Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Preaching to the choir for profit – someone else's, that is

Call me a killjoy, but I’m not terribly impressed with the number of biblically-themed movies that have hit major theaters in the last couple of months – “God’s Not Dead,” “Heaven Is for Real,” “Noah,” “Son of God.” I haven’t seen any of them yet, so I won’t comment on their quality.

My concern is that such flicks might give us the impression that Christians have “arrived,” that our values are becoming more accepted in the greater society. In fact, it likely means only that we have disposable income that savvy moviemakers want to separate us from. Anything wrong with that?

Maybe, especially since they may give a skewed perspective on biblical faith and its ramifications. Because they purpose to confirm what we already believe I don’t think they’ll be effective if they’re designed to be “evangelical” and deal with, in the words of Reinhold Neibuhr’s famed “Serenity Prayer,” “the world as it is, not as I would have it.”

To be such, they have to be a certain quality that the world can appreciate – in other words, folks who watch movies for a living have to say, “This is worth watching, and here’s why.” Of the Christian-oriented movies that have been released over the past couple of years I’ve seen only “Courageous,” and the implausibility of some of the scenes and story lines disappointed me.

And I’m not the only one who feels that way. Two years ago at the writers’ conference I attend annually a writer who works in Hollywood – and who has a degree in apologetics — noted that, in her view, such movies just aren’t very good.

I’ve long felt the same way about Christian music, which I haven’t listened to for two decades. You might remember that today all of the major Christian record labels are owned by secular interests primarily concerned about making money. Rarely do you have Christian artists who transcend the genre – Take 6, which has always had a secular recording contract, is one; most remain in that “ghetto.”

Perhaps someday the church will produce movies on par with or superior to those in the world, but to do that we need to support our artists and not handcuff them with a certain “culture.” If we don’t the world will get only our money, not our message.

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