For a Church gathering, there are many areas of discussion, thought, and even Christian conversation the movie Courageous plays to and is good play as a movie to see. One of these areas comes to the science-vs.-faith discussion, for its worldview is Christian, and its means of portraying character and ways to live is based on religious moral tenants, mostly derived from the Old and New Testament. One area of worldview is the Christian demand that Christians see the world as it is, for its reality and for what is going on in their lives and life.
To this end the question of sociology and its science, the area of economic and other areas of modern ways of worldview, for how they form human lives plays a part. Is the cause of the fall of fatherhood, the rise of family disintegration and the declining if disappearing middle class the result of a poor economy? Is it the result of societal pressures, and norms, reacting to changes in the culture and society? This writer wants to explore the film’s worldview and emphasize the area of cultural and social sensibility portrayed in the religious community of this movie Courageous. Let us also look briefly at what kind of courage it takes for an individual, and a community, let alone a nation, to deal with decaying situations that are not only material, but moral, spiritual, and even value driven. Certainly, these are areas of the human heart, as is courage of men an area of the male heart. So the film says.
Finally, as a note in this introduction, let us if only briefly consider that many of the people and their values, though Biblically and religiously motivated, are colored by the class values of the American middle class. For this is a movie that the middle class, those who were middle class, and those who want to be or live its way of life in value see the world.
In the film “Courageous,” released September 2011, there are artistic artifices that caught this writer’s attention. The primary one portrayed by cultural and social sensibility, of even religious community, was reliance on the myth of the American middle class. Is there much of a middle class in America anymore, and significantly does story of the film in its fiction really make for a way of life that is both desirous to emulate as shown in the film; and is it even something relevant to the way American’s live today in the present economic and social realities? For this writer, the movies dramatic framework is a picture of the last phenomenon of the missing, not shrinking so much, middle class and its portrayal of a good life. Shall we call this an economic matter, rather than glance at the artistic vision that shows a 1950s way of wanting life to be in its post-World War II affluence.
The magazine, The Atlantic, explores this issue of the existence of an American middle class in their September 2011 issue, “Can the Middle Class be Saved?” by Don Peck. Maybe the film Courageous, an action adventure movie produced by the work of a Southern Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia (filmed in Albany, Georgia, too), with the help of friends and benefactors. They are responsible in great part for financing the million dollar production, could also hold a similar cry, “Can the Middle Class be Saved?” In this support by this large group of Churches, businesses, and people, we see an American dream. Nay, an American promise.
But more so, the movie about the father’s role in a family, and the promise to be a good father within the sight of God as part of a religious community, speaks to the moral shortcomings of American society today. After all, though a cultural property with a social statement, the film is really one founded in religious, Christian sensibility. The film wants and plans to emulate American cultural promise, not counter-cultural statement. The film admires and says the religious life is the middle class life, both in material style and in value sense. The middle class is here and now for this movie about American men and fatherhood. In short, the middle class exists and its American Christianity, for which it fights to engage and make model of its religious and Church community world, is attainable.
But for The Atlantic piece, it says America is more Plutocracy today (21st Century), than anything else. It is akin in the present national sense of eras, in the real America of today in the here and now America to two eras of the American past: The Gilded Age, and the Roaring Twenties.
What has this to do with the movie? It shows a kind of disconnect between what is in America today, and what has been and continues to be a cultural and economic American dream of a real middle class. It more than hints a middle class life is necessary to relationship with God, or at least the desired means of relationship.
Nonetheless, this movie is not a true propaganda film, nor does it spellbind the viewer to succumb to a sense that this is a Christian education film. The movie is a true moral story. That is a great strength; Courageous speaks to America today in these ways best.
The film speaks to the serious and real moral failings of the society today, portraying a positive sense of possibility, and offering male sensibilities of how to live one’s life in the family, and in society. Even the title speaks this message: Courage.
Though the film depicts physical courage by men in action it does not solely rely on this as the measure of manhood and courage. Testosterone alone is not what courage and bravery are about. An example of courage, military in kind albeit, is demonstrated by a recent winner of the Medal of Honor. For this is an honor given for bravery, honor, and a moral strength of courage in the face of fear and death in sacrifice for others. That’s the idea.
Here is The Los Angeles Times reporting on the American winner of a recent, and rarely received Medal of Honor:
A Marine sergeant will receive the Medal of Honor for bravery in Afghanistan from President Obama on Sept. 15, the White House announced Friday.
Dakota Meyer, 23, a scout-sniper from Columbia, Ky., fought through fire from enemy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades to help rescue and evacuate more than 15 wounded Afghan soldiers and recover the bodies of four American service personnel. The incident occurred Sept. 8, 2009, in a remote mountainous village during an hours-long firefight with Taliban fighters.
Meyer’s heroism is detailed in the book “The Wrong War” by Bing West, former Marine and former assistant secretary of Defense. West said that Meyer dominated the battlefield by fearlessly pumping rifle and machine-gun rounds into enemy positions during the rescue attempt. At the time, Meyer was a corporal, the most junior advisor in the firefight. Meyer is now part of the inactive ready reserve of the Marine Corps Reserve.
From Military Times by John Hayward:
Cpl. Meyer was amazing:
Meyer, then 21, went into the kill zone on foot after helicopter pilots called on to respond said they could not help retrieve the four missing service members because the fighting on the ground was too fierce, according to a witness statement he provided the military. He found his buddies in a trench where pilots had spotted them.
“I checked them all for a pulse. There [sic] bodies were already stiff,” Meyer said in a sworn statement he was asked to provide military investigators. “I found SSgt Kenefick facedown in the trench w/ his GPS in his hand. His face appeared as if he were screaming. He had been shot in the head.”
Meyer was already suffering from shrapnel wounds at the time. He nevertheless assisted in the retrieval of the bodies. All four of the fallen soldiers were subsequently honored with Bronze Stars.
