Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 12/14/20

Modern Warriors [Real Stories from Real Heroes] [Hardback] 2020 November 24

Real Stories from Real Heroes. So, reads the subtitle of Modern Warriors, Pete Hegseth’s fourth book (the first from the new Fox News Books imprint) that debuted on several bestseller lists, including those of Amazon, the New York Times and USA Today. The Fox & Friends Weekend co-host – and veteran of three US Army deployments (during which he earned two Bronze Stars and a Combat Infantry Badge) – interviewed fifteen soldiers to garner first-hand accounts of what it’s like to serve their country militarily amid current world and domestic political circumstances. His subjects include highly-decorated Navy SEALS, Army Rangers, US Marines, Purple Heart recipients, combat pilots and a Medal of Honor recipient. In other words, people who have put their lives on the line for America.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with him about the book that is based on his successful Fox Nation series of the same name.

JWK: So, congratulation the book’s success.

PETE HEGSETH: Thank you very much. I think it was a great way to launch the new Fox News Books. I was honored to be the first one out of the gate on that. I think it’s precisely the kind of material Fox News and Fox Nation exists to promote. I’ll say the same thing about the (Fox Nation) Patriot Awards which is that in society what you revere and what you honor is a reflection of what you value.

In this book, we’re holding up fifteen examples of the types of modern warriors – men and women – who are the best of our nation. Their stories deserve to be told. There’s an appetite for authenticity and that’s what I really value in the book. Most of it is in the words of the warriors themselves. I really fade into the background and you’re having a conversation with them about their experiences (and) also their emotions, their fears, their triumphs. You get to meet the human beings (involved). I’m grateful, of course, for the success of the book but I think it reflects the fact that people are looking for these kinds of stories and we’re glad to deliver them.

JWK: The book is a sort of spin-off of your Modern Warriors series on Fox Nation, correct?

PH: Correct. The book came from a series on Fox Nation called Modern Warriors which came from, basically, my experiences as a host on Fox & Friends Weekend in which we had all these great segments with Green Berets, Army Rangers or Medal of Honor recipients but (in that format) you only have three-and-a-half or four minutes. They’re great segments but you know you’re just scratching the surface. So, we said “Hey, let’s start a series where we get me and four of these warriors in a room…and let’s try and get their deeper stories, the story behind the story. What did it smell like? What are you thinking when the helicopter’s about to land on the objective or when the bullets are whizzing by? What’s it like the hour before (the mission begins).” We kinda take you behind the scenes. When you get vets in a room when they’re with each other, you get revelations you don’t always get with a one-on-one conversation. So, that series has been a huge success…The people from that series and a few others are what made up this first book. 

JWK: What is the message that you hope people receive from both the book and the Fox Nation series?

PH: First and foremost, a reminder of what a special country we have that produces men like this that are willing to sacrifice their lives for millions of Americans they’ve never met – and an idea that’s incredibly fragile. These are the real one percent of America. We talk about the political one percent or the economic one percent, these people (are the one percent that are veterans of) twenty years of war, people who went back time and time again, people who every time they talk at the front of their lips are the people who didn’t come home, who won’t have the birthdays and anniversaries.

One of the things that comes out of it is that as Americans we don’t fight because we hate what’s in front of us, we fight because we love what’s behind us. It’s the freedom that we cherish that motivates these men to enlist in the first place. That is the brotherhood, the camaraderie and the sense of purpose that they experience together.

I want A.) people to be reminded that America is a special place and B.) (to experience that) sheer gratitude and appreciation and then C.) to find a way to do more themselves. I want this book to motivate people to say “I don’t have to pick up a rifle to go fight enemies half way around the world. We’ve got problems, enemies and challenges here in our own country.  How do we find the courage to confront those and to manage our anxieties, our fears and uncertainty?”…This isn’t just a book about vets or for vets and military people. It’s for all Americans who want to find their next reservoir of purpose and determination.

JWK: As a military vet yourself – and, of course, through your conversations with the subjects of Modern Warriors – how much of a role do you think faith plays in motivating these people and also getting them through the harrowing situations they are confronted with? 

PH: A big part. You hear it in their stories. I know it was for me, the power of prayer. You know the old adage “There are no atheists in the foxhole,” that’s true. You’re exposed to raw fear and humanity and human nature.  Naturally speaking, vets (tend to) come from faith-filled backgrounds. These are mostly people who revere and respect their faith (and) who are sincere about it. They understand believing in something greater than themselves. You’ll read it in the pages, those moments when they clung to God and spoke out loud to Jesus and said “Hey, I can’t do this.”

And it’s not just the battlefield. It’s the transition back home too. It’s “Okay, now I’ve left my unit and that purpose and now I’m here and I feel totally rudderless.” It was going back to God, back to faith (and) back to basics that was helpful for a lot of these guys. So, it does play a huge role – as it has in our nation from the very beginning.

JWK: Anything else you’d like to add?

PH: One last thing that I would mention of interest to your audience is that I’m really proud of the faith-based content that exists on Fox Nation. I think it does things that very few others do and brings it to the audience in a compelling way. One of the series I’m proud of on Fox Nation is my Battle in Holy Land, Battle in the Holy City (and) Battle in Bethlehem (documentaries) where I’ve been to Israel three or four time to talk about the dynamics of those holy places. I’m proud of those projects also.

JWK: Now that Fox Nation is getting into scripted programming, I wonder if they’ll dramatize any of the stories from Modern Warriors.

PH: We shall see. I don’t get to make those decisions.

****

Gravitas Ventures will release Magic Max in cinemas and on video-on-demand platforms worldwide on January 26, 2021. The premiere comes off-of a successful festival run, winning numerous awards and nominations including Best Family Film (Canadian International Faith & Family Film Festival), Best Cinematography (New York Cinematography Awards), Grand Jury Prize Silver Award for Best Director James D. Fields (Los Angeles Motion Picture Festival), and Award of Excellence for Leading Actor Parker Bates (IndieFEST Film Awards).

Magic Max stars Parker Bates (This is Us), Ivan Sergei (BH 90210), Lotus Blossom (We Can Be Heroes), Jud Taylor (42), and Barry Corbin (The Ranch). James D. Fields directs. Producers include Gabrielle Evans Fields and Sean Fernald for Silver Lining Pictures Co.

The film follows 11-year-old Tim Hart (Bates), who after the tragic loss of both parents, is forced to live with his immensely immature Uncle Max (Sergei), a second-rate magician.

“This is not a movie about magic,” according to director James D. Fields. “This film is about how an underachiever changes his heart from stone to flesh – with the help of his 11-year-old nephew Tim who teaches him how to love. It is a reminder that in, even the darkest times, compassion for each other is the best magic of all.”

Vice President of Acquisitions at Gravitas Ventures Vice President of Acquisitions Tony Piantedosi cites what he calls the story’s “blend of humor and heart” as a reason why his company decided to distribute the film, saying “James’ film is a breath of fresh air that the whole family can enjoy during these trying times.”

Magic Max marks the feature film directorial debut for Fields and the fourth feature film for Silver Lining Pictures Co. whose CEO Gabrielle Evans Fields is focused on finding and developing films that highlight love, acceptance, and great comedy with strong Christian values.

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

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