Christians reviewing movies

Hey, thanks for carrying the blog yesterday. You alerted me to lots of interesting things, some of which I might blog about. For example, thanks to Tickletext for this:

Is anyone following the mini-controversy over Christianity Today’s 3-star review of the Sex and the City film? Basically, a writer for CT Movies gave the film a qualified, moderately positive review. On the basis of that review, some outraged Christians questioned CT’s commitment to scripture, and CT published a response accordingly. Ted Slater of Focus on the Family then accused CT of “relishing sexual perversity” and endorsing pornography, and called for the magazine to “repent.” Many of the comments on his blog post echoed his sentiments. Others have responded critically to Slater.

CT’s review

CT’s editorial response

Ted Slater’s condemnation

A response to Slater which includes links to other responses

There are interesting questions here. Does a positive review amount to a promotion, as Slater says? In Areopagitica, John Milton says that truth and falsehood grow up entwined together in this fallen world, and we Christians must work to discern the true and the false. When engaging works of culture, is it possible to praise what is good without reveling in what is bad, or must Christians throw out discernment altogether? Furthermore, when another Christian praises what we regard with spiritual or moral dubiety, what should our attitude be?

I want to weigh in on this, as a long time movie reviewer for WORLD, but I’d like to hear what you have to say first.

UPDATE: See the take in Patrol Magazine.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Mary Jack

    It seems to me that so much of culture tells us to define people & things solely by the sin(s) involved. Tossing out whatever (or whoever) has obvious sin. Christians of all people ought to be discerning and not fall into that wretched perspective.

    While I haven’t seen the movie myself, my friend (who stood in line to see it opening night) went to see it for the relationship development in the story line, not the sex. It really is possible to see past sex & potentially poor humor, after all.

    I reckon Christian reviewers should certainly be able to make a statement about the “lessons” of the movie — we’d probably just refrain from calling them “morals” or sending our kids.

  • Mary Jack

    It seems to me that so much of culture tells us to define people & things solely by the sin(s) involved. Tossing out whatever (or whoever) has obvious sin. Christians of all people ought to be discerning and not fall into that wretched perspective.

    While I haven’t seen the movie myself, my friend (who stood in line to see it opening night) went to see it for the relationship development in the story line, not the sex. It really is possible to see past sex & potentially poor humor, after all.

    I reckon Christian reviewers should certainly be able to make a statement about the “lessons” of the movie — we’d probably just refrain from calling them “morals” or sending our kids.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer TK

    FYI – the first two links didn’t work for me. The articles have been moved.

    For the record, I don’t care for the superfluous nature of the show and I don’t intend to watch the movie. However, I applaud movie reviewers who are also Christians for being able, in Christ, to fairly review a movie by pointing out good and bad points while standing firm in their faith. If some of us are able to watch that movie or the show and use it as a way to understand our culture and reach out to others, that is a very good thing. If some of us are unable to proclaim the gospel in that arena, we can find a different part of culture to take part in.

    To read the comments against the reviewer in question on the FoTF sub-blog – now there is where sin reared its ugly head among people who should be more equipped to fight the temptation to stone each other in public. One commenter contrasted (the misconception of) Christians becoming Christ-like on this earth to becoming like the characters of SATC if they were to merely watch the movie. Others were more reasonable. That comment section reminded me, with a stomach ache, of why I left my former church. I am very thankful for the way Lutherans, in general, seem better equipped to view, evaluate and discuss pop culture, politics and other topics.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer TK

    FYI – the first two links didn’t work for me. The articles have been moved.

    For the record, I don’t care for the superfluous nature of the show and I don’t intend to watch the movie. However, I applaud movie reviewers who are also Christians for being able, in Christ, to fairly review a movie by pointing out good and bad points while standing firm in their faith. If some of us are able to watch that movie or the show and use it as a way to understand our culture and reach out to others, that is a very good thing. If some of us are unable to proclaim the gospel in that arena, we can find a different part of culture to take part in.

    To read the comments against the reviewer in question on the FoTF sub-blog – now there is where sin reared its ugly head among people who should be more equipped to fight the temptation to stone each other in public. One commenter contrasted (the misconception of) Christians becoming Christ-like on this earth to becoming like the characters of SATC if they were to merely watch the movie. Others were more reasonable. That comment section reminded me, with a stomach ache, of why I left my former church. I am very thankful for the way Lutherans, in general, seem better equipped to view, evaluate and discuss pop culture, politics and other topics.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Thanks, TK. I fixed the links. The review and the defense of the review seemed to cover different topics.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Thanks, TK. I fixed the links. The review and the defense of the review seemed to cover different topics.

  • http://www.meanderinglutheran.blogspot.com Ryan Oakes

    As a pastor who teaches a bible study class called “Faith Through Film”, I find the response to the CT review sad. Many times we can read and watch movies and see the beauty and the value that they add, all the while the same movie may not be promoting the best values and morals. To criticize a movie simply because it has nudity or certain language as ‘trash’ misses the point. I haven’t watched the Sex and the City movie yet but I have seen the series (my wife, fiance at the time) had me watch them. The biggest theme throughout the series is relationships, not sexual relationships but finding someone that you connect with and love, whether that be a romantic relationship or friends. This is something that all people can relate to.
    Ok…enough of a review of SATC. To sum up the issue in my mind is that; this world is messy and filled with sin. Yet all people can look for and desire the ‘greater things’. These things and the way life is today can only be explained by, in my mind, a Christian worldview, that is the restoration/redemption brought about by Christ. Yet, many non-Christians don’t see this and yearn for those things. As Christians we can take these things in the movies and point them to Christ.
    Sorry for the long post.

