400th Post: Palate Cleanser News and a Poll!

Hey, so this is the 400th post of Heathen Critique!


Close enough.

(Seriously, I have no idea why I didn’t care about 100 or 200 or 300.  Anyway.)

So, thought I’d share my decision about the palate cleanser for after Silenced, since we almost three-quarters done.

It is yet another movie that I caught on local Christian television, and GORRAMITALL but I am psyched to do this one:

I’ll just say one thing that strikes me right away: that is a pretty cute “beast.”

This movie promises to be interesting on another level, too: it was a Mormon movie first.

Yup.  See, it was originally called Beauty and the Beast: A Latter-Day Tale.  Apparently, a few explicitly Mormon lines were cut and the movie was repackaged as Belle and the Beast: A Christian Romance.  I haven’t seen the Mormon version yet, but I will, so I can better speak to the changes.

And I come into this as an expert on Mormon entertainment, yo.  I have seen all five seasons of Big Love AND The Book of Mormon.


(It would be cool to be paid for plugs like this.)


And I will leave the final decision of what to do next in the hands of you, my lovely readers.

The options:

1.  Shadowed, the third and final book of the Underground Zealot series.  More adventures in Atheistopia with Paul and Jae Stepola/Apostle and Ranold B. Decenti/Benedict Arnold.

2.  The Europa Conspiracy, the third out of the four books in the Babylon Rising series.  Michael Murphy sets out to find the Handwriting on the Wall.  Yes, really.

3.  Something completely (okay, partially) different: It seems that out old pal Jerry Jenkins has found a new co-writer/pastor to work with—James MacDonald.

For those unfamiliar with him, you can see a ton of his sermons on YouTube.  I won’t link you an hour-long talk, but here is a tiny sampling of him:

I listen to James MacDonald many mornings on my way to work, and what strikes me most is his tendency to play the incredibly extraverted, repeat-after-me game, which ends up sounding like this:

MacDonald: Jesus is perfect.  Turn to your neighbor and say, “Jesus is perfect.”

Unmicced audience: Eee-uh ert.

MacDonald: Again! Because this is exciting!  Jesus is perfect!

Unmicced audience:  EEE-UH ERT!!!

It would drive me CRAZY if I had to do this every week.

It is so cool that I don’t go to church.  😉

This book is brand-spanking new, but I already have a used copy, and there is a BOOK TRAILER, guys!

Kinda sounds Michael Murphy-ish, though I see by skimming the first few pages that the hero is a professor at a theological seminary, not a small Southern university.  Anyway, that bit of skimming aside, I think I would critique this book blind, just like the Christmas novels.

4.  Another something partially different: a focus on movies instead of books for awhile.  I’ve got a little stack of Christian movies here, and could just do a few in a row.  Some examples:

One of the ones that Started It All for me:

More from the Teenage series, including Teenage Conflict (creationism) and Teenage Code (cheating).


So, whaddaya think???  It’s up to you guys!

Posted on February 19, 2014, in Babylon Rising, Books, Christmas, Movies, Polls, Silenced, Teenage Christmas, Teenage Testament, The Europa Conspiracy. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I went with movies, mostly because I’d love to see Teenage Conflict. The other two were so deliciously awful, I can’t wait to see their, ahem, Passionate Sincerity applied to science.

    After that… eh, we’ve been switching between Murphy books and Paul books for a while. We’re doing Paul, so it’s Murphy’s turn again.

    Oh, and congrats on the 400 posts.

  2. I’ve been lurking for a little while with very few posts, but I wanted to tell you that I really enjoy your deconstructions. I picked movies just for a change of pace, but I will stick with you in whatever direction you decide. I do have a future suggestion, though: Have you ever thought of doing some of Peretti’s work? His kids series had some doozies in it, if I remember correctly.
    Mostly, though, thanks for providing us the entertainment you do. 🙂

    • Aww, thank you, stjebus! *blush*

      (I haven’t considered Peretti, but I’ll look into it as a future possibility.)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        I understand Peretti’s first couple novels (where he invented the Spiritual Warfare Thriller with Angels genre) are not that hot; he improved as time went on. Later I learned from a Christian SF fan organization that Peretti was the type of author who NEEDS a strong editor, and didn’t have one for the first few.

        Peretti’s shtick was similar to something I read once about a traditional Chinese theater genre: Two stages, one above the other. On the upper stage are the Immortals (supernatural beings); on the lower, the mortals (men). What happens on one stage influences the other (working both ways), but the mortals are not aware this is happening and the Immortals ARE. Mixing in the style and pace of a technothriller, Peretti was on to something.

        Back when Peretti’s Spiritual Warfare novels WERE The Big Thing in Christianese fiction, I skimmed through either his first or second novel (or both; don’t remember that clear these days). Three things stand out in my memory as mistakes in his storytelling, one major and two minor:

        1) The major one — In what I think was his first novel, Peretti built up his major villain (the Demon Prince of Babylon) for the entire novel only to take him down trivially at the end (“I Rebuke You In The Name of Jesus Christ!” or something similar and he goes POOF!). You do NOT take the Big Bad down trivially at the end; that undercuts the entire threat you’ve been building up and cuts down the heroes. To be a major hero, you need to defeat a major villain, and it can’t be easy.

        2) In one of his first two novels, the Spiritual Warfare angle comes through the ACLU trying to sue some school district out of allowing prayer in schools, Bible Studies on-campus, or something similar. (This was a BIG worry of Christian activists at the time of writing.) Well, at one point the ACLU Activist types are meeting in their smoke-free room to plot out how they’re going to Destroy Christianity in this town. All of them are ridden by DEMONS controlling their every move and thought like a Voudun Loa riding his “horse”. And as Peretti introduced all these DEMON-possessed, DEMON-controlled Secular Humanist Activists, I found myself going “THAT’s Carl Sagan; THAT’s Madelyn Murry O’Hair; THAT’s Stephen Jay Gould; THAT’s Shirley MacLaine; THAT’s Anton LaVey; THAT’s The Amazing Randi; THAT’s Dr Ruth…” It Was That Obvious.

        3) At the climax of the second novel, one of the younger female characters finds out the hard way that her Imaginary Friend is actually a DEMON trying to possess her all along. The implication was that Imagination was Satanic, a real kicker when you consider this is written in the “contemporary supernatural” genre of Weird Fiction.

  3. Also a longtime reader but rare poster. I enjoy your posts very much but never have anything to add. All the future possibilities sound great, but I voted movies because that’s what I felt like. There doesn’t have to be thought behind this does there?

    Previous post about doozies for kids reminds me of a series called Forbidden Doors. I read a few of them many moons ago, they’re Christian kids’ books warning against various occult topics like ghosts, UFOs, D&D, rock music, Native American spirituality, and real life vampires. The fact that the author thinks all these things are like the others (and, y’know, exist) should give you some idea of the level of odd. You’re probably swamped with things to deconstruct, but you might enjoy them.

  4. Looks like yet another retelling that completely misses the point of Beauty and the Beast. Probably bad for my blood pressure therefore. (I suspect that, apart from the odd line or two, a Mormon Romance probably looks a lot like an RTC Romance in that there’s lots of modest dressing, no sex, and talk about Jesus.)

    That James MacDonald sounds like a man who’s already planted the claymore mines under the table. Yeah, guys, come in, let’s talk. (And he’s not, thank goodness, Jim Macdonald the real author.)

    Book trailers. Yech.

    I agree with Ivan: films for a change of pace, then back to Murphy so that we can gradually forget what a terrible person Paul Stepola is.

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