Fairfax Community Church at the Movies! The Theological Lessons From Mel Brooks Spaceballs as Applied to Rod Stafford’s Church

Every summertime Rod Stafford’s Fairfax Community Church holds “Fairfax at the movies.” According to Pastor Rod the sermon series allows people to look at movie themes through the lens of scripture. This post does what Fairfax has done and looks at the church through Mel Brooks classic Spaceballs. So brace yourself for a lot of snark in this post. Hold on to your helmet and prepare for ludicrous speed!

“WHAT? You went over my helmet?

Dark Helmet 

“You have the ring, and I see your Schwartz is as big as mine. Now let’s see how well you handle it.

Dark Helmet 

“What’s the matter, Colonel Sandurz? Chicken?

Dark Helmet

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10 NLT

There is a long tradition at Fairfax Community Church under the leadership of Rod Stafford. Every summertime they have a series called, “Fairfax at the Movies.” It usually happens every June and Fairfax Community Church uses movies to make points about faith or Jesus in life. At Fairfax in 2019 they used Spiderman Into the Spider Verse, Black Panther, This is Us, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Green Book. As Rod Stafford says every June he wants to look at movies which are cutting edge of our culture through the lens of scripture. 

This post today at The Wondering Eagle is going to be different. I am going to do the same thing that Rod Stafford does and use movies to look at the issues at Fairfax Community Church. What I am going to do is take a movie to feature the issues that are ongoing at Fairfax. This blog has documented the problems that have occurred at Rod Stafford’s church. And people have continued to approach me and shared issues that are ongoing. In trying to select a movie I wrestled with what to use. What movie could I draw a lot of theological lessons from that would help me describe the culture at Fairfax Community Church, which is a Washington, D.C. area mega church. It took a few moments but one movie popped up in my mind which I thought was quite appropriate. Its Mel Brooks Spaceballs, the cult comedy classic from 1987. Spaceballs for those of you who do not know is a spoof, a parody of Star Wars, Planet of the Apes, Star Trek and Alien. In Spaceballs you have John Candy playing Barf, Bill Pullman as Lonestar, Mel Brooks as President Scrooge, Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet, and George Wyner as Colonel Sandurz.  I would encourage you to sit down and watch it. You’ll get a good laugh and those of you who have survived Fairfax Community Church will find the selection appropriate. So let’s look at some clips and let’s see what can be learned from Spaceballs! 

 

Ludicrous Speed Go! – Lessons in Reckless Leadership 

Let me explain this scene to you for the purpose of context. Spaceball One is pursuing Princess Vespa and wanting to take her captive. The Princess is aboard Lone Star’s Winnebago and they apply the hyper-jets. Dark Helmet makes an immediate decision that Spaceball One should go to ludicrous speed in pursuit. The decision is reckless and against the concern of Colonel Sandurz. While flying at ludicrous speed Dark Helmet realizes the mistake that is made and he orders Spaceball One to stop. When it does Dark Helmet goes flying into the front of the spacecraft. This really is a good lesson in what happens with a mega church pastor. Sometimes you have pastors that can be impulsive and they can act just as reckless as Dark Helmet. This blog would put Rod Stafford in this category. Always impulsive about growth, action or more. Never accountable for ones actions. That describes Rod Stafford. Act first and leave hubris in your wake. Be consumed with power and not stop to think of any harm that you can be doing until its too late. Rod Stafford has thrusted Fairfax Community Church into ludicrous speed regularly. 

