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Old 09-19-2006, 10:47 PM   #46
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Originally posted by Irvine511

i'm sorry you feel as if you've been tarred, but that speaks much more to your own paranoia since i think the film goes to great lengths to not be about evangelicals, but about these evangelicals.
Sorry Irvine. Having watched the film -- twice, in fact -- there's no parsing of these evangelicals vs evangelicals nationwide. The combination of the DJ's rabid "they've taken over everywhere! they're coming! what are we going to do?" voice-overs, with the images the filmmakers chose to select to open the film (the first five minutes depict a bizarre church dance these kids have put on), combined with Becky Fischer's extremist POV, make the direct implication (if not downright assertion) that these evangelicals are the ones running our government. It's filmmaking 101, Irvine, and it's remarkably effective. Completely in service of a particular objective and perspective of evangelicalism, but effective.

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the main point is that this film doesn't resort to any sort of easy cinematic manipulation to tell it's story or present it's characters.
The score, the editing, the collision of images -- the entire thing is manipulative, right down to its subject matter. Why choose this woman's camp, out of the hundreds of thousands of Christian camps that are run every summer? Because instead of choosing camps that run health clinics in Mexico, or camps that run educational programs in the inner-city, they chose this particular camp to hold up as the sign that the Evil Evangelicals are coming. (A point repeatedly underlined by the DJ.)

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as for the DJ, the filmmakers said that this is a political film, and having someone who's concerned about the politicization of Christianity open and close the film isn't meant to shade meaning or understanding, rather to place the film in the political context in which it stands.
There's no question it's a political film. The DJ gets the first and last words in, which clearly shade the entire thing not only from an outside POV but from a very specific one.

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everyone in the film is on board with the film. we'd all have more "nuanced" reactions to any sort of film or television project we were involved in -- ever watch "project runway"? -- but the universal approval of the film by the subjects belie any claims to the chicanery of the filmmakers or that they're seeking to defame 45m people.
Filmmaking with a POV is what it is. I think you presume I'm smelling some kind of Vast Left Wing Conspiracy. Not at all. I do however think that it is chicanery to insist your film has no agenda, when it actually does, borne out by the film itself.

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to say it's out to defame a group of people, to slander someone, to indict anyone, is totally false. it's as far from a piece of political hackery as anyone could possibly get.
This is very much in the eye of the beholder, and I'll stand by my comments on the film as a whole.
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Old 09-20-2006, 12:41 AM   #47
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On second thought, i better not watch this movie, i just saw the trailer and i already know who has a agenda in this movie.

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Old 09-20-2006, 03:13 AM   #48
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Michael Moore is a moron BTW. The fact that he's endorsing it automatically makes me less interested.



I gave up counting how many ways this is funny after 3.
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Old 09-20-2006, 08:56 AM   #49
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Michael Moore is a moron BTW. The fact that he's endorsing it automatically makes me less interested.

He's not endorsing it in any way, shape, or form
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Old 09-20-2006, 10:01 AM   #50
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Originally posted by nathan1977
This is very much in the eye of the beholder, and I'll stand by my comments on the film as a whole.


and i will by mine.

every point i made in my last post stands, and i'm well versed in the world of documentary filmmaking, thank you very much, and it's sad that you think that elements like the score, the editing, the collision of images are somehow indicative of manipulation when this, in fact, actually is Filmmaking 101. there is drama in the film, and tension, and emotion, but to view these very basic cinematic devices as evidence of willfull, deliberate manipulation on the part of the filmmakers as they go about furthering their agendas doesn't hold much water.

i'm sorry you feel unnecessarily implicated and aggreived by the film, but you've also yet to state what "the agenda" is -- that would go a long way towards furthering your points. and i also think you're wildly underestimating the audience and the ability of people to discern these evangelicals from those evangelicals and it is stated, explicitly, that these are Pentacoastal Evangelicals, and their political goals -- however much they might overestimate themselves, as they are obviously doing in your eyes -- are stated plainly. and, ultimately, that's not the filmmaker's responsibility -- they are depicting a particular group of individuals, and there's no burden upon them to give a dissertation on the history of evangelicals in the United States. the characters in the film are far, far more human and fleshed out and nuanced than we ever get of, say, Muslims.

