My mother forwarded me a link to your website and I’ve spent the past week in serious contemplation. Agonizing might be too strong a word, but the actual emotion is somewhat close to that.
You see, I love movies. I’ve loved movies for as much of my life as I can remember. And quite frankly, I’ve been pretty ticked off in the past couple years to find that I can’t go to as many as I used to because I’m offended by the violence, or the blatant sexuality, or the callous indifference to, if not outright blasphemy against God.
Yes, I said ticked. I can be honest about it. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t come to this point – whether it’s maturity or self-righteousness – but it’s now possible that I go months at a time between finding a movie I feel comfortable attending.
I can’t even watch some of the movies I actually own anymore and that makes me feel too much like my mother. She’s turned her nose up at the movie and television industry for as long as I can remember and I’ve always been a bit irritated by her stand.
I’ve gotten around my lack of movie options by turning to television shows. I comfort myself that at least there are still a few broadcast standards left. I became attached to Alias and Stargate SG-1 over the years and recently I started watching Lost. I really enjoyed Battlestar Galactica but had to give that up because of the blatant sexuality allowed on the Sci-Fi channel.
But I digress. I’ve already lost most of my movie options. Fewer and fewer television shows are palatable. I’ve also had to give up several truly gifted secular fiction writers because of the content they feel it’s important to include along with their good plot to make the book marketable. Now you’re telling me that any show that mentions God’s name or that of His Son in an irreverent way is blasphemy?
I’ll be honest with you – my first reaction to your video was ‘you’ve got to be kidding me!’ Followed closely by ‘what in the world am I going to watch now?’
As spiritually immature as that may seem to you, I’m completely serious. You may be absolutely correct. In fact, you made your case so well that I want to watch the video again to try and find a loophole. I certainly don’t want to be thinking about your point as much as I have been, because quite frankly, sometimes a person just needs to be entertained! To forget – if only for a couple blissful hours – this gritty, difficult world we live in. To see things work together in the end, even when we know good and well that real life rarely comes out that way
I rarely spend my money on R-rated movies and never go to slasher films. I make it a point for myself and repeatedly pound it into friends and family that we need to go to every new “Christian” movie on opening weekend. I do this regardless of whether it’s a movie I’m personally interested in or whether it’s been savaged, rightly or wrongly, by the critics. All of this so that Hollywood ‘gets the message.’ And what has happened? Effectively nothing.
Yes, if we’re lucky, every year one good Christian movie makes a national splash amidst several pretty mediocre ones. Meanwhile, 100 horror and barely-less-than-porn movies have come out right alongside them. Hollywood’s response to The Passion has been trumpeted over and over, but in terms of total movies making it to the marketplace, the difference seems negligible.
Maybe I’m misinterpreting your point or reading more into your video than you intended, but it seems to me you’re basically calling for a boycott of Hollywood until they stop using God’s name in an irreverent manner. While this is a lovely idea, I don’t know how practical it is and I’ll tell you why. We Christians are hypocrites, and I the biggest one. I am passionately opposed to the homosexual agenda, especially where it’s being aggressively pushed forward in public schools. About ten years ago I heard that Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream was somehow connected with funding homosexual groups in high schools. Outraged, I swore off my favorite ice cream for a year. After the year was up I decided maybe the information I’d gotten wasn’t entirely accurate, and what was one pint now and then going to matter one way or the other…and if I didn’t stick my nose any further into it and find out more information than I wanted to know, well…I could live with myself and the occasional purchase.
A couple years ago word went round that AT&T was giving employee health benefits to homosexual partners of employees. Same with Ford and several other big companies. Problem was, there weren’t many alternatives for those who might disagree. I actually researched a family-friendly phone company, but it was such a convoluted process I gave up.
If you’re challenging Christians in America to walk away almost wholesale from the movie and television industry for a significant period of time, you need to accept some responsibility for filling the gap. You need to provide some readily accessible alternatives. Otherwise you get 100 million people like me thinking, sure, you’re probably right…but what will I find to watch on Saturday night if I make that stand? More importantly, what am I going to contribute to Monday morning’s coffee break conversation that doesn’t make me sound Amish?
I recently visited Karnack in Egypt and saw a temple that pre-dated Solomon’s by a thousand years. When God gave the plans to David He was echoing a place of worship they were already familiar with. On the same trip I visited the Holy Land for a second time and was again reminded how God chose the Israelites out of a certain culture and a set way of living. When God gave Israel their legal structure He put in place a system that was so unique and different – and patently just – that it has impacted the rest of the world throughout time and history.