And from another The Los Angeles Times report:
Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, 25, will receive the nation’s highest award for valor for rushing directly into enemy fire during a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan on Oct. 25, 2007, and pulling three wounded soldiers to safety, according to a Pentagon account. Giunta had been knocked down by a bullet that slammed into a thick plate of his body armor, but recovered in time to fire his automatic rifle and hurl a grenade at the attackers.
…Giunta first rescued two soldiers who had been wounded during the ambush along a wooded ridgeline in the rugged Korengal Valley in Kunar province, according to the Pentagon account. He then spotted two insurgents attempting to haul off a wounded American paratrooper and opened fire, forcing them to abandon the soldier and retreat…
This man Giunta exhibited extraordinary courage to the point of real gallantry. But so did, and as well, the recent courageous man, Dakota Meyer. There’s the operative word: gallantry.
America does not lack courage. No. But it does have to face the male challenge of fatherhood, its responsibilities, whether one agrees with the spiritual and religious message of the film or not. This editorial commentary is made in the face of a changed condition of economic promise and vanishing of the middle class for the new reality of the existence of what has become for the society: Plutocracy.
From The Atlantic article by Don Peck:
One of the most salient features of severe downturn is that they tend to accelerate deep economic shifts that are already under way. Declining industries and companies fail, spurring workers and capital toward rising sectors declining cities shrink faster, leaving blight, workers whose roles have been partly usurped by technology are pushed out en masse and never asked to return. Some economists have argued that in one sense, periods like these do nations a service by clearing a way for new innovation, more efficient production, and faster growth. Whether or not that’s true, they typically allow us to see, with rare and brutal clarity, where society is heading—and what sorts of people and places it is leaving behind.
Let us engage in the movie Courageous, and as in movie viewing indulge our imaginations and surrender to the artifice of the artists, who are many actors of professional kind, and some members of the Southern Baptist Church responsible for the making of as well as creation of this filmic work that does hold the viewer’s attention, and also entertains with its acting, scenes, and dialogue. Remember, the movie about courage requires a moral compass and standpoint, as we believe true courage offers in its value.
Time magazine says of the films produced so far by the Church group of its economically successful history in an article by Richard Corliss Monday, Oct. 06, 2008: Here we learn about the Kendrick brothers, both ordained Southern Baptist Ministers.
Alex, 38, and Stephen, 35, grew up in metro Atlanta, the second and third sons of a minister. (Their older brother works at IBM). Both earned communication degrees at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University, attended seminary and got ministerial jobs at Sherwood. After reading a study about the influence of movies on culture and the relative lack of influence of the church, the brothers decided to return to what had been an adolescent hobby, playing with a video camera. In 2003, they asked their church for $20,000 to form a production company, Sherwood Pictures, and make a movie, Flywheel, about a dishonest used car salesman who sees the light. Flywheel got a local theatrical release and a pickup by Blockbuster Video, and went on to sell more than 200,000 DVDs. But it was Sherwood Pictures’ second film, Facing the Giants, a 2006 parable of football and faith, that earned the Kendricks notice in Hollywood. Produced for $100,000, the movie was dismissed by mainstream critics as too earnest and heavy-handed. But due to the recommendations of pastors and Christian publications, the film went on to earn more than $10 million at the box office, and it sold 1.6 million DVDs.
The movie Courageous speaks, that is it plays well and entertains, more than holding the audience’s interest and attention. In its way, it edifies with an author’s message. But there is a review of the film in this article-interview, and there is an interview with one of the writers, Alex Kendrick (a Southern Baptist pastor).
What sticks out in the movie, like the thumb of a hand, are these bulleted points. They caught this writer’s attention, and were good fuel for discussing the merits of the writing and the values entertained in the movie. It is because the film, though not of artistic and dramatic merit like many Hollywood films, raises interesting and important subjects of religious living in relationship to family and God, and offers a way of living life in family (especially and specifically the role of fathers as men) that these points surface:
- · Is this really how life is lived, or is life messy?
- · Was Jesus so good and nice as a man? Is it important to God that we be good and nice men and boys and girls, or real?
- · Has the American family lost its way–so badly?
Time magazine says about the group’s previous film: Fireproof is a family drama, made in rural Georgia by two brothers who are evangelist ministers; it teaches that God is the best marriage counselor, and is made for Christian moviegoers.
Based on the enthusiasm seen so far for the film, Kendrick said he would anticipate a very positive reception. “There is already a ton of momentum on our website, and we’ve got churches across the nation praying for us,” he said. So writes, Jennifer Maddox Parks, staff writer in the Albany Herald (email@example.com ).
Sherwood Church, at its Sunday evening service November 15, 2009, announced the theme and title for Sherwood Pictures’ fourth movie. Senior Pastor Michael Catt, Executive Pastor Jim McBride, and ministers Stephen and Alex Kendrick—collectively the leadership team of Sherwood Pictures—made the announcement.
- o “The movie is about fatherhood and the title is one word: COURAGEOUS,” Alex Kendrick said, briefly outlining the plot. “Four fathers who are all in law enforcement—who protect and serve together—go through a terrible tragedy,” he said. “They begin looking at their role as fathers . . . and they begin challenging one another to fulfill God’s intention for fathers.”
- o That single-word title, Pastor Catt said, echoes God’s call for men to “rise with courage” in their homes and as leaders. This at a time when 4 of 10 marriages end in divorce* and more than a third of all children live away from their biological fathers.
- o “The statistics on fatherless children are devastating,” McBride said. “And because the family is the building block of society, one important place to rebuild families is through fathers who stay and lead and love.”
- o “God led us,” co-writer and producer Stephen Kendrick said to the audience of church members, many of them volunteer crew, cast, or catering in earlier Sherwood movies. “We believe God is calling men to rise up with strength and with leadership in their homes, with their families and with their children.”
- o “For more than a year we’ve prayed to be sure that we’re pursuing God’s idea and not our own,” Catt said. “With action, drama, and humor, this film will embrace God’s promise in the Bible to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.”
