Really? The Gospel According to Britney Spears?

CREATORS OF NEW MUSICAL DESCRIBE AS THE “BRITNEY SPEARS AND JESUS CHRIST MASH-UP.”

THE CREATOR OF A CONTROVERSIAL NEW MUSICAL DESCRIBES IT  AS  THE “BRITNEY SPEARS AND JESUS CHRIST MASH-UP.”

Patrick Blute is no Andrew Lloyd Webber. 

Webber was 23-years old when he famously staged the rock musical “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which debuted on Broadway in 1971. Blute, a 23-year-old ColumbiaUniversity grad, is the creator of  “Spears The Musical – The Gospel According to Britney,” for which there is a funders preview this week.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” was fairly faithful to the Gospel account of the last week in the earthly life of Christ before He went to be with the Father. It featured such notable songs as “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “Gethsemane,” and, of course, “Superstar,”with music by Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice.

‘The Gospel According Britney,’ on the other hand, is Blute’s twisted account of the greatest story ever told, which he conveys through the songs of Spears, including ‘Stronger,’ Crazy,’ ‘Lucky,’ and ‘One More Time.’

“These are Britney’s lyrics,” said Blute. “These are Britney’s lyrics. The Britney Spears you see is not Britney Spears. The Jesus Christ you read is no Jesus Christ. These are manifestations. Accounts through the media, through the words of followers, of friends, of foes, of villains, of heroes, of liars, of biases.’

Say what?

The tell-tale word Blute uses is “‘biases.”  The native of San Francisco – Sodom on the Pacific – perceives those of us who hold fast to traditional Christian values – like the sanctity of life and marriage strictly between man and woman – as foes. We are villains. We are liars. We are biased.

Blute prefers his own version of the Gospel, where anything goes, no matter how unGodly; where all are automatically absolved of sins – without confession, without repentance – by “the power of forgiveness.”

That’s not the Gospel to which true Christ followers subscribe, who are informed by the words of the Apostle Paul: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Blute is an idol worshipper who has made Britney his personal Jesus, like all too many of her 33.6 million Twitter followers.

He no doubt hopes his bizarre, sacrilegious tribute to Britney will somehow endear him to the pop star – because she is gay friendly. But he may very well find that just the opposite occurs – not the least because Blute has appropriated his idol’s copyrighted music without permission or payment.

And young Miss Spears may also be offended that Blute has used her work to mock the Gospel she grew up with as a Southern Baptist. For while she may have fallen away in recent years from the faith of her youth, the Holy Spirit still resides within her.

Yet Another So-Called Reality Show Mocks Christians

PASTOR JAY HAIZLIF AND WIFE CHRISTY GO HOLLYWOOD AT THE PREMIERE OF 'PASTORS OF L.A..'

PASTOR JAY HAIZLIF AND WIFE CHRISTY GO HOLLYWOOD AT THE PREMIERE OF ‘PASTORS OF L.A..’

First came “The Sisterhood,” a supposed Christian reality show, which debuted this past January on TLC network. It was advertised as “a candid look into the lives” of five Atlanta preachers’ wives who “aren’t your typical church ladies,” TLC teased.

Indeed, these pastors’ wives were very much in touch with their sexuality, as they explored such topics as pornography and masturbation. They also “kept it real” when talking about getting high, with one of the wives telling her fellow “first ladies” about her crack smoking. And they burnished their “street cred” by getting tatted up.

Then came “Preachers’ Daughters,” another supposed Christian reality show, which launched on Lifetime TV this past March. “God made the world in seven days,” said a promo. “Moses parted the Red Sea. But if these preachers can control their teen-age daughters, it would really be a miracle.”

That included Taylor, the rebellious teen-age daughter of a Lockport, Illinois pastor. She’d sneak out the house, make out with boys and yield to who knows to what other temptations. Indeed, she confessed, “My alter ego kind of wants to be a porn star.”

Now we have yet another supposed Christian reality show on cable – “Preachers of L.A.,” which premiered this month on Oxygen.

It offers “a rare glimpse into the lives of six high-profile pastors from Los Angeles,” who are “Living the God Life,” according to Oxygen, which apparently includes multi-million dollar homes, private jets, luxury cars, designer clothes and expensive jewelry.

