Friday, November 25, 2016

What I Would Say to a Hollywood Executive

 * Covenant Eyes recently had a write-in contest.  They encouraged people to respond to the following (in 500 words or less)-“If you are at the Movieguide Gala sitting with one of the top 300 influencers of Hollywood, what would you say to that person?”  Below is my entry (which didn't win!):

“As a Christian could I mention a couple things to you?  The first thing I want to say is that we in the Christian community have not always done well in interacting with and responding to Hollywood.  I’m not an official spokesman or anything like that but I would offer my apologies for some of our behavior.  We haven’t always appreciated true artistic beauty.  Even when our moral instincts about certain movies have been correct we have not always responded in a reasoned and effective manner.  We serve and worship a God of infinite creativity but we, as His people, are sometimes close-minded and dull.  We are getting better, I think, at engaging with the cinematic media and some in the Christian community are even trying their hand at movie making but we have more work to do.

“Second, I hope that Hollywood will not pander to the Christian community.  There can be a temptation to think that Christians only enjoy Bible-centered stories or moralistic tales where everyone has a happy ending.  The irony is that movies attempting to capture a biblical narrative rarely work well.  The reason is that we see the Bible as God’s revelation to us and it functions in profoundly shaping ways in our communities.  There is both a theological and existential engagement with the text of Scripture among most Christians so our expectations are already very high when we go see a movie centered on a biblical story or character.  To be honest, we are often disappointed by the dissonance we experience when we see how Hollywood treats our sacred text.  Also, we need more than trite morality plays.  I say this not to demean you or your profession but, rather, to encourage you to challenge us, the Christian community.  Our recent forays into movie making are often of the moralistic-everything-ends-fine type.  We need to be challenged to something deeper. 

“If I had to put the challenge we need into words it might be adequately expressed this way: Give us that which is True, Good, and Beautiful.  There are movies that debase the viewer and there are movies that enliven and ennoble.  This doesn’t always mean that the ending is happy.  We need to see the truth of a broken world—the Bible doesn’t shy away from this reality.  This doesn’t mean there won’t be violence but there are movies that glorify and perpetuate violence and there are movies that, although they depict violence, render the viewer moved to morally stand opposed to injustice.  By “beautiful” I don’t mean only sunsets and daisies.  There can be a stark beauty in a barren landscape artfully filmed to produce in the viewer a sense of abandonment or aching breathlessness.  We need truth, goodness, and beauty.  I submit that all of humanity needs such virtues displayed and enacted in front of them.  Give us what we need—not simply what we want.”