The first time I watched the film God’sNot Dead with my mom and my youngest sister. I didn’t catch everything that happened, in part, because we were talking during some of it, someone decided to search for and order a clothing item online, we were texting (people who weren’t present), and my mom had no idea how to backtrack using her remote control. I jotted down some quotes and phrases in the little notebook I keep in my purse to jump-start my memory later on about possible writing topics.
The egotistical Professor Radisson (played by Kevin Sorbo) is clearly more interested in building up his own image and spreading his anti-theist propaganda than he is in imparting knowledge or promoting logical thinking. He concentrates on running roughshod over an entire class because domination rather than education is his primary goal.
Throughout the film, we hear various philosophical questions, many of which we studied on the creation of the universe and the existence of God in the Philosophy of Religion course I took from Dr. Downey. I have concluded that Dr. Patrick Downey, philosophy professor at Hollins University, is the perfect foil to Dr. Death-to-Any-Thought-or-Opposition Radisson.
God’s Not Dead reminded me of the hours I spent reading arguments and discussions by philosophers who lived and wrote a number of years ago. That semester I went to class with all of these different theories, questions, and debates in my head, then Dr. Downey would ask us questions that would make us dig even deeper to understand and explain what these men were proposing, what line of logic they followed, and if it made sense. He was so good at playing the devil’s advocate from every side that I couldn’t tell from what he said in class whether or not he believed in God. (It honestly wasn’t until I saw him as part of a group of faculty members who came around to the dorms and houses to sing Christmas carols that I realized he is a Christian.)
Someone who is so interested in developing his students’ logic and reasoning skills that he’ll take the opposite side of just about any argument to get them to examine it more closely from all facets is a good philosophy professor. At times, I could almost feel my mind stretching to new lengths and expanding when faced with these universal questions about God and man. Even if the answers weren’t clear, just knowing the questions people thought to ask made me feel like my brain would have to grow in order to contain all the possibilities.
My favorite day of this course was Friday. Why? Because Saturday was sure to follow? No, it was because after doing my best to sift through, consider, accept, and/or debate so many concepts, I would get into my light blue Pontiac 6000 and drive through a very picturesque valley. I would get out at the top of a hill and could feel God welcoming me, His mother outside waiting for me to enter.
I always arrived just in time, gave a quiet nod to the other regulars who had come to worship, and sat down ready to let the clutter in my mind exit, so only faith would remain. Before long, the reasons and questions, some of which reason may never understand, were replaced by truth, hope, and love. I couldn’t help but smile as I professed the Creed, reached out my hands to others to pray the Our Father, and give the sign of peace. I yearned for the Eucharist. I had answers and could embrace, even appreciate, the mysteries inherent and perhaps necessary to having faith.
I would walk out of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church after Mass feeling refreshed in my faith and grounded in the truth. It was a great way to put the philosophers’ voices and nitty-gritty debates to rest so that the Holy Spirit was easier for me to hear in the present.