Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s this week’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith and culture:

Move over Marvel Universe: Taylor James, recently seen as a military messenger from Atlantis in Zack Snyder’s Justice League film, stars as Samson, perhaps the word’s first superhero. The action-packed biblical epic also stars Billy Zane, Rutger Hauer, Jackson Rathbone and Caitlin Leahy, The film, which opens nationwide on February 16, also features Lindsay Wagner who gained fame playing the TV superhero The Bionic Woman.

For those of you who may not know the Samson story as found in The Bible, it’s the tale of a hero chosen by God whose supernatural strength and impulsive decisions quickly pit him against the oppressive Philistine empire.

Samson was filmed on location in South Africa and is a production of Pure Flix (The Case for Christ, God’s Not Dead).

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Here’s this week’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith and culture:

The faith-based film powerhouse Pure Flix is announcing an Easter weekend release for God’s Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness.

The third film of the financially-successful GND franchise filmed on location in Little Rock, Arkansas and stars David A.R. White and Shane Harper returning to their roles in the original film. New to the cast are John Corbett (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), Ted McGinley (Married with Children), Jennifer Taylor (Two and a Half Men) and Tatum O’Neal (Paper Moon).

Plot Synopsis:

GOD’S NOT DEAD: Pastor Dave (David A.R. White) faces tragedy when his church, located on the grounds of the local university, is burned down.
Literally adding insult to injury, his plan to rebuild faces an unexpected setback when university reject the idea on grounds that the church is no longer relevant in today’s society. Trusting in the motto that he has lived by that “God is good all the time,” Pastor Dave enlists the legal help of his estranged attorney brother Pearce (John Corbett) who is an atheist. As they work together, they come to understand that not every victory requires defeating the opposition, and there is a greater win when you heal and rebuild with compassion and respect for others.

FYI: Moviegoers can follow the film on the official web site at, on Facebook at, or on Twitter @GodsNotDeadFilm.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Here’s the latest dispatch from the crossroads of faith and culture:

With the passing of Della Reese, Touched by an Angel executive producer Martha Williamson had this sent my way to share with Beliefnet readers.

“When you walk down the road
Heavy burden, heavy load
I will rise and I will walk with you
Walk with you
‘Til the sun don’t shine
Walk with you every time
Believe me
I will walk with you…”
“Touched By An Angel” theme song

Della Reese was a brilliantly funny and profoundly moving actor, an unforgettably talented, mesmerizing singer, a savvy talk-show host, a dedicated
minister, and the star of a top-ten television hit. But most of all, she was an undeniable one-woman enterprise selling one precious product – the fierce love of an ever-loving God whom she lived to serve and share. And she shared that unshakeable faith of hers wherever she walked – onto a film set, into an elevator, down an airport concourse or a grocery store aisle. If you saw Della Reese heading your way, you knew something was going to change.

It’s the way she walked into a room that I will remember most. There was the room before Della entered. And then it was us in Della’s room. If the sheer magnitude of her powerful presence wasn’t enough to announce her arrival, there was always the liberal bestowing of hugs and blessings. “God bless you today.” “God bless you today.” “God bless you today.” And when Della said it, it wasn’t a greeting,
it was a command – an exhortation to stop and acknowledge that you were, in fact,
blessed, so you’d better shape up and live like it.

Once, on the set of “Touched By An Angel,” a guest star found himself unable to continue shooting an emotionally-charged “revelation” scene in which Della’s character, Tess, reveals herself as an angel with a message of forgiveness from God. When I took the actor aside, he broke into tears and said he’d just spent two years writing a play to promote atheism, and in the space of twenty minutes performing one scene on camera with Della Reese, his entire belief system had been shaken. “I may have just wasted two years of my life. That woman really believes. And I’m
starting to believe her.”

Della Reese stepped into the role of Tess with the natural ease that the rest of us step into a favorite pair of slippers. Sharing the good news of God’s love was as comfortable and familiar to her as walking and talking and breathing. And yet, her pitch-perfect portrayal for nine years of a no-nonsense, straight-talking, uncompromising angel was formed over decades of struggle and sacrifice and single-minded determination to beat the odds.

During a career that spanned seven decades, through wars and civil rights, hardship and success, she survived. She survived the days when a black woman could sing in a luxury hotel but wasn’t allowed to stay there. She survived life threatening injuries and a devastating stroke. She survived heartbreaking personal and professional loss. And through it all, she steadfastly held to her faith that she was born with a purpose to fulfill and that each step she took in this life would never be taken alone.

What a blessing that for nine years we got to walk along with her as she and her beloved angel daughter Roma Downey reminded the world every Sunday night that excellence isn’t easy, that love is a choice and must be fought for and defended with truth and integrity and faith. And, of course, that God loves you.

“God bless you today” as you remember Della. And know that even now, she is walking where she was always planning to walk forever – alongside her Creator.
With love,
Martha Williamson


Here’s the latest dispatch from the crossroads of faith and media:

Trailer Station:

This weekend: In Sony Pictures Animation’s The Star, a small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day he finds the courage to break free, and finally goes on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a loveable sheep who has lost her flock and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become unlikely heroes in the greatest story ever told — the first Christmas.

Wednesday, November 22/Thanksgiving – The Man Who Invented Christmas

The Man Who Invented Christmas tells of the magical journey that led to thecreation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer), Tiny Tim and other classic characters from A Christmas Carol. Directed by Bharat Nalluri (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), the film shows how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) mixed real life inspirations with his vivid imagination to conjure up unforgettable characters and a timeless tale, forever changing the
holiday season into the celebration we know today.

Mini-review: I previewed this one with my sister. We agreed it was charming and entertaining. A nice holiday film. Recommended.

Coming: Friday, Jan. 19, 2018 – Forever My Girl