“P. Diddy, Jay-Z. They’re not the only ones who should be driving Ferraris and living in nice houses,” says Bishop Ron Gibson, pastor of Life Church of God in Christ in Riverside, California (not L.A.), purveyor of the so-called “prosperity gospel.”

Then there’s Minister Deitrick Haddon, who pastored a Detroit church before moving to L.A. to further his career as a gospel singer. In 2012, Haddon parted ways with his wife of nearly 15 years, Damita, amid rumors of adultery, which were confirmed when the pastor’s mistress gave birth to their love child.

“I met this young woman, Dominique, and I fell in love with her,” Minister Dietrick explained on the first episode of “Preachers of L.A.”

When he found out he had gotten his mistress pregnant, the pastor remembers thinking, “Oh my God, my career is over.” He knew, he said, “it was going to look scandalous because I have a young lady pregnant out of wedlock when my divorce is not final.”

Yet, that didn’t stop Minister Dietrick from performing a “comeback” concert on Oxygen’s surreal Christian reality show.

And none of Hadden’s fellow “Pastors of L.A.” was more willing to overlook his lust of the eyes, lust of flesh and pride of life than Pastor Jay Haizlip, spiritual leader of the Sanctuary Church in Huntington Beach, California (not L.A.), who enjoyed the concert with his wife Christy.

“I loved how they were just crunking up there,” said Christy, getting her groove on. “It was just phenomenal.”

We’ll have to wait until a future episode to see what Pastor Jay and wife Christy think of Minister Dietrich’s nude “selfie,” which was released last week by yet another woman of ill repute who enabled the minister’s serial adultery.

Meanwhile, Pastor Jay’s ministry has issues of its own. In a recent episode of “Preachers of L.A.,” he’s approached by a former church member, April, who has undergone a sex change operation since he last saw her. 

Pastor Jay didn’t  want to tell her straight up that she has committed an abomination in the eyes of God and that she should pray for forgiveness. So, instead, he asks the transsexual how he can help. And the former April responds, “You can call me David,” to which Pastor Jay, no stand up man of God, all too willingly acquiesced.

The execs at TLC, Lifetime and Oxygen who green-lighted, respectively, “The Sisterhood,” “Preachers’ Daughters” and “Preachers’ of L.A.” are insidious, maintaining that the intention they had in airing those reality shows – which most Christ followers almost certainly would find outrageous – was only to entertain their viewers.

But their real motive is to mock Christianity by portraying as somehow representative of the faith high-living preachers, oversexed, drug-abusing, tatted up preachers’ wives, hell-raising preachers’ kids, and gender-confused church members.

God Shows Up Even on Television

ACTRESS COURTNEY COX NARRATED A DOCUMENTARY REFLECTING THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF 'LIFE BEFORE BIRTH.'

ACTRESS COURTNEY COX NARRATED A DOCUMENTARY REFLECTING THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF ‘LIFE BEFORE BIRTH.’

Not long after his appointment as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Newton Minow famously delivered a keynote speech at the annual convention of the National Association of Broadcasters.

He challenged the television executives gathered in the convention hall “to sit down in front of your own television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you.

Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off,“ he said. “I can assure that what you will observe is a vast wasteland. You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons.”

Minnow spoke those words all the way back in 1961. And since then, television has become an even more vast wasteland.

Indeed, the game shows of yesteryear have been supplanted by reality shows that celebrate decadence and depravity, like E! network’s “Keeping Up With the Kardasians,” whose star, Kim, is know for her explicit sex tape, her 72-day marriage to a pro jock, and her recent out-of-wedlock birth to a daughter whom she cleverly named North (because her baby’s father’s surname is West. Get it?). 

The formula comedies about totally unbelievable families have given way today to sitcoms glorifying dubious families like the homosexual couple with an adopted child on NBC’s “The New Normal.”

The blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism and murder that appeared on the small screen in 1961 has been ramped up a half-century later with such popular shows as AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” Showtime’s “Dexter,” CBS’ “Criminal Minds” and Fox’s “The Following.”

And the benign cartoons of a generation ago have been replaced with today’s decidedly unwholesome cartoons, like FOX’s “Family Guy,” which regularly caricaturizes both God and the Son of God in the most offensive ways.

