Jesus Christ – The Greatest Superhero of Them All



By Dr. Ted Baehr and Dr. Tom Snyder

In the 1970s, the people of the United States went into a grand funk of stupendous proportions. Hollywood and the news media kept telling us that the government was thoroughly corrupt, that society’s religious and cultural traditions were simple-minded and destructive, and that we were on the wrong side of the war against the evil communist tyrannies of North Vietnam, China, and the Soviet Union.


Then, in 1976 and 1977, something extraordinary happened.

Two men, Sylvester Stallone and George Lucas, released two movies about underdog heroes who battle incredible odds, ROCKY and a “little” $11 million movie called STAR WARS.

Hollywood hasn’t been the same since.

ROCKY and STAR WARS showed the Hollywood establishment that people love heartwarming, heroic stories about courage and righteousness overcoming fear and evil.

In heroic stories, the hero encounters numerous obstacles and tribulations that test his character, courage, stamina, strength, intelligence, and inner resolve or will. In doing so, such stories provide meaning and purpose to our own lives. They bring us laughter, tears, and joy. They stimulate our minds and stir our imaginations. They help us escape from our daily lives for a while and visit different times, places, and people. They can also arouse our compassion and empathy, or spur us toward truth and love. Finally, they also can give us an insight into transcendental, eternal truths and values, or embody the ideals or values of our own culture and society by giving expression to deep, commonly felt emotions and thought.

We identify with such heroes as Rocky Balboa or Luke Skywalker, or Frodo and Sam in THE LORD OF THE RINGS, or Beauty in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, because we recognize that we too are on our own momentous journey or quest. Thus, how a hero’s journey informs and illuminates our own journey becomes a significant touchstone in our own lives.

In recent years, the popular culture’s focus on heroes has led to a huge interest in bringing the renowned superheroes of the comic book world to the big screen. Part of this interest has been fueled by giant technical leaps in the ability of computer-generated images to create detailed, fantastical images, including jaw-dropping action scenes.

This Friday, Disney will release another huge superhero movie. THE AVENGERS is one of the most entertaining and uplifting superhero movies yet from Hollywood. It’s sure to be a huge box office hit.

At the end of the story in THE AVENGERS, the group of heroes is ready to sacrifice their lives to stop the evil force threatening Earth, which is led by the demonic figure from Norse mythology, Loki. In fact, during the climactic battle, one of the heroes will have to risk his own life in order to save everyone else.

This notion of sacrifice has become a frequent theme in many recent superhero stories, from SPIDER-MAN 2 to CAPTAIN AMERICA and THE GREEN LANTERN. In fact, one might say that sacrifice is in the very DNA of nearly all stories about superheroes and heroes.

Actually, it’s such a central motif that one of the people MOVIEGUIDE(r) helped inspire with our work, film scholar Dr. Stan Williams, wrote that in many stories, not just stories with heroes in them, sacrifice is a key theme in Act 2 and 3, including movies like THE AVENGERS.

As such, the theme of sacrifice is part of a narrative structure that reflects the “greatest story ever told” – the story of Jesus Christ’s birth, teaching, suffering, sacrifice, death, and resurrection. The whole structure may be outlined as follows:

Promise, Birth, Suffering, Sacrifice, and Resurrection/Redemption.

This pattern is reflected in many, if not most, hero stories. Thus, it can be found in both STAR WARS and THE AVENGERS.

For example, the story of Luke Skywalker in STAR WARS is one of Promise (the promise of the “one” who will bring “balance” to the Force), Birth (the birth pangs of Luke’s long journey toward becoming a Jedi Knight), Suffering (all the trials and tribulations Luke undergoes throughout his story), Sacrifice (Luke offers himself to the Emperor and nearly dies), and Resurrection/Redemption (Luke’s intent to sacrifice himself is designed to resurrect and redeem the soul of his own father, Anakin, who has become Darth Vader).

In the same way, the journey of the superheroes in THE AVENGERS is first one of only Promise. Thus, at the movie’s beginning, the team of superheroes is only a Promise, yet to be fulfilled. Their journey is also one of Birth (the birth pangs of becoming a cohesive team that works together), as well as Suffering, Sacrifice, and, ultimately, Resurrection and Redemption.

In this way, therefore, Jesus Christ is the “Greatest Superhero of Them All,” because His journey of Suffering, Sacrifice, and Resurrection is not only His journey. It’s also tied irretrievably to our own journey of Redemption and Resurrection, toward the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. For, without Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5). But, with Christ and His Sacrifice, “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

So, while you’re enjoying THE AVENGERS this weekend with your family or friends (or anytime in the future, for that matter) please remember your “great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who sacrificed himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:13,14).