  • http://www.meanderinglutheran.blogspot.com Ryan Oakes

    As a pastor who teaches a bible study class called “Faith Through Film”, I find the response to the CT review sad. Many times we can read and watch movies and see the beauty and the value that they add, all the while the same movie may not be promoting the best values and morals. To criticize a movie simply because it has nudity or certain language as ‘trash’ misses the point. I haven’t watched the Sex and the City movie yet but I have seen the series (my wife, fiance at the time) had me watch them. The biggest theme throughout the series is relationships, not sexual relationships but finding someone that you connect with and love, whether that be a romantic relationship or friends. This is something that all people can relate to.
    Ok…enough of a review of SATC. To sum up the issue in my mind is that; this world is messy and filled with sin. Yet all people can look for and desire the ‘greater things’. These things and the way life is today can only be explained by, in my mind, a Christian worldview, that is the restoration/redemption brought about by Christ. Yet, many non-Christians don’t see this and yearn for those things. As Christians we can take these things in the movies and point them to Christ.
    Sorry for the long post.

  • CRB

    Ryan,
    I agree with you for the most part. Your comment, “As Christians we can take these things in the movies and point them to Christ.” made me wonder:
    1) How many Christians really take advantage of those opportunities with their friends/family and point them to Christ?
    2) How many make “Pharisaic” comments and thereby “turn off” the listener to any more dialogue?
    3) How many just say nothing at all, implying agreement with everything in the movie?
    I know, myself, that I’ve done all of the above. Many times I’ve found that when doing the first, I will have a usual response of agreement or else just quiet reflection. Other times, the devil causes distractions and I never get to carry out #1
    How about the rest of you?

  • CRB

    Ryan,
    I agree with you for the most part. Your comment, “As Christians we can take these things in the movies and point them to Christ.” made me wonder:
    1) How many Christians really take advantage of those opportunities with their friends/family and point them to Christ?
    2) How many make “Pharisaic” comments and thereby “turn off” the listener to any more dialogue?
    3) How many just say nothing at all, implying agreement with everything in the movie?
    I know, myself, that I’ve done all of the above. Many times I’ve found that when doing the first, I will have a usual response of agreement or else just quiet reflection. Other times, the devil causes distractions and I never get to carry out #1
    How about the rest of you?

  • Joe

    I have no problem with CT doing a movie review, but other than generic passing references to the fact that the movie depicts sinful behavior the review could have been written by any secular movie reviewer who was female, in her mid thirties or early forties and fully immersed in the materialistic and secular culture that dominates our society.

    The reasons Christians seek out reviews in CT or World is to get a review of the movie from a christian world view, or a review that expressly states the flaws in the world view of the movie. CT’s review did not do that. It blew an opportunity to reach out to women who may be attracted to the themes of this show and say, “while this film tackles tough issues such as the desire to find romantic love, what true friendship means, etc. it approaches these topics from a secular point of view and answers the questions in ways that are contrary to God’s answers to these issues.”

    That to me was the failing of the review and, on the contrary, why I always liked our humble host’s reviews in World.

  • Joe

    I have no problem with CT doing a movie review, but other than generic passing references to the fact that the movie depicts sinful behavior the review could have been written by any secular movie reviewer who was female, in her mid thirties or early forties and fully immersed in the materialistic and secular culture that dominates our society.

    The reasons Christians seek out reviews in CT or World is to get a review of the movie from a christian world view, or a review that expressly states the flaws in the world view of the movie. CT’s review did not do that. It blew an opportunity to reach out to women who may be attracted to the themes of this show and say, “while this film tackles tough issues such as the desire to find romantic love, what true friendship means, etc. it approaches these topics from a secular point of view and answers the questions in ways that are contrary to God’s answers to these issues.”

    That to me was the failing of the review and, on the contrary, why I always liked our humble host’s reviews in World.

  • http://www.meanderinglutheran.blogspot.com Ryan Oakes

    CRB,
    I agree with you. I, too, have done each of those things in my life. Yet, the goal of the class that I teach is to move Christians, especially college aged people, to engage #1 of your post. I try and teach them how to review movies from a Christian World-view, so that if they thought that the movie was horrible they can state why without sounding “pharisiac” but yet discussing the good themes of the movie. If you want to see more of what I use you can go to my blog (click on my name) and see some of my older posts that are on the movies that we watched.

  • http://www.meanderinglutheran.blogspot.com Ryan Oakes

    CRB,
    I agree with you. I, too, have done each of those things in my life. Yet, the goal of the class that I teach is to move Christians, especially college aged people, to engage #1 of your post. I try and teach them how to review movies from a Christian World-view, so that if they thought that the movie was horrible they can state why without sounding “pharisiac” but yet discussing the good themes of the movie. If you want to see more of what I use you can go to my blog (click on my name) and see some of my older posts that are on the movies that we watched.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I’m with Focus on this one; there is a little difference between knowing that certain behaviors exist and portraying them graphically on the silver screen, and competent directors of a prior generation were able to communicate the concept of characters having sex without inviting the camera into the bedroom.

    As a rule, when modern directors do this, they’re more or less admitting that their work can’t hold a candle to that of the past, and this is a big reason that I’ve not been in a theater for a decade. It’s not just moral reasons, it’s that there’s not much interesting to watch–even in the PG and G categories. Nobody’s learned the craft these days because everybody’s concentrating on special effects and bedroom scenes, and hence even those working in “family” films can’t put a decent plot together.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I’m with Focus on this one; there is a little difference between knowing that certain behaviors exist and portraying them graphically on the silver screen, and competent directors of a prior generation were able to communicate the concept of characters having sex without inviting the camera into the bedroom.

