02 November 2009



Collision carves a new path in documentary film-making as it pits leading atheist, political journalist and bestselling author Christopher Hitchens against fellow author, satirist and evangelical theologian Douglas Wilson, as they go on the road to exchange blows over the question: "Is Christianity Good for the World?". The two contrarians laugh, confide and argue, in public and in private, as they journey through three cities. And the film captures it all. The result is a magnetic conflict, a character-driven narrative that sparkles cinematically with a perfect match of arresting personalities and intellectual wit and rivalry.

I have only seen part of the film and can't wait to see the rest. It is well worth putting on your Christmas list.

What I enjoyed about it was not only the intellectual punch these two men can deliver (no apologetics for sissies here), but the true respect they have for one another, even in the face of vehement differences. Not the fake syrupy kind of "respect," but acknowledgement of each other's mind, quickness and wit while unapologetically disagreeing on what really matters. You can see a strange friendship forming rather than wimpy "tolerance" for each other that refuses to actually fully engage with the other.

But the biggest thing that struck me was about Doug Wilson. He has a strong intellect and a lively wit. He knows his theology. He is a "real thing" Christian. But, he is also cheerful and vivacious and clearly enjoys his journey with Mr. Hitchens. There is no cold intellect here. No defensiveness. He is confident, yet not brash. Friendly, yet bold. Dare I say... He is jolly and robust. In the midst of sparring about ultimate realities, he is also connecting with Hitchens.

I have met Doug Wilson. Enjoyed a dinner and evening talking about classical Christian education. (He essentially ignited the neo-classical, Christian education movement in this country.) What a delight! I have read and led discussions about his book Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning. Seeing him in this film was a treat.

And seeing Hitchens was as well. How refreshing to see his honesty and regard for Wilson. I understand his point of view much more so that before. I confess that I was cured of some of my stereotypes of atheists, which I shouldn't have had in the first place since I have a couple of very nice ones in my family. ;)

Lastly, it reminded me why I love classical, Christian education. The next generation will need all sorts of Christians, but will it have believers like Wilson? Those who have learned how to learn and to know and how to engage the world with robust intellect in one hand and a vivacious Christian life lived out for all to see in the other?

In conclusion: Buy this film here. Invite a bunch of friends over and enjoy something really different together. This is not your father's apologetics debate lecture. It's hip and interesting. It's lively and personal. It's a great antidote for sheepish, sloppy, milk-toast "engagement" with a world often hostile to the Saviour it desperately needs.

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