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Thread: Your Favorite Secular Movie and Your Favorite Christian or Christian-Themed Secular Movie Ever

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    Your Favorite Secular Movie and Your Favorite Christian or Christian-Themed Secular Movie Ever

    Please identify (1) your favorite Christian movie or your favorite secular movie with a strong Christian theme and (2) your favorite secular movie, and offer reasons for your 2 selections.

    I am a retired United Methodist pastor with a Pentecostal background. As a pastor, I used to sponsor a dinner and spiritual movie night for several years on the last Friday of every month, excluding summer months. We advertised this in the local paper and attracted an interdenominational audience. Until my retirement in July, 2015, I had watched or researched most Christian movies and most secular movies with strong Christian themes. As a pastor, I had a bias for showing Christian movies, despite the fact that I considered the secular movies with strong Christian themes generally far superior in acting, script, and production values.

    (1) My favorite spiritual movie of all time is without question, "The Mission," starring Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons, with a supporting role by a new actor (now famous), Liam Neeson.
    The British Film Academy voted this the best movie ever on a spiritual theme and many of my male friends agree. Perhaps the violence in the movie prevents many women from rating it as highly as I do.
    The Hollywood Screen Actors Guild voted the film's musical score the 17th best of all time, a remarkable vote considering that "The Mission" is not a musical. The movie did not enjoy great box office success here in the USA because, I think, its pace is a bit too slow for American attention spans.

    "The Mission" is based on historical facts and tells the story of the Jesuits' 19th century attempt to convert an Amazon Indian tribe at the same time that the Spanish and Portuguese are trying to enslave them. In my opinion, the movie contains by far the most moving conversion story (of a slave trader) ever put on screen. After martyrdom, the Jesuits finally succeed in converting the tribe and bring them economic prosperity. But the Spanish and Portuguese governments can't tolerate the economic competition, and so, they get the Cardinal's permission to resume enslavement and the Jesuits are ordered to leave the tribe. What makes the movies so moving and profound to me is the way the Jesuits debate and respond to the order to leave. I'm unsure of the strategy I would use to handle this impossible situation. There is no better movie on the cost of discipleship.

    (2) My favorite secular movie of all time is "Schindler's List" (starring Liam Neeson), the winner of several Academy Awards. I didn't show this movie to our Friday night church group because of its R-rated content and because it is not overtly spiritual in a Christian sense. The movie tells the true WW2 story of a greedy, womanizing German business man who sees Jews as cheap labor and employs them in his factory. But eventually his greed turns to compassion and he hires as many Jews as possible to save them from Nazi extermination. He even dares to claim them from concentration camps and rescues hundreds of Jewish women from Aschwitz! I view the movie as the most powerful movie illustration ever of how God can perfect His strength in human weakness. At the end of the movie, the actors playing Schindler's Jews join the survivors of the roughly 1,500 Jews he saved to lay honorary stones on his Jerusalem grave.

    After WW2, Oscar Schindler's marriage and business ventures failed. But the Israelis brought him to Israel to be celebrated and honored in a tumultuous welcome. The wife of one Schindler Jew remarked to her husband, "We should not be giving our highest honor to such a morally flawed man." Her husband's response is profound: "Don't wish too hard that he would have been different than the way he was. If he had been different, he would not have done what he did!"

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    Strong Christian theme: Ben Hur
    Secular: The Hunt For Red October

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    Senior Member Muriel's Avatar
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    A Christmas Carol (Patrick Stewart as Ebenezer Scrooge version) Strong presentation of the Gospel. I've seen movie versions for years but as I watched last night, it was so powerful to me. As Scrooge undergoes journeys with the Ghost of Christmas Past we see the boy Scrooge expunged from his home, spending holidays alone as a punishment from his father (real or imagined punishment). Fran, his sister brings him news to reunite him with the family, and all seems well. But other things happen as a young man to harden his heart and cause repression of love and joy. These shadows cannot change him, despite the painful and joyful remembrances. Just like thinking a thing can't save a man.