    As a rule, when modern directors do this, they’re more or less admitting that their work can’t hold a candle to that of the past, and this is a big reason that I’ve not been in a theater for a decade. It’s not just moral reasons, it’s that there’s not much interesting to watch–even in the PG and G categories. Nobody’s learned the craft these days because everybody’s concentrating on special effects and bedroom scenes, and hence even those working in “family” films can’t put a decent plot together.

  • http://www.bravelass.blogspot.com Kamilla

    I tried to go see the movie last week, but after standing in a ticket line behind a bunch of Carrie Bradshaw wannabes (sans Carrie Bradshaw shoes, this is Colorado after all!), I just couldn’t do it. I went to see “Iron Man” for the second time, instead.

    I’ve seen “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover”, so you know where I stand on moviegoing. However, I question a flagship publication such as CT giving a positive review to a movie based on the sex lives of single women, regardless of the redeeming features.

    If the movie is anything like the show, it is witty and does spend a great deal of time on the relationships outside of the bedroom. I found Carrie’s little column-writing vignettes to be the best part of the show. She asks a lot of good questions – however she comes up with all the wrong answers when she comes up with answers at all. Did the CT review cover this aspect of things?

  • http://www.bravelass.blogspot.com Kamilla

    I tried to go see the movie last week, but after standing in a ticket line behind a bunch of Carrie Bradshaw wannabes (sans Carrie Bradshaw shoes, this is Colorado after all!), I just couldn’t do it. I went to see “Iron Man” for the second time, instead.

    I’ve seen “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover”, so you know where I stand on moviegoing. However, I question a flagship publication such as CT giving a positive review to a movie based on the sex lives of single women, regardless of the redeeming features.

    If the movie is anything like the show, it is witty and does spend a great deal of time on the relationships outside of the bedroom. I found Carrie’s little column-writing vignettes to be the best part of the show. She asks a lot of good questions – however she comes up with all the wrong answers when she comes up with answers at all. Did the CT review cover this aspect of things?

  • http://www.bravelass.blogspot.com Kamilla

    ” It’s good to sometimes enter into the minds and worldviews of others, even of those we completely disagree with. It’s good to see what the world looks like through the eyes of even the depraved.”

    I found these lines from CT’s defense of their review deeply disturbing. Is there no line they would draw?

    Kamilla

  • http://www.bravelass.blogspot.com Kamilla

    ” It’s good to sometimes enter into the minds and worldviews of others, even of those we completely disagree with. It’s good to see what the world looks like through the eyes of even the depraved.”

    I found these lines from CT’s defense of their review deeply disturbing. Is there no line they would draw?

    Kamilla

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer TK

    CRB asks:
    1) How many Christians really take advantage of those opportunities with their friends/family and point them to Christ?
    2) How many make “Pharisaic” comments and thereby “turn off” the listener to any more dialogue?
    3) How many just say nothing at all, implying agreement with everything in the movie?

    My responses would be:

    1. Every single day as a mom of teenagers. They are my mission field, after all;
    2. I, unfortunately, make Pharasiac comments way too often and turn off my kids, at least temporarily. I am working on this one!;
    3. As a mom, I rarely say nothing. I don’t believe that saying nothing implies that I agree. Sometimes my being silent allows God’s Word to speak to their hearts much more efficiently than I could.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer TK

    CRB asks:
    1) How many Christians really take advantage of those opportunities with their friends/family and point them to Christ?
    2) How many make “Pharisaic” comments and thereby “turn off” the listener to any more dialogue?
    3) How many just say nothing at all, implying agreement with everything in the movie?

    My responses would be:

    1. Every single day as a mom of teenagers. They are my mission field, after all;
    2. I, unfortunately, make Pharasiac comments way too often and turn off my kids, at least temporarily. I am working on this one!;
    3. As a mom, I rarely say nothing. I don’t believe that saying nothing implies that I agree. Sometimes my being silent allows God’s Word to speak to their hearts much more efficiently than I could.

  • Don S

    Joe states my point of view perfectly. Our family seeks out Christian movie reviews to gain a Christian perspective on a particular movie — to determine in some cases whether a movie is age-appropriate for our kids, and in other cases whether it is appropriate for us to spend two hours of our limited time here on Earth viewing a particular movie. We are not prudes, and we have watched movies with mature themes if they also have redeeming value (Schindler’s List comes to mind). We have also broken our own rules and watched certain comedies that we probably should not have watched. However, there is a reason why Scripture instructs us to FLEE, not FIGHT temptation.

    The reason why fantasy and science fiction work so well in movies is because we tend to involve ourselves in the movie, if it is done well. We leave our point of view at the door and adopt the point of view of the movie protagonist. I will find myself in a fantasy movie wondering why the protagonist doesn’t use his “zap gun” to vaporize the villain before he uses his “heat ray”. Laws of physics are out the window. Similarly, in the case of a movie like SATC, you can easily get caught up in the viewpoint of those characters and be unconsciously rooting for an immoral outcome (yes, I know that she is married to John, but Steve is so great, it would be nice if they could get together). When we come out of the movie, not only have we wasted two hours of time the Lord gave us for productivity, we may have allowed a sinful worldview to seep into and take root in our minds.

