'Black Panther' and Advocacy: How the Film Knocked Me Out of My Complacency (Spoiler Alert)

'Black Panther' and Advocacy: How the Film Knocked Me Out of My Complacency (Spoiler Alert)

“Is it really over?” I asked out loud as the credits after Black Panther rolled. Yes, I was one of those people. No, I was not mentally prepared to leave Wakanda.

For any reader who may not be familiar with Wakanda, it is a fictional place in the Marvel Universe (Non-Geek translation: the world of Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Spiderman). Wakanda is the only African country to be untouched by colonial influence. The film Black Panther follows King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his rise to the throne of the isolated, technologically advanced African society.

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'Wonder Woman' Might Be the Most Accurate On-Screen Depiction of Biblical Womanhood, And Here's Why

'Wonder Woman' Might Be the Most Accurate On-Screen Depiction of Biblical Womanhood, And Here's Why

I recently watched Wonder Woman (starring Gal Gadot from the Fast and the Furious franchise), and it has haunted me ever since. Based on all the hype surrounding the film, I expected to feel empowered and inspired as a woman. That, I did.

I never expected, however, to be glued to my seat for over two hours, seeing one biblical truth after another being portrayed flawlessly on screen.

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[PODCAST] Film Analysis of 'Risen': A Conversation about Doubt as a Faith-Builder

[PODCAST] Film Analysis of 'Risen': A Conversation about Doubt as a Faith-Builder

I recently chatted with my friend Alyssa, who is a passionate storyteller. Seeing God move in a powerful way in the church is one of her greatest desires. Alyssa hopes to one day use her passion for screenwriting, producing and editing to help rejuvenate the Christian Film industry.

In this film analysis, Alyssa and I discuss doubt building faith in Risenstarring Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton. This conversation has spoilers, but hopefully you've already seen the movie. If not, it comes out on DVD May 24th. Pre-order here.

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A Non-Cheesy Christian Film Does Exist: Risen, Starring Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton

A Non-Cheesy Christian Film Does Exist: Risen, Starring Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton

For those of you who know me, you know I have an extremely low tolerance--allergy if you will—towards music and film stamped with the “Christian” title. Most Christian art is at best, bland, and at worst, insensitive in the way it glosses over the depth of human emotion.

With that said, I am about to unabashedly give due praise to the new film, Risen, starring Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in LoveLuther) and Tom Felton (Harry Potterfilms). Produced by Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures, it is a whodunit detective story in which a first-century Roman soldier Clavius (Fiennes) is assigned by Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) to locate the missing body of the recently crucified Jesus Christ, or Yeshua, as he is referred to in the film (Cliff Curtis of AMC's Fear the Walking Dead). Sitting in the theater, I was waiting for the shoe to drop for a single cheesy / unrealistic moment. It never came.

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An Interview with Shane Harper | MariletteSanchez.com


Some may recognize Shane Harper as Josh Wheaton, the in-over-his-head college freshman (God’s Not Dead). Others know him as Spencer on Disney Channel’s Good Luck Charlie. His latest role on MTV’s Happyland is quickly shooting him up the ranks of Hollywood’s young heartthrobs. 

I’ve always admired Shane’s multi-faceted talent (see here and here), his candidness about his Christian faith, and his ability to seamlessly navigate between “Christian” and “mainstream” media.

In this exclusive interview with MariletteSanchez.com, Shane opens up about about his ideal role, the reaction of the Christian community to Happyland, and his most important life lesson.


MS: Let’s pretend the best movies you have seen were never made, and were still in the production stage. What script would you want to get in the mail that would make you say, “I have to play this part?"  

SH: Newsies. It’s a movie musical that was released in 1992. Getting to play Jack Kelly would be the coolest! 

MS: How is it going filming "Happyland” for MTV? Tell us a little bit about your character and why you chose that role. 

SH: Filming “Happyland” has been wonderful. It was a short production for season 1 but it was action-packed… long days and late nights were the norm! My character Ian Chandler is “bad boy prince charming”, but he has a good heart underneath the bravado. When I read the pilot, I immediately gravitated towards Ian. It’s always fun to play a character with many emotional layers to them. 

MS: Can you share a time when your Christian values put you in an awkward situation in your acting career? How did that turn out? 

SH: My values as a Christian hinge on the centricity of grace and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The biggest challenges I face all revolve around the temptation of narcism and self-worship. Christianity is all about loving God well, and loving our neighbors. We’re called to serve the people around us but It’s very easy in this business to be self-serving. 

MS: Share a story about a time when your decision to take a mainstream role conflicted with the opinion of the religious community. Would you have done something differently based on their reaction? 

SH:  think my role in this MTV series brings to mind a good example that relates to your question. There have been some interesting remarks from the Christian community commenting on the content of the show, and how they’re “disappointed” I would take a role like this, insinuating that somehow all of the characters I play and all of the narratives I participate in are supposed to share my faith and beliefs. This kind of thinking is the result of looking through the short-sighted, conservative American evangelical lens. That is not a Christian gospel mentality; it’s an us VS. them mentality. Jon Foreman put it concisely when he said, “There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds”. Every narrative has the potential to show us something powerful and important about the human condition. Life is messy and so should art be. The Bible, after all, is filled with messy stories. But we find God’s hand of redemption in all of them. My faith in God leads me to understand the inconceivable value of all people, and it breathes passion into every good endeavor. 

MS: What’s the song that you just can’t get out of your head right now? 

SH: “Ink” by Coldplay 

MS: Who are your top three musical influences? 

SH: Coldplay, John Mayer, Jon Foreman 

MS: Give us your cardboard testimony

SH: In need of grace and mercy. / Still in need of grace and mercy. 

MS: What is the most important life lesson you have learned? What struggles did you have to go through to learn it? 

SH: What’s the truest thing about me? That’s the question I’ve learned to ask myself. The truest thing about any one of us is that we are loved by God. When you know who you are, you know what your purpose is. The cross reminds me every day. 

MS: How are three specific ways my readers can pray for you in the next year? 

SH: That would be so wonderful, thank you. I’m always praying for wisdom. Lately, I’ve been focusing on being patient in all things. And please pray for peace. 

WANT MORE SHANE? Check out this interview with Family Christian, in which Shane describes his Christian upbringing and his personal journey to own his faith, and gives us glimpse into being a vocal Christian in Hollywood.