Sunday, March 1, 2009

Fireproof: Probably The Stupidest Movie I've Seen Yet

My housemates like to rent and watch movies a lot. I'm not so much of a movie fanatic, but on occasion I do enjoy playing computer games while their movie is playing in the background. Since they watch a lot of movies, a few turn out to be terrible. The latest movie they watched was called Fireproof, and I hadn't heard of it before.


Oh Fireproof, I wish I had known what I was getting into. The movie started out with a couple in the throes of emotionally abusing each other, and continued for an uncomfortably long amount of time while they hurled the most spiteful, bitter insults at each other. The husband acted like a demanding douchebag, and the woman like a needy bitch.

The worst part watching was how obviously avoidable or trivial their fights were - oh no you ate the last bagel, oh no you look at porn. It's pretty clear that all they needed to do was show some basic respect and consideration for each other and their fights would have been nonexistent, or at least handled rationally. At the climax of the dysfunctional marriage fight, the guy ends up getting so heated, he visibly frightens the wife who then claims she "wants out". He takes out his frustration by attacking the garbage can, so we know this gem of a husband has anger issues too.

We are then introduced to the work buddy black best friend who has a fantastic relationship with his black wife (no racial intermingling here!). After a near-death rescue experience the black friend says he's not worried about death because "he knows where he's going", but just didn't want to get there from a train. Excuse me, but why? Why not go to heaven and live it up? I love how they knew about the dissonance there: the guy fighting to stay alive but still knowing he will go to heaven, and they try to use a one-liner to cover it up. 'Because you don't want to get there by a train' seems like a pretty lousy excuse not to go to the most amazing place in all creation. Great job masking that dissonance, fellas.

Anyway, the near-death experience was just a plot device to ask our protagonist what he thinks will happen after he dies, and he's not sure. A perfect, moldable target. Another firefighter guy says he's sure that he will go down into the ground and that's it. The husband asks the atheist, "Yeah, but how are you sure? One of you guys is right, and I don't know, he [the Christian] seems like he's for real." After that unbelievably terrible rendering of Pascal's Wager, and the atheist's non-response, I perked up from my games and knew something was up.

No self-respecting atheist would let that one slide. I realized immediately that this might be a Christian propaganda movie, and dropped my game and started furiously taking notes. I didn't remember what Cameron looked like, and had I known Kirk Cameron was the protagonist, I would have started taking notes immediately. Looking back, I should have recognized him by his acting skills.

We then cut to another firefighing buddy offering Cameron advice. He takes a salt and pepper shaker and glues them together in a representative bond of holy matrimony. His analogy works because, "salt and pepper are so different, but you always find them together." By now I am floored at the sexism of this movie. Men and women are different but if you force them to stay together with glue, it makes it fantastic! I wondered if that made for a marriage, then what's a big box of salt, a gay orgy? And could two pepper shakers get glued together?

Earlier in the movie they showed a cut scene of the men and women discussing the breakup fight - he's so insensitive, she's hypersensitive, he's too messy, she's too neat. Could this movie have gotten any more gender stereotypical? What about a little androgyny, please! The other work buddy then informs Cameron that his wedding ring is a symbol of a life-long covenant with God. Which might convince someone who believed in god.

Cameron then meets with his dad, a smarmy aging Christian who is always sitting in front of a phone waiting for his son to call (sometimes his mom is equally creepy sitting slightly off-camera eavesdropping on the conversation). He tells his dad his relationship's in trouble, and rebuffs any advice from his mom because he's a sexist prick and she's an enemy girl who doesn't understand. The dad makes the husband wait for 40 days (how Biblical!) before getting a divorce. Cameron gets a book with tidbits of daily advice to try and save his failed marriage.

They only gave us a few days of the actual advice - don't say mean stuff to your partner, make little gestures of love, invest time and effort and money into your partner, get to know your partner and ask about your partner's day. All fantastic advice, but there are much better sources than the bible. Take Gottman, a mathematician-turned psychologist who turned a scientific rational eye to relationships. He's studied this stuff and come up with rational and scientifically sound advice. Since we are only given about 4 or 5 days worth of advice based on biblical passages, let me fill in a few more days with biblical relationship advice, since Fireproof seems to have chosen only bits of advice that jive with the sort of answers boring old science has come up with.

Wives should submit to their husbands so Cameron should just demand his due respect as head of the house.

He should also remember to wife to the preacher and make her eat dirt-water after learning about the doctor (to be exposed!), and recall not to sit on anything his wife sat on when she has her period. Perhaps he should take a second wife that will treat him better and make her jealous, or he could always claim she was not a virgin and get her stoned to death.

Don't forget also if he just abandons his wife he will get everlasting glory in heaven.

After that, the wife starts chatting up a nice, handsome doctor at her job, oh no! She might find someone who has similar long-term goals and interests and treats her well. The whole doctor angle gets fleshed out later when he horribly expresses concern, admiration and respect for her. His only crime is that he seems to genuinely care for her and like her. Clearly, this is a man who she should stay the hell away from if she ever hopes to have a meaningful, mutually-rewarding relationship. (Well, it is revealed he's married too, how convenient for the plot. I hesitate to think what their excuse would have been if he'd been single. Oh, wait, they reveal that too, his crime is hitting on a married woman, what a slut.)

She gets home and catches Cameron looking at porn on the Internet. First of all, I have to object to the placement of the computer: in the middle of a living room with an opening into the dining room. Arguably the most visible spot to put a computer ever. Good luck looking at porn and not getting caught. Second, he's not even masturbating, just making googly eyes. I guess to keep the movie PG-13, but still, sheesh. Third, what the hell is her problem with her husband looking at porn on the Internet? She goes so far as to say that he's "not honorable!". Maybe she should try it some time. I wrote down in my notes, "WHAT A PRUUUDDEEEE."

After a botched attempt at a fancy date, he takes a baseball slugger to the trash can, expanding on his anger issues yet again. Clearly, a man who thinks beating up on a trash can is an acceptable form of venting is a man worth keeping.