i won't reiterate it, but i think my analogy in regards to my reaction to "Gay Sex in the 70's" applies perfectly. i'd love to see documentaries about gay parents, or gay teachers, or gay CEO's, or gay families, and if i look i can find them, but i saw one documentary about wildly promiscuous gay sex in the 1970s in New York and it would be foolish of me, as well as self-centered and myopic, to demand that all documentaries about gay people presented me in the most flattering light possible. i think it's important to understand that not all gay people are saints, and things like drugs and promiscuity (and the lack of self-worth that underscores it all) are a major part of gay culture, however incomplete that picture might be.

the same applies to evangelicals. simply because it's not your specific experience on the screen is not indication of an agenda to personally malign you.
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Old 09-20-2006, 10:12 AM   #51
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for reference, here's the interview with Becky Frischer nathan has mentioned:

[q]"I've only seen [the film] one time, and I was still processing what was left out and left in. [But from] what I've seen, I think [Grady and Ewing] did a great job," said Fischer. "I think they captured the beautiful concepts of what we represent."

While generally pleased with how the film turned out, she told indieWIRE that she initially felt a bit uncomfortable with the inclusion of some of the overtly political segments in the film, which culminate in a debate between Fischer and Air America radio commentator Mike Papantonio (whose on-air comments are used to frame the documentary). Papantonio, described as an active Methodist, is a frequent critic of the Evangelical movement.

A particularly inflammatory scene that heightens the political overtones for viewers takes place at a revival meeting lead by Fischer and her associates, in front of well over 100 children. In the scene, Fischer takes a life-size standup photo of President George W. Bush to the stage, and with a large American flag in the background, asks the crowd to raise their hands towards him in prayer.

"I didn't realize how the secular world viewed what we were doing," Fischer said, adding that Grady and Ewing spent about a year filming her -- including a visit to the Kids On Fire summer camp in Devil's Lake, ND -- explaining that political side of the equation had only come up toward the end of shooting.

"When we took out [an] image of Bush, it turned political, but to us, it's not political - it's Biblical," she said.

"All you have to do is mention words like abortion, homosexuality and President Bush to [garner] strong feelings from people," said Fischer who maintained that using images of the U.S. President and the flags of the U.S. and Israel were not meant to be overtly political. "We are commanded to pray for our leaders and we're commanded [by the Bible] to pray for Israel. So it was a surprise to me because we don't think of this as political. But from a secular point-of-view, I can see how it's viewed politically."

Becky Fischer and her fellow Evangelicals view Bush as a primary hope in pursuing their agenda regarding abortion rights, prayer in school, and gay rights, and the film captures the emotional devotion instilled within a new young generation of Evangelicals. At the film's world premiere on the first weekend of the festival, many in the mostly liberal New York audience could be overheard saying that the film should be a call to arms for people on the left side of the cultural/political divide.

As for the filmmakers themselves, Fischer said she felt a duty to shield Grady and Ewing from her fellow Evangelicals who might have been tempted to witness to them during the making of the movie. She said that fellow believers had come to her privately to inquire about the filmmaker's own religious beliefs, but while Fischer and the filmmakers discussed religion, she added, "There wasn't a conscious effort to make them feel uncomfortable. It wasn't why they were here. I know that Evangelicals can do that, but I didn't [want them to feel uncomfortable]."

After shooting wrapped, Fischer said that Grady and Ewing shared their beliefs with her, and any disagreements that might exist have not compromised the film. "Rachel and Heidi have said their personal beliefs have nothing to do with the film. I think they did an extremely good job in not letting their personal beliefs interfere with the making of this film."

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Old 09-20-2006, 11:12 AM   #52
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Originally posted by Irvine511


A particularly inflammatory scene that heightens the political overtones for viewers takes place at a revival meeting lead by Fischer and her associates, in front of well over 100 children. In the scene, Fischer takes a life-size standup photo of President George W. Bush to the stage, and with a large American flag in the background, asks the crowd to raise their hands towards him in prayer.

