Monday, December 17, 2007


Call Justin Fatica rabid and he'll probably take it as a compliment.

Fatica, a preacher easily mistaken for a drill sergeant, is the subject of the HBO documentary ``Hard as Nails,'' which airs tonight at 8 p.m. New York time. You may roll your eyes during parts of the 90-minute show; at other times, you may wipe them. It's highly unlikely you'll doze off.

Fatica's basic message: No matter how screwed up you are, God loves you. As marketing slogans go, it's a winner. According to the program, Fatica preached to some 60,000 teenagers last year and may double that number this year. Director David Holbrooke says he first encountered Fatica, now 29, at a Christian rock festival and was captivated by his energy. Sometimes Fatica gets so wound up you're tempted to reach for a taser.

``Jesus has your back,'' he yells at an assembly of young Catholics. To illustrate the pain Jesus suffered on their behalf, Fatica slams his back with a folding metal chair.

I was convinced.

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