Then, when the guy's attempts to fix the relationship is at his lowest, his dad drives out to meet him and talk to him about Christ. I found this a fantastic analogy to the real life - you will get preached to you when you are at your most vulnerable, when you are willing to try anything that might help. They drive home the Christian message really hard here - if you accept Christ who's always forgiving no matter what, you will also become forgiving and be able to have a good marriage. It has my favorite cinematographic (if that's the right word) scene - the guy asks how he can forgive his wife, and the dad stands under a cross lit up with the light of the sun god. When Cameron gets saved, I love how they position the father and son to show both wedding bands prominently when they switch between shots. "God will save your marriage!" could not be shouted any louder here.

I've always thought that the highly-touted exceptionless-forgiving attitude was fantastic for people in emotionally or physically abusive relationships. Black eyes, broken bones? Told you're inferior and worthless? Just forgive your partner! He or she deserves unconditional respect and admiration!

After a heroic rescue and doctor drama, Cameron's at home again, on the Internet looking at boats, an established hobby. An ad pops up - "wanna see? Click here!" Adblock plus and firefox will take care of that little annoyance, I tell you. I think it leads to porn, but since they dance around it and never say the word porn, it's a bit hard to tell. Maybe the sexy girl in the photo wants to show him her enormous Jenga collection, maybe it's a rickroll. We will never know, because he flips out, gets up and emotionally beats himself for thinking about clicking on that link. With the help of the advice book, he decides not only to not click the link, but to take his computer outside and destroy it with a baseball bat.

I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty pissed if I came home to my family computer destroyed. What about important documents, games, or ability to check email at home? Let alone the fact that he could have sold or environmentally-correctly disposed of the computer? Or what about the ability to, I don't know, block popups, install kid filters, whatever! If you want to be a prude and force yourself not to look at people naked, don't throw the rest of the Internet out with the porn.

They play a shitty Christian rock song while there's a cut scene of the guy doing his own dishes, how thoughtful of him! She gets sick, and then he takes care of her - again preying on the weak. While he has been acting quite nice to her towards the end of the movie, anyone who's familiar with the cycle of violence knows why.



Often abusive people get into a cycle where they are abusive nearly to the point where their partner can't stand it, and they switch to being regretful and all loving and making up. The other person stays hoping that this new loving stage is there for good, but unfortunately it just gradually cycles back into abuse again. It can be very hard to escape the cycle because that loving stage is so appealing, and we feel so comfortable that it's easy to forgive the abusive stage. Interestingly, that's exactly the advice of this movie - to forgive as much as humanly possible and it will all get better. Fantastic.

Perhaps if marriage were not viewed as a covenant, if they were not starting with the conclusion that marriage above all else is desirable, they would have come to the more rational conclusion. Unfortunately, starting at the conclusion is the crux of Christian logic. Sometimes relationships should end. They allow both partners to make healthier decision in the future and will end the cycle of abuse. I hate movies where the message is to make it work no matter what, especially when the other person "is sorry" and "really means it". (Don't even get me started on the futility of marriage counseling - a feel-good exercise that only extends a bad marriage or simply fails altogether.)

The end of the movie reveals two things - first of all that the wife has noticed a change in the husband that she wants (it's Christianity!) and that Cameron was a sexist bastard, really using his mom's advice not his dad's. The dad knew he wouldn't accept it from the mom, so he pretended it was his own. Wow.

One thing I love about this movie, in true fundie fashion, is that even if the fantasy story actually happened, it would say nothing about if Christianity was true. The only evidence attempt they made about the existence of the god of the bible was the throwaway about Pascal's Wager. There was no rational evidence, no argument for god. Just a vague promise that reading a book will cure your marriage. Even if accepting Jesus saved your marriage, does that mean Jesus existed?

49 comments:

  1. Kirk Cameron should be barred from movies.

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  2. I was once a Christian so I know where Cameron is coming from and of course that is the problem with most Christians. They think that because it feels right it must be true.

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  3. www.fireproofresources.com

    Well, according to this website (and it's merchandise) that movie was a "box office smash". Who am I going to believe, some guy on the Internet or a bumper sticker?
    I'm so torn.

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  4. What if there is really a God???

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  5. He would have stopped Fireproof from ever being made.

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  6. "What if there is really a God???"

    Then there would be some evidence for his existence, and a lot less trolls.

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  7. How timely! One of my coworker's church is doing the Fireproof Your Marriage study group!

    You can see the first chapter of the study guide on outreach.com. The very first side-bar quote is from Katherine Hepburn -- really

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  8. "It's pretty clear that all they needed to do was show some basic respect and consideration for each other and their fights would have been nonexistent, or at least handled rationally."

    Holy crap! You just solved the divorce problem in this country!

    Man, and to think you idiots scream bloody murder when Christians dis the garbage that Hollywood produces year after year after year. I guess petty, childish payback must feel pretty good.

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  9. "They think that because it feels right it must be true."

    Um, no. That's not Christianity. That's liberalism.

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  10. Um, no. That's Bush style conservatism.

    "[You are] in what we call the reality-based community. [You] believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
    -- A Bush administration official sneering at the idea that you can "study" "reality"

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  11. I don't exactly know where I fit into this, but as part of a family group education offered in my community, my wife, myself, and the rest of the parents in our group watched Fireproof last night. I have to say, I thought it was a fantastic movie, and that has nothing to do with the religious message. To the person who wrote this article, I ask, "Are you, or have you ever been married?" Next month, my wife and I will have been married for 5 years, and though I have never struck her, if hitting a trash can with a baseball bat was the worst thing I ever did out of anger, I would probably be (blind your eyes, aetheist freaks) a saint. A marriage takes work, but whether you believe in god or not, it is a committment for life that should only be ended by 1 of 3 things: Death, Violence, or Adultery, and in the latter 2 cases, this should be a choice made freely by the "victim" spouse. To me, when people divorce for differences in opinion or personality, that's like saying "I promise to love you and stand by you, until death parts us, unless something goes wrong, and then I'm out." Does a promise still mean something, or has society "evolved" past that idea?