[/q]
Sounds a lot like idolatry to me...



Reminds me of a blog entry I read a few months back by a guy who was a youth minister, and a conservative Republican. He had attended a Memorial Day church service where a patriotic film was shown( images of jet planes, American flags, fireworks, politics,etc.). It upset him because he felt it amounted to idolatry, which confused me at first , but then I got to thinking about it...

I think his problem with the service was that it seemed to be putting God and country on the same level of veneration, worship, whatever.

There *is* a difference between asking your congregation to say a prayer for the president and sticking a life size image of him on stage...
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Old 09-20-2006, 11:51 AM   #53
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Old 09-20-2006, 01:42 PM   #54
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Originally posted by Irvine511

every point i made in my last post stands, and i'm well versed in the world of documentary filmmaking, thank you very much, and it's sad that you think that elements like the score, the editing, the collision of images are somehow indicative of manipulation when this, in fact, actually is Filmmaking 101.
Oh come on Irvine. If you know anything about filmmaking, you know that film is an entirely manipulative medium. With every choice the directors make, from angles to shot composition to scoring to editing, etc., they are trying to evoke a specific response. Set the whole film to REM's "Shiny Happy People" and you have a very different film experience than you would if it's scored in a low, throbbing, bass drone as it is by Force Theory. Open the film with normal families putting normal kids on normal buses, or of them playing, and you'd have a very different film than when you lead off with the bizarre dance the church has put together. (Combined with Mike Papantonio's passionate assertions that evangelicals are taking over, which run over the opening images, and what point do you think the filmmakers are trying to get us to understand?) Every decision a director makes is intentional and in service of a larger goal.

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there is drama in the film, and tension, and emotion, but to view these very basic cinematic devices as evidence of willfull, deliberate manipulation on the part of the filmmakers as they go about furthering their agendas doesn't hold much water.
But these devices -- scoring, editing, montage, etc -- are manipulative. Inherently, clearly, obviously manipulative. Every filmmaker will tell you that. Those devices are used by the filmmaker to get a specific response.

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i also think you're wildly underestimating the audience and the ability of people to discern these evangelicals from those evangelicals and it is stated, explicitly, that these are Pentacoastal Evangelicals
No, Irvine, it isn't. Nowhere are these identified as Pentecostal Evangelicals. Nowhere are their beliefs described. The only reason I know which branch of the denominational tree these guys hang from is because I'm well-versed in denominational affiliations, and know that this particular church is treated as a red-headed stepchild by the Pentecostal denomination itself. Nowhere is that stated, implied, or otherwise in the film. Over and over again we're given statistics about evangelicals, cut to statements by Mike Papantonio about the great threat of evangelicalism, and then cut to shots of this particular church, without any context as to who is what.

The example you cite about the film you saw is very different. Did the film specifically identify you as a threat?

If you're going to call the beliefs of 45 million people a threat (and imply, if not outright state -- and I'd argue the film hugs a very poor line in that regard -- that the evangelicals in the film are representative of mainstream evangelicals), you'd better be damn clear who you're talking about. Otherwise, you border on agenda-driven slander in its most odious form.
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Old 09-20-2006, 02:51 PM   #55
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Oh come on Irvine. If you know anything about filmmaking, you know that film is an entirely manipulative medium. With every choice the directors make, from angles to shot composition to scoring to editing, etc., they are trying to evoke a specific response. Set the whole film to REM's "Shiny Happy People" and you have a very different film experience than you would if it's scored in a low, throbbing, bass drone as it is by Force Theory. Open the film with normal families putting normal kids on normal buses, or of them playing, and you'd have a very different film than when you lead off with the bizarre dance the church has put together. (Combined with Mike Papantonio's passionate assertions that evangelicals are taking over, which run over the opening images, and what point do you think the filmmakers are trying to get us to understand?) Every decision a director makes is intentional and in service of a larger goal.



