April 22, 2014

Mark Millican: Not just for college students

It was the seemingly unanswerable question of the campus — and especially the faculty — when I first attended Dalton Junior College in the 1973-74 school year: “Is man inherently good, or inherently evil?”

(Terry Christie, don’t pretend you don’t remember!)

Although it was debated far and wide, be assured not much thought was put into it by this lowly freshman, if you can be labeled that at a school that topped out at sophomores. With my passing “C” grade in Philosophy 101, I was more concerned with other matters, like, uh, song lyrics. Yeah, that’s it. Here was my deep contribution, scribbled on a chalk board before English class, courtesy of Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead:

“I say small people like you and me,

“Will be builders for eternity,

“Each is given a bag of tools,

“Shapeless lives and a book of rules.”

Hey, I warned you it was heavy.

These days, one gets the inference the word “evil” is politically incorrect on most secular college campuses. That would imply a moral standard, and we certainly can’t have that in this day and age, many would reason. Most universities and colleges pride themselves on being sanctuaries of tolerance, diversity and free speech — unless, of course, you’re a Christian. Then your views are not welcome because you’re backwards, a bigot and a “hater.”

Loosely, that’s the premise behind a movie currently playing in theaters across America, “God’s Not Dead.” The plot involves a philosophy professor who claims to be an atheist, and on the first day of class demands each student write “God Is Dead” on a piece of notebook paper and turn it in before class can begin — based on that presumption.

But there’s always a “wise guy,” right? One student professes he’s a Christian, and then is challenged by the professor to prove the Big Guy is alive.

Does that sound far-fetched? Columnist Jerry Newcombe wrote on christianpost.com: “About a year ago, a professor told his students to write the name Jesus on a sheet of paper; then to stand up, put the paper on the ground, and stomp on it. One brave student refused to do it and was threatened with a bad grade. Thankfully, as word got out, the university apologized for the whole assignment.”

As the student in the “God’s Not Dead” movie works on his assignment to be presented in stages to the class, several subplots develop: a romantic relationship between a free-wheeling stock broker and an Internet journalist, a woman with dementia who has an amazing few moments of unexpected and life-changing clarity, a female student from a Muslim home who is run off by her father and a pastor who struggles at not being on the front lines like his visiting evangelist friend from Africa.

That is, until the pastor becomes involved in an ending no one saw coming.

“The movie, ‘God’s Not Dead,’ is a breath of fresh air in light of the prevailing secular, politically correct atmosphere that seems to dominate the campuses today,” Newcombe concluded.

I couldn’t agree more, and liked it so much I wanted to go see it the next night also. Two weekends ago “God’s Not Dead” was the overall No. 7 movie in the country, and has been as high as No. 4. Typically in our competitive culture we view the top movie or two as the only ones worth going to see, but the fact that thousands and thousands of people from all walks of life are paying to see this film proves this much — “God’s Not Dead” is not just for college students.

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