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  12. Alright, let's break this down. What's the purpose of a marriage? Why do we get married? While it seems a bit silly, a lot of life's most fundamental questions are answered by looking at silly questions.

    I'd say that the primary reason most people jump to would be "to raise a family!" That would be wrong. Who ever says, "I hate this guy or girl, but she/he's fertile so let's make babies". Similarly, people in infertile, post-menopausal, birth-control using, and same-sex marriages usually do not call it quits when no baby is forthcoming. Raising a family is something some married couples do, but not all.

    So, what is the purpose to marriage? I'd say it's the expression of the deepest form of love, admiration and commitment to a sexual partner. And I think that it can be a beautiful thing. But what happens when there is no more love, but instead hate, and bitterness and abuse and resentment? People can change and become abusive, or just straight-up fall out of love. Give me a reason why people who hate each other should force themselves to live with each other and erode at each other every single day.

    You mention a promise. I chuckle. You mentioned a promise to "love you and stand by you." What happens if you stop loving? Love is not an emotion you can control. I can no more force myself to love someone I don't, than to stop loving the partner I currently do. You are making a promise that you are not even certain you can keep.

    Let me ask you something, if you were to sign a contract with a company promising to always work for them, no matter what. A promise is a promise, right? Well, what if they change their policies and suddenly force you to work weekends, remove lunch breaks, cut back your salary, coworkers started sexually harassing you, or something else. Would you fulfill your contract and stay anyway? Even with the possibility of getting another, better job?

    And what about the 3 things you mentioned? Why are those exceptions? Isn't a promise a promise, no matter what? No matter the bruises, no matter the broken bones? Or, why is there indeed a case where you have to stick together "unless something goes wrong, and then I'm out" (I especially have a problem with death, won't it be awkward when you get remarried to meet up with your dead first wife in heaven?)

    You ask about my personal experience. I tell you, it would not matter if I were married happily 20 years, abused and abandoned after 3 years, dating, single or a shut-in nun. Facts are facts and data is data. I am just passing along what science - the collective experiences of the masses - has to say about marriage.

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  13. Maybe I'm taking it a little far, but to put marriage as you have, as a contract, then you answer your own question of the three reasons to end a marriage: breach of contract. A cold, factual, legal, atheist answer. When you marry, the vow, or contract, if you will is to love, honor, and cherish, (this clearly makes violence a breach) forsaking all others, (adultery covered), in sickness and in health, till death (death, check) do you part. So if I made a lifelong committment to work for a company, and then they changed the terms of the contract, they would then have violated the terms. I know you're going to go into the love aspect, and "what if you stop loving" argument, which is a circular argument. Marriage is not something that should ever be done on a whim, for the reason that you stated. If it is just infatuation, this is not difficult to figure out. If you truly love your partner, that feeling never truly goes away. Most divorcees will tell you that they still care for their former spouse. Suppose your spouse (assuming) became disabled, and suddenly required your full time attention. Do you walk away, do you turn your back on your life partner of years (assuming again) simply because it is inconvenient to be with them all of a sudden. If the answer is yes, than frankly the Caleb from the beginning of Fireproof doesn't sound so bad.

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  14. I don't know about where you live, but here in California the legal documents [PDF] that you sign binds you two to "being married". That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. It mentions nothing about love, caring for or anything else. A marriage is what you want it to be. I know very many people who have skipped the vows of 'til death, just as I'm sure you know of very many who have skipped the traditional "submit to his will and domination" There is no legal obligation to love your spouse forever, or at all.

    If you want to put those additional contracts into a marriage, they are religious (or personal) and not legally binding. Just like if I lose a bet and agree to be someone's slave for a day, there would be no legal obligation for me to clean their house naked, despite having agreed.

    Certainly divorcing a newly disabled spouse is a dick move, but what does that have to do with falling an abusive, unloving spouse? Indeed, let me put it this way. If you were the newly disabled, and your spouse never cared for you or offered kind words or helped you, but instead looked upon you as a burden (this is not death, adultery or violence), would you be obligated to stay with the uncaring spouse? What if they never spoke to you or looked at you or gave you a kind word or gesture?

    I have to ask, if you think that divorce is a violation of a legal contract, then what should the punishment be? When people break contracts, there are punishments. Should it be a misdemeanor? Jail time? Community service? Or will God just send you both to hell for falling out of love and acting on that?

    I am going to assume that you are a Christian. Would you care to explain the bits of relationship advice I've lined out up above that are from the bible? (Another list here.) Why are those not part of the Christian vows? Those are god's most specific words about marriage you can find.

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  15. Love? Hah. In the Bible, getting married is your penalty for raping your bride-to-be. (See Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

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  16. I think you misunderstand me. I'm not saying divorce should be a crime, just that people turn to divorce as an easy way out of a problem. There are legitimate reasons for divorce, but I believe it should be treated as a last resort, and not like a back door out of a house. And I'm not saying one should stay and die in a burning house, but in that metaphorical perspective, too many people are rushing out of the house when a window breaks, or a pipe leaks. We have become a "throw-away" society, that just gets something new when something of ours goes wrong or breaks, instead of fixing what we have. I agree that there does come a point when something is damaged beyond repair, but people make that call too early, and abandon what they have instead of maintaining it. As far as your biblical references, I believe most, if not all come from the old testament, which is essentially B.C.E. This was before Christianity even existed. Many things were generally accepted in society that are not today, including human sacrifice. You also mentioned that people can change for the worse, are you saying that this is a one way street, that a person connot change for the better? If this is true, than our hope as individuals, and as a society seem rather grim. Absolutely, a seemingly kind, compassionate spouse can turn abusive under certain conditions, but are you saying that a man (or a woman) who has resorted to verbal, and even physical abuse, is incapable of changing without continuing the cycle of abuse. If this is true, I can show you several examples of people who have done reprehensible things in the past who have sought to change themselves and make right what they have done. I know these people exist, because I am one of them. People can change for the worse, and we see so much more of this, because it gets ratings on TV and it sells papers. But people change for the better as well; it's a 2 way street, and 1 way gets as much traffic as the other.