But these devices -- scoring, editing, montage, etc -- are manipulative. Inherently, clearly, obviously manipulative. Every filmmaker will tell you that. Those devices are used by the filmmaker to get a specific response.




you're right, filmmaking involves manipulation -- the manipulation of light, sound, image, etc., in order to weave together a watchable story. it's no great revelation that filmmaking involves manipulation, but to say that the story itself is manipulative is a very different and distinct charge.

if i'm a filmmaker and i want to rev up some drama, it's manipulative to, say, shoot a puppy out of the blue. it is not manipulative to, say, present a situation where a puppy is endangered by a gun. it's totally, totally distinct, and you're criticisms seem to be that, 1) it's a film, and 2) the filmmakers are using the techniques of cinema to weave together a story.

charges of "manipulation" are meaningless to the point of parody. it's like claiming the media is "biased." there is no intellectual argument behind these charges.

and if it were so manipulative as you claim, you'd be hearing voices of dissent crying foul at the film -- and no one, not least of which is Becky Fischer is accusing the film of being a "Farenheit 911" of Evangelical Pentacostals.



[q]No, Irvine, it isn't. Nowhere are these identified as Pentecostal Evangelicals. Nowhere are their beliefs described. The only reason I know which branch of the denominational tree these guys hang from is because I'm well-versed in denominational affiliations, and know that this particular church is treated as a red-headed stepchild by the Pentecostal denomination itself. Nowhere is that stated, implied, or otherwise in the film. Over and over again we're given statistics about evangelicals, cut to statements by Mike Papantonio about the great threat of evangelicalism, and then cut to shots of this particular church, without any context as to who is what.[/q]


did you see the sign outside of the church? it said, clearly, Pentacostal. i wasn't lost, i knew exactly what was going on. perhaps it hasn't been specified to your liking, but that doesn't mean that this is evidence of sinister "manipulation" on the part of the filmmakers.

and you've yet to address the lengths the filmmakers went to in order to provide such human, fully-formed characters, and how there's no narration. the characters speak for themselves, and quite frankly, they view themselves and their mission and their political power in vastly different ways than you do.

it seems as if you've got a different viewpoint on the entire issue, and since the filmmakers see things in different ways than you do, they're "manipulative" and have an "agenda."


[q]The example you cite about the film you saw is very different. Did the film specifically identify you as a threat?[/q]

firstly, the phrase "threat" as applied to gay people is common parlance amongst the Republicans -- the threat to traditional marriage -- and i have it leveled against me, and not just on this board (and not just by you in regards to our differing stance on adoption), on such a daily basis, that the "threat" posed by gay people hardly needs to be explicity drawn out in a film. it's an understood part of culture.

but, that aside, i think you misunderstand -- again, i think the example works differently -- and i think it's evidence of your own oversensitivity to understand the film as pointing out "a threat" to anyone. of course, Papantonio might see it this way, but you're way, way overstating his importance to the film. he's simply a counterpoint, a balance, and, at the end, he's edited so that it's a debate between him and Frischer, and one that she seems quite happy about, and besides, does Frischer not level charges of who is and who isn't a threat to her and her followers? to the church? to Christians? to the USA? wouldn't it have been "manipulative" to simply have Frischer speak and have no counterpoint?



Quote:
If you're going to call the beliefs of 45 million people a threat (and imply, if not outright state -- and I'd argue the film hugs a very poor line in that regard -- that the evangelicals in the film are representative of mainstream evangelicals), you'd better be damn clear who you're talking about. Otherwise, you border on agenda-driven slander in its most odious form.


i can only see this as defensiveness.