    All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. I Cor. 6:12a (NASB)

  • Don S

    Joe states my point of view perfectly. Our family seeks out Christian movie reviews to gain a Christian perspective on a particular movie — to determine in some cases whether a movie is age-appropriate for our kids, and in other cases whether it is appropriate for us to spend two hours of our limited time here on Earth viewing a particular movie. We are not prudes, and we have watched movies with mature themes if they also have redeeming value (Schindler’s List comes to mind). We have also broken our own rules and watched certain comedies that we probably should not have watched. However, there is a reason why Scripture instructs us to FLEE, not FIGHT temptation.

    The reason why fantasy and science fiction work so well in movies is because we tend to involve ourselves in the movie, if it is done well. We leave our point of view at the door and adopt the point of view of the movie protagonist. I will find myself in a fantasy movie wondering why the protagonist doesn’t use his “zap gun” to vaporize the villain before he uses his “heat ray”. Laws of physics are out the window. Similarly, in the case of a movie like SATC, you can easily get caught up in the viewpoint of those characters and be unconsciously rooting for an immoral outcome (yes, I know that she is married to John, but Steve is so great, it would be nice if they could get together). When we come out of the movie, not only have we wasted two hours of time the Lord gave us for productivity, we may have allowed a sinful worldview to seep into and take root in our minds.

    All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. I Cor. 6:12a (NASB)

  • Chilibean

    I’m gonna stay with Romans 12:9, 1 Timothy 6:11 and 2 Timothy 2:22. I’m not shocked by CT’s review, but very disappointed that this would be.

  • Chilibean

    I’m gonna stay with Romans 12:9, 1 Timothy 6:11 and 2 Timothy 2:22. I’m not shocked by CT’s review, but very disappointed that this would be.

  • http://www.meanderinglutheran.blogspot.com Ryan Oakes

    “not all things are profitable” Certainly there are plenty of bad movies out there, no matter what the genre. That’s why I like to stick to the themes that the movie addresses. There’s a lot of movies out there that bring up excellent themes (I’m not talking about SATC but movies in general). There are movies that touch upon the human experience of beauty, love, and truth (Moulin Rouge anyone…) yet it is filtered through a very human perspective. They can be used as a spring board to discuss why their conclusions are wrong and where do we, Christians, get our conclusions.
    Interestingly, CT’s review of Zohan was not that bad, and I would say that it was the worst and most disgusting movie I have ever seen. Even though it had no nudity nor language to get the R rating, in my mind it should have gotten R and was not at all profitable.

  • http://www.meanderinglutheran.blogspot.com Ryan Oakes

    “not all things are profitable” Certainly there are plenty of bad movies out there, no matter what the genre. That’s why I like to stick to the themes that the movie addresses. There’s a lot of movies out there that bring up excellent themes (I’m not talking about SATC but movies in general). There are movies that touch upon the human experience of beauty, love, and truth (Moulin Rouge anyone…) yet it is filtered through a very human perspective. They can be used as a spring board to discuss why their conclusions are wrong and where do we, Christians, get our conclusions.
    Interestingly, CT’s review of Zohan was not that bad, and I would say that it was the worst and most disgusting movie I have ever seen. Even though it had no nudity nor language to get the R rating, in my mind it should have gotten R and was not at all profitable.

  • http://www.cosmicbattle.wordpress.com Alex

    “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” – Romans 1:32 (NKJV)

  • http://www.cosmicbattle.wordpress.com Alex

    “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” – Romans 1:32 (NKJV)

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey Overstreet

    Camerin Courtney’s review:

    “For years, good churchgoing friends of mine secretly raved about Sex and the City. They told me that I, a 30-something single woman (and a singles columnist to boot), would appreciate the randy little show. I was a late adopter only because I didn’t have cable. When the somewhat sanitized version showed up on WGN, I was intrigued. I could’ve done without the “man-izing”—and definitely without the nudity, when I rented the original version. …

    Yes, materialism and hedonism abound.

    All of this said, there is a lot of sex and nudity in the movie. Be warned: There’s a threesome, a naked man in a shower, some steamy makeup sex. The sex scenes between married folk are somewhat less offensive, but there were too many times when it seemed that the producers were simply trying to shock.

    In the end, I didn’t quite heart SATC—but I certainly enjoyed this meaningful reunion with its beloved characters and their winning friendships. ”

    And the Focus on the Family headline?

    “Christianity Today Relishes Sexual Perversion”

    Is no one at all concerned about Slater’s slanderous headline, and its preposterous exaggeration of a 3 (not 4) star review… a review that goes out of its way to criticize the excessive sex, but highlight the fact that the *storytelling* explores some meaningful themes?

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey Overstreet

    Camerin Courtney’s review:

    “For years, good churchgoing friends of mine secretly raved about Sex and the City. They told me that I, a 30-something single woman (and a singles columnist to boot), would appreciate the randy little show. I was a late adopter only because I didn’t have cable. When the somewhat sanitized version showed up on WGN, I was intrigued. I could’ve done without the “man-izing”—and definitely without the nudity, when I rented the original version. …

    Yes, materialism and hedonism abound.

    All of this said, there is a lot of sex and nudity in the movie. Be warned: There’s a threesome, a naked man in a shower, some steamy makeup sex. The sex scenes between married folk are somewhat less offensive, but there were too many times when it seemed that the producers were simply trying to shock.

    In the end, I didn’t quite heart SATC—but I certainly enjoyed this meaningful reunion with its beloved characters and their winning friendships. ”

    And the Focus on the Family headline?