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  17. I am a little curious, to go back to an earlier point, where you biblically get the 3 divorcable offenses of adultery, abuse and death. Where exactly in the bible are those listed? There are only two passages I know about that enable divorce - first from the old testament where you can get rid of your wife if she's not a virgin (Deuteronomy 22:13) and second from the new testament where Jesus promises that if your foresake your wife you will get everlasting life (Matthew 19:29).

    The old testament does mention adultery, but the punishment is stoning the offenders, not divorcing them. Since that's more old testament though, I'm sure you can't refer to it because that's the old covenant which has been replaced.

    It seems that you are just using your mind and coming up with what you believe to be a rational time for when you should get a divorce, unless you can point out the bible verses that exactly align with your specific beliefs. In that case, there is no difference between you and I, except that I have studied the psychology a human's ability to make long-term positive changes and have a greater grasp of how unlikely that is. I would not condemn others to a marginal possibility for happiness and contentment and love, but allow them to make their own decisions.

    While we are talking about the movie and the bible, did you catch that the black male friend got remarried? Clearly a no-no in the bible (1st Corinthians 7:27 - Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife).

    And I would like to say, if you consider acting out with physical violence against inanimate object to be "saintly" I am quite happy not to be your romantic partner. I thought you were joking, but now I think you are serious. Do you really have that short a temper and that little self-control? If so, I can understand why you might argue for forgiveness so fervently.

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  18. First, I am not a self-proclaimed expert on the bible. I keep one in my home, and I do read it from time to time. I can also appreciate the ironies that you have pointed out in the bible.I also know that the bible was NOT written in English, but rather translated several times from the original Hebrew. Not that it is exactly the same thing, but have you ever tried to assemble something when the directions have been translated from Japanese or Vietnamese, or for that matter, even Spanish? Things are lost in translation. I also am not governed in everything I do by the bible. As I said, I do read from it, but I do not treat it as though it is a life instruction manual. I apologize for getting off the topic, but what I was trying to say before is that people resort to divorce over misunderstandings, when a committment like marriage calls for at least a chance to fix it. If you have a car, and the brakes go bad, do you take it to a mechanic to have them fixed, or do you take it to a junkyard and buy a new car? If you are like me, you are on a first name basis with your mechanic. And ownership of a car is usually intended to be for only a few years, and marriage is supposed to be a lifelong committment(at least that is the intention of most when they marry). I am curious, though, if you agree with my opinion about us living in a "throw-away" society, where people simply throw something away and replace it if it stops working? And that many take this attitude toward marriage. As I said before, I agree that there is a point when a marriage is too far gone to save, but that too many people say that theirs is too far gone because their partner doesn't fold their socks correctly. And that if people put forth the effort that most of them envisioned when they got married, many, though not all divorces, could be avoided.

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  19. I have to say, that I respect your beliefs, though I fundamentally disagree with them. I assume you are either a college student, or a recent college graduate judging from your academic grasp of human psychology and behavior. I also see that you are 22 years old. I would never presume to insult someone for their age, be it young or advanced, but I remember age 22 for me as the time in my life that I learned more than any other time. At that age, I was an atheist, much like yourself, certain that I had all the answers. And then I found myself in the mountains of Afghanistan, sleeping in a foxhole that I had dug hours earlier. As you may have guessed, I served several years in the US Army, which despite its foul language, often excessive drinking and philandering, is a converting ground for many an atheist. There is an old saying in the Army "there are no atheists in a foxhole". As I said before, I have the highest respect for your beliefs, although I do not share them, but to imply that the difference between us is that you have knowledge that I don't is frankly a little insulting. Also for an atheist, I have to say your choice for your picture is remarkably religiously signifigant. Aayla Secura, a Jedi, probably the most organized and faithful religion in all of science fiction, a monastic group, for lack of a better description, who suffered unspeakable atrocities and persecution for their beliefs, yet the survivors kept their faith, and ultimately prevailed in the face of impossible odds. Or maybe you just thought it looked cool.

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  20. Wow. Could you have written a more condescending response? "I would never presume to insult someone for their age... but here, let me insult you for your age."

    Funny thing about this is that you seem to have run out of actual arguments in the previous message. You're trying to defend some "biblical" concept of marriage that is touted by the movie she talked about, but doesn't exist in the Bible. And you know it. So you let this response fester for about a day, and then you came back with a textbook ad hominem response.

    Yes, they do say "There are no atheists in foxholes." You know why they say that? Wishful thinking. People who pretend there are no atheists in foxholes want to believe that everyone naturally gravitates to Christianity in times of stress, and make up stories to prove it. But in fact there ARE atheists in foxholes. Lots. I know several atheist vets myself, and there's a whole organization full of them. Check out theMilitary Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.

    Here's a picture of a bunch of proudly self-identified Foxhole Atheists. Personally, I think you dishonor their service by claiming they're not out there.

    One of the best comments I ever heard from a good friend who was in the military was: "When you're in the middle of a fight, you want the guy next to you to be doing something constructive, not dropping to his knees and talking to an invisible friend."

    And finally, maybe you should be less concerned about people's ages, and more concerned about how utterly juvenile it is to think that you can to psychoanalyze somebody based on a picture of a fictional character that they identify with. You know, it is in fact possible for multiple people to read or watch something and get something different out of it. That's the nature of art. Maybe instead of taking the snotty approach, next time you could just come out and say "That's an interesting avatar you have. What does it mean to you?"

    Or maybe you just thought it sounded cool, jumping to your own conclusions.

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  21. Jumping to conclusions??? Must be contagious. Allow me to compile a list of condecending remarks made to me.
    1.Do you really have that short a temper and that little self-control?
    2.It seems that you are just using your mind and coming up with what you believe to be a rational time for when you should get a divorce.
    3. Since that's more old testament though, I'm sure you can't refer to it because that's the old covenant which has been replaced.