ETA:
how many other "groups" get this same level of attention that you're asking for evangelicals?

i can understand the defensiveness, i can understand wanting others to see the nuances you see, but simply because others don't, or it's not to your liking, does not prove intent of an "agenda" on the part of the filmmakers. might it be incomplete? could the film be better? of course. it's possible. but the reception this film has received from the secularists (to use Becky's language) and the believers speaks to the quality of filmmaking on display.
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Old 09-20-2006, 09:14 PM   #56
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Originally posted by Irvine511

it's totally, totally distinct, and you're criticisms seem to be that, 1) it's a film, and 2) the filmmakers are using the techniques of cinema to weave together a story.
Not at all. My criticism is that to ostensibly make a film about evangelicalism, but to focus exclusively on this church and this denomination, but using "evangelicals" all the way through, and frame them in the light of Mr. Papantonio's comments which bookend the film and are dropped throughout, is both misleading and plays into a particular perspective of what evangelicalism is. My specific criticism is your comment (which mirrors what the filmmakers say) that there is no agenda. One does not need narration in a film to have an agenda, and as I've pointed out, from the subject matter to the treatment thereof to who has the last word, the film is entirely agenda-driven. (Papantonio has the first and last words, by the way.)

The equivalent would be someone saying, "I'm going to make a film about the modern-day gay movement in America," then shooting an entire film about a NAMBLA event but sprinkling it with statistics about how many gay teachers are in schools and how many gay Americans there are.

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and if it were so manipulative as you claim, you'd be hearing voices of dissent crying foul at the film -- and no one, not least of which is Becky Fischer is accusing the film of being a "Farenheit 911" of Evangelical Pentacostals.
All respect to Ms. Fischer, but she doesn't exactly strike me as the most tuned-in television on the block. It's sort of like punching a retarded kid who doesn't know how to do anything but smile.

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and you've yet to address the lengths the filmmakers went to in order to provide such human, fully-formed characters, and how there's no narration.
Filmmaking 101 -- narration is the crutch of bad storytelling. Your film's story is told through images and sound. If you can't understand a film with the sound turned down, you've made a bad film. Watch the opening scenes with the sound turned down. What do you think of the kids dancing? What are you compelled to think about this world and the people we're about to see?

One can usually evaluate a film's point by the last images and/or spoken words in the film, and they belong to Mike Papantonio. Long after the fight with Fischer on the phone, he is given the film's final words.

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firstly, the phrase "threat" as applied to gay people is common parlance amongst the Republicans -- the threat to traditional marriage -- and i have it leveled against me, and not just on this board (and not just by you in regards to our differing stance on adoption), on such a daily basis, that the "threat" posed by gay people hardly needs to be explicity drawn out in a film. it's an understood part of culture.
I would love to see the post where I called you a threat, Irvine. I think we've always had the utmost respect for each other when we've disagreed.

And whenever anyone posts anything on here about the (real or perceived) "threat" posed by gays to the nuclear family, an array of posters rise up in objection. So this seems to be a bit of tit for tat.

Quote:
ETA:
how many other "groups" get this same level of attention that you're asking for evangelicals?
I'm not demanding attention. What I am saying is, if you're going to label 45 million people under one banner (yet insist that you're not ideologically-driven in doing so), you ought to at least make sure it's the right one.
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Old 09-21-2006, 10:01 AM   #57
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Originally posted by nathan1977


Not at all. My criticism is that to ostensibly make a film about evangelicalism, but to focus exclusively on this church and this denomination, but using "evangelicals" all the way through, and frame them in the light of Mr. Papantonio's comments which bookend the film and are dropped throughout, is both misleading and plays into a particular perspective of what evangelicalism is. My specific criticism is your comment (which mirrors what the filmmakers say) that there is no agenda. One does not need narration in a film to have an agenda, and as I've pointed out, from the subject matter to the treatment thereof to who has the last word, the film is entirely agenda-driven. (Papantonio has the first and last words, by the way.)



but you miss the point entirely -- it's not a film about evangelicalism, it is a film about a specific kind of evangelical Christianity that is hugely political in nature and how they go about passing their beliefs on to their next generation of believers. and this church is depicted with virtually no interference by the filmmakers. yes, there's drama, and tension, and a score, but these are elements of storytelling. it makes for a watchable film.

i think Becky Frischer wouldn't feel much of an affiliation with you; why do you feel such an affiliation with her?

actually, i am somewhat in agreement with bookending the film with Papantoni, as i think that's a weakness in the film (but i tend to hate bookends, they nearly ruined "Saving Private Ryan" for example), but i think it's a stretch to think that they can contain the entire "agenda" of the film.