Sherwood Church, through its Sherwood Pictures, has a mission for the movies they make. Courageous is distributed by Trystar and Sony Pictures is involved. So this is a big-time reality of movie making and its world. Sherwood describes their film model this way: Sherwood films are good stories, well-told, in which audiences recognize their own lives.The filmmakers weave in important spiritual truths, hoping movie watchers will leave theaters thinking about their own lives and relationships—with God and with others.
Prayer is foundational to Sherwood’s films and precedes each phase of development, production, and marketing. Cast and crew are made up largely of volunteers who become ambassadors to the message once the movie is complete.
Some biographical information from the producers about Alex Kendrick, who was interviewed by this writer by phone are below. The Reverend Alex talked in answer to written questions prepared prior to the interview (the usual fashion of this writer’s preparing questions), and later spent a weekend looking over the typed transcript, and made some changes. Note that The Reverend Alex was a religious DJ, as it were. There is a broadcast tone to the responses in the interview.
Before joining the Sherwood staff, Alex was a college minister at Roswell Street Baptist in Marietta GA. He also announced on Christian radio for five years in Atlanta. He’s spoken at events such as the National Religious Broadcasters Conference, the International Christian Visual Media Conference, and Georgia’s Youth Evangelism Conference.
EDUCATION: Alex graduated from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in communications. He also attended Bryan College, in Dayton TN, and the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
FAMILY: Alex and his wife, Christina, married for 17 years, live in Albany and have six children.
What or who is Sherwood Baptist Church. They describe themselves this way:
Sherwood Church operates more than 20 ministry programs from Albany GA’s northwest section. Though internationally known for its film ministry, Sherwood Pictures, the church is many things locally, with a range of services for children of all ages; college, career and singles groups; missionary outreach to other cities; church planting; adult worship and teaching programs. Sherwood sponsors annual community events such as Freedom Fest (Fourth of July) and October’s Candy Fest—and operates a Crisis Pregnancy Center and biblical counseling center for the Southwest Georgia region. Sherwood currently is completing an 82-acre sports park with a family-friendly, Christ-centered atmosphere for the people of Southwest Georgia. Sherwood supports local ministries helping people in need of food and/or help with drug and alcohol-related issues. Dr. Michael Catt, senior pastor, 1989-present.
The Sherwood Church has 3,000-plus members. A typical Sunday morning
reaches thousands of viewers in Albany and beyond through on-campus worship and in classes, TV and radio broadcasts, film, and targeted outreach programs.
The writers talk to us about their film “Courageous”
- 1. Let’s talk writing a film, the story, and the theological content. Let’s talk a little also about writing the film by looking at the work it takes, the time involved, and significantly, something about the book derived from the screenplay: (When you conceived the film with your brother as co-pastor of your Church, what was it about the genre, the characters in this work, too, that caught your attention and inspired you? How did you find the story playing out in your own mind as you developed the filmic version, and the transformation the characters went through? Will you speak to something of the Gospel and theological dimension of fatherhood, and how it is of meaning to your audience and to your own faith and life?
Writing is not an easy thing. As they say, “story is king”, so the plot has to engage the audience in a significant way to work. For us, that means touching their hearts. Since we are a ministry before anything else, we start with a season of prayer, which is sometimes a year long. This is where we ask God for guidance and for the theme and story direction. Once we have that direction, my brother Stephen and I begin researching and writing. It usually takes three to four months to finish a script, which is then tested through trusted friends and fellow ministers. We get a lot of counsel before finalizing the story. For Courageous, our desire is to show the importance of fathers in a child’s life. We’ve found that a person’s view of God is in many ways similar to their view of their father. In other words, if their dad was a loving, nurturing presence in their life, then it is easier to believe that God loves them and wants a relationship with them. If their father was gone or emotionally disengaged, then they struggle to believe that God cares for them. So being a father automatically has emotional and spiritual implications early on. In the movie, we follow four officers who fight crime on the streets, but struggle in their role as dad at home. Each father is tested in his own way, and we see how courage is needed in a number of scenarios to be a strong, healthy father. It’s very inspiring.
- 2. It is so large a project to produce a film, and to have the kind of success with a faith movie (a Christian faith movie) as your company has had. Do you attribute this to the message and the Gospel values that are put forth in the dramatic constructs that the film represents? In what way does the Gospel, that is God’s message in Christ, lead these men and the film forward to a conclusion? Are the scenes and conflicts of the film of a kind that are human in a way that speaks of Biblical kinds of human situations and values?
We center our focus in the movie on Joshua 24:15, where Joshua is calling the men of Israel to make a decision. He tells them to choose today whom they will serve. He goes on to say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”. We say that at the end of the movie. Joshua was telling the men not to sit on the fence. Your children need you to make a decision. He makes a resolution in front of the whole nation to challenge men to think in those terms. Stop being wishy washy. Be a man! Just as Joshua did thousands of years ago, we are saying the same thing today. We’re losing the next generation because we’re not standing firm. We are reminding them that this is needed more than ever today. Either Jesus Christ is worth following and trusting, or he is not. But you can’t have it both ways. We use realistic situations in Courageous that most people will identify with, and then show them the results of living out your faith, or compromising and living hypocritically.
- 3. Would you call your films kind of a movie version of a television drama, rather than a movie of filmic kind. In other words, how do you categorize the style of the work and its place in the movie world from a writer and movie person’s viewpoint? Tell us something of the actors? Who are they, and where do they come from? And because of who they are, do you think as a writer and director that they fulfill their roles in a way with more meaning and genuineness because they are Church going believers. Or is it that these human stories have an appeal outside the Christian sensibility alone, and a kind of universal dynamic of mankind in the modern world?
Cinematically, Courageous is by far our largest film, both in scale and budget. We’ve taken lessons learned from our first three films and applied them to this one, and I think it shows. The actors share our passion for this theme. They’re comprised of Christian professionals that we pulled from all over the nation, to a few church volunteers that had experience from previous films. In both cases, we spent hours working with them and praying over their roles. And when an actor really believes in the project he or she is working on, it shows. There is something intangible about the way it comes across on screen. Audiences that have seen the pre-screenings have noted how real the scenarios were to their own lives, and how realistic the actors reflected their emotions. Although artistic in its presentation, we show the grittiness of tension, grief, humor, and redemption. There’s no sugar-coating in Courageous, and I think the audience appreciates that, no matter their religious affiliation.
