#wearen, act one, ann coulter, christian film, christian filmmaking, ebola, ebook, franklin graham, hollywood, jesus, kent bradly, liberia, nate fleming, national religious broadcasters, persecution, samaratin's purse, screenwriting, What's Wrong with Christian Filmmaking
Dear Ms. Coulter,
This afternoon I read your August 6, 2014 online column, in which you wrote an article entitled, “Ebola Doc’s Condition Downgraded to Idiotic“. In this article, you questioned the life choices of Dr. Kent Brantly, the doctor who went to Africa with his family last year to serve a two-year fellowship through Samaratin’s Purse, and by extension, you questioned the life choices of anyone who has made a similar choice. In this letter, I will respond to some of the things you said in that article, and give you some suggestions for future articles.
Ms. Coulter, you started your article by citing the enormous amount of money (nearly 2 million) spent to bring Dr. Brantly and humanitarian aid worker Nancy Writebol home, saying that any good that he may have done was overwhelmed by Samaratin’s Purse’s decision to spend such an amount on two people.
In principal, I would agree with you. Samaratin’s Purse raises support for those individuals they send out, and so they have a responsibility to the ones who give – to use that money wisely. As I thought about this, I started to wonder if perhaps you donate to Samaratin’s Purse, and so your disagreement with the way the money was spent was somewhat personal? If so, you should take some solace in the knowledge that the organization requires that all people who serve with them have evacuation insurance. This means that there is a pretty good chance that the tab for evacuating the two two Samaratin’s Purse workers would have been at least partially picked up by insurance.
But at the end of the day, if you disagree with the way any charitable organization uses the funds they raise, you are free to choose another charity or non-profit. In just a moment I’ll have some suggestions for you about some organizations that might better suit your desires to “care for your own first”.
Next, you lamented that Dr. Brantly chose to go serve the people of Ebola-ridden West Africa rather than staying in his own godless homeland and practicing medicine somewhere like Los Angeles, where he may have been able to share his faith with a successful Hollywood producer, thereby potentially influencing the greater culture by influencing a culture maker.
This is where you started to lose me, Ann (do you mind if I call you Ann?). Not because I don’t think Christians should be in Hollywood, but because there are already so many Christians in Hollywood right now, toiling (like their brothers and sisters overseas) in near anonymity. Reading your article in which you put so much emphasis on Dr. Brantley’s potential influence a Hollywood power broker, I wondered why you spend your time tearing down the work of Dr. Brantly rather than building up the ones doing the very thing you wish the Ebola doctor would do?
And as a Christian who has spent a bit of time in Hollywood attempting this, allow me to speak for the others saying that I don’t see Dr. Brantly’s story as a competition or a distraction. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance some up-and-coming Christian screenwriter may pick up his or her laptop and start coming up with a rough draft of the Ebola Doc’s story, and go on to make a fantastic biopic! Wouldn’t that be amazing?
You see, Ann, here’s the thing about the many L.A.-based Christians you ignored in your article – many of them are not just trying to engage the ones who are influencing the culture, but they are actually trying to influence the culture themselves! And they need our help and support as much as those who would go overseas!
ARTICLE SUGGESTION #1
If seeing the Gospel of Jesus Christ spread in Hollywood is truly your goal, let me challenge you to research and write about those who are trying to accomplish that very task. And since I know you’re a busy lady, let me help you get started. Here are just a few of the excellent organizations equipping Christians to survive and succeed in Hollywood:
And you can find lots more here.
Unfortunately, Ann, I found that your article just went disappointedly downhill from your Hollywood reference. I would like to respectfully request that you reconsider a couple of very important points.
You concluded mistakenly that Christians go overseas to escape the culture wars – to avoid being called “homophobes, racists, sexists and bigots.” There are a couple of problems with this. First, Christians have been leaving their homelands to share the fantastic news of Jesus Christ since Paul and Barnabus went on their first missionary journey in Acts 13. That’s nearly 2,000 years of Christian missionary history, and while some through the years may have gone to escape an uncomfortable home situation, most were heading to much more difficult conditions and would perhaps have preferred facing the relatively harmless issue of being called names to what they had to endure as they lived as foreigners in unfamiliar cultures.
