Richard Land Calls “Woodlawn” Film a Beacon of Hope

(PUREFLIX/ERWIN BROTHERS FILM) Newcomer Caleb Castille stars as Tony Nathan, the shy superstar running back whose true story is told in "Woodlawn," an exhilarating high school football drama about how a spiritual awakening in 1970s Alabama led to love and unity overcoming racism and hate.
(PUREFLIX/ERWIN BROTHERS FILM)
Newcomer Caleb Castille stars as Tony Nathan, the shy superstar running back whose true story is told in “Woodlawn,” an exhilarating high school football drama about how a spiritual awakening in 1970s Alabama led to love and unity overcoming racism and hate.

Last year one of my seminary students asked me what turned out to be a most instructive question. The student said, “Dr. Land, if you had your life to live over and you couldn’t be a minister, what would you be?”

I thought about it for a few moments because I had never been asked that question before. (When you have been in the classroom for more than four decades that rarely happens anymore.)

I finally replied, “I would be a film director.” All the students seemed surprised and asked me to elaborate. I told them that in the early 1960s I went to a matinee at the Santa Rosa movie theater on the Old Spanish Trail in Houston, Texas, and when I left the theater almost 3 hours later, I was a different person than when I entered the theater. I had just seen the multi-Oscar-winning movie Judgment at Nuremberg, and it permanently enhanced my awareness of the incalculable value of each and every human life.

I learned that day that if a picture is worth a thousand words, a moving picture is worth a hundred thousand words. I am sure many of you can think of moments in a movie theater that expanded your perspective, altered your opinion, or broke your heart.

A wonderful example of the power of film is the current movie “Woodlawn,” which has been in movie theaters for nearly three weeks now. The Erwin brothers (Andrew and Jon) directed this powerful film that tells the true story of how a biracial high school football team representing Birmingham’s Woodlawn High School (being forcibly integrated by court-mandated bussing) were reconciled to each other through almost the entire team making personal commitments to Christ.

The Erwin brothers’ father, Henry Eugene “Hank” Erwin Jr., served as the team’s chaplain during the 1973 and 1974 seasons that are portrayed in the movie. When the brothers were small boys and wanted a bedtime story, their father would enthrall them with the story of how a team’s commitment to Jesus helped transform a team and ultimately helped heal a racially divided city haunted by a dark, violent, racist past.

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SOURCE: The Christian Post
Dr. Richard Land is president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary in Matthews, North Carolina.