Apparently, I am one of the few people in America who had heard of Alone Yet Not Alone before today, when the internet exploded with a collective “WTF?” over the movie’s Oscar nomination.
I’d heard of it because I am loosely connected to the independent Christian movie scene, or more specifically, the quiverfull, dominion-mandate Christian movie scene. The movie was supposed to premiere in 2012 at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, which shut down recently with the closing of Vision Forum ministries and the resignation of Doug Phillips. This same Doug Phillips has two children who appear in Alone Yet Not Alone. He himself was originally cast in the movie, but either his role or its credit was cut after the scandal of his resignation. Tracy Leininger Craven, the author of the book the movie is based on, has written a series of books that still appear in the Vision Forum catalogue, adhering to the Vision Forum ideal that women are called to serve God by serving men. “Each heroine’s story points to… the way [God] can use ordinary people to accomplish great things when they are faithfully walking in their calling as wife, mother, or daughter,” the catalogue explains. The cast and crew have similar ideals — the full cast list of the movie reads like a partial who’s who of dominion-mandate Christian entrepreneurs.
If you’ve never heard of either “quiverfull” or the “dominion mandate,” allow me to briefly explain: quiverfull is the ideology that families should have as many children “as God gives them,” using no contraception of any kind. This is usually coupled with homeschooling the children (and often stopping formal education at age 18 or younger, particularly for females) and “training them up in the way they should go.” The longterm goal of quiverfull families is to essentially win the “culture wars” by having exponentially-increasing descendants who adhere to a specific set of beliefs. In essence, “take dominion” of the world for Christ and reconstruct it, with the goal to revive some form of Old Testament law, though the details are a bit murky and somewhat debated. My uncle, Geoff Botkin, went a step further and began selling the idea of a “200 year plan,” in concert with Doug Phillips, wherein every Christian patriarch should have a 200-year, multigenerational vision for his family, complete with a spreadsheet. So far, none of my uncle’s adult children have left home, and they contribute to his ministry, so it seems like it’s working pretty well for him.
When I say that this group of people wants a return to Old Testament law, I mean that it even goes so far as to promote the reinstitution of slavery. The founder of Christian Reconstructionism, R.J. Rushdoony, writes that “The [Biblical] Law here is humane and also unsentimental. It recognizes that some people are by nature slaves and will always be so. It both requires that they be dealt with in a godly manner and also that the slave recognizes his position and accepts it with grace.” Other Christian dominionists — Dan Horn comes to mind — have explained that slavery can be beneficial when it teaches heathens to be good Christians, or when it gives good Christians the tools they need to expand their empire.
The movie Alone Yet Not Alone has been called racist because of its portrayal of Native Americans, but that’s not really accurate. It’s actually reflecting the idea that Christian culture is superior to Native American culture; that other types of culture are hostile to real Christianity, and that real Christianity can and must eventually take over these other cultures.
It is not at all surprising to me that the dominionist crowd has managed to finally finagle an Oscar nomination. Not because the song being nominated is Oscar-worthy — it’s mediocre at best — but because the song’s originators have friends in high places: Bruce Broughton is a former Governor of the Academy and a former head of its music branch, and William Ross is conductor of the Oscar ceremony’s orchestra. It sounds very much like something politically-minded billionaire James Leininger, the father of Tracy Leininger Craven and likely a strong historical supporter of Vision Forum, would try to arrange.
In this case, the dominion-mandate crowd can take dominion using plain old networking. No need to wait for those 156,000 male descendants to get to voting age.