‘Jesus Revolution’ Ending, Explained: Is The Film Based On A True Story? What Happens To Greg And Cathe? 

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The issue with the new drama film “Jesus Revolution” is that it is too watered down and preachy to be convincing enough unless one is absolutely sure that Jesus loves them. Adapted from Greg Laurie’s book of the same name, the film follows the evangelical Jesus Movement that took place in California in the latter half of the 1960s. But “Jesus Revolution” categorically leaves things out of true history and also restricts itself purely to spiritual matters, therefore taking away from the historical value of the events. Overall, “Jesus Revolution” is definitely not the most preachy Christian film possible, but the treatment used in the work does make it targeted to specific audiences.

 Spoilers Ahead


‘Jesus Revolution’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?

In 1968, the country of the United States was experiencing a constant growth in groups of young people questioning the government, traditional moralities, and value systems and wanting to live a free life. Better known as hippies, these youths were considered a threat to the American way of life by the older generations and the government itself. Being labeled communists and anti-nationals, the hippies were despised by conservative families and households, and pastor Chuck Smith was no different. Working as the pastor at his Southern California Calvary Chapel, Chuck was extremely faithful to his religion and therefore wanted the hippie movement to end. But the problem was his young daughter, Janette, who was of the same young adult age as most hippies and therefore found more relatability with them than the likes of her father. One day, during a heated argument, Chuck dismissively told Janette that he wanted God to send one hippie to meet him.

Surely as fate would have it, soon after this, Janette came across a man with long hair and a long beard while on a drive. This man introduced himself as Lonnie Frisbee, and his way of speaking instantly won over Janette. Confident that Lonnie was the perfect man to introduce to Pastor Chuck, Janette brought the man home to meet her father. Initially livid with his daughter’s actions, pastor Chuck was determined to figuratively kick Lonnie out of the house, but as soon as Lonnie started speaking, Chuck noticed something about him. Using Biblical references and quoting sermons, Lonnie had a natural charm in his words and expressions that soon won over pastor Chuck as well. Not only did the pastor open up his house to Lonnie and his ever-increasing group of followers, but he also now wanted the man to preach at his church.

Around the same time, a young man named Greg Laurie finds new interest in the hippie movement and the associated free use of psychedelic drugs. Greg’s initial introduction to the lifestyle is through a woman named Cathe, whom he is genuinely attracted to, but Cathe soon discovers the frightening possibilities of drug abuse when her younger sister almost dies from an overdose. Cathe keeps herself away from the lifestyle and from Greg as well, much to the man’s woe. However, Greg also soon has a disillusionment with drugs, fearing that he is going to die from an overdose when he runs into Lonnie Frisbee on the streets.


How Did Lonnie And His Methods Inspire Greg To Start A New Life?

Greg Laurie had always had a difficult personal life, because of which he was directionless in his own life too. His mother struggled with alcoholism, and even after a string of lovers, she could not find anyone to settle down with. This had impacted Greg from a very young age, right from when he was a teenage boy, and his mother had a falling out with his father. While Greg always believed that his dad, who had left them, would surely return someday soon, it was his mother who made him believe that relationships in the modern era do not last. Young Greg was disillusioned with love and family life at that very young age, and since then, he has been the one who has had to ensure that his mother stays out of any trouble. But the boy’s words were often not paid heed to by his mother, and she still spent most of her days drunk in their caravan parked near Newport Beach, California, making Greg spend most of his days outside. The boy was enrolled in a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, but he never found interest in matters of military warfare. Greg was, instead, very passionate about drawing comic strips and illustrations, wanting to make it big in this field. It was at this time that he met with a group of hippies in a park, which also included Cathe, in whom he immediately took an interest.

Cathe also showed interest in Greg, and the two attended a concert by Janis Joplin along with the group. This generation was obviously finding themselves more involved in music festivals and concerts, which eventually led to the iconic Woodstock festival. At the concert, Greg tried out psychedelic drugs for the first time and gradually started to enjoy their effects. Within a short time, he and Cathe also grew close to each other, despite the girl’s conservative father not agreeing with her choice of partner or lifestyle. While Cathe remained unfazed by her father’s words, she started to see things differently after her younger sister Dodie had a terrible episode of overdosing. It was this incident that turned Cathe against drugs, and she tried convincing Greg of the same too. When the young man finally turned against drugs as well, the emptiness that he once again found himself in was filled by Lonnie Frisbee. Even though Greg was never a believer in God or religion, he started listening to Lonnie’s preaching at the Calvary church. In this aspect, too, it was Cathe who first started visiting the church, and Greg just followed to seek her company.

Within some time, Lonnie held his first mass baptism at Pirate’s Cove together with pastor Chuck Smith, and Cathe got baptized during the event. Although Greg had his reservations about the matter, seeing Cathe’s belief encouraged him to give it a try as well, and the man got baptized too. The effect was rather instant, as Greg started enjoying this newfound faith and also the group around him. Instead of drug-addicted hippies, he was now surrounded by peace-loving and free-minded individuals who spent their days with music and discussions of the life and struggles of Jesus Christ. Eventually, Greg felt interested in preaching too, and he was selected to hold a youth service at a different church in the vicinity. Although Greg enjoyed this experience greatly and wanted to continue with the work, the church did not want to keep employing him. The man had expected pastor Chuck to support him in his wishes, but that did not happen either, and Greg once again started to feel lost and directionless.


