Directed by Jon Erwin & Brent McCorkle
Based on the true story of the unlikely connection between a young hippie street preacher (Lonnie Frisbee, played by Jonathan Roumie) and a buttoned-down pastor (Chuck Smith, played by Kelsey Grammer) that sparks a spiritual revival of the late 1960s and early ’70s, Jesus Revolution highlights the power of making space for hospitality and grace, especially when misunderstanding and judgment of others plague an already broken society. It’s a story as relevant today as it was then.
The film focuses on a young Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney) who meets Frisbee and gets swept up in a movement that brought thousands of mostly young people to Christ. (Today Laurie is senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, with campuses in California and Hawaii; Smith, who died in 2013, founded the Calvary Chapel movement.)
The film shares the title of a 1971 Time cover story, and benefits from the perspective that five decades provides. The story feels fresh, with flickers of comedy and tragedy and confusion, all topped with a delicious sense of awe. Produced by Kingdom Story Company and presented by Lionsgate, the same outfit behind The Jesus Music and I Can Only Imagine, the release of Jesus Revolution brings a fascinating piece of history to the big screen.
Going Home Like a Shooting Star:
Thea Bowman’s Journey to Sainthood
Directed by Christopher A. Salvador
A montage of voices at the beginning of this documen- tary describes Thea Bowman: A lightning rod, a teacher, a preacher, a prophet, and a cultural advocate. In 2018, she gained another description — Servant of God — when she became a candidate for sainthood.
This film tells Bowman’s life story: her Mississippi childhood, conversion to Catholicism in 1947 at age nine, and leaving home at 15 for LaCrosse, Wisconsin, to join the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. As the only Black FSPA sister, Bowman used her great charisma and formidable gifts to educate and challenge the Catholic Church, and society in general, to grow in racial inclusivity. Although she died in 1990 at just 52, the film draws connections between her life and work and the racial justice movement of today.
Narrated by M. Shawn Copeland, professor emerita at Boston College, the film includes interviews with Bowman’s friends and colleagues. Bowman herself appears in video footage taken throughout her life, including from her 1989 talk to the U.S. bishops about being Black and Catholic. This film is a treat for those who know about Bowman already — and maybe a bigger treat for those who don’t yet. Available online at bit.ly/itshootingstar.
Where the Light Fell
By Philip Yancey
In a writing career of more than 50 years, Philip Yancey has tackled questions of faith and God and become one of the most popular Christian authors of all time. His latest book he calls perhaps his most important: a memoir of his troubled upbringing.
Where the Light Fell (Convergent, 2021) focuses on his tumultuous path to adulthood, starting with the discovery that his father, a 23-year-old minister, died not long after removing himself from polio treatment, believing that God would heal him. Yancey’s formative years were marked by abuse, poverty, and a racist, ultra-Fundamentalist church that preached an angry God.
A journalist, Yancey describes himself and Georgia in the 1950s and ’60s unflinchingly: “As a true son of the South,” he writes, “I am born and bred a racist.”
He doesn’t excuse his behavior; he confronts it. He describes the people and places that form his life with honesty and humility, including the difficult relationships with his family that dominate the book.
Like the best of memoirs, there are no easy answers or made-for-TV endings in this engrossing recollection. Instead, he deals with the messiness and complexities of life in a way that resonates with readers. Powerful and important, the book reveals the ashes of a fire-and-brimstone upbringing redeemed by grace.
How We Relate:
Understanding God, Yourself, and Others through the Enneagram
By Jesse Eubanks
Zondervan Books, 2023
Books about the Enneagram are pop-ular, and Jesse Eubanks’ addition to the genre is a worthwhile read for leaders in theological education. How We Relate: Understanding God, Yourself, and Others through the Enneagram (Zondervan Books, 2023) takes a deep dive into the nine personality types within the framework, examining the true self, false self, dominant themes in childhood and adolescence, and ways of nurturing the false self within each personality type. Eubanks then considers ways that each type encounters Jesus, acknowledging that certain aspects of Jesus’s life will appeal to the discrete personality focus. Finally, he examines how Jesus empathizes with and has authority over each type.
The point of cultivating this self-clarity is more than just understanding one’s own gifts and challenges. The point is to strengthen our relationships. As Eubanks puts it: “We must live in unity with one another to reflect Christ to the world.” Jesus, he writes, is the full embodiment of all nine personality types, and the manifestation of the best of each. When we stand alone, we are a dim and cold reflection...” Eubanks writes. “When we come together in a beloved community, we begin to reveal a clearer picture of Jesus to the world.”
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