Not a lot of Evangelicals would be interested in promoting sexuality the way they do, and so I would tend to doubt that he’s the sort of rabid Evangelical you seem to think he is.

Many media companies are interested in the faith and family market – not because they have a moral agenda, but because there’s money there that they can’t seem to get their hands on. As a Christian, I refuse to spend my money on entertainment that attacks what I know to be true. The media companies have noticed that we Christians are particular with our spending, and so they are trying to produce more “sanitized” forms of media in order to get us to shell out the bucks. I don’t know if this is true of Premise, or if they are a Christian-based organization. If you have more substantial evidence, I’d find it interesting, but it really doesn’t matter to me. After all, you’re not really concerned about Premise Media, are you? Your real beef is with God.

I wouldn’t say that Expelled was an unbiased documentary. Objectivity is a Modernist myth, as you demonstrated in your rather biased post. And as one who grew up going to public grade school, and then attended two different state-sponsored colleges, I know firsthand that what you said here about mainstream science is untrue. I say that God literally created the universe in six twenty-four hour days, and mainstream science says that I’m wrong. That’s an attack on my religious beliefs. I’m sorry if they would like me to turn that into some sort of allegory for them, but I don’t intend to do that, because God’s word doesn’t allow me to. Whether you are truly convinced that mainstream science isn’t anti-religious, or are intentionally being dishonest, only you and God know. Either way, you are telling what people in less polite company would call “a lie”. But then again, if you don’t believe in the God of the Bible, you have no way of knowing what a lie is anyway.

10:55 PM  

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