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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
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(2009), PG [PG*] (89.1min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
April 30, 2012
May 1, 2012

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2009), PG [PG*] ... a celebration that didn't hang on things but on hope

Production (US): Christmas Film, Inc., The Hatchery, LLC, RHI Entertainment, Jaffe/Braunstein Films, Bauman Entertainment -- A Hallmark Channel Presentation
Distribution (US): Vivendi Entertainment
Director(s): Neill Fearnley
Producer(s): Randolph Cheveldave, Ted Bauman, Howard Braunstein, Dan Angel, Margaret Loesch, Nancy Welsh, Linday Mofatt, Neill Fearnley, Daniel Wilson
Based on the book by Kenny Rodgers and Donald Davenport
Teleplay: Donald Davenport
Cinematography/Camera: Michael Balfry
Music: John Sereda, Paul Michael Thomas
Film Editing: Jana Fritsch
Casting: Candice Elzinga
Production Design: James Hazell
Viewed on Vivendi Entertainment DVD

Christmas in Canaan is a warm story about a few years in the life of the Burton family in Canaan, Texas circa 1964: the father Daniel (Billy Ray Cyrus), grandpa Riley (Tom Heaton), daughter Sarah (Jessica McLeod then Emily Tennant), sons DJ (Jak Ludwig then Matt Ward) and Bobbers (Darien Provost then Brendan Meyer). The heart of the story is the relationship of young DJ with a boy named Rodney Freeman. Rodney lives with his grandmother, Eunice (Candus Cgurchill). DJ and his family are white. Rodney and Eunice are black. The story emerges under the racial strife of the 60s in the deep South.

The story opens with DJ and Rodney in the fifth grade. Rodney is well learned. DJ is barely making the grade and blames it on having to do so many chores. On the bus to school DJ argues the capital of New York is New York City. Rodney knows it is Albany. DJ talks down his nose at Rodney with a countenance of racism. Rodney calls DJ stupid. From there the fire starts.

After a fight between DJ and Rodney, complete with bloody lip, bloody nose and tattered clothes, Daniel discovers the racial fire in DJ and figures the two boys being made to live together for one week would soften the friction. So, Grandma Eunice and Daniel agree to have the boys live together, a couple days at Grandma Eunice's place and a couple days at the Burton's. Does it work? You'll find out if you watch this DVD.

One of the ways the writers used to portray Christmas was indeed clever. All performers were most effective in imparting that which was intended to be said. It was a hard year at the Burton farm. Money was exceptionally tight. Daniel did not have the money to buy nice gifts. Instead, he cut clippings from a Sears catalogue and put them in Christmas present boxes, complete with wrapping paper and ribbons and bows. While this maneuver might not work in the real world as well as it should, it worked quite well in the story. Rodney, now a young adult writer wrote succinctly about Christmas in Canaan in this way "Clippings from a Sears catalogue instead of actual gifts turned a meager Christmas into a celebration of joy ... a celebration that didn't hang on things but on hope."


Following are brief discussions of the content per individual content investigation area. As always the Findings section of this report, the heart of the CAP Analysis Model, is the best source for discovering the full accounting of the content of this film.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 40 out of 100
With frequent brandishing of a shotgun including pointing it in the face of a character plus the swinging of it and loading it to scare two young boys plus the arson with endangerment of many and a few other matters of the violent nature listed in the Violence section of the Findings/Scoring section, the violence content was found to be equivalent to the same areas in some R-rated features. Which gives reason to share with you God's Word about violence.

In more than 50 places from the Old Testament to the New Testament God admonishes us against violence. Proverb 16:29 puts it into perspective quite succinctly. In Proverb 16:29 God warns that violence can be "catching": that violence can lead one into the way that is not good. Since God "published His findings" about violence, four professional public health agencies have done likewise, indeed, have plagiarized his Word about violence, likely without knowing it. Well, now that man has echoed God's Word about violence then God must be right, right?

Impudence/Hate (I) - 40 out of 100
Twice someone utters profanity [Col. 3:8, Eph. 4:29] and twice is twice too many. But the profanity was not the strongest presence of assault on morality and wholesome ethics applicable to this content investigation area. Other matters that added to the total envelope of impudence and/or hatred included some instances of racism, of stereotypical adolescent misbehavior and an adult threat of a child. Maybe if people understood that God says anyone who offends His little ones (which includes at-home teens) would be better off with a millstone tied about his/her neck then cast into the sea [Luke 17:2], there would be far fewer abuses of children.

