Holy Ghost: Obligatory Movie Review

You can get the movie here: Holy Ghost

So I recently watched this movie and this is my review of “Holy Ghost” (Should either my grammar and/or spelling be lacking, you will forgive it of me)

First off, I think I’m a fairly plugged in fellow but I knew nothing about this film at all until it appeared in my Facebook feed as an upcoming event. I was immediately wary of it, because if I had a “Dances with “Wolves” type name it would be “Rains on Parade”. When my personal Red Flags go up I always hope to be proven wrong but it never works out that way.

So, if you want to save your self some time from reading my lengthy review (aka diatribic ramblings)…it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting but it still wasn’t good in any way either.

Let’s begin…

The Holy Ghost film bills itself thusly: “Holy Ghost is a feature film documentary that follows filmmaker Darren Wilson as he travels the world attempting to make a movie that is completely led by the Holy Spirit. At times challenging, but always uplifting, Holy Ghost reveals a God far bigger and more active than previously thought.”

Well, right off the bat you have a hyperbolic statement that the film is going to reveal “a God far bigger and more active than previously thought.” and the trailer makes the arrogant claim that they are going to “make God famous”. Hyperbole and arrogance aren’t exactly great starting points for your Holy Ghost movie guys, OK?

So the movie “Holy Ghost” basically consists of a bunch of “Talking Head” and “Man On The Street” interviews. The talking heads are various church/ministry/other leader types and also Lenny Kravitz and Michael W. Smith espousing opinions on the nature of The Holy Ghost. None of which really stuck with me, except Michael W. Smith who said his music may have touched many lives but he’s not sure it’s had any impact on the culture at large. There’s a more interesting movie in that one statement than in this whole movie.

smith

Anyway, the talking head interviews are pretty standard fare if you’re a christian, lots of “relationship not religion” and “stepping out in faith”, your basic christianese speak. I had some issues with some of what was said but most of it was just kind of “meh”. The interviews and thereby the movie, doesn’t really dig deep biblically/theologically/historically on the nature of The Holy Ghost. It glosses, it skims but there’s no meat on these bones. It’s really about everyone’s feelings about The Holy Ghost, not really about The Holy Ghost Himself. Christian’s “Feelings” are the downfall of Christianity. Get yourself a biblical foundation my fellow Christians and stop feeling so damn much, but I digress…

feelings-communiy

OK, so, my main issue with the movie is the man on the street interviews, which is supposed to be the Holy Ghost led heart of the movie. They basically consist of the filmmaker and his team going up to people and talking to them and asking to pray for them. Which is perfectly fine except for the fact that they almost immediately start guessing at possible ailments of the person they’re talking to. “Do you have back pain?” “How about knee pain?” “Something wrong with your shoulder?”. It just reeks of the worst Psychic charlatanism. (See: Cold Reading) Once the filmmaker team has something to work with they immediately start praying about that. There’s lots of “Do you feel that?” and commanding The Holy Spirit for “More!” As if The Holy Spirit is hooked up to some kind of machine and He’s running back and forth turning dials and pushing buttons trying to get the elusive “More”.

Image and video hosting by HilariousGIFs.com

Once they’ve prayed over these people with their fairly minor issues they stare at their subject with a wild eyed enthusiasm probing for confirmation of The Holy Ghost’s divine healing and almost all of the people they’ve prayed over have this kind of bemused, playing along expression on their faces. One guy near the end of the movie has an actual look of genuine surprise on his face after someone prays over his bad knee. Everyone else just looks like they’re being nice. Maybe the filmmakers were just too focused on their narrative, or have really bad emotional IQ’s but when the majority of your movie consists of people amusing you…well, that’s probably not a good thing.

I seriously can’t state enough how much these interviews bothered me. Did you ever see one of those David Blaine specials where the dead-eyed magician does some random card trick and people freak the hell out? This is the exact opposite of that. Basically the movie presents people receiving supposed divine healing being 100% less enthusiastic than anyone who ever had the soulless lich Blaine pulling the King of Hearts out of their neck folds. (FunFact: I went to High School with David Blaine. He was a turd pickle but he wasn’t a dead-eyed lich back then)

I Am Turd Pickle!

