Okay – here’s the deal. Zack Hunt is once again doing his American Jesus Madness Bracket, pitting pop-cultural Xianity against itself to determine a Champion for the year. If you haven’t filled out a bracket (or have no idea what I’m talking about) you REALLY need to check it out: American Jesus Madness.
Just like March Madness Brackets we’ll begin with the Round of 32. Here’s my expert analysis on the match-ups and who is favored to win.
Round of 32
No contest here. Putting a (controversial) new movie Jesus up against a classic is a no brainer. With all the hullabaloo coming from Evangelical circles about the missing content of the Son of God and the “New Age-y Roma Downey, I don’t think this movie will get much traction. Advantage: Jeffrey Hunter.
This is another no brainer. No liberal Jesus movie will ever win in the Xian American culture. The Right railed against The Last Temptation of Christ when it came out and will quickly shut it down in this match up. Advantage: Robert Powell.
Similar to the previous match-up, a left-leaning Jesus musical has no shot in this round. Additionally, conservatives who know nothing about either movie will most likely pull for the Jesus film – the man playing Christ is named Deacon, for crying out loud! It’s an unfair advantage, to be sure, but it is what it is. Advantage: Brian Deacon.
Putting the sissified Jesus from the 1999 film up against Caviezel’s Christ in the Mel Gibson blood bath is another easy call. And with Caviezel you must include the Catholic vote, which makes this math-up a blood bath all its own. Advantage: Jim Caviezel.
Xians have come out of the woodwork with their love and support for McConaughey because of his declaration of thanks to God at the Academy Awards. The newfound love will ultimately be short-lived, however. Xian culture is used to hearing such declarations from award show winners (what makes McConaughey different is that he’s white. The usual winner thanking God is not, so to see a white man do it – well, he must be genuine. Right?), and he’ll soon be forgotten. The Duck Dynasty love, however, has proven to be enduring. The call is close AT THE MOMENT but ultimately will swing away from Hollywood. Advantage: Old Love for Duck Dynasty.
We have another easy call in the Round of 32. Driscoll has shown repeatedly just over the last 12 months that he can go toe-to-toe with integrity and come out unscathed. While one would seem to want Integrity to win, if history teaches us anything it is that Driscoll will give a real beat-down. Advantage: Mark Driscoll.
This one’s gonna be a nail-biter. RHE is a favorite among the younger generations and the disenfranchised. Every Calvinist Dude on the Internet is quite scrappy – a born fighter. Still, one can only take so much of “I’m chosen” and “Did you see my beard?” Advantage: Rachel Held Evans.
Honest show of hands: Who in their right minds would pick anyone over Christ packing heat? C’mon – it’s Jesus…with a gun. This pushes all the right buttons of the Right, and when they unify they can be something else. Advantage: Assault Rifle Jesus.
The founder of The Christian Left vs. a (seemingly) certifiable loon. It’s gonna be a fight to the finish, but guys like The Third Eagle of the Apocalypse just never really go away. You might knock ‘em down but you can’t kill ‘em. It’s like Apollo Creed trying to take down Rocky. The guy just never seems to quit. Advantage: Third Eagle of the Apocalypse.
Two movies. One plot. 14 years apart. While Cameron launched to Evangelical fame with his Left Behind, two words will tip the scale: Nic Cage. The man does.not.stop. Admit it – no matter how bad a Cage film is you’re still most likely gonna see it. Cage is the total package. He’s done films for adults that you’d NEVER let your kid see but he’s also done the family friendly National Treasure films (which is required viewing in Xian households). And remember, Cage has been to hell and back in multiple films. He’s the living incarnation of the Apostles’ Creed (he descended in to hell…). Advantage: Nicolas Cage’s Left Behind.
No contest. Gay Wedding Cakes make great attention-grabbing headlines, but Christian “Persecution” is the perpetual motion machine science could never invent. Any small disagreement can re-launch the “Persecution” train, making it a behemoth in the ring. Advantage: Christian “Persecution”.
Frankie is showing himself to be a real contender. While Every Pope Ever carries a lot of clout (Catholics and Church Tradition, huh?), the current Holy Father is really catching on with the younger generations of Christians who have been looking for a leader to move the faith into a new century. The only question is, “Does he have staying power?” Still… Advantage: Pope Francis.
Drury and Turner really are the Dynamic Duo when it comes to calling Christian Culture out on the mat. Even so, Christian Culture has shown itself to be a resilient beast, able to single handedly support chicken fast food chains and indie Christian films that no one with any artistic sensitivity should want to watch. This will be a fun bout to watch, but ultimately the religious Christian Culture will overpower dissenters. I mean, the religious culture did manage to crucify Christ himself…. Advantage: Christian Culture.
This match-up is gonna be the one to watch. It’s so big because Real Life Steven Furtick seems just the opposite: he’s LARGER THAN LIFE! He’s so large he managed to do something no other pastor has done. He’s turned himself into Coloring Book Steven Furtick. This is clearly Superman battling Bizarro. His difficulty is going to lie in the fact that Coloring Book Steven Furtick is the incarnation of the larger than life persona of Real Life Steven. That’s hard to kill. In fact, it can be reproduced over, and over, and over, and…well, you get it. Advantage: Coloring Book Steven Furtick.
This one is quick and painless. Albert’s suits look sharp, but they come off. The permanency of Nadia’s tats reveals her commitment and that X-factor that mere suits could never convey. Advantage: Nadia Bolz-Weber
Ken Ham talks a good game…if you’re looking to hear the same religious work-around Xians have been throwing at science for decades. Sooner or later reality is gonna come back and bite Ham in the butt. Advantage: Reality.
If you made it all the way to the end, congratulations! Obviously the expert analysis is going to get shorter with each progressive round. In my next post I’ll take a look at the Sweet 16.