WHAT’S COMING SOON?



The Movieguide(R) Summer Preview: May 2012

The summer movie season is upon us.  Hollywood opens up their bag of tricks each weekend for the next few months to hopefully delight and engage moviegoers.  There’s many familiar faces as bets are hedged with sequels.  We’ll update this preview each month during the summer.

Check back the opening week to read the Movieguide(R) Review of each one!

THE AVENGERS

May 4, 2012

If you liked Iron Man and Captain America, then Marvel is betting that you’ll like those two superheroes in the same movie joined by The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye and Black Widow.   There promises to be plenty of action and comic book fun.  Check back to read the review.

Read the MOVIEGUIDE(R) Review HERE


DARK SHADOWS

May 11, 2012

Most weekend moviegoers are too young to know that this new movie is based on a gothic soap opera that ran on ABC in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Tim Burton directs Johnny Depp as a vampire who comes back during the 1970’s in a dark comedic take on the original.  Caution is going to be needed as the obvious occult, gothic themes will probably be mixed with sexual content.  Check back to read the review the week it opens.


THE DICTATOR

May 16, 2012

Actor Sacha Baron Cohen, who probably will never win a Movieguide(R) Award, is back with a new movie. Cohen is in the title role of a dictator intent on making sure democracy never makes it to his country.  His history of movies suggests that this will be anything but family friendly; but we will see.


BATTLESHIP

May 19, 2012

“G-4!  H-2”  This is what you shout out when playing the Battleship board game by Hasbro.  How this translates into an epic movie about a battleship battling aliens is anybody’s guess.  There will be much action violence and hopefully an engaging story.  Check back for the review.



WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YO”RE EXPECTING

May 18, 2012

Five couples prepare for parenthood in this romantic comedy.  With hopefully a pro-family message, check back for the review.


MEN IN BLACK 3

May 25

Agents Smith and Jones time travel to the 1960’s to stop an alien from changing history.

In the Name of Christ, STOP!



By David Outten

On February 2, 1984 President Ronald Reagan told the following story to an audience attending a National Day of Prayer event.*


“This power of prayer can be illustrated by a story that goes back to the fourth century. Telemachus, an Asian monk living in a little remote village, spent most of his time in prayer or tending the garden from which he obtained his sustenance. One day, he thought he heard the voice of God telling him to go to Rome. Believing that he had heard, he set out. Weeks later, he arrived there, having traveled most of the way on foot.

“It was at a time of a festival in Rome. They were celebrating a triumph over the Goths. He followed a crowd into the Colosseum, and then, there in the midst of this great crowd, he saw the gladiators come forth, stand before the Emperor, and say, ‘We who are about to die salute you.”’ He realized they were going to fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowds. He cried out, ‘In the name of Christ, stop!”’ His voice was lost in the tumult there in the great Colosseum.

“As the games began, he made his way down through the crowd and climbed over the wall and dropped to the floor of the arena. Suddenly the crowds saw this scrawny little figure making his way out to the gladiators and saying, over and over again, ‘In the name of Christ, stop.”’ They thought it was part of the entertainment. At first they were amused. But then, when they realized it wasn’t, they grew belligerent and angry. As he was pleading with the gladiators, ‘In the name of Christ, stop,”’ one of them plunged his sword into his body. He fell to the sand of the arena. In death, his last words were, ‘In the name of Christ, stop.”’

“Suddenly, a strange thing happened. The gladiators stood looking at this tiny form lying in the sand. A silence fell over the Colosseum. Then, someplace up in the upper tiers, an individual made his way to an exit and left, and others began to follow. In the dead silence, everyone left the Colosseum. That was the last battle to the death between gladiators in the Roman Colosseum. Never again did men kill each other for the entertainment of the crowd.

“One tiny voice that could hardly be heard above the tumult. ‘In the name of Christ, stop.”’ It is something we could be saying to each other throughout the world today.”

Telemarcus did not say, “In the name of decency, stop.” Neither did he say, “In my opinion you should stop,” or “If you don’t stop you’ll burn in hell.” He didn’t even say, “I’m the founder of Monks for Morality, you need to stop.” He simply said, “In the name of Christ, stop.” A very ordinary man, he spoke with authority. That he was willing to surrender his life to deliver the message showed that he was delivering a message of love, not judgment. God, not Telemarcus, deserves the credit for ending gladiator contests. God’s Holy Spirit touched the heart of each person who silently left the Colosseum. It was God who touched the heart of Emperor Honorius who then banned gladiator fights. Telemarchus just played his role in a scene God wrote.