The movie culminates in the city of Varanasi, which it claims is “the oldest city in the world” except for the fact that a simple Wikipedia search disproves that, but OK. So, the filmmakers, having been “led by The Holy Ghost” go to Varanasi where both Hinduism and Buddhism dominate. There’s a big set up of the danger of preaching Christianity there and how bold what they are doing actually is and how they could be straight up killed and their bodies dumped in the Ganges River and they get there and…not a whole lot happens. They sing some songs, do some praying. They say at some point someone tries to grab the singer’s guitar but they don’t catch that on film for some reason. Once they’re done with the signing and praying they ask their guide? Protector? The guy that keeps the marauding band of Ganges Body Dumpers off their backs? to take them to his temple, because hes’ the high priest of the monkey god (If the “monkey god” had a name the film didn’t provide it) Instead he takes them to the temple of Shiva, One of the main gods of Hinduism, because he’s also the High Priest of Shiva too! A high priest of multiple gods? Must be hard during holidays.

hindugods

So a big deal is made about how amazing it is they are going to be able to go to the temple of Shiva and they get there and a guy tries to grab their camera but they say their with multi-high priest guy and they’re left alone and then they…walk through the temple and film people worshiping Shiva. They don’t pray, preach or sing about God, Jesus or the film’s namesake while walking through the temple of a false god and then the movie just kind of ends.

The movie that was supposed to reveal “a God far bigger and more active than previously thought” ends with people in bondage to a false god and the filmmakers doing nothing but walking right on by those people. That’s going to “make God famous” all right.

Unless of course the “god” that’s far bigger and more active is actually Shiva. Well then, bravo, what a twist!

Assorted musings:

  • The very first guy they walk up to, the very first one, claims he and his friends slept in a graveyard once and has been haunted by spirits ever since. The filmmakers don’t question that at all. Look, I have no problem believing evil spirits roam the Earth. Jesus was casting them out of people here and there throughout the Gospels but I’m pretty sure you don’t sleep in a graveyard and “catch evil spirits” like they’re a cold or something. He had to have been involved in something before he snoozed in the cemetery but the filmmakers don’t probe past his initial statement at all. It’s almost as if they care about curing the symptom and not the cause.
  • Twice one of the praying guys says something to the effect that “there’s thousands of gods but”…and he goes one to say how there’s only one Holy Spirit basically. Here’s the problem. There’s not thousands of gods. There’s thousands of idols mankind has made into gods. While one could imply that that’s what the guy meant the lack of definitive clarification that there is only one singular God is disturbing to me.
  • A section of the movie is dedicated to some members of the band Korn. Before one of their concerts they go out among the crowd that’s come to see them and ask if they can pray for people and, like I said before, start asking if anyone has bad legs or backs or something and this one guy says his friend has a bad back so one of the Korn guys jumps right on that and brings him over to some steps and starts praying for the guy’s healing. He grabs the guys legs and says people with back problems have legs that don’t line up or something. Thanks for the medical expertise guy from Korn. Anyway he prays for the guy and the camera focuses on the Korn guy holding the broke back guys legs and the way the guys legs are being held it looks like there’s a half inch difference between his legs and the Korn guy is praying with the “More!” and stuff and look the guy’s legs line up evenly right there on camera! It’s not like “Faith Healers” have been pulling this trick for more than a century. Nope, divine healing! Afterwards, the “healed” guy looks both confused and extremely high.
  • Look, I absolutely, positively believe in divine healing and since the filmmakers both believe in it, and believe themselves capable of it, how much better of a movie would it have been if they walked into a burn ward or a children’s hospital and healed those people right there on film? Wouldn’t that, above and beyond anything, “make God famous”? Instead we get parlor tricks and people kinda, sorta saying maybe they’re healed? Great job!
  • The one thing I was hoping for was a follow up at the end of all the people that were prayed for throughout the movie. What happened to them since? What’s different now? But the film can’t be bothered with that. All throughout they talk about how The Holy Spirit led them to this person and how that led them to another person and how that led to them to this place but at the very end when they can literally tie it altogether into some kind of definitive narrative about The Holy Ghost..they just don’t.
  • Several people in the movie, maybe more, refer to The Holy Ghost as just “Holy Ghost” and/or “Holy Spirit”. They purposely drop the “The”. I’ve heard it before and it drives me insane! There is something about it that makes a clarion bell of falseness ring in my head. The Spirit of God is not first name “Holy”, last name “Spirit”! Not only is dropping the “The” grammatically wrong (“I had tea with Queen of England today.” Ugh, no!) but dropping the “The” is basically dropping the singularity and uniqueness of THE Holy Spirit. If, as established in the bible, that there are other spirits on the earth. Then it goes to say that any spirit can call itself “Holy”, but only the one true divine being that is The Holy Spirit can call itself THE Holy Spirit! Stop doing it!

