Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What Movies Do Christians Want? Part III - A Dichotomy of Purposes - Insulation or Influence

In Part I I began a response to the Entertainment Weekly article about movie studios looking for ways to market to the Christian audience.

In Part II I looked at the last 10 years and see how this sub genre developed.

Why would a Christian want to make a Christian movies, there are two primarily reasons I can think of.

1. Insulation:
I think it's as old as time, but Christians (and any other type of cultural group) finds ways and reasons to isolate themselves. Whether it's the Puritans coming to the United States or the development of Christian television networks, Christians rightfully feel that their world view is different, and so even when it comes to entertainment they might want something different. Whether it's films and music that speak specifically to their faith and relationship with Jesus, or whether it's protecting themselves from amoral philosophies and values.

There is biblical grounds for Christians to chose this type of separation, creating sanitized entertainment that reflects a different world view. This type of media has existed for longer than 10 years, Christian bookstores, Christian music, and Christian films have existed before films hit the silver screen.

Application - What someone might say: "I really want to be able to go to the movies and see a fun/exciting/romantic film without compromising my beliefs. I want to see a movie without sex, violence, language, and un-Godly values"

2. Influence:
Just as Christians feel called to keep themselves pure before God and Men, there is also a call for the Christian believer to influence and impact their world.

Jesus in the popular Sermon on the Mountain encourages the Christ-followers to be like light on a hill that cannot be hidden, or salt that works as a preservative to keep the world from increased evil.

And if a person likes to act, write, or create, they may feel spiritually called to use their gift to impact the world, represent God in their art, and bring glory to God in a contemporary way.

In many ways the lure of the theatrical setting seemed to really capture this philosophy. Christian's with an interest in the film media might see the film with a theatrical run as an opportunity to get non-Christians in the theater chairs who might be exposed to Christian truths and changed (like a city on a hill) or at least see something that replaces a film with amoral messages (salt of the earth).

Application - What someone might say: "If Christians want to see movies that have a positive message they should be the one's who make them, not just complain about what's out there. The film environment is also a comfortable environment to share a God-centered message."

1 comment:

Magnus said...

I have always thought that the idea of being in the World but not of the World has been handled in a backwards kind of way. It seems to me that Christians in North America have been creating a sort of mirror version of the society they are trying to escape. But that mirror is sort of like a fun house mirror, in that the ideals it actually portrays are not really the ideals trying to presented.
The values I see portrayed (and that people I know outside the Faith see) are commercial and consumerist. How often is the focus on box office, money, being just like "secular society". (in terms of production, action, accesibilty, etc) Is this the right focus? It is hard to put this into words right now, but I just think modern North American Christianity is off the mark. We always run to people like Macdonals, Lewis (and the other Inklings) and Chesterson as examples of how Christians are just as smart, educated and talented as anyone Else, But all these men wer from the United Kingdom and of entirely different generations - Lewis dies in 1963! Has anyone in Christendom really stepped up to carry on that tradition? No. With certain exceptions in music, we dropped the ball in literature and never really produced anything in film worthy of wide spread praise or appeal.
Where's the talent? Where's the art? Where's the storytelling? I have been told that I have to support Christian endeavours because they are Christian: but if they are poor quality, why should I bother? How effective a tool is evangelical music, films and books? Mostly what I see is preaching to the converted. Maybe we should focus in on good craft instead?
Long rant, perhaps unfocused, but this is something just eats at me. It is hard for people like me to be part of the Faith sometimes.