    “Christianity Today Relishes Sexual Perversion”

    Is no one at all concerned about Slater’s slanderous headline, and its preposterous exaggeration of a 3 (not 4) star review… a review that goes out of its way to criticize the excessive sex, but highlight the fact that the *storytelling* explores some meaningful themes?

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey Overstreet

    KAMILLA QUOTED MARK MORING’S RESPONSE:
    ”It’s good to sometimes enter into the minds and worldviews of others, even of those we completely disagree with. It’s good to see what the world looks like through the eyes of even the depraved.”

    THEN KAMILLA SAID: “I found these lines from CT’s defense of their review deeply disturbing. Is there no line they would draw?”

    Kamilla,

    Do you read ChristianityTodayMovies.com much?

    You’ll see discerning choices made all the time. You’ll see strong exhortations against trash. You’ll occasionally find critics writing about some of the remarkable echoes of truth found in worldly entertainment. And that’s not a far cry from the Apostle Paul walking through the secular arena full of altars to false gods. He examined these altars carefully. He found one that he could discuss with them, an altar erected to a false god, but one that he could use as a way to discuss the truth of the One True God. He even quoted pagan poetry.

    He was in the worldly world, but “not of” the world.

    Go back, read those lines you quoted again, and then read these words from the great Presbyterian minister Frederick Buechner:

    “If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.”

    I have been humbled, challenged, and occasionally transformed by the storytelling of worldly artists, for sometimes when I come to see their perspective, I find that I have judged them too harshly. By cultivating a compassionate, patient attention to our neighbors, we are not necessarily enabling or encouraging their sins. Rather, we are opening ourselves to the possibility of learning something, and being able to show our neighbors a more personal and particular love.

    I am no Sex and the City fan, but I know Christian women who have had meaningful conversations (with other Christians and with their worldly neighbors) because they took the time to attend to the *storytelling* of this program (and this film). They, like Paul, found opportunity to discuss its themes.

    Sex and the City isn’t porn, but like much meaningful worldly art, entertainment, and even professional sports coverage, it shows us sinful behavior without questioning that behavior. It is, at times, indulgent. Like an altar to a false god, it is misguided. Many Christians are not equipped to engage such stuff without temptation. But some go into that arena with discernment, self-control, and motivation other than carnal appetite. And good things can happen there.

    I definitely agree that all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. I also agree with all of those verses in Romans that discuss how some people are prepared to deal with complicated things, while others are not equipped for those things.

    Let’s not judge others for answering the call to engage popular culture and highlight those glimmers of God’s truth, those occasions of beauty, for those who would otherwise just swallow everything they’re served without thinking.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey Overstreet

    KAMILLA QUOTED MARK MORING’S RESPONSE:
    ”It’s good to sometimes enter into the minds and worldviews of others, even of those we completely disagree with. It’s good to see what the world looks like through the eyes of even the depraved.”

    THEN KAMILLA SAID: “I found these lines from CT’s defense of their review deeply disturbing. Is there no line they would draw?”

    Kamilla,

    Do you read ChristianityTodayMovies.com much?

    You’ll see discerning choices made all the time. You’ll see strong exhortations against trash. You’ll occasionally find critics writing about some of the remarkable echoes of truth found in worldly entertainment. And that’s not a far cry from the Apostle Paul walking through the secular arena full of altars to false gods. He examined these altars carefully. He found one that he could discuss with them, an altar erected to a false god, but one that he could use as a way to discuss the truth of the One True God. He even quoted pagan poetry.

    He was in the worldly world, but “not of” the world.

    Go back, read those lines you quoted again, and then read these words from the great Presbyterian minister Frederick Buechner:

    “If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.”

    I have been humbled, challenged, and occasionally transformed by the storytelling of worldly artists, for sometimes when I come to see their perspective, I find that I have judged them too harshly. By cultivating a compassionate, patient attention to our neighbors, we are not necessarily enabling or encouraging their sins. Rather, we are opening ourselves to the possibility of learning something, and being able to show our neighbors a more personal and particular love.

    I am no Sex and the City fan, but I know Christian women who have had meaningful conversations (with other Christians and with their worldly neighbors) because they took the time to attend to the *storytelling* of this program (and this film). They, like Paul, found opportunity to discuss its themes.

    Sex and the City isn’t porn, but like much meaningful worldly art, entertainment, and even professional sports coverage, it shows us sinful behavior without questioning that behavior. It is, at times, indulgent. Like an altar to a false god, it is misguided. Many Christians are not equipped to engage such stuff without temptation. But some go into that arena with discernment, self-control, and motivation other than carnal appetite. And good things can happen there.

    I definitely agree that all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. I also agree with all of those verses in Romans that discuss how some people are prepared to deal with complicated things, while others are not equipped for those things.

    Let’s not judge others for answering the call to engage popular culture and highlight those glimmers of God’s truth, those occasions of beauty, for those who would otherwise just swallow everything they’re served without thinking.

  • http://www.bravelass.blogspot.com Kamilla

    Jeffrey,

    No, I don’t read many of their movie reviews. I avoid CT in general, quite frankly.

    On needn’t see SATC, “Debbie does Dallas” or any other pornography (yes, it is, if a threesome isn’t porn, your definition of porn is severely lacking) in order to engage in meaningful conversation about it. For instance, I managed to have not a few very good conversations about the DaVinci Code without ever reading the book, merely by listening to what was said about it and trying to ask perceptive and moderately intellilgent questions of those who were so enamoured of it. Once I saw the crappy movie they made out of it (borrowed from the library so no money was exchanged!), I found myself actually less able to discuss it intelligently. I am not calling the Davinci Code pornography, but the analogy holds.