    It was not my intention to be insulting or condecending to anyone. If it was interpreted as such by the person to whom I wrote it, I apologize. I do not feel that I insulted anyone's age, I merely referenced my own experience at that age. I thought comparison and sharing of thoughts, ideas, experiences and beliefs was the purpose of this blog, and frankly most blogs on the internet. And as far as the Atheist in a foxhole response you had, no one is talking about laying down arms in a firefight to pray, that is not at all what was referenced by the phrase. And perhaps you are right, there are foxhole atheists. But how many have you seen while they were in the mud, with bullets cracking their eardrums? It has been, and still is a tradition and common practice for a sniper to whisper a prayer before firing a shot. I personally know several US Army snipers, and names can be cited if you feel I am contriving this. And as for the avatar comment, you are right, my last comment was uncalled for, and for that I apologize, but I thought it interesting, and in a way I suppose I was trying to evoke a response about it. It is my experience that avatars often have personal meaning to the people who choose them, and I was intrigued that a self-proclaimed atheist would choose one of a monastic, religious individual. Just as you might be intrigued if a lifelong combat veteran had an online blog, and his avatar featured a peace sign, or a phrase or slogan that was unsupportive to the armed services. While I'm sure there could be other reasons, I'm sure you would find that curious, and that is all I meant by that. Indeed there are other aspects of that character aside from an existence based on faith. Strength, courage, independence, and a tragic death because of her beliefs, religious or otherwise. I would also like to point out that in this so-called condecending response, I twice cited my respect for the author's beliefs, even though I disagree with them. You left that part out of your comment. I have to say that I have actually enjoyed the conversational exchanges on this matter, as I have a difficult time striking up an intellectual conversation with my 8,5, and 2 -year-old children, intelligent and insightful as they are, debates about religion and divorce are still a little beyond their reach. So again, if I offended anyone, my apologies, but when I am asked for my opinion, I tend not to sugar coat it, as is the way I like to be treated.

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  22. I wanted to add one thing. I share your opinion about those who try to shove religion in the faces of others, who think prayer in school should be mandatory, and who are convinced that no opinion but theirs could possibly be correct. But I also have the same opinion of those who think prayer should be forbidden in school. A friend's daughter the other day was actually punished (detention) for praying in a classroom. I think all of these problems could be solved by taking a close look at the first amendment, you can neither force, nor stop somone's practice of religion. I do not dishonor, nor do I have any lack of respect for any of the men and women atheist veterans. They have fought for my right to practice religion, just as I have fought so they could choose not to. Please do not think that I am offended by atheism, or anyone who practices religion,or doesn't; that is one of the founding principles of this nation, and if you try to take that freedom of choice away, that is what dishonors ALL soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and veterans.

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  23. By the way, you asked where in the bible it states that divorce is allowed in the case of adultery, the answer is Matthew 19:9. In fact, this states that this is the only time that remarriage is allowed after divorce.

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  24. I don't have time to properly address the they're-in-foxholes-but-not-the-real-ones, or the children-can-pray-in-school-clubs-during-lunch-and-silently-in-class-just-not-disrupting-classes-or-during-assemblies non-sequiturs.

    1. You admitted to having a shorter temper than I've ever come close to experienced in any of my partners, even during heated arguments.

    2. Is there something wrong with using your mind and reason? That's a compliment. That you would think otherwise is a bit scary.

    3. "As far as your biblical references, I believe most, if not all come from the old testament, which is essentially B.C.E. This was before Christianity even existed. Many things were generally accepted in society that are not today" -Brian. Either you accept the old testament, or you don't. Don't get mad at me if I believe what you say about your faith.

    (4) I did find it amusing that you would defend the Jedi religion.

    All those things are beside the point, though. The important thing is this: you claimed...

    "that the bible was NOT written in English, but rather translated several times from the original Hebrew. Not that it is exactly the same thing, but have you ever tried to assemble something when the directions have been translated from Japanese or Vietnamese, or for that matter, even Spanish? Things are lost in translation. I also am not governed in everything I do by the bible. As I said, I do read from it, but I do not treat it as though it is a life instruction manual."

    You seem to be implying that the bible is not trustworthy or accurate in certain areas. (The most famous possible mistranslation is "virgin" with "young girl".) If that is true, how are you certain you have caught all the inaccuracies? What makes you trust certain passages more than others? They agree with your personal beliefs? Isn't the bible the inerrant word of god? Isn't it god's guidelines for living? If not, then what is? If you are just choosing bible passages that jive with your personal convictions, how is this any different from going with your personal convictions?

    The fact that you made so many posts before my reply makes me suspect on some level your brain realizes you slipped up and exposed your self-contradictory beliefs, and tried to pile on extra criticisms to distract from that.

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  25. Jeepers, Everything. I just stumbled on this thread and it certainly looks like Brian has got you on the ropes... (in a Christian way, of course). Seems you've jumped to non-sequiters and occasional ad hominem. Tsk, tsk.

    I will pray for you.

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  26. RE: "What makes you trust certain passages more than others? yada, yada, yada"

    Um. Faith?

    You probably wouldn't understand.

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  27. Hang on there Anonymous, if you'd like to claim victory, you must point out where you've won. Just as a sports team can't claim it's won without displaying more points, what exactly gives Brian victory? Just saying you won is useless unless you've got the evidence to back it up.

    And speaking of Brian, I highly suspect you are Brian. Brian has not yet responded, you happened to stumble upon this right as Brian got creamed, and you have nothing to contribute to the discussion other than mockery.

    While I might not understand faith, numbers 2-22 and many, many more do. Care to explain why their faith is wrong, and yours is right? They are just as certain as you. Many have even had personal revelations.