Yet, the Christian faithful should not entirely despair of what appears on television. Because the Lord often shows up on TV, when and where least expected. And His light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.

We’re not referring here to Christian television, like Trinity Broadcasting Network, Christian Broadcasting Network or Daystar.

We’re not talking about the television ministries of such pastors as Joel Osteen, John Hagee, David Jeremiah and Charles Stanley.

Nor about programming specifically targeting people of faith, like “The Bible,” the miniseries produced by the Christian couple Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, which  aired on “History” channel this past spring.

No, what we’re talking about are the instances when God shows up on mainstream TV. When He sends a shout-out to a television audience that is not expecting Him; when He reveals his ominpresence those with eyes to see, and ears to hear.

Like last week, when ABC’s “Good Morning America” aired a segment on Leon Harris, longtime news anchor at the network’s local affiliate in Washington, D.C., who recounted his recent near-death experience.

“On two days,” said Harris, “I died,” only to be miraculously revived by an otherworldly force. “God kicked my butt out of heaven twice,” Harris told Claire Shipman, who interviewed him for GMA. “So,” he said, “I’m supposed to be here.”

God similarly showed up unexpectedly last week on the season finale of “Jungle Gold,” the reality show that airs on the Discovery Channel. The show chronicled the travails of George Wright and Scott Lomu, who left their homes in Utah to mine for gold in the African nation of Ghana.

They stuck a deal with Dave Thomas, a British expatriot, who makes Ghana his home and somehow controls the rights to 70 square miles of prime gold-bearing ground in the country’s Ashanti region.

The way Thomas was portrayed on the show made it appear he was trying to take advantage of the Yanks to enrich himself (notwithstanding that Thomas agreed to give  Wright and Lomu a 70 percent split of a gold stake worth an estimated at $2.5 million).

Not until the season finale did we learn that Thomas is a man of faith; that he and his wife have planted a church in the Ghana town of Accra; and that he plans to use the money gleaned from gold mining to grow the ministry to the glory of God.

The Almighty seems to have a thing for the Discovery Channel. Because the network recently re-aired the documentary, “Life Before Birth,” narrated by actress Courtney Cox.

“The journey from conception to birth is miraculous and mysterious,” said Cox, who may be a Hollywood liberal, but sounded very much like a pro-life conservative in the film.

Indeed, she said, a mere two weeks after conception, “miraculous changes have taken place. The embryos are developing the germ of a brain and a spinal cord. And, just a few days later, a tiny heart, no bigger than a poppy seed, begins to beat.”

That the actress used such words as “miraculous,” and such New Testament references as “poppy seed,” suggests that she secretly shares common cause with Christians who believe that life begins at conception.

Many others who appear on television are unabashed in their promotion of the Gospel.

Like the kids on season 7 of FOX’s “American Idol,” who delivered a powerful rendition of the well-know praise and worship song “Shout to the Lord.” Like Nik Wallenda, who tight-roped across Niagra Falls, calling upon the name of the Lord the entire way. And like Phil Robertson, patriarch of Louisiana family that stars in A&E’s “Duck Dynasty,” who pays homage to the Lord before every on-screen family meal.

Who knows? God just might show up on TV this evening at the Miss America Pageant. We understand that Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, is not just the first contestant to publicly display a tattoo, she also has publicly professed that she is a Christian. 

Wouldn’t it be something if she turned out to be a pageant finalist?

‘Duck Dynasty’ Star Phil Robertson a Stand-up Christian

PHIL ROBERTSON SEEMS AN UNLIKELY MESSENGER OF THE GOSPEL.

PHIL ROBERTSON SEEMS AN UNLIKELY MESSENGER OF THE GOSPEL.

I’d heard rumors that Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Louisiana family that stars in the hit TV show “Duck Dynasty,” was a faithful Christ follower.

I confess I wasn’t convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. Not the least because there is always hearsay about this celebrity or that public figure, which, upon close scrutiny, turns out to be fiction.

(Indeed, it’s often been said that Barack Obama is a Christian. But no true Christ follower would undermine the institution of marriage, as Obama has. And only a false-hearted Christian, like Obama, would pledge allegiance to America’s unGodly abortion-industrial complex.).