    I also didn’t need to see Robert Mapplethorpe’s gay porn in order to mourn his misuse of talent, either. His straight photography was so utterly beautiful it made me want to cry for the loss – for his loss and for those who wouldn’t view it because of its association with a sexual deviant.

    Kamilla

  • http://www.bravelass.blogspot.com Kamilla

    Jeffrey,

    No, I don’t read many of their movie reviews. I avoid CT in general, quite frankly.

    On needn’t see SATC, “Debbie does Dallas” or any other pornography (yes, it is, if a threesome isn’t porn, your definition of porn is severely lacking) in order to engage in meaningful conversation about it. For instance, I managed to have not a few very good conversations about the DaVinci Code without ever reading the book, merely by listening to what was said about it and trying to ask perceptive and moderately intellilgent questions of those who were so enamoured of it. Once I saw the crappy movie they made out of it (borrowed from the library so no money was exchanged!), I found myself actually less able to discuss it intelligently. I am not calling the Davinci Code pornography, but the analogy holds.

    I also didn’t need to see Robert Mapplethorpe’s gay porn in order to mourn his misuse of talent, either. His straight photography was so utterly beautiful it made me want to cry for the loss – for his loss and for those who wouldn’t view it because of its association with a sexual deviant.

    Kamilla

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    I wonder why Ted Slater hasn’t come after WORLD Magazine for “relishing sexual perversion.”

    WORLD Magazine’s review of the movie, available at their site, includes these clips:

    A few clips:
    “… what’s surprising about this tale is not so much what the girls get, but what it turns out they wanted all along—mostly monogamous, stable, and matrimonial relationships.”

    “The film version (rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language) is more of an extended season finale than a self-sufficient storyline, and it picks up where the series left off.”

    “Though the film’s success depends mostly on public approval of these aesthetics, the moral of this tale is telling. While the feminist fantasy of Samantha carries on the torch of the perpetually single person, the other ladies find surprisingly traditional roles to fill.”

    In these clips, I’ve included *all* of WORLD’s cautions about sexual content.

    In other words, CT’s review was much more forceful in its declarations of the sexual content.

    It’s also interesting to read the official review up at Focus on the Family’s PluggedIn… run by the same parent company as Slater’s own rant:

    The reviewer, Lindy Keffer, while including plenty of criticism for the sexual content, does add:

    “Interestingly, while Sex and the City plays like a two-hour-plus commercial for worldly wickedness, the lust of the flesh and the Prada-wearing devil, I couldn’t help but notice something contrarian to all that: For all the girls’ talk about the glories of being single and sleeping around in New York City, the film can’t help but hold marriage up as the ideal. The text vs. subtext regarding wedded bliss is more than a little baffling. Big and Carrie’s engagement is initially a business transaction. Then his past failures at marriage give him cold feet and cause him to stand her up at the altar. Later the couple literally apologizes to each other for messing up a perfectly good relationship with talk of marriage—which everybody onscreen seems to know ruins everything.

    “Then, a bombshell. Instead of settling back into their ‘comfortable’ cohabitation, Big gets down on one knee, proposes properly and marries Carrie in a simple ceremony. Who would have thought that as Sex and the City packs up and heads to the country after a far-too-long stay on TV and now the movie screen, three of the four women would be married? And glad to be so?”

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    I wonder why Ted Slater hasn’t come after WORLD Magazine for “relishing sexual perversion.”

    WORLD Magazine’s review of the movie, available at their site, includes these clips:

    A few clips:
    “… what’s surprising about this tale is not so much what the girls get, but what it turns out they wanted all along—mostly monogamous, stable, and matrimonial relationships.”

    “The film version (rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language) is more of an extended season finale than a self-sufficient storyline, and it picks up where the series left off.”

    “Though the film’s success depends mostly on public approval of these aesthetics, the moral of this tale is telling. While the feminist fantasy of Samantha carries on the torch of the perpetually single person, the other ladies find surprisingly traditional roles to fill.”

    In these clips, I’ve included *all* of WORLD’s cautions about sexual content.

    In other words, CT’s review was much more forceful in its declarations of the sexual content.

    It’s also interesting to read the official review up at Focus on the Family’s PluggedIn… run by the same parent company as Slater’s own rant:

    The reviewer, Lindy Keffer, while including plenty of criticism for the sexual content, does add:

    “Interestingly, while Sex and the City plays like a two-hour-plus commercial for worldly wickedness, the lust of the flesh and the Prada-wearing devil, I couldn’t help but notice something contrarian to all that: For all the girls’ talk about the glories of being single and sleeping around in New York City, the film can’t help but hold marriage up as the ideal. The text vs. subtext regarding wedded bliss is more than a little baffling. Big and Carrie’s engagement is initially a business transaction. Then his past failures at marriage give him cold feet and cause him to stand her up at the altar. Later the couple literally apologizes to each other for messing up a perfectly good relationship with talk of marriage—which everybody onscreen seems to know ruins everything.

    “Then, a bombshell. Instead of settling back into their ‘comfortable’ cohabitation, Big gets down on one knee, proposes properly and marries Carrie in a simple ceremony. Who would have thought that as Sex and the City packs up and heads to the country after a far-too-long stay on TV and now the movie screen, three of the four women would be married? And glad to be so?”

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    Jeffrey, in comment #16 you call my headline “slanderous.” While I admit it is effectively shocking, I don’t think it’s slanderous (or, more correctly, “libelous”).

