What If Jesus Told You to Have More Sex?

05/19/2008


By Becky Garrison

After becoming ridiculously popular on the indie film festival circuit, Forgiving the Franklins comes to DVD today, two and a half years after its reception at Sundance made it look like a breakout hit. Instead it had only a brief theatrical run--in Greensboro, North Carolina, which is where the story takes place--and now hopes for new life via Blockbuster and Netflix.

Here's the setup. Meet the perfect Bible-believing Franklin family--lawyer dad Frank (Robertson Dean), mother Betty (Teresa Willis), football-playing pretty-boy son Brian (Vince Pavia) and potty-mouthed yet pious cheerleader daughter Caroline (Aviva). A fatal car crash en route to a church picnic sends Frank, Betty and Brian upwards to meet the Big Guy, while the daughter remains on earth, merely injured. As the heaven-bound Franklins wander around a surrealistic limbo, they encounter a very unorthodox Jesus (Pop DaSilva). For reasons that remain unclear, but in a very graphic manner (keep your eye on the apples for they will bear some most unexpected fruit), Jesus removes their Original Sin and sends the trio back to earth.

Jesus
Pop DaSilva as Jesus

Once they wake up from their respective coma in varying states of bodily bliss, these liberated souls clash with their dutiful daughter, who now spends her personal prayer time cursing God for destroying her ability to praise Him with her cheers. What follows is not what you would expect. These are not your stereotypical Christians turned free-thinking hedonists. No siree. These three Franklins remain faithful, and they clearly relate to the God who breathed new life into them by allowing them to don new wineskins (that is, when they decide to actually put clothes on at all).

Love on  the Rocks
Love on the Rocks

Now here’s the moment where concerned parents might want to send the little kiddies out of the room unless you’re up for some serious explaining as to why Daddy might be puttering around the kitchen after midnight. Suffice to say that, thanks to the Franklins, and possibly to the houseboat scene in Nine and a Half Weeks, their entire community has gained a newfound appreciation for ice cubes. (A montage brings to mind the LaHaye marriage manuals of the 1970s, thus adding a whole new dimension to being Left Behind.)

Yet, despite a night of communal thawing, the family remains frozen apart from their Stepford-esque, spiritually superior neighbors, as well as the rest of the Christian community. And so the stage is set for an apple-pie ending that once again changes the perception we have of this Americana delight--apple pie, that is, not ice cubes.

Think of this film as the anti-Walden Media flick. If The Passion of Christ caused you to climax, spiritually speaking, then this part-morality tale, part-sex romp satire is not right for you. However, those who share director/screenwriter Jay Floyd’s disdain for ultra-conservative Christians with sugary Southern accents will enjoy this religious roller-coaster ride.

Despite the obvious Bible-Belt bashing, a thread of redemptive grace remains woven into the fabric of the film. Unlike some other filmmakers, who clearly have issues with the faith of their childhood, Floyd doesn’t descend into Dogma by trashing everything that smacks of godliness. According to Floyd, “I do not intend to lampoon Christianity at all. If anything, I wanted to lampoon zealotry. There are good Christians, and awful ones as well. Unfortunately, I think the corrupt kind has had control of the microphone for too many years now, and I think it's time for the other side--my side--to speak up again.”

This nuanced approach to a highly charged subject has already led to some efforts at reconciliation. Fellow Southerner Craig Deitweiler, director of Reel Spirituality at Fuller Theological Seminary, took a group of film students from Fuller and Biola University to see the premiere of this flick at the Sundance Film Festival. He became saddened by the depth of pain seemingly sincere Christians had caused, especially to the largely homosexual audience in attendance. AppleDuring the Q&A, he stood up and apologized to Floyd for anything done to this homosexual filmmaker in the name of God. As Deitweiler recounted that evening, “The audience was literally disarmed. It went from a lynch mob to a love fest in an instant. The Holy Spirit swooped in, surprising us all. The moderator concluded the conversation. Audience members approached me afterwards with hugs. A lesbian couple thanked me. Gay men kissed me. One person said, ‘If that is true, I might consider giving religion a chance.’ Tears were shed far and wide. All it took were two little words: ‘I apologize.’” (Log on to www.purplestateofmind.com to continue this conversation.)

This movie reminds us in a rather twisted fashion that taking a bite of the alleged “forbidden” apple can enable one to be reborn into a life filled with grace. Just keep away from eating too much American Pie.


Comments(82)

william horton | 10:23 pm on 5/21/2008

apostle PAUL has already said all that needs to be said about sex and marriage and sex outside of marriage in the book of Romans....that being " in marriage, the bed is not defiled "...it couldn't be said better !!!

TheDonQuixotic | 01:17 pm on 5/22/2008

Righto!

Asian Swingers | 08:13 pm on 8/29/2010

Totally agree!

UNCLE KENNY | 08:49 pm on 6/14/2008

Pop DaSilva was awesome. I especially like the bit with the apples and his wry humor when he chopped down one cross, only to see four more get stuck in the ground, ". . .these things are like weeds!"

Was anyone else reminded of that old cable show (HBO, Showtime?) about two decades ago called "Steambath (I think?)" where it turns out god is really this hispanic janitor trying to keep everything running while explaining theology to a bunch of people in the room for a sweat?

Someone needs to put that series on DVD--good stuff!

BJ | 09:34 am on 5/22/2008

Jesus actually did appear to me and told me to have more sex. I think of it as the great cumission.

Process Deist | 12:43 pm on 5/22/2008

OK, BJ.
You have probably said this to an
Evangelist's Daughter,
When you are both hot and .....
Thirty minutes after the night worship,
in the backseat of a Buick,
in rural Alabama.
Did I leave anything out?