Anyway, I went to see Robertson in person last weekend, to hear his testimony for myself. And after listening intently to his message, I am persuaded the anointing of God truly is upon him.

Robertson told a church congregation that he was unsaved when he famously invented the Duck Commander Duck Call back in 1973; that he was wasting his substance with riotous living.

Hard drinking. Whoremongering.

Indeed, a handsome young man, a college football quarterback – who actually played in front of Terry Bradshaw at Louisiana Tech – he would often meet a woman in some bar or another and tell her, “I think I love you. Now take off your britches.”

Then Robertson experienced a game-changing event in his young life. “I heard the good news of Jesus Christ,” he testified. And after stumbling along in darkness, he said, he finally saw the light.

He realized, “The devil had me by the throat and I didn’t even know it.”

And he spoke the truth – with love – to the unsaved souls in the congregation, many of whom wore camouflage in the Duck Commander’s honor. “You can run sex, drugs and rock and roll for a little while,” but there eventually is a price to pay.

He urged them to turn to the Lord, Who will forgive them their sins and cleanse them of all unrighteousness.

“The rarest commodity in the world is peace of mind,” said Robertson. “And you can only find that through Jesus Christ.”

What I found most disarming about Robertson’s testimony was his humility. “Don’t glorify me,” said the co-star of the A&E channel’s most popular show (which reached 9.6 million viewers for the final episode of its most recent season).

To God be the glory.

And Robertson has proven that he is not ashamed of the gospel, no matter how much fame and fortune “Duck Dynasty” has brought him.

Indeed, he confided that the producers of his A&E show took him aside at one point and asked if he would stop invoking the name of the Lord when the family prayed over supper. They worried that some of the show’s non-Christian viewers might be offended.

Well, after the chat with his producers, Robertson once again led his family in saying grace. “Lord,” he prayed, “give them (the show’s producers) the sense to repent before you burn them.”

That’s what I call a stand-up Christian. And I pray continued blessings upon Phil Robertson and his wonderful family.

Is Jay Z as Famous as God?

NEW YORK “CONCEPT BAND,” THE LABIANCAS, PROCLAIMS CHARLES MANSON AS JESUS CHRIST.

NEW YORK “CONCEPT BAND,” THE LABIANCAS, PROCLAIMS CHARLES MANSON AS JESUS CHRIST.

I’m not a rap fan. But I know who Jay-Z is.

He’s sold 50 million CDs. He’s won 17 Grammy Awards. He has a net worth of $500 million, according to Forbes magazine. And, oh yes, he’s married to Beyoncé, Billboard’s top female artist of the 2000s.

So, Jay Z just “dropped” his latest CD, “Magna Carta…Holy Grail.” Magna Carta is a play on the rapper’s real name, Shawn Carter. Holy Grail? Well, that’s where Jay Z offends this Christ follower’s sensibilities.

A review of the rap star’s 12th studio album appears in the latest issue of Rolling Stone.  I would never have seen it or read it (I’m not a fan of Jann Wenner’s magazine, with its extreme liberal world view of not only popular culture, but also politics) except it was prominently featured on the landing page for Google news.

“Jay Z is richer than God,” Rolling Stone declared, “and probably about as famous.”

And the rapper, who sometimes refers to himself as HOVA (as in Jehovah), appears to believe the blasphemy; seems to think he descended from heaven.

And he’s not the only pop star suffering delusions of deism.

Just last month, rapper Kanye West (known by cross-over audiences as Kim Kardasian’s “baby daddy”) released his latest CD, titled “Yeezus.” The album is no tribute to the son of the Most High, but to the rapper himself.

In fact, he pre-released a track from his album titled “I Am A God.” I suspect he only added “A” to the song’s title at the behest of his record label (which was no doubt fearful the rapper would ignite protests from the evangelical community).

Then there’s pop icon David Bowie, who released his comeback CD in May. In his music video for “The Next Day,” the title song for the album, Bowie plays Jesus, attending an orgiastic party with prostitutes and other attendees engaging in blood play.

Now some may think the blasphemies of Jay Z, Kanye West, David Bowie and other musical “artists” innocuous. They may think the Christian faithful ought not trouble itself about it.

