>Facing the Giants

>I recently watched the movie, Facing the Giants. The movie is a Christian-based movie about a football team for a small Christian school in Georgia and the story of their coach, whose having a good run of bad luck.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable movie. The actors are all members of (what I assume is) a mega-church in Georgia and they all do a fairly good job. The only really bad choice is including Georgia head football coach Mark Richt in the film, but that may be my UT bias showing just a bit.

But while I liked the movie, I can’t say I loved it . It was good but I still had some issues with it, namely in the way it presented the journey of our hero in the film. My biggest problem with Facing the Giants is one that I have with a lot of what is published under the banner of Christian fiction these days.

The movie starts out with our hero, Grant Taylor. He’s the coach of the private Christian Shiloh Acadamy’s football team. His teams aren’t doing so well–he’s had six straight losing seasons and he’s on the proverbial coaching hot seat. It’s not helped when his team loses the first two games of the year including a game he and the rest of the coaching staff counted on as an “easy win.” This isn’t the only issue in Grant’s life–he and his wife are trying to have a baby and have been failing for four years. Grant finds out the problem rests with him. Also, the family car is slowly dying and the two of them can’t afford a new one. Their nice house has a pervasive odor that they can’t seem track down.

As the first 45 or so minutes of the movie progress, poor Grant has one problem after another pile on him. The poor guy is really beat down and it seems he can’t turn around twice before another problem is rearing its ugly head. At this point, Grant becomes frustrated, reaching almost rock bottom. Here he gives all the burdens to the Lord and asks for guidance. He decides to have the football team follow the principles and purpose God would have for them–and not just have it be all about winning. If they win, they give glory to God, if they lose they give glory to God. Either way, they’re going to have a heart of worship and praise.

I don’t really have a problem with that part of it. I did find it a bit of a stretch for poor Grant to face just about every crisis known to man in the course of the first 45-minutes of the film. It’s a good thing he doesn’t have a dog or else it would have run away or worse.

However, once Grant gives the burdens over the Lord, all sense of drama and suspense in the film end. And that’s where my main issue with the film crops up.

Now, I do believe that giving your life to God and walking with Christ is a blessing and can fill you with a peace beyond understanding. But I also know that just becuase we do that, it doesn’t instantly make your life better. If anything, the road may become harder. Anyone who tells you being a Christian is a walk in the park is lying to you. It’s easier because you have the strength of God to rely on, fall back on and carry with you, but it doesn’t mean that life suddenly becomes easier or that you have to stop dealing with the issues you face in the world. But that’s sort of what happens in the movie.

The team embraces the new purpose for the team–and they start winning. Grant is given a new truck, they find the source of the mysterious smell in the house, Grant and his wife become pregnant (this part of the script is fairly Three’s Company when the wife goes to the doctor and gets results for another woman with the same first initial and last name. Then the nurse has to go running out after her to tell her, only we don’t hear it on-screen (we see her reaction) becuase it’s intended to heighten the drama of the final game where we the audience know more than Grant does.)

My problem here is the same problem I had with another piece of Christian fiction I read recently, “Saving Alice.” The novel is by David Lewis and the plight of our hero is pretty much the same–he’s a guy trying to do the right thing, but the world is just piling one burden after another on him until he breaks. “Saving Alice” goes a lot farther in breaking our hero, to the point that he loses his wife and his daughter commits suicide before he breaks down and really asks God for help. Then, in the final 20 or so pages, the prayer is answered…only it’s done via magical realism. Our hero wakes up and finds he’s still married to the wife, the daughter is alive and he’s been given a second chance.

Which it’s a nice idea, but the whole end of the book seems a bit too Wayne’s World going for the Scooby Doo ending than it does a believable story. Don’t get me wrong–I don’t want to see the guy suffer and I do believe in miracles and the awesome power of God. But I just can’t buy that God would turn back the clock and give the guy a reset button…he’s learned his lesson, now he gets a do-over, if you will.

God gives you do-over in your heart and soul, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to deal with the circumstances of your life as they are. Believe me, I’ve prayed for the do-over or back up time just a few hours and change a few things and it just hasn’t happened. I think it negates the experience and the journey of our faith a bit. Being a Christian makes the journey easier, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t speed-bumps and potholes in the road along the way.

Of course, we all know how the movie ends–the Eagles make the playoffs and make a deep run. They come up against a power-house school in the fianl game–the Giants from the title of the film. This part requires a lot of disbelief because it makes little sense for a school the size of Shiloh to be in the same classification as the powerhouse football school. I mean, I don’t know a lot about high school football in Georgia, but for these two teams to be in the same football classification makes little or no sense.

But needless to say, if you’ve seen any football movie in the past 20 years, you know how it will all end up.

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