Why Did Lonnie Frisbee Have A Falling Out With Pastor Chuck?

The physical appearance of Lonnie Frisbee was something that particularly stood out to traditional churchgoers and critics of the hippie movement. With sharp facial features, long hair, and a beard, Lonnie looked almost like an impostor of Jesus Christ himself. The man was never fazed or conscious about this and even turned it into a part of his religious side, claiming that he would rather look like Jesus Christ than anybody else. It is with this charm in the way he talks and presents himself that Lonnie wins over everyone and has a similar impact on the conservative-minded pastor Chuck as well. Lonnie does not hide the fact that he was once living the exact life of a hippie, trying out psychedelic drugs as a means to find purpose and spirituality in life. But he also admits that he had ultimately realized how ineffective these methods were and instead now believed that it was totally through the Christian religion that the youth could find purpose and themselves. Lonnie asked Pastor Chuck to be more welcoming and accepting of young hippies who would want to make this transition, and he convinced him to open up the Calvary Church to such people. Although the more traditional and orthodox members of the chapel, who were all elderly individuals, were strongly opposed to this happening, pastor Chuck was by now totally convinced of Lonnie’s mission. On one occasion, an old member of the church complained about how the young hippies, who roamed around without any shoes, were making the new carpet at the institution dirty. Appalled by the member’s concern about a carpet as opposed to the youth of the times, pastor Chuck decided to expose the triviality of the matter by personally wiping the feet of every hippie follower before they entered the church.

Very soon, the entire Calvary Chapel was taken over by young hippie followers, as more and more kept flocking to hear the sermons of Lonnie and pastor Chuck. Within some time, similar churches and groups started cropping up all over the United States, and it was all collectively referred to as the Jesus Movement. But as the Calvary Chapel kept growing, Lonnie also started developing strange behavior, acting like a supernatural healer during his sermons, which were now being video recorded too. The first time Lonnie tries such a thing in “Jesus Revolution,” it seems like he, too, is not sure of what is going to happen and gives it a blind try. After touching a man who says that his life is being destroyed by physical and mental turmoil, Lonnie claims that he is now healed. As the man also starts to believe that he has indeed been healed by what he believes to be the latest coming of Jesus Christ, Lonnie continues trying such things in public. The man’s personal relationship with his wife, Connie, also starts to deteriorate at this time, and Connie keeps claiming in public that he is losing grip over his work. According to Connie, everything that Lonnie had been doing was for himself and to create an image of himself in the minds of people, but she wanted him to genuinely do religious work.

Around this time, pastor Chuck started to grow wary of Lonnie and his decision to present himself as a magic healer with supernatural abilities. During one confrontation, Chuck directly tells Lonnie to stop with such “spectacles,” which offends Lonnie as he seems to genuinely believe in his abilities. The man now also claims that there would be no religious movement without him, which further irks pastor Chuck, and he reminds Lonnie of how he had brought him into the church. The disagreement between the two took an ultimate form when Lonnie decided to leave the Calvary Church along with Connie, saying that they were moving to Florida to work on their marriage.


‘Jesus Revolution’ Ending Explained: What Happens To Greg And Cathe? 

After being unable to start his profession as a church preacher, Greg Laurie also got affected in his personal life when he started believing that nothing good was ever going to happen to him. To Greg, everything and everyone he had put genuine interest and love into during his life had all abandoned him or led to grave disillusionment. This had been the case with his biological father, the spiritual effects of psychedelic drugs, and now religion as well. Along with this, his desire to marry Cathe was also not supported by the girl’s father since Greg did not have any job or livelihood. But ultimately, things took a very different turn when pastor Chuck bought an unused church building and gave it to Greg to start his own preaching. Chuck admitted that he had made a mistake in not supporting the young man’s wishes, and Greg soon started his own church. He soon mends relations with his mother as well and then gets married to Cathe.


Is ‘Jesus Revolution’ Based On True Events?

“Jesus Revolution” is actually mostly based on true events and characters, as is also made clear in the ending scenes of the film. There was a time when large numbers of youths started converting from hippies to “Jesus freaks,” finding purpose in the Christian religion. Known as the Jesus Movement, this evangelical movement started in California and then spread all over the US, reaching its culmination point in 1972. Pastor Chuck Smith remained at his job at the Calvary Chapel till his death in 2013, and there are noted to be more than a thousand Calvary Chapel churches now. Lonnie Frisbee was one of the first leaders of the Jesus Movement, and despite their fallout, he and pastor Chuck later reconciled and continued to minister together. The characters of Greg and Cathe are also real people, and they continue to be married with children and grandchildren of their own. The church that Greg was offered to start at the end of the film was named Harvest, and today it remains one of the largest churches in California. But despite being so close to the actual truth, the decision in “Jesus Revolution” to leave out aspects of the truth makes it seem inauthentic. Most crucial of these aspects was the fact that, despite Lonnie Frisbee’s preaching against homosexuality and drug usage, he himself would sometimes use drugs and he was also a closeted gay man.


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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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