In fact, this gives me another idea for a future article for you! Isn’t this fun?
ARTICLE SUGGESTION #2
Rather than spending time accusing folks like Dr. Brantly of going to difficult spots to avoid being called names, why don’t you help bring attention to some of the Christians who are undergoing actual physical persecution and death for their faith, and some Christians who choose to leave the comfort of home to help them? That would make for a fantastic article!
For example, you may have heard a little story in the news recently about Christians in Iraq being systematically exterminated by Islamist thugs? Looking through the archives of your blog, I notice that you haven’t written about them (the Christians – not the thugs), and so that would make a great start on a worthwhile article for your website.
Again, to help with your research, here are a few links:
There are many more stories about the atrocities being committed in Iraq, but I expect you have a staff who can help you find them, so I won’t do it here. I don’t want to take bread out of someone else’s mouth.
But this does bring me to the conclusion of your article, Ann. This is where you claim that Dr. Brantly (and again – others who make the same kind of life choice he made) have some good old fashioned delusions of grandeur. You wrote:
“But serving the needy in some deadbeat town in Texas wouldn’t have been “heroic.” We wouldn’t hear all the superlatives about Dr. Brantly’s “unusual drive to help the less fortunate” or his membership in the “Gold Humanism Honor Society.” Leaving his family behind in Texas to help the poor 6,000 miles away — that’s the ticket.”
This is the point where I think you may have skipped a regiment of medication, or had too much red bull, or spent too much time in the sun. Let me tell you, Ann, international mission work is the last enterprise one goes into for the purposes of being perceived as heroic.
Given, we Christians have our missionary heroes who inspire us to be more faithful and to step out and take risks – heroes who have paid the ultimate price to go to places like ebola-infested Liberia, or the dangerous jungles of Ecuador, or even the wild woods of New Jersey – but the vast majority of missionaries do not leave the comforts of home because they have dreams of having statues of their martyred selves erected on various seminary campuses.
The dirty little secret is that most missionaries go overseas knowing that they will be serving in virtual anonymity, that they will spend an inordinate amount of time struggling to understand a culture and a language that is not their own, that they are choosing to watch from afar as family members back home are born, others marry, and still others die – while they are absent. And they do it because it is their calling.
Ann, this concept of a calling may be hard for someone outside the church to comprehend, but since you write so passionately about America’s desperate need for God, I think you must understand. But for the sake of those others, I’ll just say that Christians believe that God is at work in the world (not just in America – I know, hard to imagine what with Manifest Destiny and all), and He calls His people to certain times and places to do His work. This includes the doctors who practice with Hollywood bigwigs in Los Angeles as well as those who go to “disease-riddled cesspools” to help people who are unable to find help anywhere else.
Apparently, this calling is a part of the story of Dr. Kent Brantly, as it is with so many others who leave the comforts of home to be the hands and feet of Christ in distant (or near) lands. You can read a very telling testimonial to Dr. Brantly’s life here, written by one of his university professors, where you can find out just what motivated him to go practice medicine in Africa.
Which leads me to a final suggestion for a future article for you.
ARTICLE SUGGESTION #3
I know it’s not your style, but I would finally recommend that you consider writing an article where you take back most of the things you said in your August 6th article, and possibly even – shudder – apologize.
I know, I know, but just let me share my final interesting fact about overseas missionaries, especially Americans. Many are extremely interested in the politics of their home country, and many are politically conservative. Twenty years ago, they were not able to keep track of what was going on back home, but thanks to the internet, they are more able than ever before to pay attention to what’s going on back home.
By attacking the life choice to which these people have been called you are cutting yourself off from a segment of the population who would ordinarily agree your stance on political issues. Not only are you cutting yourself off from the missionaries, but also from those folks who don’t feel called overseas but feel passionately supportive of those that do.
I’m not suggesting a boycott or anything, but I want you to see that with that one simple misinformed article, you made lots of conservative Christian folks realize that our more liberal friends may have been correct in their dislike of your opinions. After all, if you got this one so horribly wrong, what else are you wrong about?
Just a thought, Ann. Just a thought.
Thanks for taking the time to read this letter, and I’ll look forward to reading some of those articles on some future page of http://www.anncoulter.com!