Ok, that’s all I got. If you read all this you deserve a cookie! I’m sure the filmmakers had good intentions and I’m not really questioning anyone’s motives or faith when it comes to making this movie but I think there’s way too much misguided enthusiasm and way too little grounded theology displayed throughout the film. It’s a thumbs down for me Roger.

And who am I? I’m just a guy with a blog who writes and draws comics and this is The Internet!

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13 Responses to Holy Ghost: Obligatory Movie Review

  1. Ok, I deserve a cookie! And I thought your review was fantastic – I’ve read other reviews about the same “thing” and I found your’s to be much more in-depth and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 🙂 I haven’t watched the movie and probably won’t as it sounds distasteful. Thanks for posting!

  2. ArtistXero says:

    COOOOKIE! If it was still free to watch I’d suggest you watch it and form your own opinion. I’m quite the grounded, non-wild eyed type.

  3. alasta says:

    I feel like it could take another thousand years for the church to get over pretending we’re living in the same time and location as the New Testament. And realize that the spiritual gifts (like healing anyone you touch) might have expired as the Bible says they were only for a time, and maybe Jesus and the apostles were actually telling the truth when they said Jesus was coming soon and already gives eternal spiritual life to people (Jerusalem/the world of the Jews was clearly judged in AD 70). The popular church theologies remind me of how the Jews missed the messiah because he didn’t fit their little fairy tale of how they wanted the messiah to be.

  4. Lory says:

    On your first point (about people sleeping in graveyards)-you really need to read He Came to Set the Captives Free by Rebecca Brown. Evil spirits are real (according to the New Test,) and we don’t know every single reason people get oppressed by them. God Himself calls worthless idols “gods” with a little g. “You shall not have no other gods before me.” Es. 20:3, so, you’re really off there. Your 3rd point-if you’re at a Korn concert, there’s a 50% chance you’re high. Old Korn fans still like Korn. If you’re leg was must miraculously healed, you’d probobly look dazed too, even if you weren’t high. Your 4th point-you think they should have gone to a hospital and start praying for burned children-tallk about trying to make God “famous” (He already is but..), and the whole point of the film was about the Holy Spirit leading them, not where you think they would do the most good. I prayed for a man to be healed of cancer who was supposed to die within months. He died a few years ago at over 100 years of age. I prayed for my husband to be healed of asthma, and God did. I prayed for my daughter to be healed of 104 fever two years in a row, and God did. I prayed to God to heal me of a strange bone formation that formed on my foot. He healed me. Yet I have never been directed to go pray at a hospital so everyone can be healed. So my miraculous healings didn’t come by the Holy Spirit? Maybe God wants people to seek Him for their healing, I don’t know. Are you now trying to direct the Holy Spirit on whom,how and where and how He should heal? 5th point-How is what the Holy Spirit does supposed to make perfect, chronological sense? I have never been able to explain how and why God does the things that He does. It”s not for us to make sense, simply to obey. It’s called FAITH. 6th point-I know what you’re saying about them dropping the THE before His name but I still get it. You don’t say”The Samuel, are you going with us? Did you know The Lory is going to be there.” Their point is that THE Holy Spirit is a person, not a thing, that’s all. Makes me wonder why such a thing would freak you out. Makes me feel they have a close relationship with this Person, and you seem to be an observer …of it all …merely. And no, I have not seen the movie, just reading people’s reviews about it. The positive ones are nice and short. The negative ones are overzealous and extremely cynical. Curious.

  5. ArtistXero says:

    So your critiquing my critique of a movie you haven’t seen yet? Ok. Either I way I suggest you do see it for yourself and then tell me what you think of it. But as for your points:

    Point 1: I say, straight up, that I believe evil spirits roam the earth. I don’t have a problem with that but I don’t think they come uninvited. I think you have to be doing SOMETHING to draw their attention and I don’t think sleeping in a graveyard qualifies as that SOMETHING. The guy had to be into something. I feel the filmmakers should have followed up with him after his statement, they were totally indifferent to what he said they just wanted to get to the praying, which might be fine if it was in a setting where that guy had some sort of follow up or accountability. They prayed for the guy, commanded the Holy Ghost to give him “More!” and went on there way. If they followed up or cared one whit about the guy from there…the film doesn’t show it.

    Point 2: “You shall have no other gods before me.” That statement is clarifying that God is God. In the film when the guy says there are thousands of gods he’s not following that up with anything. There is no “but..” or “except for…” Therefore he’s saying there are thousands of gods and that’s it. I’ll admit I could be on shaky ground with this one though as when the guy says it it goes by pretty fast. So see the film for yourself and tell me if I’m wrong.

