Plan B. A northern Arizona family that fled the U.S. over what it considers government interference in religion has been rescued at sea. According to the Associated Press, the Gastonguay family, including a mother, father, and two small children, set sail from San Diego for the tiny island nation of Kiribati in May. The Gastonguays survived a series of storms that eventually disabled their small boat before a Venezuelan fishing vessel rescued them. Hannah Gastonguay told the Associated Press she and her family don’t believe in “abortion, homosexuality, in the state-controlled church.” In May, Hannah, her 30-year-old husband Sean, his father Mike, and the couple’s daughters, 3-year-old Ardith and baby Rahab, began the journey. They were at sea for 91 days. Now that they’ve been returned to the U.S., Hannah said the family would “go back to Arizona” and “come up with a new plan.”
Movie mediocrity. The mediocre summer movie season is ending as T.S. Eliot said the world would end: Not with a bang, but with a whimper. Matt Damon’s Elysium barely cracked $30 million its opening weekend, and endured harsh reviews. The R-rated comedy We’re The Millers, came in second, but had even harsher reviews. One of the few bright spots in the top 10 this weekend remains The Conjuring, which has now passed $120 million at the box office, against a budget of just $20 million. Despite a lackluster summer, the studios are still laughing all the way to the bank, thanks mostly to international sales. This week, for example, Paramount Pictures said World War Z had passed the $500 million worldwide gross mark, becoming Brad Pitt’s highest grossing film ever.
Defying decline. At its General Council meeting last week, the Assemblies of God denomination reported it had grown 1.8 percent in the past year and now tops 3 million members. Worldwide, the church grew 1.5 percent, to 66 million, making it the largest Pentecostal group in the world. George O. Wood, the denomination’s general superintendent, told Religion News Service the reasons for the growth are many. Among them: “We have been flexible when it comes to culture—music, dress, pulpit attire—while remaining consistent on that which has not changed, which is doctrine.”
William Clark, RIP. I received word over the weekend of the death of William P. Clark. He was 81 years old. Clark was former President Ronald Reagan’s “right hand man,” according to Clark’s biographer, Dr. Paul Kengor of Grove City College. According to Kengor, “Few individuals were as close and important to Ronald Reagan as Bill Clark. And beyond his impact on Reagan and the Cold War, Bill Clark was simply a wonderful man.” Kengor said Clark had been ailing for a “long time—a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.” Kengor added, “It’s amazing that he survived as long as he did. Typical of Bill, he kept hanging on and fighting and fighting. We expected him to go, but for some reason he still felt like he needed to stay in this world and do something more. He was always thinking of what he and Ronald Reagan called ‘The DP’—The Divine Plan.”