Only God can stop the moral decline in American entertainment. Only God can touch the hearts of Christians who continue to watch programs with higher and higher levels of vulgarity and promiscuity. Only God can get teenagers in church youth groups to quit buying tickets to horror shows and vulgar comedies. Only God can reach the hearts of Hollywood executives who approve funding of waves of immoral entertainment.

We’re no martyrs. We’re just a saved sinner who God has called to work toward the redemption of the media. We’re parents and grandfathers who want to leave their children and grandchildren a more civil society rather than a more vile one.

Our message for Christians is, “In the name of Christ, stop!”

If the 70 percent of Americans who claim to be Christian would stop watching entertainment that Jesus wouldn’t choose to watch Hollywood’s executives would be forced to provide wholesome entertainment or loose their jobs. Every time you turn on your television you vote with your remote. YOU KNOW WHAT’S BAD. Don’t ignore the Holy Spirit. Don’t rationalize or excuse garbage viewing. In the name of Christ, stop eating the immoral slop that’s currently being offered on television.

Our message for Hollywood executives is, “In the name of Christ, stop!”

The word “B****” (mother dog) does not belong on television and certainly not in the title of a prime time television program. Vulgarity, promiscuity and violence degrade culture and harm future generations — AND YOU KNOW IT. You are responsible and accountable, not just to the public, but to God. In the name of Christ, Stop!

We don’t expect to be martyred. We don’t claim to be more “spiritual” than anyone or more holy. We just believe we’ve been led by God to be passionate about the redemption of the media.

The message, “In the name of Christ, stop!” stands on its own.

Do you believe it’s from God? Do you believe God would have us stop because He loves us? Do you believe he’d have us stop because He wants something better for us?

We do.

You can be among the first Christians to vote with your remote as if Jesus Christ were punching the buttons. You may be one of those to who wait to see if others will do so first.  You may be someone who rejects the message.

The direction of the current competition on television leads toward orgies and real death matches.  Is that where you want to go? Do you want to live in a society where vulgarity is used as punctuation in virtually every sentence?

You’re not accountable to us for your response. You’re accountable to God. You’re accountable to your children and grandchildren for the culture you leave them.

We praise God for using Telemarchus to help end death match entertainment. We praise God for using William Wilberforce to help end slavery. We praise God for using Martin Luther King Jr. to help end segregation. We praise God that we live in a culture where we believe “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” God is the one to be praised for what’s left of America’s decency and prosperity.

If Americans vote with their remotes for righteousness and Hollywood executives approve nothing but wholesome, inspiring entertainment it will not be because I or anyone else said the right thing. It will be because God touched hearts, changed behavior and brought redemption.

The future is in his hands, not mine. For the sake of our children and grandchildren we pray for redemption.

Please, “In the name of Christ, stop.”

* This transcription was modified slightly to make it read more clearly than it was spoken.

Study Finds Family Content Helps Ad Success




Study Finds Family Content Helps Ad Success

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) reports that when products or brands are advertised in family-friendly programming, consumers are more likely to purchase the brand.


In its study, the ANA found, “Ad effectiveness soars by 30 percent in family-friendly content, particularly for family products. Purchase intent and brand equity also increase. Conversely, the study found that family brands advertising in adult content suffer decreases in the same areas.”

Adult content, according to consumers, would include gratuitous sex, violence, and drug abuse. The study was done online with 2,400 consumers. It included six TV ads from companies in different industries “whose collective advertising spending exceeds $10 billion.”

The key findings include:

1) Ad effectiveness scores on each ad-even low-scoring commercials-jumped an average of 30% when they were seen on a family-oriented  show.

2) 10.7% of the audience was more likely to purchase the brand when the ad was placed in a family-oriented show versus a program with adult-themed content.

The ANA study confirms what previous studies have found regarding family-friendly programming and advertising effectiveness.

The ANA includes such major companies as Walmart, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Kellogg, Ford, General Motors, American Express, Motorola, Intel, Allstate, McDonald’s, GE, IBM, Verizon, AT&T, Visa, Subway, Dell Computers, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, and Liberty Mutual.

- Source:  Association of National Advertisers.

 

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