    Point 3: I’d be fine with the guy getting healed if it wasn’t the ol’ leg lengthening trick that I linked a video too. They specifically called for someone with a bad back or leg problems. They didn’t call out for someone in a wheelchair or a burn victim. It’s harder to do the trick in front of cameras if you don’t have the right patsy. There are, what? Thousands upon thousands of people at a Korn concert? They couldn’t find one guy in a wheelchair? Which leads to the 4th point…

    Point 4: They set out to make a film about “making God famous”. So they needed a starting point, why not start out in a hospital? Cause they weren’t led there? Do you know where they started out? They went straight to Utah, the heart of Mormon country. Why? I don’t remember them saying why at this point but it looks like they were just trying to pick a fight with some Mormons, which doesn’t happen. All the healing you’ve done was done in secret, you didn’t have a film crew with you. These guys did, they had cameras and a specific agenda, and they commanded the Holy Spirit to give “More!” when they were praying with people. So who exactly is telling the Holy Spirit whom, how and where he should heal?

    Point 5: I’m not sure what you’re talking about with the “chronological sense”. I don’t know what that’s in reference too.

    Point 6: For me personally “The Holy Spirit” is a title. It’s not his name. We’re not given a name and I think that’s for a very specific reason. Every single time I’ve heard someone say “Holy Spirit” without the “The” is from somebody I already feel is sketchy in the first place. I don’t think by dropping the “The” means they have a closer relationship with the Holy Spirit, I do feel exactly as I said: “dropping the “The” is basically dropping the singularity and uniqueness of THE Holy Spirit. If, as established in the bible, that there are other spirits on the earth. Then it goes to say that any spirit can call itself “Holy”, but only the one true divine being that is The Holy Spirit can call itself THE Holy Spirit!”.

    If I’m wrong then I have no problem being wrong, but I’m not.

    In closing: I’m not sure why you are defending a film you haven’t seen yet. Go see it and make your opinion known. As for the negative reviews being overzealous and cynical and the positive ones being nice and short. Maybe there’s a reason for that. Maybe cause this film was ultimately pointless and didn’t live up to it’s claims as far as I’m concerned. Again, see it and decide for yourself.

  6. Eric says:

    Very bad movie, God is not a card trick or tool to be used. I watched this movie very distasteful , They treat Holy Spirit as of they own him, I just feel these guys are very misguided and do not even know God, I always wonder why they are always trying to heal hurt knees, when 90% of this world needs healed hearts , trivial knee aches and finger pains attempting to be healed by this team will not help these people only salvation will.
    We need salvation and with salvation will come healing in mind , body and spirit God willing! They never preached The God of Jacob , Israel, the coming Messiah ,there is a parable for these type of activist!

  7. ArtistXero says:

    Healing hearts isn’t visually dramatic when you’re making a movie with a bunch of overly excited people.

  8. SLRK says:

    A red flag for me was saying that they “wanna make God famous”. God has no desire for fame, that’s a desire of man, that’s a fleshly lust due to the pride of life and we have been warned about that. I’ve heard a few other Christians say that nonsense. From reading the description of this Documentary, I knew this more than likely was going to be sooooo far from anything godly.

    I couldn’t watch anything beyong the first 15 minutes. This documentary is foolishness and sadly I’m sure many churches will be watching this and giving positive reviews. What you said about christians “feelings” being a problem in Christianity is soooooooo true. What those guys were doing reminded me of Stephen in the book of Acts who thought the power of the Holy Spirit can be bought, it’s a wicked heart that would even thibk such a thing. They were doing parlour tricks and acting like witch doctors. But here is what this movie never shares, probably because none of them know the true and living God, not once do they mention how a person receives the Holy Spirit. A person must be born again. In order to recieve the Holy Spirit you MUST be BORN AGAIN!!!

  9. ArtistXero says:

    In reality they probably should have made the tag line “We wanna use God to make ourselves famous”. The movie’s Facebook page is an interesting mix of people loving and hating it.

  10. Eb says:

    waiting for the day when we can all look back at this imperfect life and think wow we were a mess!
    And now saved and made perfect by his Gods Grace.

  11. ArtistXero says:

    Yea, we’re probably all going to be saying that.

  12. Life of compromises says:

    An attempt to control or manipulate the Most High

  13. Georgina Farrow says:

    God have Mercy in this land we need
    you now

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