Dr. Ted Baehr is the founder and publisher of MOVIEGUIDE, chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, and a well-known movie critic, educator, lecturer and media pundit. He also is the author of several books, including "The Culture-Wise Family" with legendary entertainer Pat Boone. For more information, please call 800-899-6684 or go to the MOVIEGUIDE website.More ↓Less ↑
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
– Romans 1:21-23 (NIV)
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
– Albert Einstein
Watching Richard Dawkins, the famous evolutionary scientist, in a series of DVD debates is an embarrassing endeavor. He is neither wise nor funny, and often turns red with embarrassment at being exposed as the poseur he really is.
That said, he is merely the representative of an entire class that used to be called in the Soviet Union the nomenklatura. To get to know this class well, one should watch “The Lives of Others.” “The Lives of Others” is a German movie that shows how evil communism is and how perverted the nomenklatura was, but it contains some strong sexual content, requiring extreme caution.
The nomenklatura are the nowhere men and women who blindly supported Stalin and his cronies who devastated Russia and killed millions of people. They claimed to be wise, but refused to open their eyes to the truth. They were, as Marx said about himself, the ultimate materialists, a group whose memory was so atrophied that they couldn’t see what people with wisdom, knowledge and understanding see, which is the Hand of God in all of Creation. With their naturalistic blinders, they developed their own nomenklatura doublespeak, giving obtuse meanings to words so they could pretend to know more than they did.
As soon as the Soviet Union fell, they were exposed, but their cousins in the West have continued to infiltrate and corrupt society through men like socialist activist Saul Alinsky and other materialistic opportunists. In reality, they are living a lie but have developed the verbose ability to rationalize it.
These are the people we need to love back into sense and sensibility. We need to help them understand that God loves them and introduce them to the truth that will set them free from their sad “no exit” egotism.
It is hard to do, because their rebellion runs deep. Even so, one would think that, if Dawkins watched himself being exposed as a man with no vision, limited reason and deficient logic, he would confess that he needs to seek wisdom, knowledge and understanding – so he can be the person the God of the universe created him to be, the God who loves him so much that He gave His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to heal Dawkins so that he can once more be fulfilled with faith, wit and wisdom.
In that regard, many of us (who have been called and enabled only by God’s grace to seriously and logically consider the evidence of Jesus Christ, and so have had the life-giving paradigm shift of knowing Him and being filled by His Holy Spirit) understand Dawkins all too well, because we were there psychologically and spiritually with Dawkins, confined by the foolishness of our own egotism and solipsism.
I grew up in a non-Christian home. My parents were actors, Robert “Tex” Allen and Evelyn Peirce. My father seldom went to church. When he did, he would most often complain. My mother was a lapsed Christian Scientist, but also got involved in other esoteric faiths, as did my father. So our mansion in Oyster Bay was filled with esoteric writings. Having studied at the Ivy League Dartmouth College, my father was brilliant, but not about to consider the evidence of God’s love as manifest is the only way, truth and light, or Jesus Christ. After all, both he and my mother had the wherewithal to make it on their own.
I made a very conscious effort in eighth grade to reject the nominalistic and self-serving Christian Science concept of God because it interfered with my joining my classmates in their rebellious “fun.” Soon thereafter, my mother died, in 1960, when she was 52 and I was 14 years old.
To get my bearings after her death, I worked as a research engineer for Precision Scientific Co. designing an automatic kinematic device to test the flashpoint of fuels for NASA’s space program.
During my college years at Dartmouth College, marked by an abundance of drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll, I had a tendency to be anti-Christian. Probably as a result of the drugs and the libertine lifestyle, I got slightly involved in the esoteric and associated with many of the contemporary gurus like Rolling Thunder, Frank Great Bear White, Carman and Andrija Puharich, author of “Beyond Telepathy,” “Sacred Mushroom Key to the Door of Eternity” and “Uri: A Journal of the Mystery of Uri Geller.” Since I fit right into the 1960s Weltanschauung, I graduated with Highest Honors in Comparative Literature, having defended my thesis while ripped on LSD.
Then, at the New York University School of Law, I moved far to the left by joining the overtly pro-communist National Lawyers Guild (who thought the ACLU was conservative) and working for the attack-oriented environmental law firm the Natural Resources Defense Council. For those who have the sense to reflect on the metaphysics of the occult and the materialistically determined far left, it is easy to understand Karl Marx’s writings extolling Satan and attacking God and the infatuation of the international and national socialists with occultism and hedonism. I lived in an apartment with four women and consistently partied way into the night. Even so, I was the editor of the NYU Law School newspaper and several prestigious legal journals and reviews.
