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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Not sure what is a good title for this post but it is about Evan Almighty

The passion that pours out when professing Christians talk (or blog) about film entertainment is analogous to the gushing energy that ignites when people (anyone) talk religion and/or politics. What a study in Sociology and personal conviction!

I could go in so many directions with this post. Instead, I am sorry but you'll have to accept a few short thoughts I have in response to the comments on a post I made a few days back about the movie Evan Almighty.

I wish I could go back and rewrite the post. There are too many blogs to read out there - too much blog noise. I should have known better than to post an incomplete thought. More or less the post was a reaction to something I read at Challies. But what do I know? I am just an amateur writer/blogger.

I believe the primary point of my post was missed. It certainly wasn't to bash Evan Almighty and condemn it as anathema (I'd have to see the film to legitamtely do that.) I absolutely was not taking a moral stand by calling all Christians to stand against the movie. Furthermore, whether I see the movie or not I most definitely have no authority to condemn anyone to hell fire if they should choose to view the film.

This one I have been thinking about a lot. How is what Challies posted on Evan Almighty here a review of the movie itself? I agree with the absurdity that one can actually review a movie without actually seeing it. Challies didn't review the movie, he voiced his opinion as to what he was thinking about a certain topic (aahhh...the fantastic freedom that comes with blogging!). Challies expressed how he arrived at a decision to not view Evan Almighty. Was he calling all Christians to condemn the film? No, I don't thing he was. I just reread Challies' post and still empathize with his concerns - but that is not a review of the movie.

Now the comments following Challies' post are another story. I stopped reading after number 15 or so. I agree, those comments showed the glaring cultural ignorance of Evangelical Christianity and supports the reason why Christians are considered cultural fools.

Another perspective of my original post was the intensity of the marketing of the film to "Christians". In the days prior to the film's release it seemed like there was a major effort to plug the flick to and through all things "Christian". Why is this even necessary? Geez, even Dobson had something to say about the movie. Also, one of my friends forwarded me an email from a radio station offering him an invite to a special pre-screening. Why was all this marketing necessary? If I were to rewrite the post I'd explain what I think more thoroughly. My opinion is that the marketing was needed because the film makers knew there is a whole segment of America that would otherwise pay no attention to the movie's release because they live in a religious subculture. A subculture that damns everything to hell if it smells anti-religious. Don't you see the irony in that? The marketing itself further segments all Christians into an ignorant group. The true walk-the-talk believers living out of Christian liberty don't need to be segmented into an exclusive group.

Perhaps this post is another one full of incomplete thoughts. Possibly.

7 comments:

ron said...

"Perhaps this post is another one full of incomplete thoughts."

Maybe, but it's a good post.

First off, I enjoy Nehring's blog, and his opinion of films. As a brother in Christ I respect him, but he and I have a healthy disagreement on the matter being discussed.

My question to add to this is: are we called to sometimes steer ourselves and others away from something (not just a movie) unless we see it? Or are we so concerned to not be legalistic that we've decided to throw discernment out the window?

I think it's completely biblical to make wise decisions to avoid something without experiencing it, and encourage others (not force or condemn them) to do the same. Even with a movie. But it has to be done with a sincere heart out of love. That's often the hard part.

Nehring said...

Pat,

Who said he reviewed the film?

My issues with the Challies post are that a) He heavily leans towards calling the piece blasphemy without seeing it. b) He didn't seem to be too upset when people began to condemn it, again without seeing it. c) and I can continue from there.

To be truthful, my gut churnned more from the comments than the post. This said, the post irritated me greatly. This isn't a clear cut case like if he were speaking of something like Saw or Porky's. This is supported by the fact that this film is widely known to NOT contain the lured material found in Bruce Almighty and was specially designed for familes.

Again, it has never been my point to claim that Chrisitans need to consume foul material. I would say that many Christians are far too eagar to cry foul in what I see as a way to prop up their personal issues more than the glory of God - no, Ron I am NOT talking about you right now (you're cool)- I am thinking of those commenters...shudder.

Then again, I sometimes get too passionate on subjects like this.

smm said...

If TBN likes Evan Almighty then I pretty much know it's not worth seeing!

Honestly I love the show the office and Steve Carell, but I do think I agree with Challie's more than the Nearing guy. Mostly beacuse I think Challies gives a good argument and is compelling in why he believes this will due more damage to his faith than good.

The Nearing guy just gives opinion with nothing Biblical or spiritual to back his argument, so that makes me caution his opinion when it comes to the spiritual aspect.

I agree with him about cheesy movies.

I don't know about the other commentors ideas, and I am not endorsing "christian subculture"

I may see it now due to this discussion. I agree with Nehring that we shouldn't be leagalistic and uninformed. At the same time I don't need to watch Desperate Housewives to know it's a trash & full of marital unfaithfulness.

Considering the sexual content in Bruce Almighty as well as how vulgur it was, I will give the benefit of the doubt to those who would caution against the sequel.

If there was only this much hype about Amazing Grace: the Wilberforce movie.

Honestly the marketing of this movie would make you nearly believe that you are sinning by not supporting this movie. I recieved another e-mail today from Grace Hill Media telling me that I need to see it if I havn't yet and gave me all the positive Christian film reviews.

My thought & struggle: Why do I waste my life consuming and pursuing to be entertained because life is a vapor and I doubt that at the end of my life I will be bummed that I missed this or any movie, good or bad.