    The definition of “relish” is: “liking or enjoyment of the taste of something; pleasurable appreciation of anything.” Clearly, Camerin liked this movie — she used the word “enjoyed” to summarize her feelings about it.

    And this movie is characterized by “sexual perversion,” as we’ve explained already (lots of nudity, threesomes, fornication, etc.). Because of the imagery, but also because of the dialog and themes, I am equating not just some of the scenes, but the entire film, as “sexual perversion.” Just as “Playboy” is “sexual perversion,” “Sex and the City” is “sexual perversion.” I mean, look at the very title of the series and movie: It’s. About. Sex. And not from a biblical perspective.

    If my concern were merely with the review, I believe my title is, by definition, accurate. But my primary concern is with the editors of CT, who go on to encourage their constituents to watch this movie in order “to see what the world looks like through the eyes of even the depraved.” They imply that seeing SATC is “good.” They imply that viewing the sexual perversion within this movie, the stuff that these “depraved” people engage in, serves to make us better people.

    And that’s what I find incredibly troubling, that the stewards of CT’s legacy (as I wrote in my most recent blog post on this issue) are promoting this movie. As I wrote in my original commentary on this, woe to them. If, by advocating the viewing of this movie they cause someone to stumble, woe to them. May they repent before more are led into sin.

    Am I able to reference the words of Jesus here, or does doing so make me “sanctimonious”? ;-)

    Jeffrey — have you ever chosen not to watch a movie out of a concern for how it might affect the purity of your heart? How it might negatively affect the Lord’s sanctifying you for Himself into, as Eph 5:27 says, “a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless”?

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    Jeffrey, in comment #16 you call my headline “slanderous.” While I admit it is effectively shocking, I don’t think it’s slanderous (or, more correctly, “libelous”).

    The definition of “relish” is: “liking or enjoyment of the taste of something; pleasurable appreciation of anything.” Clearly, Camerin liked this movie — she used the word “enjoyed” to summarize her feelings about it.

    And this movie is characterized by “sexual perversion,” as we’ve explained already (lots of nudity, threesomes, fornication, etc.). Because of the imagery, but also because of the dialog and themes, I am equating not just some of the scenes, but the entire film, as “sexual perversion.” Just as “Playboy” is “sexual perversion,” “Sex and the City” is “sexual perversion.” I mean, look at the very title of the series and movie: It’s. About. Sex. And not from a biblical perspective.

    If my concern were merely with the review, I believe my title is, by definition, accurate. But my primary concern is with the editors of CT, who go on to encourage their constituents to watch this movie in order “to see what the world looks like through the eyes of even the depraved.” They imply that seeing SATC is “good.” They imply that viewing the sexual perversion within this movie, the stuff that these “depraved” people engage in, serves to make us better people.

    And that’s what I find incredibly troubling, that the stewards of CT’s legacy (as I wrote in my most recent blog post on this issue) are promoting this movie. As I wrote in my original commentary on this, woe to them. If, by advocating the viewing of this movie they cause someone to stumble, woe to them. May they repent before more are led into sin.

    Am I able to reference the words of Jesus here, or does doing so make me “sanctimonious”? ;-)

    Jeffrey — have you ever chosen not to watch a movie out of a concern for how it might affect the purity of your heart? How it might negatively affect the Lord’s sanctifying you for Himself into, as Eph 5:27 says, “a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless”?

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    Jeffrey, you really are devious in your excerpting. On your website you quoted from my blog post, but cleverly removed a paragraph that didn’t support your caricature of my position. And now you choose not to include the very next sentence in Plugged In’s review of SATC, because it doesn’t support your argument:

    “Don’t give the movie too much credit though.”

    You also chose not to include the sentence immediately *before* the segment you quoted:

    “The danger of Sex and the City isn’t so much that every viewer will become like Lisa and start turning themselves into a carbon copy of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda or Samantha, but that we’ll all become just a little bit more comfortable with our own sinful selves.”

    Plugged In makes it clear that this movie can do damage to its viewers; CT’s review makes it clear that this movie is enjoyable, despite its pornographic imagery and dialog.

    The Lord has given you a gift, Jeffrey. I urge you not to squander it by misrepresenting Christians with whom you disagree.

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    Jeffrey, you really are devious in your excerpting. On your website you quoted from my blog post, but cleverly removed a paragraph that didn’t support your caricature of my position. And now you choose not to include the very next sentence in Plugged In’s review of SATC, because it doesn’t support your argument:

    “Don’t give the movie too much credit though.”

    You also chose not to include the sentence immediately *before* the segment you quoted:

    “The danger of Sex and the City isn’t so much that every viewer will become like Lisa and start turning themselves into a carbon copy of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda or Samantha, but that we’ll all become just a little bit more comfortable with our own sinful selves.”

    Plugged In makes it clear that this movie can do damage to its viewers; CT’s review makes it clear that this movie is enjoyable, despite its pornographic imagery and dialog.

    The Lord has given you a gift, Jeffrey. I urge you not to squander it by misrepresenting Christians with whom you disagree.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ted (@20), you’re probably legally correct that your headline is not libelous. But you’re still missing the point of how you’ve managed to abuse the transitive property to put a rather poor construction on the review: (a) reviewer says she “enjoyed” the film, (b) film contains “sexual perversion”, (c) therefore reviewer’s publication “relishes sexual perversion” … (d) even though reviewer said she didn’t like the perversion. Whoops. But you ignored (d) in favor of your preferred conclusion, (c).