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  28. First of all, I made no anonymous entries to your blog, I have had no problem speaking my mind, and campaigning for myself, just because you believe I have imagined god, you suddenly think I now am making an imaginary following, or is it so difficult to believe that others might agree with me? I have to say that I was amused by the site on the jedi religion. You, or whoever the author of that site is, has created a conspiracy of faith within something that is already fictional. George Lucas would be amused.

    I do have a couple questions, however. First, when have I admitted to having a short or violent temper? I have said that I have done things in the past that I regret, this does not mean that these things were acts of violence, or even anger.

    Second, you mention evidence, now I chuckle. I have never claimed to be able to prove God's existence, but do you have any proof of his nonexistence? If I could prove it with a photograph, or a fingerprint, or a recording, belief would not be a requisite. Faith is funny like that, if you don't have it, you can't prove it exists, and if you do have it, you don't need to.
    I was never mad about anything you said about my faith, just when you said you were sure I couldn't refer to it was a little condecending, and at the time, Kazim had slammed my response to you, and I was explaining my position, unless you are Kazim, and are generating supporters for yourself. I would never presume to accuse; but one good turn deserves another.

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  29. I have my own blogs if you'd care to check them out. In particular, this one
    http://castlesofair.blogspot.com/
    should establish pretty clearly that I'm a 34 year old software professional with some years of experience behind me.

    I'm just saying that it would be a pretty neat trick if I managed to do that while also being a 22 year old biology student. Unless you think that "Everything Else Atheist" is really my fake identity, which would mean I created the persona specifically to mess with you, once I figured out how to trick you into visiting this blog.

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  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  31. And perhaps you are right, there are foxhole atheists. But how many have you seen while they were in the mud, with bullets cracking their eardrums?

    As it happens, I had dinner with my friend Dave just yesterday evening, who's off his third tour of duty in Iraq. I told him you implied that he probably hadn't been in any real fire fights. He tells me that his third tour was the best so far, because no men under his command died THIS TIME. In the past, he's had friends die right near him. Is that serious enough for you?

    It has been, and still is a tradition and common practice for a sniper to whisper a prayer before firing a shot.

    Only the superstitious ones, obviously. Don't you find it a teeny bit ironic that the God of peace and love is called upon to help somebody kill a guy?

    I would also like to point out that in this so-called condecending response, I twice cited my respect for the author's beliefs, even though I disagree with them. You left that part out of your comment.

    I call them as I see them. It's not enough to pay lip-service to respecting somebody's beliefs, and then in the same breath say that the only reason they have those beliefs is because they're young and inexperienced. That's not respectful at all.

    A friend's daughter the other day was actually punished (detention) for praying in a classroom.

    Only having heard your side of the story, I can't comment on this. It seems likely to me that you're leaving something out. Was she taking up class time or being disruptive in some way?

    If not, then I think the school was obviously out of line, as no laws prevent any students from praying when they personally see fit. But I have a hard time believing that the motivation for the detention was as simple as you say.

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  32. "So, what is the purpose to marriage? I'd say it's the expression of the deepest form of love, admiration and commitment to a sexual partner."

    And, no surprise, it all comes down to sex. Again.

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  33. Jinx, yeah, sexual activity (note - kissing is a sexual activity) is kind of an important distinction. I can have deep love, admiration and commitment to a family member, but I would not marry that family member.

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  34. Kazim,

    I mentioned about things being lost or missed in translation, and I must thank you for making my point better than I ever could. I absolutely never implied that your friend had never been in a real firefight. I, too have lost friends in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I have held a man's wound closed in a futile attempt to keep him from bleeding to death. So please don't presume to think that I would diminish my opinion of someone who should obviously be considered a hero simply because I disagree with his personal beliefs. And I will concede that to make the claim of absolutely no atheists in foxholes was likely an exaggerated claim. And I also never belittled or invalidated ANYONE'S opinion because of their age, I simply related my experiences at the same age. If this is an insult, then you have proven that things can be lost while translating English to English! Imagine all that could be missed and misinterpreted while translating from language to language, dialect to dialect, and era to era. But I have seen one thing that strikes me as odd;
    while you tend to think that people of faith are foolish because they are certain that God exists although they have no proof, and yet you seem to be equally certain to the contrary, and both sides have about the same weight of tangible evidence. It seems your belief is as dependant on faith as the faithful, unless you are admitting that you actually don't know.

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  35. And I will concede that to make the claim of absolutely no atheists in foxholes was likely an exaggerated claim.

    Thank you.

    And I also never belittled or invalidated ANYONE'S opinion because of their age, I simply related my experiences at the same age. If this is an insult, then you have proven that things can be lost while translating English to English!

    If your point wasn't to dismiss her opinion based on her age, then why did you bother highlighting her age at all? You went to the trouble of looking up her profile, finding her age, posting it, and claiming that you "used to believe like her". Why? If you don't think age is relevant to the discussion, why mention it at all?

    For that matter, I'm older than EEA and hold similar opinions; my dad is almost 70 and is also an atheist; and I know plenty of other atheists of a similarly advanced age, like Paul Kurtz and Richard Dawkins. Many of them used to be Christians and changed THEIR minds. So again, I'm not clear on why you bring up things that you yourself don't consider relevant.

    But I have seen one thing that strikes me as odd; while you tend to think that people of faith are foolish because they are certain that God exists although they have no proof,

    Not true. I don't think you're foolish because you believe in God. I know many theists whose opinions I respect highly, while disagreeing with the basis of their theism.

    and yet you seem to be equally certain to the contrary,

    Also not true. I have never claimed to be dead certain that there is no God. I just think that it's unwise to believe stuff until you have a reason to believe it.

    and both sides have about the same weight of tangible evidence. It seems your belief is as dependant on faith as the faithful, unless you are admitting that you actually don't know.

    I don't actually know.

    HOWEVER.

    This comes down to a question of where your burden of proof lies. There are infinitely many things in the universe that you could believe in. Leprechauns, unicorns, fairies, gremlins, teapots orbiting Mars, invisible dragons, and your long lost Nigerian great uncle who holds a fortune that you can claim.