But I believe that’s what the ruler of this world – as the authentic Jesus referred to our enemy, the devil – wants us to think. The evil one uses secular music, produced by popular artists like Jay Z, Kanye West and David Bowie, to corrupt young and impressionable minds.

To make false gods of mortal men.

Indeed, a “concept band” calling itself the LaBiancas released a single last year titled “Charles Manson is Jesus Christ.” It was a musical tribute to Manson, whose disciples carried out as many as 35 murders, including Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, is available on iTunes, the band’s record label reminds.

Then there’s Paris Jackson, daughter of the late “King of Pop,” who said this past May “Kurt Cobain is Jesus.” That she dared to liken Cobain (who fronted the grunge rock group Nirvana, who blew his brains out in 1994) to the son of God proves the teen has no relationship with the Lord. And that may explain why she was so overcome with despair last month she tried to commit suicide.

The devil has thoroughly infiltrated the popular culture, using music, among other forms of entertainment, to corrupt the young and impressionable.

Through the music of such artists as Jay Z, Kanye West and David Bowie the enemy of humanity promulgates the falsehood that God, that Jesus, that the Holy Sprit may be blasphemed with impunity.

But the word of God warns that those who believe the devil’s lie have hell to pay.

Are Most ‘Preachers’ Daughters’ Hot-to-Trot Lolitas?

EVANGELIST NIKITA KOLOFF AND DAUGHTER KOLBY APPEAR IN NEW LIFETIME TV REALITY SHOW.

EVANGELIST NIKITA KOLOFF AND 16-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER KOLBY APPEAR IN NEW LIFETIME TV REALITY SHOW.

So I was looking over the wife’s shoulder while she was watching “Project Runway” on Lifetime TV. During a commercial break, Lifetime aired a promo for a new show that debuts tonight. 

The promo begins with the familiar Aretha Franklin tune, “I Say a Little Prayer,” playing in the background.

A young woman, looking like she works for some sort of escort service, is getting dressed. She oh-so-sexily applies her lipstick and mascara before teasingly stroking her hair.

She surveys a rack of clothes before deciding upon a dress that looks very much like lingerie. She puts on a pair of suede high heeled pumps then walks down a flight of stairs (in slow motion, of course).

I thought the promo was for some spin-off of “The Client List,” the Lifetime series starring Jennifer Love Hewitt as a lovable housewife-next-door turned high-priced escort.

But, in fact, it was for a new Lifetime reality show – “Preachers’ Daughters” – that most Christians, I suspect, will find offensive. Not the least because it promises viewers that the series will “raise some hell.”

“Preachers’ Daughters” features three families, headed by pastors, with teen-age daughters. Each episode, according to Lifetime, offers “a hard-hitting but often humorous look at the lives of these pastors’ daughters as they balance the temptations every teen-ager faces with their parents’ strict expectations and code of conduct as influenced by their faith.”

Of course, the problem with putative “reality” shows is that they present a decidedly distorted picture of reality. And so it is with “Preachers’ Daughters.”

Olivia, the 18-year-old daughter of Mark Perry, pastor of Everyday Church in Oceano, California, spent her high school years partying hard, abusing drugs and alcohol. She got pregnant and, so promiscuous was she, she didn’t even know who her baby’s father was.

Taylor, the teen-aged daughter of Ken Coleman, pastor of City of Refuge Pentecostal Church in Lockport, Illinois, rebels against the rules set down by her dad, sneaking out of the house, kissing boys and yielding to temptation. Taylor says “my alter ego kind of wants to be a porn star.”

Then there’s Kolby, the 16-year-old daughter of Nikita Koloff, a former professional wrestler who makes the family’s home in Spring Hill, Tennessee but is now a traveling evangelist. Kolby’s mom Victoria, who is divorced from her dad Nikita, happens to be a preacher herself, hosting a faith-based radio program. Teen-aged Kolby complains that before every guy she dates, “my mom has to interrogate him.”

“God made the world in seven days,” says Lifetime’s promo for “Preachers’ Daughters.” “Moses parted the Red Sea. But if these preachers can control their teen-age daughters, it would really be a miracle.”

Well, I know that there are some teen-aged pastor’s daughters that drink, that abuse drugs, that are unwed moms. I imagine there are a few here and there that get caught up in the sex business, perhaps even becoming porn stars. And I accept that there may be a few reared in broken homes, where dad and mom, both pastors, are divorced.