    The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge the current state of affairs, and yet this also cannot change him.

    As the Ghost of Christmas Future takes Scrooge through the world of his future, it isn't until Scrooge falls into his grave and sees his dead self does he receive the power to change his life. When he awakes in the morning, it is with such delight and newness that I could not help but see the Gospel shine through.

    John 3:14 Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert on a pole, so must the Son of Man be lifted up on the Cross. [And everyone must LOOK on the crucified Jesus and see their sin in His body. - note mine]
    Gal 2:20 ... it is no longer I who live, but there lives in me Christ. And that life which I now live in the sphere of the flesh, by faith I live it, which faith is in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself on my behalf. (Wuest)
    2 Cor 5:17 So that, assuming that anyone is in Christ, he is a creation new in quality. The antiquated, out-of-date things [which do not belong to the new life in Christ Jesus] have passed away. Be hold, all things have become new in quality.


    So I now have a new favorite "Christmas" movie.

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    Administrator fuego's Avatar
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    Last one secular I can remember with a seemingly God theme was The Gladiator. Especially integrity personified.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fuego View Post
    Last one secular I can remember with a seemingly God theme was The Gladiator. Especially integrity personified.
    "Gladiator" is one of my favorite secular movies, too. Your choice of it illustrates my problem in drawing the line between Christian-themed and purely secular movies. I consider it a secular movie, but paradoxically was spiritually inspired by Maximus's character and loyalty to Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

    One of my top 10 secular movies on a Christian theme is a movie about the later life at Oxford of famed evangelical author, C. S. Lewis. It develops slowly and is very long, but it is well worth watching, especially if you have suffered great loss in your life. "Shadowlands" (starring Anthony Hopkins) is based on his last book, "A Grief Observed," and tells the true story of his romance later in life and his reluctance to embrace the prospect of this romance. I consider it by far the greatest movie on grief ever made. Unusually, you can actually watch this long but powerful movie here:

    shadowlands movie online - Bing video
    Last edited by Berserk; 12-18-2019 at 02:23 AM.

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    Administrator fuego's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berserk View Post
    "Gladiator" is one of my favorite secular movies, too. Your choice of it illustrates my problem in drawing the line between Christian-themed and purely secular movies. I consider it a secular movie, but paradoxically was spiritually inspired by Maximus's character and loyalty to Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
    I agree.

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    Senior Member Smitty's Avatar
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    Movie with a Christian theme related to Rome and the early church: The Robe.

    Secular movie based on a true story: PT 109
    If you put God First, you have Him at Last.

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    Goodness, hard to decide. I will list a couple.

    Christian: The Shack, War Room, Fireproof, Passion of Christ. Those are first that come to mind.

    Secular: Shawshank Redemption, Goonies ;) Gone with the Wind, Dances with Wolves.


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    Senior Member Muriel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redeemed View Post
    Goodness, hard to decide. I will list a couple.

    Christian: The Shack, War Room, Fireproof, Passion of Christ. Those are first that come to mind.

    Secular: Shawshank Redemption, Goonies ;) Gone with the Wind, Dances with Wolves.

    Dances With Wolves is one of my enduring favorites. I bought the DVD!

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    In my view, the best performance ever by a movie actress is Jennifer Jones's Academy Award winning performance as Bernadette Subirous in the movie that tells the true story of how the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes that inspired the creation of the greatest Christian healing pilgrimage center the world has ever seen. The healing role of Mary's spring at Lourdes is even more inspiring to me because Dick, a skeptical member of my church, experienced a spectacular healing miracle by pouring water from the spring nearby the Virgin Mary's house at Ephesus on his badly arthritic knee with torn tendons. Dick thought the idea of a healing spring was rubbish, but poured it on his knee just to be polite to the women who saw him limping badly and urged him to try it. His orthopedic surgeon in Spokane later confirmed the miracle with various tests and an x-ray. The tendons were healed and the arthritis was gone! Watch "The Song of Bernadette" (1943) here:

    The Song of Bernadette -1943- 720p -BluRay - YouTube

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