- 4. What part of the film script is most important or prominent in the book based on the script? Can you tell us where to find it in the book, and will you give this writer an excerpt of it from the book itself, and also from the screenplay so people may see the similarities and differences? Tell us the difference between these two forms the difficulty in moving from one to the other? Do you think someone who enjoys the movie Courageous will want the book, too? Why? Or does the book have a life of its own outside the movie?
First, there are two books directly related to the movie. One is the story in novel form, written from our screenplay by Randy Alcorn. He takes the two hour script and greatly expands it to include numerous subplots and additional themes. It’s a totally different experience than just watching the movie. Because a book is not as limited in length, you can explore backstories and characters in much greater detail. For many people, the movie can never compete with a good novel. The other book is non-fiction, and is called The Resolution for Men. My brother Stephen and I wrote this one, and it was the most challenging thing we’ve ever written. We take everything the scriptures say about fatherhood and present it as God’s design and purpose for men in today’s culture. After working on it, we had to raise our own standards of how strategic our time is with our children. God calls fathers to mentor and be the primary influence in the lives of their children. When we compared where we were with what scripture says, we realized we weren’t as good as we thought. The Resolution for Men is definitely a game-changer! After men see the movie, they will want to read this book as the next step in their own journey of growing as a man and as a father.
- 5. I’m certain I’ve missed much that you want to tell us about the script and your work as a writer, in collaboration with your brother. But it seems that the script and movie is collaboration. Speak to us about the collaborative screen process, and if you had any conversations on the Bible between you two in its writing? Did you speak of the modern, 21st century family dynamics and needs between the two of you? Tell us about some of those needs that are developed in the film? What needs did you miss? I’m sure you can’t say everything in one film.
Since we are both ministers at Sherwood Church in Albany, Georgia, we interact and see families every week. Stephen and I also have different strengths. After writing the script together, I direct the movie while he produces. It’s rare that we disagree on the direction the movie needs to go. But we do challenge everything along the way. If the story plots and themes are solid, then they will stand, but if not, we cut them out. Nothing is assumed. As far as the dynamics of the biblical themes, we have found that God’s truths are as applicable today as when they were first written. Culture changes, and values sway with the wind, but truth is truth, no matter who challenges it. God appointed the father to be the primary leader in the life of a child. Although the mother is vitally important, she cannot adequately represent both roles as effectively. Every child needs a masculine presence in their lives that demonstrates truth, love, justice, integrity, and protection. When those things are not represented well, or are not there from a father, then the child struggles with them throughout life.
- 6. Thank you for the opportunity to make your acquaintance in this interview. If you have anything you want to add, or say, will you tell us now?
Courageous will shake men up a bit. It is an entertaining film, but it will also touch a deep part of every man who watches it. Women will find both comfort and concern when they see it, but will gain a greater reason to cheer their husbands or fathers along. The movie comes out in theaters September 30th in the US and Canada, and follows in theaters a few months later in Mexico, South Africa, and Nigeria. The website is www.courageousthemovie.com, and visitors can view the trailer, clips, and read about the story. The Courageous novel and the book The Resolution for Men is available now in bookstores everywhere.
When discussing the film with his assistant, Linda Shirado, this writer was asked by her, Where does the money go? This interview with Sherwood Church’s Senior Pastor, Dr. Michael Catt, tells us something of Where does the money go?
Q. What missions does Sherwood Church support with movie funds?
A. Through the North American Mission Board, Sherwood has helped three start-up churches in the US: two in Baltimore (one urban, one suburban), one in San Francisco (near the financial district). Through the International Mission Board, Sherwood supports missions worldwide. At home, Sherwood funds local outreaches such as The Lord’s Pantry (food pantry), a crisis pregnancy program, and a drug-and-alcohol treatment center. Giving may change, of course, as needs and opportunities change.
Q. How did Sherwood Church arrive at how it would allocate Sherwood Pictures’ revenue?
A. Well before FIREPROOF was a DVD, a team of former deacon chairmen began praying with Pastor Catt to help the church project to the year 2020. Their prayers: how do we continue to reach the world from Albany, Georgia—and not just through movies? In what other ministries should we invest in and participate? What impact might we make? All decision making related to money is prayerful and deliberate.
Q. The operative word is prayer?
A. A visiting pastor said of the Sherwood Church prayer tower: I’ve preached across the world and this country, and this is the only church that proclaims at its front door: We are committed to prayer. We are! Prayer buoys our unity, vision, purpose, missions, and giving. We’d rather be known as a people of prayer than the folks who made the movies.
Besides monthly finance meetings, Executive Pastor Jim McBride meets weekly to pray with members of the finance committee—covering church members’ giving, illnesses, lost jobs (many examples of answered prayer!) the church budget . . . and good stewardship.
Every week, 200 men pray for Pastor Michael Catt’s Sunday sermon. In building the sports park, church members walked and prayed over every single acre. At the base of the large cross central to the park, church leaders buried a capsule of prayer cards from the last five years.
Trailer for the film
Matters of the Male Heart and the way of Fatherhood: a Review of Courageous
The entertaining and thought provoking movie, Courageous starts with a thrilling car robbery. Sony Pictures is involved with worldwide acquisitions, and surprisingly the work was shot in Albany, Georgia. The producers of the film describe the storyline this way, and it is an accurate statement:
“The movie is about fatherhood and the title is one word: COURAGEOUS,” co-writer of the screenplay and pastor Alex Kendrick says, briefly outlining the plot. “Four fathers who are all in law enforcement—who protect and serve together—go through a terrible tragedy,” he said. “They begin looking at their role as fathers . . . and they begin challenging one another to fulfill God’s intention for fathers.”
