Monday, November 21, 2005

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

Last night I watched Hide and Seek with Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning. My wife, you see, wanted something that would keep her awake, something scary. Now, I don't like scary movies as a rule. And some of these new horror flicks with the jerky-motioned dead people in them just ain't my cuppa, if you know what I'm saying. I get into my stories. And when I watch a movie it takes me a few minutes to extract myself from it once it's over. Oh yes, that's my toilet and my broken window blind. It takes me a minute.

Hide and Seek is pretty creepy. You have your blood and your dead people and your eerie music - and, of course, the obligatory freak-child. Interestingly, the tone of the movie - the very genre of the movie - changes near the end. Overall the movie is done well and I enjoyed it.

I've been told that all horror movies are no-no's for Christians. What do you think? And more broadly, is Philippians 4.8 a checklist for determining which movies we watch and which books we read and which music we listen to?

Whatever is

of Good Repute/Report
has Excellence/Virtue

Meditate on these things.


Reid said...

Do you ask the question b/c your conscience is pricked? Or is it merely the legalistic voices of the past running around in your head like the "dead people?"

Scott said...

That's a fair question. I ask, not because my conscience is pricked, but because of the legalistic voices both past and present running around in my head.

There are some movies and TV shows and books in which even my conscience is pricked, but, fortunately for me, my sanctification has not yet reached the point that keeps me from consuming anything that isn't explicitly Christian. (Excuse the sarcasm.) : )

Meg said...

I really think it has to be based on personal judgment. I hate standards applied across the board. I think God gives us discernment if we ask for it. And then the chips can fall where they may.

Dan M said...

I find the strictures placed on us as children growing up in this area to be far too narrow minded. I'm reminded of C.S. Lewis who states that since everything in Creation is actually created by God, then anything we create must point to God, even if very obliquely. Case in point that comes to mind is that piece of art that stirred up so much controversy years ago, Piss Christ, with the crucifix encased in a vat of the artist's urine. Nasty, nasty, hideous, stuff. But...that's a pretty fair analogy of what Christ went through to redeem us. To me, that guy's art points us in a very powerful way, albeit a lurid way, to the Creator, even if it wasn't the artist's intention. C.S. Lewis stated that the "ingredients" we use to create have an inherent essence to them that was imbued to them by the Creator. As creators ourselves, we have no power at all in divorcing the tools of our creativity from the Creator Himself, or his intention for them, and that ultimately, all art must point to Christ. Of course, this sort of an argument can be taken to an irrational extreme, but it is food for thought, at least for me. It's not justification for partaking in all the crap that oozes from Hollywood, but I rarely feel pricked by my conscience at the movies, as if I'm watching something that will fundamentally scar my soul, or separate me from God. Besides...sometimes a movie is just a movie. As to your specific question: when Christians say that horror movies are no-no's for Christians, they're just choosing to say a very "Christian" sounding thing. Like saying alcohol is evil. Fuhgedaboutit.

Scott said...

Meg, thanks for your comment. Discernment is little practiced in conservative circles of Christianity. It's much easier to abstain, and to force others to abstain, than it is to enjoy good gifts and to live wisely.

Dan, it amazes me at how the Scriptures are deconstructed by good Christians and re-constructed into something shallow and lifeless. I appreciate your thoughts here - they're excellent. Some things do not clearly point us God-ward. For instance, many believers find The Scarlet Letter to be inappropriate reading material because the subject matter springs up out of adultery. When I read it, however, I see grace embodied in the person of Hester Prynne, adulteress, to such an extent that her life becomes a text of grace to a sternly legalistic people. (She is even able to redeem the symbol of disgrace into a symbol of honor because of her lived life.) And beyond it all, much of life is simply for our enjoyment - "sometimes a movie is just a movie." I love roller coasters, not because I am drawn God-ward (though I may be, especially if they jump the tracks), but because they're a hoot. The same can be said for art - it brings pleasure even though it may not be intentionally or unintentionally drawing us to God, or particularly instructive. Why do so many Christians think there is something wrong with pleasure?

Dan M. said...

