Saturday, November 26, 2005

Silver Screen Spirituality

Applaud Lord of the Rings. Be frightened by the Sixth Sense. Laugh at Bruce Almighty. Take offence at Dogma. Be amazed by the Matrix Trilogy. Squirm through Joan of Arcadia. Feel the emotion in Crash. Be conned by Catch Me if You Can. For many, the church and the cinema work in very different ways and therefore should never meet. When I discuss films with people, I am often met with one of two responses; one from the “world” and the other from the institutional church. The world often wonders why I am so interested and often moved by the religious imagery in movies. On the other hand, the church’s traditional response has been with a frown of disapproval; “Be in the world, not of the world. Flee from evil!”

In western culture, filmmakers are the storytellers that tell the tale of mystery and intrigue which appeal to and reflect many an individuals’ personal pilgrimage towards truth and purpose. Our culture is very spiritual; it is very “god” oriented but often has a magnet placed on it’s co-ordinates which causes a spinning pilgrimage of directionless experimentation. Film, T.V., and other performing arts are dealing with issues of God, angels, and the paranormal on a very regular basis while popular music is continuing to reflect the inner quest of the soul.

The truth is, for many, the institutional church is boring while spirituality seems exciting and mysterious. We now live in a “post-apologetic” world that rely’s heavily on experience and story. As a result, people are seeing flashes of the divine on screen which may be contributing to more soul searching then any three point sermon ever could!

Welcome to the narratives and parables of today. True to the form that Jesus displayed; some stories are straight and to the point while others require deeper probing to find the underlying meanings and realizations of God. The story of God is all around us, “The basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long hard thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes of such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being.” Romans 1:20 – The Message.

That being said, “spiritual malnutrition” is a very real threat if we as believers exclusively look for God in theatre, film, fiction, art, music, television. God has given us his divinely inspired word, and as believers, that needs to be our template of how we see his imprint on the world around us.

We often look for balance on theses issues, unfortunately, we do not serve a very balanced God! In fact, it is quite the opposite. Paul, in Galatians 5:16-26, addresses the matter of lifestyle choice/differences while also reminding us of the eternal battle of good vs. evil; life by the Spirit vs. acts of the sinful nature.

Our sinful nature caters to and feeds our corrupt desires. The activities mentioned here by Paul, (sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, and orgies), if practiced by or engaged in by believers, “disqualifies” them from the kingdom of God.

*Many of these are popular themes/issues in film, art, etc.

Life by the Spirit – As black is to white, these by-products of a spirit-filled life are to those of a sinful nature. These, (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control), are products of a spirit directed and spirit influenced life.

*Many of these are popular themes/issues in film, art, etc.

My question then is this: What lens do you see the performing arts through? Inherent evil or simply a medium of art with many different interpretations?

1 comment:

Jordan/Yoda/Clambo said...

Given a choice between the two, I'd have to say the media ia "a medium of art with many different interpretations." I don't see the media so much as the driving force behind the corruption of the world, as it is a reflection of what human nature has caused. It is simply people expressing themselves. Albeit there are obvious examples of sex and violence thrown in for the purpose of making money, but I think usually it is just people expressing themselves. Unless the specific piece of media is causing us direct spiritual harm, I see no reason for Christians to abstain from it or judge it. The media is a way of staying in tune with the world Jesus commissioned us to serve and reach out to.