The author’s message and the basic premise of the film is introduced in an early scene by the Sheriff himself who speaks to the problems of young people and the need for fathering in their community. It shows how the film plays for the actors with the challenge of portraying male bonding and the relational actions, some real action packed moments and other conversations between the men when off duty together. There is the tension and drama of police work, but the thrust of the film is written to focus on these sheriff officers as people, and especially as fathers.
Among the storyline concerns is the contemporary one of gangs and gang members in their conflicts, and even in the violence of their relationships and criminality. These are not all white officers, but fathers from different ethnic areas: White, African-American, and Hispanic. Set in the South, there is a true friendship between these men and even a kind of fatherhood of the group that shares their lives together.
This writer calls this movie, designed for Christian audiences, but attractive to the general viewer, one that adapts the Biblical message of Joshua 24:15, where Joshua is calling the men of Israel to make a decision. He tells them to choose today whom they will serve. He goes on to say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”. We say that at the end of the movie. Joshua was telling the men not to sit on the fence. Your children need you to make a decision. He makes a resolution in front of the whole nation to challenge men to think in those terms. (So says the co-writer The Reverend Alex Kendrick in an interview with this writer.)
The producers use as a model for the community where the movie plays out its life, their own community, Albany, Georgia which they report these demographics:Males: 34,914 Females: 40,917
Percentages: 64.80 African American, 33.21 White
Military population: approximately 18,000 Albany residents active or retired military and military support personnel.
The result of the movie-making ministry of Sherwood Church (Southern Baptist) in Albany, Georgia, their religious, Christian film with references to God and intentional faith in human everyday life and predicaments has a refreshing quality. The result of their candor and willingness to portray people in various scenes of living who are part of a Church Community is one strong attraction for audiences. Most of the Christian references are to “God,” rather than “Christ,” though it is clear that this is a film by and for Christians, for not only is “Christ” mentioned by name, but the ending is a kind-of preaching statement that talks in an attractive and engaging way of the trials and tribulations of living this kind of Christian life dramatized in the film in the popular American genre of action-packed Americana. There is even a kind of innocence to the film, so characteristic of the American personality. This comes out as both a worthwhile earnestness and a genuine honesty to be more in relationship to God in Christ in a Church community.
From this writer’s notes when screening the film, is this: Some would call this a salvation film. This is a “very Christian” film. Is it for a general audience? It is a film about Christians and Christianity in a Christian community.
One emotion the film lacks is a sense of bitterness about contemporary American life. Often it is too dear. This writer thinks it is tuned to an audience, and so must Sony in many ways for they are involved with the movie, one that stands on its own feet and plays well to probably most audiences… Enough so to get good exposure and sell tickets.
In this film there is some unusual activity, not seen in the average Hollywood film, or the general release. People pray in this film and share their prayers with others. For this writer, this works. But it is not high drama, not as the drama plays out in the movie. This is a failing of the movie. One’s relationship with God has areas of tension, argument, and is in fact not as bland in meaning and story as to be without more drama. Is not the work of God, prayer, high drama in itself?
Essentially, there is a kind of redundancy in the message that works well, and convincingly. It engages the viewer with its: Christian message, Christian message, Christian message…given over and over. But not so it puts off even this critical member of the screening audience.
It is clear that the co-writers, who are Southern Baptist pastors, offer a pastor’s view of life and fatherhood: Successfully dealing with matters of the male heart; the Bible film displays these values in its cinema methods professionally done to the 21st Century modern world of American values. It does tell a story of family life well.
This excerpt from the book Courageous is reprinted by permission of the producers of the film, Courageous.
Randy dedicates this book to:
My precious wife, Nanci,
my wonderful daughters, Karina and Angela,
my excellent sons-in-law, Dan Franklin and Dan Stump,
and my beloved grandsons, Jake, Matt, Tyler, and Jack.
For each of you, my family, no man could be more grateful to God than I am.
Alex and Stephen dedicate this book to:
Our wives, Christina and Jill—your love and support have added momentum to our pursuit of God’s calling on our lives. You are an incredible treasure! May God continue blessing, teaching, and drawing us closer together and closer to Him. We love and need you desperately.
Sherwood Baptist Church—may the love you have for Christ and each other continue to shine brighter with each passing year. Keep praying, serving, giving, and growing. It has already been worth it, but your greatest reward is still to come! May the world know that Jesus Christ is your Lord! To Him be the glory!
C h a p t e r O n e
A ROYAL-RED Ford F-150 SuperCrew rolled through the streets of Albany, Georgia. The pickup’s driver brimmed with optimism, so much that he couldn’t possibly foresee the battles about to hit his hometown.
Life here is going to be good, thirty-seven-year-old Nathan Hayes told himself. After eight years in Atlanta, Nathan had come home to Albany, three hours south, with his wife and three children. New job. New house. New start. Even a new truck.
Sleeves rolled up and windows rolled down, Nathan enjoyed the south Georgia sunshine. He pulled into a service station in west Albany, a remodeled version of the very one he’d stopped at twenty years earlier after getting his driver’s license. He’d been nervous. Wasn’t his part of town—mostly white folks, and in those days he didn’t know many. But gas had been cheap and the drive beautiful.
Nathan allowed himself a long, lazy stretch. He inserted his credit card and pumped gas, humming contentedly. Albany was the birthplace of Ray Charles, “Georgia on My Mind,” and some of the best home cookin’ in the galaxy. One-third white, two-thirds black, a quarter of the population below the poverty level, Albany had survived several Flint River floods and a history of racial tension. But with all its beauties and flaws, Albany was home.
Nathan topped off his tank, got into his pickup, and turned the key before he remembered the carnage. A half-dozen big, clumsy june bugs had given their all to make an impression on his windshield.
He got out and plunged a squeegee into a wash bucket only to find it bone-dry.
As he searched for another bucket, Nathan noticed the mix of people at the station: an overly cautious senior citizen creeping his Buick onto Newton Road, a middle-aged woman texting in the driver’s seat, a guy in a do-rag leaning against a spotless silver Denali.