I don't know, Scott...sometimes I think everything on this earth points us to God. Perhaps not in an inspiring way, or a feel good way, but in a way that says, "there HAS to be something else." It comes back to that whole analogy of Lewis's, where he says that a fish found flailing in the desert by a person who had never seen the sea would prove to him that there must be a place where this fish can flourish and survive. We're fish flailing in this world, and I think that the most egregious events of human history point us to God, if for no other reason than we look out into the night sky and question whether there is a god, and say, "is this all there is?" That doesn't justify any of it, but even the existence of Satan points us to God, and the need for God, and the fact that there is a good God that exists. At least that's the way I view the world. Of course, that doesn't mean we excuse making a meth lab, or cheating on spouses, or robbing banks, or any of that. But the fact that all those things happen and exist are evidence that we are all flailing fish until we actually reach the place where we will flourish and live completely. This ain't home, and the crap that exists, points the need to find the map that takes us there. The worst things in the world are the things that make us realize we're lost, and that we'd better pull out the compass and find True North. I know that's getting a bit far afield from your original question, but I think it does have something to do with culture. I saw and enjoyed Pulp Fiction. A lot of Christians would state that that's a "bad" movie. I think it's a GREAT film, and it really shows in ways few things can how depraved our society has become. Same thing with Magnolia. If there's ever evidence of the need for God's grace, that movie's it, and I'm glad somebody made that. As to your question about pleasure, and Christians, too many seem to forget that our Creator takes pleasure in things all the time. Taking pleasure in the life around us is one way in which we reflect the Creator. Somebody pass the cookies, will ya? ;-)

Dan M. said... as I reread your post, Scott, I see that said some things don't "clearly" point us Godward. I sorta went off an a tangent, thinking you were actually saying something different than you were. It pays to reread things... :-)

Carl said...

Hello, I am encouraged that folks are even thinking about this subject, this means the Holy Spirit is pricking hearts.

Yes, I do think Philippians 4:8 is right on; because whether we want to admit it or not, evil things can and do hurt the sanctification process that the Holy Spirit is involved in. He (the HS) will not go against our will and we will certainly reap what we have sown.

It is extremely challenging in today's world (especially for those Christians going through the sanctification process) to escape the constant barrage of evil from various media sources. However, make NO mistake Christian, the devils know your strengths and weaknesses, and will execute plans against those weaknesses.

Try this for an experiment: commit to a 1-3 day fast (just water and maybe juice) and NO TV, movies, or other books. Just read the Bible and pray. See what urges and lusts come to your mind out of nowhere, ... then relook at doing things that don't line up with Philippians 4:8. I believe Paul had a deep revelation on this subject. If we are to mortify our members on this earth, we must starve them, and that sometimes means parting with things our evil flesh desires; Paul talks about this warring between our flesh and spirit in Romans 7:23...

"But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." (Romans 7:23)

However, we must ALL overcome (Revelation 2:7,11,17,26,3:5,12,21,21:17) and truly repent OR we shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3,5)

Carrying our daily cross isn't necessarily easy - we need the Lord's help, He is our Sheperd, our High-Tower, the Author and Finisher of our faith. He is at the bottom of the ladder and at the top. We can do it, IF we lean totally on Him and NOT ourselves, because without Him we CANNOT do anything. (John 15:5)

"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5)

Personal Application: Myself - the Holy Spirit has been helping me wean off of TV, movies and other things that aren't really helpful to the sanctification process; some things are harder than others. However, again we must ALL overcome; and we can again with His help and mercy. Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might (Eph 6:10) - I have this scripture framed on the wall as a helpful reminder (also Eph 6:11-12).

I write these words to encourage all of you... be strong and of good courage; earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the Saints. (Jude 1:3)

P.S. Sorry for any spelling errors.

Scott said...

Interesting thoughts, Dan. I appreciate the tangent, and I agree with you. I was discussing this with Dan-D concerning Anne Rice because of her recent offering Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt and, specifically, discussing her vampire chronicles. The despair, the lostness, revealed by the vampires - though not entirely appreciated by them - makes me long for redemption as I read. So, yes, even the darkness (perhaps, especially the darkness) can make us yearn for the light. Dan-D felt the same sense of despair even though he was not a believer when he read the books.

The issue becomes sticky when we begin discussing the extent of our participation, which I believe to be a largely personal issue. As a follower of Christ, what should I participate in? And I think here, as we discuss movies, literature, TV, music - the arts in general - we need to be able to do whatever we do in faith (which, for me, means doing it without my conscience being troubled). I do not stand in judgment of you for watching Pulp Fiction just as you do not stand in judgment of me for watching The Ring.. You are not my servant, but God's - and I must respect that, if I want others to show me the same respect. There are some shows I have no business watching because I know my propensities and my weaknesses and where I am easily ensnared. The same may not be true for a brother or a sister, however, and I need to appreciate that and not judge them because they may, very well, be stronger than me in that area.

We mess up, I think, when we start making our consciences the law of the Kingdom. I am responsible for my actions. And while I see nothing wrong with drinking a beer, I need to be careful not to misuse that liberty around fellow believers. I should not flaunt my freedom and the exercise of my freedom around a brother who believes that alcohol is the devil's brew (though there is a time to discuss the issue with him). And so I set aside this liberty for the love of a brother or sister. But it is a temporary setting aside, not a permanent one. It is for their sakes - I pass on the adult beverage when they are with me, I enjoy it when they are not.

Scott said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Carl.