 

Merchandising! Merchandising! The Evangelical Industrial Complex 

Princess Vespa, Lone Star, Dot Matrix and Barf are with Yogurt who is played by Mel Brooks. Lone Star asks Yogurt what does he do. Yogurt gets excited and says “Merchandising!! Merchandising!!” He then proceeds to show off all that he is trying to sell. There are a lot of lessons that can be applied to Fairfax Community Church and and evangelicalism. Fairfax Community Church is a business. The sooner that people there realize that Rod Stafford doesn’t care about them the safer they will be. Rod Stafford is about money. From how materials can be pushed at conferences like Blue when I was there to how his bed and breakfast in old town Fairfax takes care of relatives of wealthy donors. Rod Stafford is about one thing only – getting more money. If Fairfax Community Church is going to host a conference its to sell you merchandise. They and other evangelical ministries always have books, trinkets, and more to sell. Some people open up franchises like Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Wendy’s, etc… Rod Stafford is about franchising religion and making a buck in the process. This blog is not opposed to him making money, it just wants him to be honest. Imagine that an honest evangelical preacher…? 

 

Dark Helmet Plays with His Dolls – Secrets and a Violent Sex Offender on Staff at Fairfax Community Church

In this scene from Mel Brooks classic Lord Helmet is in the privacy of his quarters. He is also playing with his dolls. Then Colonel Sandurz suddenly comes in and catches him playing with his dolls again. Lord Helmet screams to knock next time and asks him if he saw anything. Colonel Sandruz says that no he didn’t see him playing with dolls again. On Spaceball One there is a secret. Lord Helmet likes to play with his doll. A few people close to him know about it and its an open secret. However, chances are others do not. Fairfax Community Church is in a similar situation. Rod Stafford’s church employs a violent sex offender. The church keeps this information from the congregation meaning that many people do not know. Can you imagine a public school having a violent sex offender on staff and that information being kept from the public? How many parents would go irate over that information being withheld and not shared. Fairfax Community Church frequently and regularly lies about this topic. So while Lord Helmet plays with his dolls and desires to keep that secret, Fairfax Community Church employs a violent sex offender and keeps that information from the congregation. You can read more in, “Why Does Fairfax Community Church have a Care Director on the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry?

 

Your Schwartz is a Big as Mine! – Mega Church Growth and Insecure Pastors

In this scene Lone Star is aboard Mega Maid which used to be Spaceball One. He is looking for the self-destruct button and is stopped by Dark Helmet. They engage in a battle. There is one line I want you to focus on. Its when Dark Helmet says, “Your Schwartz is as big as mine.” Often times what can happen in mega churches is that pastors can get into theological pissing contests. They become obsessed with bigger, better and growth. Success is associated with growth. Dark Helmet is obsessed with the size of his Schwartz. Many mega church pastors are consumed with the size of their church and want to make them bigger. Dark Helmet is obsessed with this issue and it shows in the scene. This is a “villain” who is deeply insecure. Rod Stafford always is talking about a capital campaign and growing it seems. His Schwartz is the size of Fairfax Community Church. Never mind that it is too big to help people. Now its about growth. Dark Helmet and Rod Stafford would get along well. 

 

The Circus at Fairfax Community Church and Fleeing Scandal 

This takes place towards the end of Spaceballs. The self-destruction has been pushed and chaos erupts. Mega Maid has become a circus with everyone running around in a crazy fashion. A number of people are obsessed with fleeing the situation and surviving. In this scene pay attention to those trying to run – especially President Scrooge as played by Mel Brooks, Dark Helmet and Colonel Sandurz. Now here is the theological tie in. Fairfax Community Church is not a place of worship. Its a circus. You have nothing but constant chaos. Then you add the scandals and at times its everyone for themselves. There have been a lot of staff that has left Fairfax Community Church. This clip from Spaceballs helps capture the essence of Fairfax Community Church. 

 

There Goes the Planet – Lessons from Church planting and Corrupting a Neighborhood

This is the end of the movie and the last time you see the Spaceballs. Spaceballs are now in a new planet, the one dominated by the apes. The apes see them and one comments, “Oh shit there goes the planet.” Going back to Fairfax Community Church FCC expanded into Maryland a few years back. The church overstretched itself. But when a shady evangelical church does a church plant doesn’t that sound similar? There goes the neighborhood! Many parts of evangelicalism are not about God but money. But stop and think of the neighborhoods that are ruined by evangelical church plants especially when they come from corrupt churches. There goes the neighborhood. 

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