Though it may seem that way to you, this is not another digression. I believe God works in similar ways today. He uses cultural forms that we’re already familiar with to call out to us. He uses the shadows to speak of true reality. And, please excuse yet another C.S. Lewis reference, but once He’s gotten a hold of us, He calls us each day farther up and farther in.
Yet we live in a culture that worships entertainment. Our national conversation revolves around the finalists on American Idol and whether or not you’ve seen Spiderman 3. Everyone complains that we pay basketball stars more than teachers, but no one is going to do a thing to change that fact. That’s just the culture we live in at this point.
As Christians we should be appalled by Hollywood Blasphemy. Well, strike that. Actually, we shouldn’t be appalled because, quite frankly, what should we expect of the unredeemed? What we should be appalled by is our own complacency, compromise and complicity. What we should be doing is getting on our knees and echoing 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
So where does that leave us? Mr. Comfort, Mr. Cameron, I believe your point is valid – I just don’t think it’s complete and I’ll tell you why. First, the fact is that we are but dust. You can’t just challenge Christians to walk away from such a huge part of our culture without providing viable, easily accessible alternatives. Second, and probably more important, since we are an entertainment oriented culture, we need to be able to talk about movies and television and what we’re reading with our unsaved friends.
In my opinion, your challenge is missing out on the big picture. You need to support and defend your brothers and sisters in the creative arts and you need to challenge others to do the same. Not just because they’re Christian, but because they’re providing excellent, entertaining stories that speak about the truths of God – truths that our culture is dying from want of.
We need to be making movies that challenge Christians to a higher level of maturity. We also need to be making movies that aren’t blatantly Christian but have a good parable-message that Christians wouldn’t be embarrassed to invite their non-Christian friends to. Why aren’t we making movies like this? If it’s true that Hollywood is all about the bottom line, then the obvious conclusion is that Christians aren’t going to these movies in large enough numbers.
Challenge Christians to forgo movies that blaspheme the name of God – YES! But at the same time, challenge them to find other alternatives. Challenge them to push movies and television shows that are entertaining and moral. And for heaven’s sake, challenge them to support more than the latest ‘Parables of the Vineyard’ or ‘Purpose Driven Life’ phenomenon that sweeps the church. Those have their place – this is not a criticism of that kind of book – but where is the corresponding novel?
We only push non-fiction in church and the fact is – that doesn’t speak to the full reality we live in once we leave the pews. I dare you to issue a challenge to pastors to review a good novel once a month. Something that is entertaining and well-written; something a Christian could give to their non-Christian neighbor or coworker and have a thought-provoking discussion about.
You know good and well that Hollywood would be foaming at the mouth to make a movie out of the novel 100 million Christians were talking about. I’ve heard from numerous different sources that Hollywood is about the almighty dollar and that the reason The Passion caused such a stir was the plain and simple bottom line. Ok, let’s spend some money!
You issued your challenge, I’m issuing mine. I’ll give you six months. You seem to be well-connected Christian bigwigs – and I say that with the utmost respect, not sarcastically. If anyone can get the ball rolling I’d suspect it’d be you two. For six months, from May 15th to December 15th, I won’t spend a dime supporting Hollywood Blasphemy. Not in the theater. Not in the rental store. Not at the Target video counter. I won’t even watch a movie on free television that I know has blasphemy in it.
After six months I’ll be looking for your alternatives. A list of clean movies, and not just a “Christian” list, but one split up by genre that has something for everyone. Tell us which television shows pass muster as being both morally supportable and entertaining. Gives us a list of intelligent Christian fiction and clean secular fiction.
I’d also like to know that there are several movies of excellence in the pipeline that I can start talking up. I can think of ten novels off the top of my head if you’re lacking in content. How about Peace Child or Lords of the Earth? How about a magnificent sci-fi trilogy made out of the C.S. Lewis series? Or in true narcissistic fashion, I’ll offer to send you my novel – lots of people have told me it would make a great movie. ;)
If money is an issue I pledge $100 as the seed for a new production company dedicated to exalting the Name and the Word. They don’t even have to list me at the bottom of the credits. I’ll also promise to convince 100 other people to send money. If they’re making movies of excellence and Christians in America are responding to your challenge, they shouldn’t need us after the first couple hit the theater.
And just to show that I believe in what I’ve challenged you to do, I’ll do my part. Every Friday for the next six months I’ll publish a Hollywood Blasphemy Alternatives entry on my blog featuring a couple movie or book suggestions.
You gentlemen have made an excellent point. You’ve convinced me. However, I hope that I’ve been able to show you a couple key areas you’re forgetting. I’m sending this open letter out into cyberspace to see if six degrees of separation works in the Christian world.