But that’s not the reality of most preachers’ daughters. In fact, most are well-adjusted. Most are respectful of their parents. And most take seriously their Christian walk.

I know this not only from following the activities of Christian youth, including PKs (preachers’ kids), but also from first-hand experience. Because I grew up with two God-loving, self-respecting sisters who are preachers’ daughters.

Hollywood Christian Couple Brings “The Bible” to TV

MARK BURNETT AND ROMA DOWNEY VISITED SADDLEBACK CHURCH YESTERDAY WHERE THEY PREVIEWED THEIR NEW MINISERIES, 'THE BIBLE.'

MARK BURNETT AND ROMA DOWNEY VISITED SADDLEBACK CHURCH YESTERDAY WHERE THEY PREVIEWED THEIR NEW MINISERIES, ‘THE BIBLE.’

My wife and I enjoyed a special blessing yesterday. We sat in the front row at Saddleback Church in SoCal where Pastor Rick Warren played host to Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, husband and wife producers of the new ten-part miniseries, “The Bible,” which premiers tonight on the History Channel.

Mark has brought such well-known reality shows to television as “Survivor,” “Celebrity Apprentice,” “The Voice,” “The Job” and “Shark Tank.” Roma is best known for her role as Monica, on the popular television series “Touched by an Angel.”

Many, I imagine, had an inkling that Roma might be a Christian. After all, she played an angel – lovingly and joyfully so – for the better part of a decade. But hardly anyone suspected Mark of being a Christ follower. I know I didn’t.

Mark and Roma told the Saddleback faithful yesterday that they believe they were called by the Lord to bring “The Bible” to the small screen. To shine a light in dark places, said Mark. To share the Good News of Jesus Christ, said Roma.

Pastor Rick is convinced that the miniseries, two parts of which will air every Sunday between now and Easter, will prove as epic as “Roots,” the eight-part miniseries that aired in 1977, that won nine Emmy Awards and remains today the third-highest rated television program in U.S. history.

“The Bible” is, arguably, the most ambitious cinematic adoption of the Good Book in Hollywood history.

More so than “The Ten Commandments,” Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 retelling of the book of Exodus, in which the estimable Charlton Heston starred as Moses (and also happened to provide the voice of the Burning Bush).

More than “Ben Hur,” the 1959 epic directed by William Wyler and also starring Charlton Heston, which won a record 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture (an achievement unmatched until “Titanic” in 2007).

More than “King of Kings,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” “Jesus of Nazareth” and “The Passion of the Christ,” all of  which painted, in their own way, powerful cinematic portraits of the Messiah.

That’s because Mark and Roma’s labor of love does not cover a single period of Bible history, but brings to the small screen the stories of both the Old Testament and New Testament, from Genesis to Revelation.

The husband and wife producers do not retell all 66 books of the Bible. (I’m sure they would lose much of their audience if they devoted, say, an hour to the retelling of the book of Numbers).

Instead, their narrative was driven by the stories of the Bible’s major figures, showing how the arc of Biblical history ultimately led to the arrival of Christ the Lord, whose life, death and resurrection gave meaning to everything that came before Him and everything that has followed.

Mark and Roma caution that their miniseries is not a documentary. It takes some artistic license. For instance, it refers to Simon Peter simply as Peter. And to Saul of Tarsus as Paul, before his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Those minor details in no way detract from “The Bible.” In fact, it probably makes the ten-parter more accessible to those who do as yet count themselves as Christians, who are not intimately familiar with Scripture.

Among the many stories Mark and Roma shared yesterday about the making of “The Bible,” the one that filled me with the Spirit concerned their filming of a scene involving the actors playing Jesus and Nicodemus. It occurred on a still night in the Morocco desert, without a breath of wind.

Jesus, played by actor Diego Morgado, explains to Nicodemus, played by actor Simon Kunz, that he must be “born again.” By that, says Jesus, He is not speaking of physical rebirth, but spiritual. And he likens the Holy Spirit to the wind. It blows where it pleases. No one knows where it comes from or where it is going.

At that very moment in the filming, a sustained wind blue through the set, as if on cue. Mark and Roma felt it was supernatural.

