What I’m Reading: Filming God

Ever since Finger of God came out in 2007, I have loved Darren Wilson and Wanderlust Productions’ series of documentaries exploring the supernatural invading the natural. There are so many stories of crazy healings, words of knowledge, casting out demons… and the stuff that’s harder to explain, like gold dust randomly showing up. Every time I watch them, I’m filled with excitement and faith for what God can do, and how He uses ordinary people stepping out in faith to do it.

Discovering the book Filming God by Darren Wilson was a special delight for me. In it, Darren reflects on filming the first two films, Finger of God and Furious Love, including how he was called into this journey as a skeptic–an average Christian who loved Jesus but thought most of the supernatural experiences some Christians talk about was nonsense. After a dramatic encounter with an angel (yes, an actual angel), Darren tentatively began seeking out the supernatural and trying to capture God at work on film.

The timing of reading this book was perfect for me. As I step into leading the School of Supernatural Ministry at The Prayer Room, I’ve had to confront again all my old feelings of inadequacy and lack of faith regarding things like healing. As I read Darren’s story, this guy having these awesome experiences whom I’ve looked up to since I was 16, he was so transparent with his own struggles and I found I could relate to every word.

I find myself falling into the trap of sometimes wanting to protect God from Himself. I realize that I’m dealing with an invisible entity here, and no matter how much I have seen or experienced, it still stretches me to step out and pray for someone to be healed because deep down, I’m wondering if I’m just praying to my own imagination. I’ve prayed for people so often where nothing happened that when I’m faced with a situation of real need and desperation, I get nervous that once again I’m going to pray and nothing will happen, and this need and desperation in front of me is going to turn into bitterness and defeat. I don’t want to subject this person to that, so I will withdraw my own bold faith and fall back on the safer, “comfort this person” prayer.

I think this reasoning is birthed from my own stupid assertion that I really have anything to do with anything supernatural that is or is not happening. What I have begun to learn in my travels, though, is that in the end, it’s not really about me at all. Let me give you two stories to illustrate my point…

The above quote is from chapter 5, which was possibly the most relatable and encouraging chapter of the whole book for me. The entire chapter is offered as an excerpt on wpfilm.com, and I highly suggest you READ IT RIGHT NOW AT THIS LINK RIGHT HERE. Seriously.

The other part of this book I super appreciated was that Darren is NOT gullible or naive, recounting every bit of supernatural hearsay that comes his way. He is only including stories from sources he personally and thoroughly trusts. Many times, he witnessed the stories personally. Chapter 3 explores his decision to include the things like gold dust in the film, concluding that even though some is more than likely hype and overexcitement, at least some of it had to have been from God. The Author’s Note vouches for the humility and credibility of the people sharing these stories:

These are stories I have either witnessed firsthand or have heard from people I have grown to know and love and who are, in my opinion, credible witnesses. They have nothing to gain from telling me these stories; indeed, some have asked me to not include them in my films… Do people lie about the spiritual things that happen to them? Of course they do. Could some of these people be lying to me? I would be naive if I said no. But no one ever told me a story because they thought I might put it in a book. Many times the camera wasn’t even rolling. There is little motivation to lie… In the end, it is up to you to decide whether or not you believe them or me.

Reading this stirred me up to believe again that God is bigger than the box I’ve put Him in, He really does want to move through me, and it’s mostly not about me at all! It also stirred my hunger to ask God to do crazy things like this, to demonstrate His presence and His love by signs and wonders.

I encourage you to check out the book (Amazon has it on Kindle, or you can get it from Wanderlust directly) and the films. First, though, check out this scene from Finger of God!

 

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What I’m Reading: Biblical Womanhood in Wonder Woman

I legit cried at this moment.

(SPOILER FREE. I PROMISE.)

When I began this “What I’m Reading” series, I decided that it wouldn’t only include books, but also blogs, articles, etc that have caught my attention. Wonder Woman has certainly caught my attention recently, and I’ve eagerly been reading many reviews and blogs that explore just what’s so remarkable about this story. I have no shame in claiming the title of feminist, and seeing a woman portrayed as such a kick-butt superhero with courage, integrity, idealism, real ARMOUR (seriously – go read THIS about how Diana’s outfit is inspired by Roman armour and not lingerie and why that’s really important), not a trace of seduction, and decidedly not in the shadow of any man, brought my feminist soul to tears in the theatre. Also, it very much should be noted that Wonder Woman was directed by a WOMAN, Patty Jenkins, who is kind of my new hero.)

Yesterday, I read a blog that took a Christian feminist approach to reviewing Wonder Woman. Marilette Sanchez’s blog, titled “‘Wonder Woman’ Might Be the Most Accurate On-Screen Depiction of Biblical Womanhood, And Here’s Why”, hit many of the major points I loved about the film AND tied it in with biblical scholarship on the concept of the warrior woman and the term “ezer kenegdo” from Genesis 2:18 – “I will make a helper fit for him.” Did you know that the word “ezer,” translated “helper” in Genesis 2:18 when describing Eve, is almost always used elsewhere in the Old Testament to describe either a military context or God Himself delivering His people? It’s like what we mean when we say “here comes the cavalry” – yes, help, but not help like when a child “helps” a parent make dinner. Not a sidekick or an afterthought. A powerful, desperately needed warrior here to save the day.

Marilette goes on to show how Diana’s strength is directly connected to her heart – her sense of rightness, her idealism, her sensitivity, her love and compassion. She’s in touch with her emotions and it makes her stronger.

And also, she overcomes every “no” thrown at her by society – almost always by men. I was in awe when Diana is standing in the board room, where she isn’t even supposed to be, passionately arguing her case to a table full of men while Steve has his hands on her arms, trying to guide her out of the room. She refuses to be shut up, and having grown up on an island of warrior women, it doesn’t even occur to her that what she has to say would be less important than what these male leaders think. She doesn’t even hesitate. She know her voice is powerful and right is on her side.

That’s what I love about Diana – she’s completely unselfconscious. She knows who she is and she knows her mission, and she doesn’t have 20+ years of history living in a stifling society pressing on her to take a back seat. She’s beautiful, but it never even occurs to her to flirt her way into what she wants. She is driven by compassion to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves, in the hope of one day bringing all wars to an end.

I could say so much more (how FUN was that reversal of the male gaze in the cavern pool scene! Way to call out sexist Hollywood tropes, Patty Jenkins…) but for now I’ll just encourage you to read Marilette Sanchez’s blog, and I’ll also throw in this review by film critic Jeffrey Overstreet, who is a friend of my favourite college film professor. I love the points he makes about the way Wonder Woman breaks through so many barriers in its genre, including but not limited to the gender issues.

Wonder Woman truly felt like a breath of fresh air in a culture that rarely sees women as they truly are. I have a miniature Wonder Woman poster hanging in my room now, and I keep it there to remind myself that we all have it in us to be Diana Prince. We were created to be warriors of love, and no power in the ‘verse can stop us.