Thursday, May 27, 2010

Christian Movie-making… an oxymoron?

The Apostle Paul went to Mars Hill, the philosophical and religious centre of Athens and he spoke to the people gathered there in the manner of the day; he referenced their gods, their poetry, and their way of thinking. The Apostles also spoke in marketplaces and at religious centres—the places where people gathered. If we are going to continue the missionary work of proclaiming the gospel to the culture we live in, we ought to go where they are gathering and speak to them in a manner they understand. Since we live in a visual culture, Christians need to speak to the world in a voice they can see and hear. This means that gifted and talented Christians need to enter the world of movie-making.

According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), over one billion movie tickets were sold in Canada/US during 2009. MPAA also reports that 67% of the population of Canada/US are movie-goers. Movie theatres are where the people are gathering; movies are the media they are listening to and watching. Given the fact that our culture is being powerfully shaped by false worldviews presented in films, Christians need to provide a counter worldview, a worldview grounded in the truth of God’s created universe.

Since film is a very realistic medium, it lends itself very well to the Christian gospel message. Christianity is no abstract, pie-in-the-sky, philosophical religion. It is a real, gritty, dirt-under-the-finger-nails faith. It impacts the lives of real people living in a real world. Film can clearly and powerfully show how the gospel transforms people’s lives where they are—in a real, gritty, dirt-under-the-finger-nails world. Because of this realism, visual media can be a scary realm for Christians. It pulls us out of our Christian comfort-zone of “stained glass windows” and “polished-wood pews.” But Christianity speaks to the whole world, to its beauty and its ugliness. So Christians need to use the advantage God has given them as film-makers to visually and accurately depict the world as it really is. This includes human suffering, but also human value and meaning; the influence of evil is part of our world, but so are the power of providence and the role of grace. Hollywood rarely portrays the world as it actually is; this is because Hollywood isn’t interested in beauty, goodness or truth—it is interested in box office receipts and the bottom line.

God has blessed many Christians with the gifts, talents and technical skills to make good movies. Lately, some very interesting Christian-themed and Christian-made movies have appeared—albeit briefly—in theatres around the world. Granted, there have also been some embarrassing and poorly made films as well. Like all things done in the name of Christ, it should be done with excellence. This excellence should be seen in both the message and medium; in other words, Christians should not only present a right message, but also preserve and perfect the “art” of film-making, which includes subtlety, beauty, goodness and truth. Some would argue that we should not compete with the world on their turf; but the truth is it’s not their turf. The entire world is under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This world is His turf. If God is calling you to make movies in His name, then go and make a great movie.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Piper on C.S. Lewis

In John Piper's signature style of speaking honestly, humbly and personally, Piper delivers a power message on learning from the heart and mind of C.S. Lewis.

John Piper is open about some of Lewis's theological errors; but, Piper is equally open about the contributions and richness offered by C.S. Lewis and his writings. There has been so much vehement criticism from certain quarters of the evangelical church focused on C.S. Lewis. A couple of years ago, I made a humble defense of Jack, but it must be acknowledged that some of the beliefs he held were simply wrong. Piper addresses this, explaining the right reasons we should come to Lewis, and the wrong reasons we shouldn't. Coming to Lewis for the right reasons is right. He has much to offer Christendom and the world, especially in the 21st century. Click for Piper's lecture: "Lessons from an Inconsolable Soul"

Thanks to my brother from Bradford Academy for drawing this lecture to my attention!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Marshall McLuhan on the Global Village

In the days before Twitter, email, Facebook, MySpace, texting, blogging, Google, the Internet... Marshall McLuhan describes the new world "created by instant electronic information"---a "global village".
"Today, the instantaneous world of electric information media involves all of us, all at once. Ours is a brand new world of all-at-onceness. Time, in a sense, has ceased and space has vanished. Like primitives, we now live in a global village of our own making, a simultaneous happening. The global village is not created by the motor car or even by the airplane. It is created by instant electronic information movement. The global village is at once as wide as the planet and as small as the little town where everybody is maliciously engaged in poking his nose into everybody else’s business. The global village is a world in which you don’t necessarily have harmony; you have extreme concern with every else’s business and much involvement in everybody else’s life. It’s a sort of Ann Landers column written larger. And it doesn’t necessarily mean harmony and peace and quiet, but it does mean huge involvement in everybody else’s affairs. And so, the global village is as big as a planet and as small as the village post office.

"We now share too much about each other to be strangers to each other. For example, in the age of the information explosion, all the walls go out between age-groups, between family groups, national groups, between economies. The walls all go out. People suddenly have to adjust themselves to this new proximity, this new interrelationship, and merely to tell them that this has happened isn’t very helpful. What they need to know is, if it is happening, what does it mean to me?"
“McLuhan on McLuhanism,” WNDT Educational Broadcasting Network, 1966