So here’s what happened. We did a showing of The War Room at our church as a lead into a Bible study we will be doing based on the movie. The DVD provided from the production company had a preview in the beginning of the disk. It was set up in a way that I usually find a little obnoxious, so that you can’t forward through the previews to get to the movie. It wouldn’t have been so bad but our computer was struggling to play the whole movie and it froze on us two or three times. The end result was I saw this trailer, between set up and prep for the evening about seven times.
The trailer was for a movie called Woodlawn. Having seen the trailer so many times I became intrigued. I’m a sucker for a good sports movie (Field of Dreams, anyone?) and I had a little extra alone time one evening so I decided to see if it was available in the Red Box and it was. Oh my word! This is how you tell a story. It’s based on the story of Tony Nathan, one of the first stand out African American high school football players in a very segregated Alabama. This is a tale of faith, courage, and revival. Guys this is one of those films that makes an artist want to become a film-maker, or maybe just find a way to tell stories like this one.
Along side of the obvious themes of racial injustice another injustice struck me. At the start of the movie, the recently desegregated school was a battle zone. The gospel was shared and a revival broke out first with the football team and then in the school, the result of this revival was improvement throughout the school and racial harmony on the team. Now of course I am sure there was some idealizing going on here and the focus was mainly on the team, but you can probably guess what happened. Eventually the separation of church and state folks showed up and tried to shut down the revival and fire the coach. I understand the importance of the separation of church and state to some degree, but it struck me that there are people in our nation, not just in this story from the seventies, but in our world today, who would rather have had racial strife than Christianity in the public sector. This is absurd. I think sometimes we need to ask a very basic question: Since our nation has tried to distance itself from God and seems to be going out of it’s way to drive Christianity to the fringes, has our nation gotten better or worse? I think the answer is painfully obvious.
To the makers of Woodlawn I have to say a hearty well done. This is one of the best Christian films I have ever seen and I’ve seen quite a few. It was thoroughly inspirational and very well made. All I could think as I watched it was Lord help me tell stories that touch hearts and minds like this one. They told a better story.
Now how can you tell a better story?