Maybe this argument shows how shallow I really am and how much I need Christ to trasnform me to give my life away instead or pursuing to entertain myself.

Nehring said...

Dear SMM Guy,

Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong but I don't believe Challies cited verses either. You managed to have a retort without any citations as well. Hmm. Don't worry, I don't throw out a brother's point of view simply because he didn't provide a verse.

Let me know which part of my reaction to Challies you'd like a verse on and I'll fill you in. However, you have to promise not to do the concordance dance. It's a fun game Christians commenters play where I'll say, Hey you think seeing movies is wasting time "pursuing to entertain myself." What about Ecclesiastes 3:1? Relaxation and entertainment isn't sinful. Then you can come back with Proverbs 18:9 or something like that. Then I come back with another line and do on until one of us ends with "Well, anyone can take a verse and make it mean anything" or the classic "Even the devil can quote scripture." If you promise not to go this route, I'll be thrilled to provide verses.

BTW Amazing Grace had a huge marketing campaign and plenty of coverage. It did very well for the type of movie that it is.

smm said...

Mr. Nehring,

You are correct Challies didn't reference a verse. I was incorrect. I am not trying to do a concordance dance.

My main point was that I thought Challies laid out well his argument for why he believed this movie would not build his faith and may hurt it, or at least make light of it.
If Bill Cosby said it I would still think it was wrong.

What I was more trying to get at is that your response to his comments were more about the christian/hollywood culture war and such.
Challies was speaking to how this movie could rationally effect a believers faith and yours was more about the film industry from my perspective.

Challies laid out good points for why he did not want to see Evan Almighty for spiritual-faith reasons which Pat posted a week or so back. I agreed with his points. His post was more about the spiritual aspects of how this movie may effect himself, and he cautions us in seeing it. I thought that was helpful and encouraging.

Your response to his article was more about why this cultural war exists, and how we should not get caught up in christian subculture. I agree 100%

I know that this movie -Evan Almighty- is more targeted for families, but the same thing went on for Bruce Almighty. I had many believers who told me that it was so funny, you have to see it!. Honestly I thought it was totally inappropiate, not edifying to my faith and pretty much mocked God all for the sake of some laughs.basically a complete waste of my time!
I don't know what you would have said about that film, but I was shocked many people who claim to love God could sit through a movie that made fun of His divinity.

I have read many of the good reviews of Evan Almighty.

I am not a huge Dobson fan as he has become so political but I take his review with much consideration even when Plugged in gives this flick a good review. I think Dobson's gives wise counsel.
You can read his review at http://www.pluggedinonline.com/movies/movies/a0003264.cfm

As for the comment on not seeking to entertain oneself so much... I stand by it without my concordance.

I spend the majority of my life seeking comfort, ease, amusement, entertainment. I am not saying one should never rest and never be amused. I just think our culture is so high on amusement that we don't see reality. Especially the church. I believe that we in the western church live in subculture of ease and apathy taht we don't see or care about what many in the rest of the world face. Some of the main issue of many churches these days is how we can entertain our flock. I used to be on staff at one. The flock doesn't need entertainment, they need a wake up call to realize that life is a vapor and it will soon be over.

I sat 3 weeks ago with a mom and her two daughters ages 4 and 7 all who had AIDS or HIV in a shack in Ethiopia, and I can tell you that time gave me a much needed persepctive that shows me how worthless entertainment in my own life is. It does nothing for me or the many peoples who have never heard of Christ. I do not know anyone who has come to faith by any movie. Even a cheesy, poorly produced christian one.

I struggle to keep Christ as my treasure, and to be satisfied in him alone, and to pursue him and there are not many movies that I have seen that help me do that. Whether they are rated G or R. Wilberforce was an exception.

This now is less about Evan Almighty and more about me wasting my time pursuing to be entertained whether by my television or at the theatre spending $30 per show with popcorn to have a bit of comedic relief.

I cannot forget that family sitting in the shack with AIDS. My $30 could do alot to show Christ to them and I believe that would not be a waste of time and life.

My blockbuster card and how much time I spent in a theatre or in front of my tv will be time mostly wasted.

So that's my other unfinished thought.

ron said...

"I spend the majority of my life seeking comfort, ease, amusement, entertainment. I am not saying one should never rest and never be amused. I just think our culture is so high on amusement that we don't see reality. Especially the church. I believe that we in the western church live in subculture of ease and apathy taht we don't see or care about what many in the rest of the world face. Some of the main issue of many churches these days is how we can entertain our flock. I used to be on staff at one. The flock doesn't need entertainment, they need a wake up call to realize that life is a vapor and it will soon be over. "

Although this is not about the subject at hand, the point is relevent in that many Christians struggle with justifying much we practice and how we practice entertainment and leisure. And it's not all about legalism.

I think we're (American Christians) really, really messed up on this, and that's why the topic becomes so touchy. It's like telling a drunk he drinks too much. He either denies there's a problem, or he says he'll change and a year later it's still the same.

As a Christian I know I can be guilty of excessive pursuit of leisure and entertainment, and I don't think I'm an abberation. Not that it can't change, it's just that it seems really easy to convince myself it's fine, or can readily find someone who will tell me it's fine, relax and and just have fun. The ease of finding that counsel tells me somethings not right about it.

Brandy Dopkins said...

Pat, I am so glad you are a blogger. incomplete thoughts, full thoughts, I love reading them all.