    For the most part, intelligent people don't put their belief in a major claim without a positive reason TO believe it. If I ask you why you don't take the chain to acquire ten million dollars by answering those spam emails, you would probably reply: "I don't think there's good enough evidence to go on."

    Then I could ask: "Can you prove that this rich great uncle does not exist?" But that would be missing the point. The burden of proof is on the guy making a positive claim. And since I've already said "I don't know," why, that's you.

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  36. Jinx McHue: And, no surprise, it all comes down to sex. Again.

    I don't understand the dismissive tone of your reply. Aren't you folks always talking about how marriage is for raising children? You DO understand how those things are made, right?

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  37. I have never claimed to be dead certain that there is no God. I just think that it's unwise to believe stuff until you have a reason to believe it.

    For once, I completely agree with you.

    However, the basis of my belief is that you must choose to believe. Unfortunately, this is what creates the rift between theists and atheists. It is human nature to doubt what we cannot see? Of course it is. And coming from a theist, this is likely to be a shocker: I don't know with absolute certainty, either. Maybe God doesn't exist, maybe the things I have seen that seem to defy all rational explanation and reason have an underlying logic. Maybe it was all coincidence. But if you were to erase all doubt, and god were here, visible, tangible, there would be no reason to believe in his existence, anymore than you would have to believe in the existence of a parent.

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  38. My friend is a Scientologist. Let me edit your post into something she (or any Scientologist) might agree with:

    "However, the basis of Scientology is that you must choose to believe. Unfortunately, this is what creates the rift between believers and non-believers. It is human nature to doubt what we cannot see? Of course it is. And coming from a theist, this is likely to be a shocker: I don't know with absolute certainty, either. Maybe Xenu and theatens don't exist, maybe the things I have seen that seem to defy all rational explanation and reason (such as and spiritual healing through auditing) have an underlying logic. Maybe it was all coincidence. But if you were to erase all doubt, and Xenu were here, visible, tangible, there would be no reason {not?} to believe in his existence, anymore than you would have to believe in the existence of L. Ron Hubbard."

    Now how is that any different from your position? You consciously reject scientology. You choose not to put your faith in scientology. Why? Why don't you just take that extra step and believe? Because there's no evidence? It's silly? It's [newly] made up? There's demonstrable errors and lies in Scientology dogma? Or how about if I changed it to the Mormon faith? How would you feel about the statement then?

    Those sorts of emotions you probably went through are exactly how atheists feel about all religions that rely on faith. Atheists feel the same about people who accept Mormonism, Scientology, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and so on so forth - all things that require faith.

    If you want to tout faith, fine. But if you do, you must answer why you limit yourself and choose to actively reject other claims that also require faith. You might find our reasons are exactly the same.

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  39. But if you were to erase all doubt, and god were here, visible, tangible, there would be no reason to believe in his existence, anymore than you would have to believe in the existence of a parent.

    And the down side of that would be...?

    I do, in fact, believe in the existence my parents. I am completely persuaded that they exist, and if I were ever to doubt this fact, there are any number of ways I could verify it: I can call them, read letters that I have retained, look at photographs, talk to friends who know them, and so forth.

    And yet somehow, the fact that my certainty of their existence is justified doesn't diminish my love for them. So I fail to see why it's supposed to be so much better to believe in stuff for no reason.

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  40. And so it comes down to faith, plain and simple. Faith is one of those things that if you don't have it, no one can give you, and if you do have it, no one can take it away. And by the way, Mormonism is not separated from Christianity. Many people assign Christianity to only the Catholic faith, and fail to recognize Christianity's many divisions. Maybe not a pertinent matter, but just something that jumped out at me. And in the case of the Mormon faith, the existence of Joseph Smith is not in question, in fact, he is a reasonably noted figure in nistory outside of the LDS church. One can call his claim false, but as an unexplained event, can you explain how an uneducated, simple farmer's son born in Vermont, incidentally my home state, raised in New York, who could barely read and write, could translate hebrew to english into what is known today as the Book of Mormon? Perhaps his claim is false, but as at least a sliver of evidence for an atheist, the gold tablets are on display in Salt Lake City, and if you were to examine them against the Book of Mormon, you would find them a fairly accurate translation of each other. So while you may not concur with the beliefs of the LDS church, they do offer at least some of what you seek, tangible evidence.

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  41. You've just provided an excellent demonstration of the problem with imagining that "Faith" is the same as "knowledge." It can lead you to earnestly and unshakably believe things that are provably not true.

    Let's consider the golden tablets you're talking about. You seem very impressed by them. The original tablets of the Mormon religion don't exist. Even the church's own stories say so. According to the story, nobody ever actually saw the tablets except for Joseph Smith. Seriously. Read it yourself.

    Smith "dictated" the Book of Mormon to Martin Harris, using a "seer stone" to read the plates that only he could see. Then when skeptics asked for a look at the plates, Smith claimed that his angel was angry and took them away so they couldn't read the rest.

    There are now replicas of these golden plates on display at some museums and churches. But please don't tell me that you're impressed that golden plates made by Mormons have the something exactly like the Book of Mormon written on them.

    And what's up with this "could barely read and write" stuff? Where the heck did you hear that? Are you just assuming that he must be stupid because he lived on a farm? Isn't that a little elitist? Joseph Smith was 23 years old when he "translated" the plates, and it's not like he was some medieval peasant in an illiterate country... he was a 19th century American who'd read the Bible.

    All this is easy to find out if you just spend a few minutes actually researching things before you post them. But because "faith" is so important to you, I get the impression that it doesn't matter that much to you if you believe things that are actually true or not. It only matters that they confirm things you want to believe.

    That's one way in which treating faith as a virtue is fundamentally different from not doing so. It's also a reason why some people say that faith is just another word for gullibility.

