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Idol Chatter

Because I spent my formative teen years avidly listening to Christian music artist Michael W. Smith and Christian rocker/satirist Steve Taylor, I watched “The Second Chance,” a movie which stars Smith and was directed by Taylor, hoping it would not be another cheesy, small-budget Christian flick that would do nothing to convince Hollywood that Christians know anything about storytelling. The movie, which opens in very limited release tomorrow, attempts to earnestly look at church politics, racial division, and urban outreach to the poor by throwing Ethan (played by Smith)–a prodigal son/former musician/associate pastor–together with an unorthodox and often angry African-American pastor, Jake. (Ethan has been sent by his wealthy suburban church to “observe and learn” at Jake’s inner-city church, The Second Chance Community Church.)

Though the acting performances, including Smith’s, are all surprisingly respectable–and I have seen far worse overtly Christian films than this one–there is still much to be critical of in this movie, which beats us over the head again and again with every spiritual cliché possible. But then again, this movie is clearly intended solely for the conservative Christian church community. It is obvious that “Second Chance” was not conceived as a platform to reach the secular marketplace and has no interest in what Hollywood might think of it. So maybe it will touch its intended audience in some way and prompt some healthy conversation among those churchgoers who attend the movie.

But for me, the disappointment lingered long after the final credits rolled, because I want to see Taylor one day direct a truly great indie film that says something fresh about the Christian journey. I have to believe anyone who wrote the lyrics to “I blew up the clinic real good” and “I want to be a clone” has it in him. So when his next flick comes out, I will still give Taylor a second chance and watch it.

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