Sexual Immorality (S) - 100 out of 100
There is no content in this film that could fall under this Sexual Immorality content investigation area.

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 78 out of 100
Booze and drinking with drunkenness appear in one sequence. [Eph. 5:18]

Offense to God (O) - 93 out of 100
Once someone use God's name in vain but without the four letter expletive [Deut. 5:11] and another character calls Riley an "old fool." [Matt. 5:22]

Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
There are no murders or suicides in this film.



If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. [The issue is the violence, the 'way that is not good' no matter how "small" or "fantasy" or "justified" the violence might seem, and its "leading" effect on the observer. "A violent man" can be any character of any age, any gender, human or not in the act of committing (demonstrating in the case of entertainment) violent behavior/action whether for good or evil OR the violent behaviors/actions themselves. Such exposure can and does embolden the viewer into aggression, especially youth. It took years for the American professional health community to finally affirm, probably without knowing it, that which God told us in 1 Cor. 15:33 below. See also Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit for more information. Their findings include:
    --> Children who see a lot of violence are more likely to view violence as an effective way of settling conflicts. Children exposed to violence are more likely to assume the acts of violence are acceptable behavior.
    --> Viewing violence can lead to emotional desensitization towards violence in real life. It can decease the likelihood that one will take action on behalf of a victim when violence occurs.
    --> Entertainment violence feeds a perception that the world is a violent and mean place. Viewing violence increases fear of becoming a victim of violence, with a resultant increase in self-protective behavior and a mistrust of others.
    --> Viewing violence may lead to real life violence. Children exposed to violent programming at a young age have a higher tendency for violent and aggressive behavior later in life than children who are not so exposed.
    Further, God speaks darkly of violence 56 times in the Old and New Testament of the KJV.]
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off [rid yourself of] all these; anger, wrath, malice [kakia: ill-will, desire to injure, wickedness, depravity, evil, trouble, not ashamed to break laws, etc.], blasphemy [blasphemia: impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty], filthy communication [aischrologia:foul speaking, low and obscene speech] out of your mouth.
  • Eph. 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. [Since "drunk" is methusko {meth-oos'-ko}: to intoxicate; make drunk; to get drunk; become intoxicated, "wine" can be any intoxicating substance including illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs. The issue is do not abuse the body by intoxicating it [1 Cor. 6:19]. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is a sin to get drunk OR to influence to get drunk OR to drink in defiance such as underage drinking.]
  • 1 Cor. 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. [Vain is shav {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as in slang or profanity. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or responsible discussion and in praise and prayer is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name or title even if as a euphemism. So, trying to excuse such expressions with "I was talking TO God/Jesus when I said that" or "It's just words" or "I was acting" will not work with Him. Nor will "Everybody says that" excuse the sin of using His name in vain. If everyone on the planet who has ever drawn a breath used His name in vain, it would still be a sin to do so. If no one ever did, it would still be a sin to do so. Whether we believe it or not. Whether we like it or not. Whether we care or not.]
  • Matt. 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment [krisis: accusation, trial]: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca [senseless, empty headed: a term of reproach among Jews at the time of Christ], shall be in danger of the council [any session or assembly or people deliberating or adjudicating]: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool [moros: impious, godless], shall be in danger of hell fire.

    Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry

  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend what is vile, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it.]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    Chrstmas in Canaan (2009) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - 40 out of 100
  • firearm for offensive, repeatedly
  • adolescent boys fighting
  • swinging and loading a shotgun to scare two young boys
  • firearm to intimidate
  • firearm threat to the face

    Impudence/Hate (I) - 40 out of 100
  • two uses of profanity and none of the most foul of the foul words
  • adolescent disrespect of father, repeatedly
  • adolescent defiance of father's command resulting in near fatal and paralyzing injuries
  • adolescent torment
  • adolescent lie
  • adolescent name-calling
  • racism, repeatedly
  • mean joke
  • adult threat of a child

    Sexual Immorality (S) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 78 out of 100
  • booze, one instance
  • drinking, one instance
  • drunkenness, one instance

    Offense to God (O) - 93 out of 100
  • one abuse of God's name, none with the four letter expletive
  • a character calling another character an "old fool"

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

    Interested parties, send us your proposal. Your link will appear on each new analysis report prepared during the desired period and, once placed on a page, will not be removed.

    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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