Encouraged by academic and other “so-called success,” I became increasingly like Dawkins, part of the strident and arrogant nomenklatura who foolishly assumed they were right and that people of real faith and values were backward rednecks – even though it was the nomenklatura who would not break from their pose long enough to question the politically correct dogma and seek the Truth.
During the spring of 1974, several elderly women asked my father to attend a conservative Christian teaching by evangelical teacher Bill Gothard. I thought Bill was off the wall and walked out of the meeting after the first session. One of the women asked, “Why don’t you, with all your law degree and Dartmouth education, read the Bible and tell me what you find that is wrong or contradictory in it?”
After that, every week my father would call up and ask if I read the Bible yet, though at that time he was not about to read the Bible (later God allowed me to lead him to Jesus Christ). Finally, I agreed to read the New Testament in September of 1974, and, halfway through Matthew, I started logically and seriously considering the evidence and came to the realization that the story of Jesus was true.
I started to compare His life and work with what I was doing, which was financing feature films for the start-up Cannon Films at that time. What is unique about this was that during the time I was finding the funding for feature films, I was living well and did not seem to fit the demeaning portrait the nomenklatura painted for most conversions of down and out people who needed a crutch. Actually, it was the converts who were free and the nomenklatura who were trapped in their deluded fantasies.
Even so, a few months later on Feb. 11, 1975, I went over to a friend’s house and said the liberating, exciting, traditional prayer to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
Exactly one week later, I got married to Lili, who accepted Jesus Christ five years later. My father accepted Christ seven years later, and many members of our immediate family have accepted Christ since then. My older sister had accepted Christ years before I did and had prayed for me and witnessed to me for years.
Soon, I enrolled in a seminary in New York City and worked as the director of the TV Center at City University of New York in charge of all the television departments at the 18 CUNY campuses.
From there, I was elected to be president of the ministry that produced, during my tenure there, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” program for CBS Television, which had 37 million viewers and eventually won an Emmy Award. Then, God called me to redeem the mass media of entertainment by founding Good News Communications, Inc., MOVIEGUIDE® and Christian Film & Television Commission®, in that order.
When we started MOVIEGUIDE® in 1985, the major studios in Hollywood released few movies with any positive Christian content – less than 1 percent! By the time we started the Annual MOVIEGUIDE® Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry in 1992 and 1993, however, there were less than 30 such movies, or about 10.38 percent of the market share. And, 18 years later, in 2009, 149, or 54.51 percent of the movies released by the film industry contained at least some positive Christian content!
Also, when we started in 1985, only about 6 percent of the major movies were aimed at families; in the past several years, movies marketed to families have increased to 40 percent or so of the top movies released in your local movie theaters. Furthermore, when we started in 1985, about 80 percent of the top Hollywood movies were R-rated, but now, less than 40 percent are R-rated!
Finally, since we started the Epiphany Prizes for Inspiring Movies & Television, supported by grants from the John Templeton Foundation, movies with very strong Christian, redemptive content honoring God have gone from earning $21.14 million per movie to earning more than $80 million per movie at the box office and thus attracting millions more moviegoers.
The former chairman of a major studio told me he attributed these positive shifts directly to MOVIEGUIDE®’s influence as well as the Christian Film & Television Commission®’s box office analysis and Annual Report to the Entertainment Industry, which are only supported by grants and donations from foundations like the Templeton Foundation and from average citizens like you. Because of such support, every studio now has a Christian division, and several studios are doing major movies with strong Christian content. And, other studios besides Disney are doing great movies for young children and families.
This does not mean, of course, that the studios are not doing bad movies anymore, but it does mean that there are fewer and fewer bad movies, and an increasing number of good ones. It is our prayer that the movie industry will make more and more commendable movies and remove all offensive elements from them.
Clearly, however, the work of MOVIEGUIDE® and the Christian Film & Television Commission® ministry, especially our Annual Awards Gala and Report to Hollywood, has helped significantly to redeem the values of the entertainment industry!
As C.S. Lewis notes, the great news of Jesus Christ is the most reasonable and logical truth in the world – if God has given you the eyes to see and ears to hear the Good News. Most who reject Jesus Christ, however, refuse to honestly consider the evidence and the reality of the world around them. They do that because they are trapped by the selfish, narcissistic blinders of their greedy, anthropocentric desire to have everything their own way.
All false religions and philosophies are based on man’s attempts to save himself. The good news of Jesus Christ is based on God’s incredible loving desire to save us and love us by adopting those of us whom He calls as His King’s kids.
And, God’s love extends to all of us who call upon His Name … including you.