BJ | 12:52 pm on 5/22/2008

There's something about those blonde haired southern beauties singing an Evie song that just turns me on. Hot Chicks, Hormones and the Holy Ghost. Good times, good times.

SRebbe | 01:42 pm on 5/22/2008

Evie... now there's a name I haven't heard since my preschool days. better than the Gaither Vocal Band on some scratchy vinyl. I still can't play them without adding twang.

budda | 02:27 pm on 5/22/2008

Evie's christmas album (real vinyl) was played every year growing up. When someone says christmas carols, her voice is what pops in my head.

BJ | 02:32 pm on 5/22/2008

When I was teenager there was this hot blonde chick who used to sing the song Mirror all the time in chuch. She used to rotate the mic to create an echo effect when singing the song. A folic symbol if there ever was one. When I hear that song visions of her playing with the mic pop in my head.

budda | 02:49 pm on 5/22/2008

Oh, the good times in the church basement. Church camp (nazarene) was like a swingers convention. They might as well have sold comdoms at the concession stand. I remember skipping youth group and hanging out with my heathen friends sometimes just to get away from all the sexual tension.

BJ | 02:53 pm on 5/22/2008

You haven't had sex until you've had church camp sex. All the while remaining a technical virgin. Hey, I can get off and still go to heaven.

JoshH | 05:38 pm on 5/22/2008

And even if you're not a "technical virgin" afterward, you can run to the altar sobbing every afternoon.

And of course, getting a BJ *Beavis and Butthead laugh* gives you an idea of what "the Rapture" would feel like while you listen to Blondie on your Walkman.

budda | 08:08 pm on 5/22/2008

I swear that is why they had the big kumbaya, repentance, get saved camp fire at the end of camp, not at the beginning. I always skipped that part. I figured I was a lot of things but a hypocrite was not gonna be one of 'em.

TheDonQuixotic | 12:55 am on 5/26/2008

Doesn't this strike you as being kinda hypocritical? To repent and not mean it. Man, thats just like the pharisees.

budda | 11:52 am on 5/26/2008

Ya, Don, that's why I said I never joined in the kumbaya camp-fire. 'Cause it would have been hypocritical. "Cause I knew, given the right set of circumstances, I would do it again. That is one of the reasons I'm a lousy christian, Don, I can't fool myself and I know I'm not fooling God. Me and God have a very honest relationship, I "fear" God, but I'm not so afraid that I have to justify myself. I do believe He will.

Speaking of pharisees, I would not go so far as to judge, Don, I'm quite sure some of those kids did mean it. Truly did repent. Not that they never sinned again, but in that moment they repented as much as they were capable of.

that calvinist doug | 03:38 pm on 5/22/2008

A folic symbol, huh? Is that like a wig, rogaine, hairbrush, what?

BJ | 03:50 pm on 5/22/2008

Phallic.

BJ | 03:50 pm on 5/22/2008

Phallic.

BJ | 03:51 pm on 5/22/2008

Phallic.

BJ | 03:51 pm on 5/22/2008

For the love of Dirk Digler. Phallic.

that calvinist doug | 04:06 pm on 5/22/2008

Farrah Fawcett forgives you, John 3:16 man forgives you, and so do I. Charles Barkley, not so much.

BJ | 06:41 am on 5/23/2008

Our future governor.

JoshH | 03:26 pm on 5/27/2008

No, it's more like something meant to encourage people to get their Vitamin B9 levels up more.

SRebbe | 11:21 am on 5/23/2008

I swear they publish these stories just to see what tangent BJ will go off on. At least we all (BJ included) have creativity.

Mr Hanky | 02:07 pm on 5/23/2008

to make a great fundie movie, all violence and no sex

cam | 03:26 am on 5/24/2008

And the point of even reviewing this is? very easy to satirize all day long, how about edifying us sometime? or do you have a ministry of satire? I'm sure that's in the book somewhere.

cam | 03:30 am on 5/24/2008

Please stop giving people like this a break and imagining that God has anything to do with the inspiration. You give such a break to filth like this and go over anyone you disagree with, with a fine tooth comb.

budda | 12:56 am on 5/25/2008

Cam, how many web sites and publications do you think there are with the goal of edification? A few hundred? A few thousand? Tens of thousands? Just click on the links att. to the names of the people who comment here, you'll find 5-10 inspirational/edification blogs right here. (mine aint one of 'em)

How many sites are devoted to christian satire? Faith based investigative journalism? Actually funny religious humor? Cornerstone used to sometimes, but name another. Didn't think so.

Enjoy what is in your life now. Live in the moment and stop wishing everything would change to be just the way you think it should be. If you become open and teachable you will be surprised at what is edifying.

TheDonQuixotic | 12:57 am on 5/26/2008

Just go with the flow, and quite wishing things were different. Perhaps this is taking that speech into the abstract, but I think thats wrong. It is only those who are dissatisfied with things as they are, who will change the world, and reform it.

budda | 12:50 pm on 5/26/2008

I love you , Don.

Yes, I agree with the benefits of dissatisfaction and that being a good motivator for change. There is also something to be said for appreciating the good things we have. So that is what I was saying. Appreciate the Door for what it is. Stop trying to fix it 'cause it aint broken.

I for one, appreciate your being here though, Don, it is a better place 'cause you are here. It wouldn't be as much fun without you. Besides, I think Doug gets tired of being the most conservative guy here sometimes.

منتديات الرياض | 11:30 am on 4/16/2011

A folic symbol if there ever was one..

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