In October I posted a video of a made-for-TV movie based on the book, The Wave. In more recent years, it was made into a feature length film in Germany. It is based on an incident that happened in the 1960s in a school in California. People who have been in unhealthy churches should be able to relate and maybe learn something from it.

I was able to watch the re-make. They updated the story, having it take place in modern times and the ending was changed. The endings in each version are moving.

In doing some research afterward, though not in depth, I found that the made-for-TV version is closest to what actually happened. I also found that a documentary was put together about it, including interviews with some participants and the teacher. The name of that is Lesson Plan and the DVD is not yet available. In fact, the teacher has a bit part in the German remake and there is a brief interview with him in the bonus section.

As previously mentioned, the movies are based on an actual event from 1967 at a high school in California. It was a class experiment that got out of hand. It was the first year of teaching for Ron Jones, who three years later lost his fight for tenure (it appears to do with political activism).

There is a short story that Ron Jones wrote about the incident. See if you notice anything similar with what happens in unhealthy churches. I encourage you to watch either the 2008 film or the 1981 TV version that is found on YouTube.

Here is a quote from Ron Jones from the interview on the re-make DVD: “…you’re looking at ‘The Wave,’ trying to understand why do we give up our freedom for the thought of being better than everyone else. And it’s a lesson that we all need to see and hear and talk about.”

Another quote from the DVD, in speaking about one of the students crossing over an invisible line that was a simulation and became something real: “And I realized that I was crossing over that same line. I was no longer just teaching about this thing called fascism, I was enjoying- enjoying- being a leader and that was frightening.”

Some of the similarities from this incident and being in an unhealthy church are:

  • Blind obedience to authority
  • A gradual process of influence and indoctrination
  • Rigid rules
  • Conformity
  • Peer pressure
  • Giving up yourself to be part of something great
  • Tattling on the disobedient

In further research on the incident, there are some who do not believe the events happened quite as Mr. Jones states. It is not my desire to get into all of that as it does appear that there was a class experiment. Regardless of what is accurate or not, the movies are thought provoking and a possible way to help people since the subject matter is not spiritual abuse, yet people caught up in unhealthy churches can relate to it. It is similar to having them watch The Village.