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  42. I stand corrected. But has it ever occurred to you, that whether something is true or not, the effect it has on society as a whole. I have never tried to change anyone's mind, I find that to be a very arrogant and presumptive thing to do. I am an american, and as such I believe in a person's freedom to make their own choices above all else. If someone comes to me and asks for my opinion or advice, I give it freely.
    I agree there are some who devote their lives to telling people that their own beliefs are right, and all others are wrong, even sins in and of themselves. I think these people are self superior elitist snobs, and I prefer to have nothing to do with them.
    And then there are those like my friend Charles, a hard working Christian husband and father who, despite health problems, works long hours for a modest paycheck, and when he comes home, instead of complaining about his inflamed vertebrae disc, or his arthritic knee, instead prays in gratitude for the opportunity to provide for his family. And on days he is not working, no one would fault him for staying home and relaxing, instead he comes out to help others who need it. With no expectation of payment or reward. And I am not saying that there are no atheists who are selfless and helpful, and whatever anyone's motivation for being so, they make the world an infinitely better place to be.
    If someone chooses to be helpful to their neighbor to please God, whether or not he exists, who are we to call his/her faith gullibility. And if that is the case, if all it is is gullibility, then imagine how good the world could be if there were just a few more suckers out there.
    Also, in rereading the original post, something stood out to me:
    The end of the movie reveals two things - first of all that the wife has noticed a change in the husband that she wants (it's Christianity!) and that Cameron was a sexist bastard, really using his mom's advice not his dad's. The dad knew he wouldn't accept it from the mom, so he pretended it was his own. Wow.

    I agree that the character of Caleb was in fact sexist, but do you think he might have learned that somewhere? I don't think there is a "sexism gene", and from what we learn of the prologue (which is a little vague), Caleb's father was a lot like Caleb is when we first meet him. I apologize for the inaccuracies in this next analogy, but if I am trying to teach you a foreign language, and I just start speaking to you in a tongue you've never heard before, I will do little more than alienate and confuse you. I have to start the class in English (or the original language of the student), and teach from there. He had to use what Caleb already knew, which was unfortunately that he could only learn from a man, to teach him that the only way to make a marriage, or any relationship work is through mutual effort and respect.

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  43. All of you are idiots and cynical. Brian, honey, don't try to defend something [the Bible] that you cannot back with fact. And EverythingElseAtheist, don't insult the Bible if your only offense is to refer to the Old Testament and not acknowledge the New Testament. Of course, there are differences in the covenant, it is a new contract with God. His son, Jesus, has his signature on it. The original discussion of marriage and the sanctity thereof should have remained the topic. Not degrading and persecuting each other. I am a faithful Christian (NOT religious) and I do not assume that I have all the answers or even a portion of them, but I do have my own truth and, quite frankly, is all I'm worried about. Again, the discussion was marriage and the movie. If you can't appreciate it, fine. If you can't relate to it, fine. I don't care if you liked it or not. My fiance and I were very moved by it and there will be a salt & pepper shaker on our wedding cake, thank you very much. We both had one-sided marriages and very hurtful divorces that followed. If you don't agree that marriage is a life-long contract with your loved one, why get it? Why marry if you don't think it will last or are willing to make it last? One thing I definately agree with is our "throw-away" society. Everything is disposable! What do you think happens to something when you throw it away?! It doesn't dissappear! It doesn't grow legs and create a new existance! It is damaged and forgotten! This same cycle is true for humans too. If you say you love someone and then, oops, no I don't love them and throw them away, they are damaged and scarred. Yes, unlike inanimate objects they can move on but that scar will never go away and the baggage of the pain will always remain. You must all be men who think that one woman is just not enough and want a notch on your belt for all your accomplishments. I feel sorry for all of you that take marriage so lightly and cannot truly understand or receive unconditional love.

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  44. one other thing...all men are demanding douche bags and all women are needy bitches to some extent or the other. Man and woman were created as complimentary mates that balance each other out and we each have equal and opposite faults. Call it sexist if you like, I haven't met a man yet that was docile, submissive and meek. Men are not/were not created that way. You are MEN. In the same respect, women are needy, emotional creatures with a constant inner-dialogue that we act on or express regardless of it's accuracy. The marriage depicted in the movie is very accurate to the way men and women treat each other, as if she should understand his needs and he hers. But that is so often not the case. "Why doesn't she just do what I say. She doesn't respect me?" "Why doesn't he just listen to me and understand how I feel?" All couples struggle with this balance to some degree. In my OPINION and experience, it was a depiction of a very mild form of this struggle. I have seen, heard and felt much worse than a baseball bat to a garbage can. Good for Caleb for venting his frustration on something that can't feel. Not everyone has been so lucky. And good for the wife for not making a BIG mistake by bedding down with a man just out for some "strange".

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  45. Thank God for the this movie. There is a lot of crap in Hollywood. I don't know how it happened that there is more horrors and psycho movies made than ever. Finally movie that is worth to see it. It might give you something to think about. Don't you get it people? You can judge as much as you want. If God want this movie to be a "box office smash", than it will be!!! God still rule over everything. I just hope you have also a plenty of time to criticize the garbage horror and psycho movies.

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  46. I don't really understand your logic Anonymous... are you saying that because other movies suck, this one can't possibly suck? It's like if some people haven't seen a rabbit before, or didn't believe that they had tails so I thoroughly pointed out that rabbits have tails and you countered, look at all the birds that have tails omg but why aren't you talking about those tailed birds?

    And really, if god is flexing its omnipotent pinkie to make a film about itself popular, and not helping sick and starving babies, then it's a total dick.

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  47. The movie, while poorly produced and weakly acted, changed my life and my marriage -- trash it if you will, but it was heaven sent for me and my wife. nuff said....

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  48. What amazes me is all of this is so ridiculous !!!!!! It comes down to one thing! If I am wrong about the existence of a God and a heaven????? I have lost nothing if you are wrong however you have lost everything!!!!! Really think about it while you are still debating!

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  49. What it really boils down too is simple! If I am wrong as a God fearing and God loving Christian I have lost nothing ......but you by making your choice have lost everything!!!!!

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