Nathan left his truck running and door open; he turned away only seconds—or so it seemed. When the door slammed, he swung around as his truck pulled away from the pump!
Adrenaline surged. He ran toward the driver’s side while his pickup squealed toward the street.
“Hey! Stop! No!” Nathan’s skills from Dougherty High football kicked in. He lunged, thrust his right arm through the open window, and grabbed the steering wheel, running next to the moving pickup.
“Stop the car!” Nathan yelled. “Stop the car!”
The carjacker, TJ, was twenty-eight years old and tougher than boot leather—the undisputed leader of the Gangster Nation, one of Albany’s biggest gangs.
“What’s wrong wichu, man?” TJ could bench-press 410 and outweighed this dude by sixty pounds. He had no intention of giving back this ride.
He accelerated onto the main road, but Nathan wouldn’t let
go. TJ repeatedly smacked Nathan’s face with a vicious right jab, then pounded his fingers to break their grip. “You gonna die, man; you gonna die.”
Nathan’s toes screamed at him, his Mizuno running shoes no match for the asphalt. Occasionally his right foot found the narrow running board for a little relief, only to lose it again when his head took another blow. While one hand gripped the wheel, Nathan clawed at the thief. The pickup veered right and left. Leaning back to avoid the punches, Nathan saw the oncoming traffic.
TJ saw too, and he angled into it, hoping the cars would peel this fool off.
First a silver Toyota whizzed by, then a white Chevy; each veered off to avoid the swerving truck. Nathan Hayes dangled like a Hollywood stuntman.
“Let go, fool!”
Finally Nathan got a good toehold on the running board and used every remaining ounce of strength to yank the steering wheel. The truck lost control and careened off the road. Nathan rolled onto gravel and rough grass.
TJ smashed into a tree, and the air bag exploded into his face, leaving it red with blood. The gangbanger stumbled out of the truck, dazed and bleeding, trying to find his legs. TJ wanted some get-back on this dude who’d dared to challenge him, but he could barely negotiate a few steps without faltering.
The silver Denali from the gas station screeched to a halt just a few feet from TJ. “Hurry up, man,” the driver yelled. “It ain’t worth it, dawg. Get in. Let’s go!”
TJ staggered into the Denali, which sped away.
Stunned, Nathan pulled himself toward his vehicle. His face was red and scratched, his blue tattersall shirt stained. His jeans were ripped, his right shoe torn open, sock bloody.
Located in Carol Stream, Illinois, Tyndale House Publishers was founded in 1962 by Dr. Kenneth N. Taylor as a means of publishing The Living Bible. Tyndale publishes Christian fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, and other resources, including Bibles in the New Living Translation (NLT). Tyndale products include many New York Times best sellers, including the popular Left Behind fiction series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, novels by Karen Kingsbury and Joel C. Rosenberg, plus numerous nonfiction works. Tyndale House Publishers is substantially owned by Tyndale House Foundation. As a result, the company’s profits help underwrite the foundation’s mission, which is to spread the Good News of Christ around the world.
Note about the publisher Tyndale House by Hoovers, a D & B Company: Christian-focused publisher Tyndale House Publishers publishes fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books, as well as bibles. One of its best-selling titles is the novel Left Behind, a fictional account of the apocalypse written by Jerry B. Jenkins. The titles success inspired the Left Behind series of novels, which has sole some 63 million copies, as well as Left Behind comic books, music, and three movies. Tyndale House was founded in 1962 by Kenneth N. Taylor, who wrote The Living Bible in order to translate the old English in the King James Version of the Bible into a more accessible language for his children. Taylor, who died in 2005, named the company after 16th Century English translator William Tyndale.
From the creators of Fireproof comes an inspiring new story about everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children. As law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, and their partners willingly stand up to the worst the world can offer. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood. While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they’re quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark.
They know that God desires to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, but their children are beginning to drift farther and farther away from them. Will they be able to find a way to serve and protect those who are most dear to them? When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God . . . and to their children?
Randy Alcorn is the founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM). Prior to starting EPM, he served as a pastor for fourteen years. He has spoken around the world and taught on the adjunct faculties of Multnomah University and Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon.
Randy is the best-selling author of over 40 books. His seven fiction books include the Gold Medallion winner Safely Home. His nonfiction works include The Treasure Principle; Heaven; and If God is Good. Randy has written for many magazines and has been a guest on hundreds of radio and television programs.
The father of two married daughters, Randy lives in Oregon, with his wife and best friend, Nanci. They are the proud grandparents of four grandsons. Randy enjoys hanging out with his family, biking, tennis, research and reading.
Excerpt of credits
Courageous : a novelization / by Randy Alcorn ; based on the screenplay by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick.
Edited by Caleb Sjogren
Some Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version,® NIV.® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com.
Some Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Some Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible,® copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 197
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Carol Stream, Illinois
Visit Tyndale online at www.tyndale.com.
To learn more about Courageous, visit CourageoustheMovie.com.
Designed by Dean H. Renninger
Edited by Caleb Sjogren
This excerpt of the book The Resolution for Men is reprinted here by permission of the producers of the film, Courageous.
The work is written by Stephen & Alex Kendrick with Randy Alcorn—edited by Lawrence Kimbrough.
The Resolution for Men
Weak men will not be able to handle the contents of this book.
The Resolution is not for the faint of heart, and those who commit to it will be more accountable in the future.
You will be challenged to get out of your comfort zone, work through hidden issues from your past, and make strategic sacrifices for the sake of your family and your faith.
But those who step up to the challenge will find that living out the Resolution will radically impact their priorities and assist them in becoming strong men who are found faithful.
It will take courage. But it will be worth it all.
You’ve been warned.
This vivid story illustrates where countless men are today. Disengaged and drifting. They have been given the position of leadership over their families and have been placed in the driver’s seat. But over time, they have been lulled into a dream by their own passivity and the allures of a dark, seductive culture.