Roma said that it brought to mind some of the occurrences that took place during the nine seasons she appeared on “Touched by an Angel.” She and her fellow cast members used to say “Coincidences are God’s way of staying anonymous.”

Well, I think it no coincidence that Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, Hollywood’s leading Christian couple, have brought “The Bible” to television. I believe God chose them for this Kingdom building work for such a time as this.

Who Knew ‘Les Misérables’ Had a Christian Message?

PORTRAIT OF ‘COSETTE,’ FROM THE ORIGINAL EDITION OF VICTOR HUGO’S  1862 MASTERPIECE ‘LES MISÉRABLES.'

PORTRAIT OF ‘COSETTE,’ FROM THE ORIGINAL EDITION OF VICTOR HUGO’S 1862 MASTERPIECE ‘LES MISÉRABLES.’

I first caught the musical “Les Misérables” back in 1987, when it made its U.S. debut on Broadway. My lasting memory of the Tony Award winning production, which enjoyed the third-longest run on the Great White Way after “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera,” is that much of the audience wept through Act II.

As “Les Miserables” appears this holiday season on movie screens throughout the country, featuring the vocal talents of actors Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried, among others, I now think the musical decidedly spiritual entertainment.

It’s not that “Les Miz” has changed since it moved from stage to screen; that the storyline, which is based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel, has been reworked to appeal to Christian evangelicals, in a crass Hollywood attempt to capture the movie-going audience that made Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” a box office sensation.

No, what has changed in the 25 years since I saw “Les Miz” on Broadway is that I am today a “re-born” again Christian. Indeed, in my young adult years, I ventured away from the faith life of my childhood and early adolescence. But after getting married just before the turn of the millennium, I restarted my walk with the Lord.

I see in the story of Jean Valjean, the hero of “Les Miz,” a journey of redemption with which all of us can identify who have strayed from The Way, only to be rescued from our sin-sick lives by Christ, our Savior.

After his parole from prison, to which he originally was sentenced for stealing bread for his starving sister and her family, Valjean is provided food and shelter by a kindly bishop. The ex-con returns the kindness by stealing the bishop’s silver.

Valjean is caught by the authorities and brought before the bishop. But rather than confirm the ex-con’s theft, the bishop tells the authorities he gifted the silver to Valjean.

That act of Christ-like grace persuades Valjean to become an upright man. So he changes his identity and starts a new life, eventually building a successful business and even ascending to mayor of the town in which he leads an exceedingly abundant life.

But that is not the end of the story. Valjean does not live happily after. As every Christ follower knows, just because we are born – or re-born – again does not mean there will not be times that try our souls.

In Valjean’s case, when he changed his identity, when he began his life anew, he violated his parole. He was hunted through the years by a determined police inspector, Javert, who vowed to find and re-imprison Valjean.

As it happens, Valjean learns that a man believed to be him has been arrested. It presents an opportunity to “M’sieur le Mayor” to be free of Javert once and for all. It is the kind of snare Satan often sets before us to get us to fall away from our Christian principles.

Valjean struggles with what to do.

“Who am I?” he asks himself, in one of the best-known musical numbers from “Les Miz.” “Can I condemn this man to slavery? Pretend I do no feel his agony? … Must I lie? How can I ever face my fellow men?  How can I ever face myself again?”

In the end, Valjean makes the hard choice; the right choice.

“My soul,” he sings, “belongs to God, I know. I made that bargain long ago. He gave me hope when hope was gone. He gave me strength to carry on.”

So what else could he do? Valjean revealed his true identity, saving an innocent man from wrongful imprisonment.

Valjean’s act of self-sacrifice was extraordinary. But to those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, the extraordinary is made ordinary.

PSY’s Lyrics Spit on the Graves of America’s War Dead

KOREAN POP STAR’S APOLOGY FOR ANTI-AMERICAN LYRICS RINGS HOLLOW.

KOREAN POP STAR’S APOLOGY FOR ANTI-AMERICAN LYRICS RINGS HOLLOW.

My son has been deployed overseas the past two years. My wife and I pray every day for his safety and for the safety of all of America’s sons and daughters serving in the nation’s military.

That’s why I find offensive the music video in which Korean pop star PSY appeared in which he wished death upon our men and women in uniform. Like my 23-year-old son, the only child with which my wife and I have been blessed.