[q]The equivalent would be someone saying, "I'm going to make a film about the modern-day gay movement in America," then shooting an entire film about a NAMBLA event but sprinkling it with statistics about how many gay teachers are in schools and how many gay Americans there are.[/q]

i can't agree with this. at all. NAMBLA is a fringe-of-the-fringe group who advocate illegal relationships between adults and children and who have been very loudly and publically repudiated by every major gay group (HRC, GLAAD) in existence. i believe GLAAD even said that they "abhor" NAMBLA. do we hear the same distancing from Ms. Frischer and her Kids of Fire camp from these 45m people you reference?

you're "NAMBLA is to gay people as ..." analogy is more like saying that those in Operation Rescue who bomb clinics and shoot doctors are representative of the pro-life/anti-choice movement.



[q]All respect to Ms. Fischer, but she doesn't exactly strike me as the most tuned-in television on the block. It's sort of like punching a retarded kid who doesn't know how to do anything but smile.[/q]

nathan, you can do better than this ... so Ms. Fischer knows not what she does?



[q]Filmmaking 101 -- narration is the crutch of bad storytelling. Your film's story is told through images and sound. If you can't understand a film with the sound turned down, you've made a bad film. Watch the opening scenes with the sound turned down. What do you think of the kids dancing? What are you compelled to think about this world and the people we're about to see?[/q]

to answer your questions, i'd have to see it again, though i remember my initial reaction was somewhere along the lines of, "look! christianist jihadists in training!" but, of course, i'm going to view the scene in that way because of who i am and where i come from and of my worldview. Becky Frischer would see that scene in a very different way.

further, i was almost taken aback at the lengths to which the filmmakers spent on their subjects and how intelligent and articulate and well-voiced their subjects were (you've said nothing about this, the true heart of the film, instead focusing on the 5 minutes or so of a DJ and a few music cues). it would have been so easy to make a horror film of Christian Children of the Corn. but they didn't do that. it's a much smarter film than that, and Heidi is a much better filmmaker than that.


[q]One can usually evaluate a film's point by the last images and/or spoken words in the film, and they belong to Mike Papantonio. Long after the fight with Fischer on the phone, he is given the film's final words.[/q]

so the inclusion of a dissenting viewpoint is evidence of the "point" or "agenda" of the whole film?


[q]I would love to see the post where I called you a threat, Irvine. I think we've always had the utmost respect for each other when we've disagreed.[/q]

while it has been respectful, you've said gay parenting is a threat to time tested notions of the nuclear family and it would deprive children of a mother and a father.


[q]And whenever anyone posts anything on here about the (real or perceived) "threat" posed by gays to the nuclear family, an array of posters rise up in objection. So this seems to be a bit of tit for tat.[/q]

more exists than what goes on in FYM -- how would you feel if you heard the head of the Texas legislature on CNN talking about how he wants to ban gay foster parents in TX because he doesn't think "those people" should be raising "our" children?



Quote:
I'm not demanding attention. What I am saying is, if you're going to label 45 million people under one banner (yet insist that you're not ideologically-driven in doing so), you ought to at least make sure it's the right one.
so it seems that your objection to the film is that the definition of "evangelical" isn't fully fleshed out. this is miles from a "manipulative" film that is pushing an "agenda."

i don't think it's a pefect film, but i think it's an outstanding one, and i think it's a million miles from any sort of agenda-driven filmmaking.

it's a great film. and everyone in FYM should see it for themselves.
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Old 09-21-2006, 10:43 AM   #58
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also, at this point, this has become a two person discussion. so i think it's time to drop it. please feel free to respond, nathan, but i think i'm going to step out for now, and perhaps this discussion can resume when more people have seen the film.
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Old 02-17-2007, 08:49 AM   #59
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I just did se this movie and it made me a little depressed,...i see a lot of youngsters who not will believe in freedom of religion in the future,...
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Old 02-18-2007, 12:07 AM   #60
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I watched it a few weeks ago with my roommate - she actually started crying at a particular scene (noting how she felt very bad for the kids).
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