In this dream world, men often feel permission to be irresponsible, immature, and carelessly negligent in their roles as husbands and fathers. In the meantime, they have placed their families in moral and spiritual danger, threatening their marriages, their children, and their faith. They don’t realize that they can’t have it both ways.
As a result, the mothers of their children become the ones who (by default and necessity) are carrying the weight of the family on their shoulders in order to survive. These women are stressed out and longing for the man in their lives to wake up, rescue them, and grab the wheel again.
That’s why before it’s too late, we are sounding the call and asking men if they are awake at the wheel. Or more importantly, to see if they even realize they are in the driver’s seat at all.
God’s Word commands husbands and fathers to lovingly lead their homes. As men, we are to walk in honor and integrity and fully embrace our responsibilities as shepherds over our families. We are called to model a loving, Christlike example for our wives and children.
Therefore—because this is God’s calling—it’s no mystery that a godless culture would mock and constantly undermine fatherhood, attacking and inverting what God designs and values. Men are being told they don’t have the permission or responsibility to lead. But the culture is not your authority. God is.
You need to be willing to ask yourself some revealing questions:
• Is your wife weary, worn out, and always feeling like she is carrying too much on her shoulders?
• Does your marriage lack clear direction, romance, and true intimacy?
• Are your children, whether young or grown, emotionally distant from you and spiritually apathetic toward God?
• Is your own faith and spiritual condition weak or mediocre at best?
If your wife has been calling all the shots in the family and has her hands on the wheel, then very likely it’s because you have not. Regardless of what she does, God has intentionally placed you in the driver’s seat and wants you to lead. You need her deeply; but leading is your God-ordained responsibility, not hers.
The Resolution for Men: Book Trailer
Excerpt of credits
Copyright © 2011 by Kendrick Bros., LLC
All Rights Reserved
Printed in the United States of America
B&H Publishing Group
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture is taken from the New American Standard Bible (nasb), © the Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977; used by permission.
Also used: The English Standard Version® (esv), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Also used: The Holy Bible, New International Version (niv), copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
Also used: The New Living Translation (nlt), copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
Also used: New King James Version (nkjv), copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers.
The producers of the movie Courageous provided this Fact Sheet on fatherhood in the United States. Their rationale for making a film statement on fathers and fatherhood, the need for same, is convincing. This writer found it interesting and worthwhile on its own merits, so with the risk of belaboring the Addendum of this interview-article, here it is in full, as offered by the producers, Sherwood Pictures:
THE FACTS ABOUT FATHERHOOD
He’s not here. Some 24.7 million American children (36.3 percent) live without their biological fathers. Only 60 percent of these children have seen their fathers in the past year.
Side effects. Children living without their biological fathers, on average, are more likely to be poor and to have educational, health, emotional, and psychological problems, to suffer child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior, than peers living with their married, biological mother and father.
Fatherless homes produce:
- · 63 percent of youth suicides (Bureau of the Census)
- · 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children (CDC)
- · 85 percent of all children with behavioral disorders (CDC)
- · 85 percent of all youths in prisons (Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, TX Dept. of Corrections 1992)
(All Pro Dads, © 2010 Family First)
No substitute. As a male parent, a father brings unique contributions to the job of parenting that a mother cannot. There is no substitute for a father’s love, involvement and presence in the life of his children. As noted sociologist David Popenoe explains, “Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home. Involved fathers—especially biological fathers—bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.” – Why Children Need Father Love and Mother Love and How Fathers Matter for Healthy Child Development, both by Glen P. Stanton, Focus on the Family. (Original Source: David Popenoe, Life Without Father New York: The Free Press, 1996), p. 163.
American problem. In a recent survey 7 out of 10 participants agreed that the physical absence of fathers from the home is the most significant family or social problem facing America. (FocusFamilyINSIGHT Global Strategic Development – Family Research, Glenn T. Stanton, June 19, 2009 – full sourcing included below)
Mothers only. “Nearly one-fourth of America’s children live in mother-only families.” (Arlene F. Saluter, Marital Status and Living Arrangements: March 1994)
Prime time TV. A National Fatherhood Initiative analysis found that of the 102 prime-time networks TV shows in 1998, only 15 featured a father as a central character. Of these, the majority portrayed him as uninvolved, incompetent or both. (From National Center for Public Policy Research. Specific source from NCPPR website: “NFI Issues Report on Fatherhood and TV,” Fatherhood Today, Spring 1999, National Fatherhood Initiative, Gaithersburg, Maryland.)
Poverty predictor. “The likelihood that a family would fall below the poverty line doubled during the first four month period of the father’s absence, increasing from 18.5 percent to 37.6 percent.” (Duncan, Wayne Journal of Clinical and Child Psychology, 1994 Health)
Five Things You Didn’t Know Fathers Do
- 1. Fathers Teach Empathy—A 26-year study published by the American Psychological Association found that children with actively involved fathers in their lives are more likely to be sensitive to the needs of others in adulthood compared to those who do not have involved fathers.
2. Fathers Give Confidence—Fathers are more likely to challenge their children to try difficult things by taking safe and measured risks. Fathers’ more physical and active play style and slower response to help their children through frustrating situations creates greater problem-solving capacity and confidence in both boys and girls.
3. Fathers Increase Vocabulary—Children who spend extended time with their dads during their childhoods are more likely to have larger and more complex vocabularies. A mother, being more attentive to the needs of her children, tends to talk more on the level of the child. Dads’ directions to their children tend to be longer than moms’, providing children with the opportunity to hear more words and then learn how they fit together to convey a thought.
4. Fathers Protect Against Crime and Violence—Fathers are more likely to keep their sons out of gangs, but more importantly, fathers give boys the things that can make gang life attractive. Boys learn from their dads that they matter, and don’t feel they have to force their way into manhood. Likewise, girls with good fathers are not as likely to fall to the pressure of sexually enterprising young boys, because well-fathered girls are more confident, having already gained the love of a good man.