It’s also why I am angry that PSY has not been disinvited to an upcoming Christmas concert for President Obama, whom, I have repeatedly reminded my son, must be respected – notwithstanding his policies – because he is the nation’s duly-elected commander-in-chief.

I understand that PSY has apologized for adding his voice to a supposed “protest” song, “Dear American,” which included lyrics urging: “Kill those f***ing Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives…  Kill their daughters, mother, daughters-in-law and brothers. Kill them all painfully and slowly.”

But I believe the Korean truly meant what he sang. For the Bible advises, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Or, in the case of Mr. Gangnam Style, the mouth sings.

Meanwhile, President Obama has uttered not a word in condemnation of Psy’s anti-America rant, which sounded very much like the kind of chilling declarations heard from the late Osama bin Laden. The White House did, however, issue a statement saying that its not up to them who performs for the president and his family.

Such a cop out is a profound insult to America’s military families. Especially to the families of the more than 6,000 service men and women who died in honorable service to this country since 2004, when PSY was on a Korean stage urging that U.S. military personnel be killed.

PSY cannot walk back his remarks. He said it. He meant it. And not until the emergence of video of the Korean singing for death to the f***ing Yankees – gangnam style – did Mr. 700 million YouTube hits finally repudiate those hateful remarks.

If President Obama appears at a concert at which PSY performs, he will confirm his contempt for the men and women who every day put their lives on the line in defense of their country.

I will no longer be able to tell my military son that the nation’s commander-in-chief deserves his respect.

Can an Adult Film Actress Truly Be Religious?

SHELLEY LUBBEN, THE FORMER PORN ACTRESS, THE BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN, FOUNDED ‘PINK CROSS.’

There have been several supposedly “scientific” studies published this year that either disparaged people of faith or insidiously mocked religion.

That includes a study, published in the journal Science, which asserted that people who believe in God are not analytical thinkers.

There also was a study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, which claimed that “highly religious” folk are less compassionate toward the needy than atheists.

Now comes yet another study, published this week in the Journal of Sex Research, which claims that adult film actresses are actually more religious than women who don’t get paid to have sex on camera.

“In terms of psychological characteristics,” the study’s five co-authors concluded, “porn actresses had higher levels of…spirituality compared to the matched group.”

This dubious study would be unworthy of comment except that it has gotten a lot of media coverage.  It pretends to be scholarly research. But it’s nothing more than junk science.

Indeed, for those who blindly accept its findings, it leads to the absurd conclusion that there is some sort of link between sexual depravity and religiosity.

Uncritical thinkers could come away with the cockeyed notion that, just because a woman is sexually depraved – because she is a stripper or a prostitute or a porn actress – doesn’t mean she isn’t a woman of faith. Doesn’t mean she doesn’t love the Lord.

The authors of the Journal of Sex Research study argue that their findings disprove the “damaged goods hypothesis” with respect to “female performers in the adult entertainment industry.”

But close examination of the study’s methodology reveal obvious flaws that skew its findings.

It relied on the self-reporting of 177 porn actresses who responded to an advertisement posted at a Los Angeles health clinic, which was founded by a retired porn actress, and which catered to the adult film industry (before it was shut down last year by the L.A. County Health Department).

Apparently, it did not occur to the study’s authors that self-delusional porn actresses might misrepresent themselves as well-adjusted.

Might claim to have higher self-esteem, more positive  feelings about themselves, a better support system, a more satisfying sex life and even a closer relationship with the Lord than women who don’t defile themselves for all the world to see.

The reality is that the 177 porn actresses who responded to the survey on which the study published in the Journal of Sex Research was based are indeed damaged goods.

And there is no better authority on the subject than Shelley Lubben, a former porn actress and born-again Christian. She is currently the Executive Director of the Pink Cross Foundation, a faith-based organization that reaches out to women caught up in the adult film industry.

The pornography business destroys body and soul, Lubben attests. Many porn actresses battle alcohol and drug abuse. They perform sex acts that are physically harmful and psychologically traumatizing. They contract sexually transmitted diseases.

There is a way for porn actresses to avoid that almost certain fate – give their lives to Christ. For whom the Son sets free is free indeed.

%d bloggers like this: