Life is so much easier if you only see things in black and white. Take gambling for instance. Many Christians would agree that gambling, as a whole, is not a good thing. Casinos are designed to have the odds stacked against you when you visit. Many of us were raised with the notion that they were just plain evil. So, imagine a group of Christians who visit those dens of Iniquity on a regular basis…and win.
Filmed over two years, “Holy Rollers: The True Story of CardCounting Christians” follows the “Church Team,” a group of pastors and church-planters who mastered the “art” of card counting. By learning how to decipher how many cards have been played and which ones vs. how many are left in the deck, the Church Team basically leveled the playing field and beat the casinos at their own game.
“Holy Rollers” follows the highs and lows of one of the largest blackjack teams in the country: winning streaks, devastating losses, questioning their integrity and even the possibility of a team member stealing from the group. Through it all, I struggled with it. Was it okay for them to gamble? Was it okay if they won? Was it okay if they lost? Was it okay when they dressed up in disguise? Was it okay when they got kicked out for being card-counters? In the end, I’m still not sure. However, what I appreciate about this documentary, is that group of guys didn’t live by the black and white rules. They lived in the gray so that they would have to rely on hearing from God on whether or not what they were doing was the right thing.
“Holy Rollers” has made the festival circuit and winning a few awards along the way. It’s easy to see why. The story is engaging, the players intriguing and the production values are top notch, but the material is still controversial. There are even a few F-bombs. It is directed by Bryan Storkel and is his biggest project to date. He even learned how to count cards as well, but he kept himself behind the camera while filming. I’m sure that we’ll be seeing more of his work soon.
Not surprisingly, not everyone is a fan of this movie. At a recent screening of the film at the downtown Mars Hill Church in Seattle, one member featured in the movie was invited to a Q and A session after the showing but was later “disinvited” at the last minute. According to The Stranger newspaper, David Drury “suspects it's because his wife Stephanie Drury is an outspoken critic of evangelicals in general and Mars Hill in particular.”
So, now it’s your turn. “Holy Rollers” is now available through video on demand and DVD. Give it a watch and let me know what you think.