Jesus Revolution

Jesus Revolution
Jesus Revolution
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The era of free sex, recreational drugs and rock ‘n’ roll somehow birthed a Christian religious revival that took America by storm in the early 1970s. A Jesus Revolution is an inspiring true story about the young Greg Laurie who was yearning for purpose and the selfless pastors who pointed him to a spiritual rebirth. Faith-based or devotional films are often lambasted within cinema. A persuasive approach characterized by moralistic thinking is suspect, but a contemplative expression of our shared humanity and quest for community deserves attention.

A reporter (DeVon Franklin) inquires of Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney), a local student, as he watches some teenagers in Southern California getting joyously baptized in the sea in 1970. Calvary chapel pastor Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer) sees a lot of empty pews with only a few people attending his church one year earlier on Easter Sunday. Those coming were unkind, inflexible and judgmental believers. His world comes crashing down after an unexpected encounter at his office door.

Janelle (Ally Ioannides), Chuck’s teenage daughter brings home a long-haired, bearded hippie. Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie) just enjoyed catching a ride and dinner invitation. He didn’t smoke, drink or want to turn on, tune in drop out; instead he would share Christ with anyone who needed it or wanted to hear it. In awe, Chuck asks him to move into his house as well as his life! The stream of Flower Children following Lonnie was no nuisance to Chuck anymore; neither did they bother him any longer.

Meanwhile, Greg wants to leave his military school with its alcoholic mother behind (Kimberly Williams-Paisley). Cathe is beautiful and lively, which has made him fall under her spell completely (Anna Grace Barlow). Her cool friends were basked in hedonistic partying. However, that way of life was harmful and deadly. Greg still didn’t know who he was anymore. Destiny alters for the better when Cathe invites him to experiment with something different in his life; something like going to a prayer service at Calvary Chapel.

The “Jesus Revolution,” was a cover story on the Time Magazine in 1971. The movie is based on Greg’s book which depicts his experiences that led to his conversion into Christianity. The sixties were a trying time. Those coming of age in the wake of assassinations, race riots, and war faced uncertain futures in a dark time. Lonnie and Chuck’s motto was simply one word: acceptance. They lived out their faith by welcoming anyone and everyone with open arms. They had found their place of belonging through the journey made by Greg and Cathe over there. From emptiness what became full; they find an ultimate purpose that would dictate the path they take in future.

In this film, Jesus Revolution becomes reminiscent of soap opera every now and then due to human frailties being put into play. Lonnie and Chuck’s families, as well as Greg and Cathe’s families are not always about hugs or prayers for each other. Power hungry people like jealousy have always divided individuals so much so that it is corruptive even as numerous converts are won over unto Christ . There is some hokey melodrama but not enough to detract from the film’s heartwarming message though there was some bit of hokey melodrama but not too much to deviate from its touching message

Let’s get straight to the point. Jesus Revolution praises Christianity as a way to personal satisfaction, but it doesn’t beat anyone over the head with a Bible. The religious group Calvary Chapel has thousands of churches and millions of adherents. Christian rock was initiated by Lonnie and Chuck’s shows. I am an atheist but can appreciate others who have found joy in their belief system. Jesus Revolution skillfully illustrates how a movement began that is still alive today. On screen, all I see is lots of unattractiveness, detestation and violence being shown too often. It was great leaving the theater smiling and feeling part of something bigger than oneself.

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