5. Fathers Promote Better Treatment of Women—A good father demonstrates to both sons and daughters how a good man should treat women. This is shown by a father’s role modeling, as well as his less-than-good behavior. Research from the University of California looked at 90 different cultures to study how men’s participation in child care related to the status of women in these cultures. They found a very close connection, explaining, “Societies with significant paternal involvement in routine child care are more likely than father-absent societies to include women in public decisions and to allow women access to positions of authority.”
(Summary of Study Findings, 2009 National Fathering Survey, © 2009 National Center for Fathering)
President George Bush. Over the past four decades, fatherlessness has emerged as one of our greatest social problems. We know that children who grow up with absent fathers can suffer lasting damage. They are more likely to end up in poverty or drop out of school, become addicted to drugs, have a child out of wedlock, or end up in prison. Fatherlessness is not the only cause of these things but our nation but recognize it is an important factor. June 2001
- · FocusFamilyINSIGHT Global Strategic Development – Family Research, Glenn T. Stanton, June 19, 2009
- · Richard Koestner, et al., “The Family Origins of Empathic Concern: A Twenty-Six Year Longitudinal Study,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 58 (1990): 709-717.
- · Kyle D. Pruett, Fatherneed: Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child, (New York: The Free Press, 2000).
- · Eleanor E. Maccoby, The Two Sexes: Growing Up Apart; Coming Together, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).
- · Catherine Tamis-Lemonda, et al., “Fathers and Mothers Play with their 2- and 3-Year Olds: Contributions to Language and Cognitive Development” Child Development 75 (2004) 1806-1820.
- · Paul R. Amato and Fernando Rivera, “Paternal Involvement and Children’s Behavior Problems,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 61(1999): 375-384.
- · Henry B. Biller, Father and Families: Paternal Factors in Child Development (Westport, CT: Auburn House, 1993).
- · Frank Furstenberg and Kathleen Harris, “When and Why Fathers Matter: Impacts of Father Involvement on Children of Adolescent Mothers,” in Young Unwed Fathers: Changing Roles and Emerging Policies, R. Lerman and T. Ooms, eds. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993).
- · Scott Coltrane, “Father-Child Relationships and the Status of Women: A Cross-Cultural Study,” American Journal of Sociology, (1988) 93:1060-1095.
The sponsors and workers, the credits of the film Courageous are long and include this list of businesses that contributed to the making of the film:
“Choose Today Who You Will Serve,
But As for Me My House, We Will Serve the Lord.”
SPECIAL THANKS TO THE FOLLOWING BUSINESSES AND ORGANIZATIONS
Abbott’s Food Center
Adams Exterminators Inc.
Advertising with Lisa
Albany Fire Station Number 1
Albany Communications Inc.
Albany Dougherty Search & Rescue
Albany Fire Department
Albany High School
Albany Police Department
Albany Rec. and Parks Dept.
Albany State Athletic Dept.
Backwoods Outdoors Inc.
Bates Gas Company
Belk Depart. Store of Albany Mall
Bill Chambers Motors
Blackbeard’s B & B Bar-B-Que
Buffalo Rock Company
Carter’s Grill & Restaurant
Chicas Bridal and Boutique
Chick fil-A Drive Thru of Albany
City of Albany
Classy Caramels & Catering
Coats & Clark
David Smith Autoland
Dillard’s of Albany Mall
Dougherty County Commissioners
DOCO Emergency Medical Services
Dougherty County Jail
Dougherty County Police Dept.
Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office
Dougherty Glass Company
Faith and Prayer Church
Flint Community Bank
Fresh Plants, Inc of Americus, GA.
Georgia-Pacific Corrugated, LLC
Georgia Power Company
Hong Kong Café
IKON Office Solutions
Impressions Made Easy
Ivey’s Outdoor & Farm Supply
Johnny Carino’s Italian Grill
Kimbrell-Stern Funeral Directors
Krispy Kreme Doughnut Co.
Little Havanna Restaurant
Little Red Doghouse
Longleaf Financial Advisors, LLC
Los Vaqueros Mexican Restaurant
LRA Constructors Inc.
Making Memories Catering
Mark William Fine Art Jeweler
Matthews Casket Company, A Division of Matthews Int.
Mean Clean Steam Extraction
Mint Julep Spa and Boutique
Moe’s Southwest Grill
Musculoskeletal Assoc. and NW Plaza ASC
No Limitz Gymnastics
Ole Times Country Buffet & BBQ
Parker and Bramlett Custom Memorials
Papa John’s Pizza
Petal Pushers Flower Shop
Phoebe Northwest Convenient Care
Phoebe Putney Café
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital
Publix Super Markets
Quillian Powell Construction
Riley’s Cleaners and Shirt Laundry
Rite Aid Pharmacy
Riverside Uniform Manufacturing Comp.
S & S Roofing & Construction
Sherwood Acres Elem. School
Sherwood Baptist Church
Sherwood Christian Academy
Sherwood Legacy Park
Shutters Plus Inc.
Southern Family Markets
Stone’s Landscape Management
Southwest Oral and Maxillo Facial Surgery
The Bread House
The Flower Basket
Thelma’s Bridal & Formal Wear
Tony’s Gym Inc.
Walgreen Drug Store
Water, Gas & Light Commission of Albany
Winn-Dixie of Albany
Winn-Dixie of Leesburg
Directed by: Alex Kendrick
Written by: Alex and Stephen Kendrick
Produced by: Stephen Kendrick
Executive Producers: Michael C. Catt
Director of Photography: Bob Scott
Edited By: Alex Kendrick
Music By: Mark Willard
Production Designers: Darian Corley
Costume Designer: Terri Catt
Associate Producers: Dennis Wiemer
In Association with
Affirm Films and
TriStar Pictures Presents
A Kendrick Bros Production
(In order of appearance)
Nathan Hayes KEN BEVEL
Adam Mitchell ALEX KENDRICK
Shane Fuller KEVIN DOWNES
Victoria Mitchell RENEE JEWELL
Dylan Mitchell RUSTY MARTIN