Catholic commentary on culture, media, and politics.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

When Christians open their big traps

I have read essays by and seen TV appearances of Dr. Al Mohler before. I'm sure the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is a sincere Christian man. called him the "reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S".

Cough cough.

His latest commentary about the casting of actor Chad Allen dual roles as missionaries in the new movie The End of the Spear is inscrutable, if not downright embarrassing.

Whence the hoopla? Are you ready? Chad Allen happens to be...not an ex-gay Evangelical, not an Exodus prayer warrior, not a conflicted Courage member active homosexual.

I know. Shocking.

Now, why anyone cares about this -- in terms of the decision to cast him in the overtly Christian movie -- is beyond me. Au contraire. Why not praise it in light of some possible one-on-one witnessing to the guy?

It doesn't seem to have entered the mind of the "reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S" that playing powerful real-life missionaries might just plant seeds of conversion in the heart of Chad Allen. Sure, based on his quotes, Mr. Allen is obviously unevangelized and uncatechised. But I would think it takes guts to walk onto a remote set every day knowing that nine out of ten lighting techs, line producers, extras and caterers think you're going to hell.

But noooo. Rev. Mohler feels called to some serious fretting over this dastardly, scandalous deed...this terrible blunder of giving him a job amid such a Pure Christian Environment [TM] . Maybe even a little boycott is in order, eh my droogies, he suggests.

For some on the Right, homosexuals can't win: They're damned if they perform in gay-friendly dramas; and they and the Christian producers who hire them for wholesome projects are damned as well. Perhaps Allen would be able to justify his participation if he was made to shout, "Unclean! Unclean!" before delivering each line, so God's holy people in the audience can see that he knows he's bad and that his very image onscreen is a scandal.

By all critical accounts, save the review by Charles Colson and the presumptuous speculation by Rev. Mohler that the film has been"critically acclaimed," The End of the Spear has been received with decidely mixed reviews, which is a nice way of saying it bites, or at least didn't quite incarnate the true story in the way it deserves.

But this isn't the point.

The point is, by pulling a Pat Robertson, Rev. Mohler hands fodder to every essentially openminded Hollywood professional who may be ripe for the message of the gospel ("Man, they really do hate gays.") Welcome to "Confirm the Stereotype!"

Mohler even admits that he's enjoyed the performances of such great actors as Ian Charleston, Sir John Guilgud, and Sir Ian MacLellan -- because he didn't know about their gay lifestyle and so wasn't distracted by it. Well, I didn't know Chad Allen was gay until Rev. Mohler told me!

More importantly, isn't acting all about acting? Isn't the very nub of the profession the ability to portray something quite other than what you are? (The casting of English actor Jonathan Pryce as the Eurasian pimp in Miss Saigon comes to mind. That caused a huge ruckus in PC- New York because he wasn't Asian. No -- he was actinnnnng! Is anyone listening to me?)

In Rev. Mohler's universe, there would be no gay characters, only eeeevil gay actors and those problematic Christians who cast them in movies that try to spread the gospel.

Positively Orwellian.


Blogger Jacob Hantla said...

I would encourage any who have read this post to actually go and read Dr. Mohler's post and it may be beneificial to listen to his comments from his radio show on 1/20/06.

Seize the Dei indicates that he says, "Maybe even a little boycott is in order...he suggests." He specifically said on his radio show that he is not calling for a boycott. He said, "disagreeing with the decision [to cast Chad Allen] and seeing the movie are two totally different issues."

I have mildly weighed in on the issue here.

3:45 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

Welcome Jacob. Since I linked directly to his post and his website, of course I invite my readers to read his words. On the boycott bit, here is what he wrote, verbatim:

"What should we make of all this? Should Christians see the film, boycott the film, or what?"

Boycotting, in Dr. Mohler's mind, isn't mentioned as though he thinks it's some wild, inappropriate reaction (although he doesn't directly advocate it.) He's saying -- offhandedly and naturally -- that maybe it should be on the table.

And what *I'm* saying is, the whole complaint about casting a talented actor who's homosexual is -- let's be charitable -- retarded. Perhaps hysterical is more accurate.

That you, or anyone (especially a high-profile Christian leader like Dr. Mohler) feels he has to vent over the casting of Chad Allen in this explicitly evangelical movie, is above my admittedly limited ability to understand.

No wonder Christians are distrusted in many Hollywood circles.

I live in Los Angeles, Jacob, and I know a fair amount of actors, producers and writers, in and out of the Christian community in this town. Trust me: Rev. Mohler's comments are cringeworthy. One column like his can undo years of hard work by believers on the ground in the entertainment industry.

4:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And has anyone considered WHY Chad Allen chose to audition for and accept this role?

Patrick P

9:51 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

I know -- it was a paying job!!

9:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re Sir Ian MacKellan: According to Wikipedia, he did not publicize his homosexuality until he came out to speak against a proposed law in Britain that would have seriously affected him, and afterwards though out keeps a low profile about it. I think it's because he comes from the British stage tradition where activist antics are seriously unprofessional.

Now we get to see Chad Allen's standard of professionalism.

12:18 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

Anon: I'm sure there's a point hiding somewhere in your comment.

12:24 PM


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