    I sometimes wonder if people who protest the existence of depictions of sin (not just nudity, mind you, but “dialog and themes”) would rip out certain chunks of the Bible if they weren’t, you know, already biblical. Would a movie about Genesis 19 be unbiblical? Genesis 34? The parable in Ezekiel 23?

    I certainly understand concerns about depicting nudity (especially in a titillating sense), as that can lead to sinful, lustful thoughts. But to say that Christians cannot consider sinful themes would appear to rule out much of the Bible itself, which also depicts sin quite boldly, and not always with an immediate “and that was wrong and everyone bad died” summary, either.

    I do think it’s helpful to consider the world through the eyes of unbelievers — indeed, without doing so, you’re not talking with them, just near them. But to say that someone who suggests analyzing the themes of a sin-filled movie merely boils down to suggesting “viewing … sexual perversion” seems a bit much.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ted (@20), you’re probably legally correct that your headline is not libelous. But you’re still missing the point of how you’ve managed to abuse the transitive property to put a rather poor construction on the review: (a) reviewer says she “enjoyed” the film, (b) film contains “sexual perversion”, (c) therefore reviewer’s publication “relishes sexual perversion” … (d) even though reviewer said she didn’t like the perversion. Whoops. But you ignored (d) in favor of your preferred conclusion, (c).

    I sometimes wonder if people who protest the existence of depictions of sin (not just nudity, mind you, but “dialog and themes”) would rip out certain chunks of the Bible if they weren’t, you know, already biblical. Would a movie about Genesis 19 be unbiblical? Genesis 34? The parable in Ezekiel 23?

    I certainly understand concerns about depicting nudity (especially in a titillating sense), as that can lead to sinful, lustful thoughts. But to say that Christians cannot consider sinful themes would appear to rule out much of the Bible itself, which also depicts sin quite boldly, and not always with an immediate “and that was wrong and everyone bad died” summary, either.

    I do think it’s helpful to consider the world through the eyes of unbelievers — indeed, without doing so, you’re not talking with them, just near them. But to say that someone who suggests analyzing the themes of a sin-filled movie merely boils down to suggesting “viewing … sexual perversion” seems a bit much.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ted (@21), “I urge you not to squander it by misrepresenting Christians with whom you disagree.” Feel free to say that sentence out loud to yourself a few times.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ted (@21), “I urge you not to squander it by misrepresenting Christians with whom you disagree.” Feel free to say that sentence out loud to yourself a few times.

  • Joe

    Jeffery – It seems that your defense has been largely focused on the many good reasons that CT might want to review secular movies, even when they are filled to the brim with generally positive (or neutral) portrayals of sinful behavior. I don’t dispute the benefits of such reviews, but as I stated in comment # 6, CT did a really lousy job of it in this case. The review was little more that “I love this movie, but it had a lot of sex in it – so watch out for that.” Noticeably missing was any discussion of the world view of the movie and why that world view is incompatible with scriptural truth, etc. I would be interested in your response to post #6.

  • Joe

    Jeffery – It seems that your defense has been largely focused on the many good reasons that CT might want to review secular movies, even when they are filled to the brim with generally positive (or neutral) portrayals of sinful behavior. I don’t dispute the benefits of such reviews, but as I stated in comment # 6, CT did a really lousy job of it in this case. The review was little more that “I love this movie, but it had a lot of sex in it – so watch out for that.” Noticeably missing was any discussion of the world view of the movie and why that world view is incompatible with scriptural truth, etc. I would be interested in your response to post #6.

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    tODD, let me put it this way.

    Say you’ve been offered a meal of sirloin steak, baked potato, sauteed mushrooms, steamed asparagus, and dog poop.

    After finishing the meal, you say, “Man, that was refreshing! I enjoyed that meal! Sure, I could have done without the poop, but I still found it to be a wonderfully meaningful and enjoyable meal.”

    You summarize your engagement with the meal as “enjoyable.”

    That’s my point here. This movie may include fascinating characters and dialog that brings up issues relevant to single women. But it also is saturated in pornographic imagery.

    I just find it disturbing that CT would summarize a “meal” that includes metaphorical dog poop as “enjoyable,” and then come out encouraging their constituents to eat such meals in order to understand sin.

    As though none of *us* are sufficiently familiar with sin; we need those “depraved” people to show us what sin is like.

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    tODD, let me put it this way.

    Say you’ve been offered a meal of sirloin steak, baked potato, sauteed mushrooms, steamed asparagus, and dog poop.

    After finishing the meal, you say, “Man, that was refreshing! I enjoyed that meal! Sure, I could have done without the poop, but I still found it to be a wonderfully meaningful and enjoyable meal.”

    You summarize your engagement with the meal as “enjoyable.”

    That’s my point here. This movie may include fascinating characters and dialog that brings up issues relevant to single women. But it also is saturated in pornographic imagery.

    I just find it disturbing that CT would summarize a “meal” that includes metaphorical dog poop as “enjoyable,” and then come out encouraging their constituents to eat such meals in order to understand sin.

    As though none of *us* are sufficiently familiar with sin; we need those “depraved” people to show us what sin is like.

  • Pingback: Christian Discernment . . . « Planet Augsburg

  • Pingback: Christian Discernment . . . « Planet Augsburg

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    On the light side, I appreciated the way “Patrol”‘s writer suggests that those who disapprove of CT’s review “hate sex.” To put it mildly, it would come as news to my wife if I did, and I’d have to guess that Mrs. Ted Slater and others would be surprised as well.

    No, those who dislike nudity and sex scenes in the movies don’t hate sex. Rather, they treasure it so much, they don’t want to pollute it by filling their minds with actors faking it.

    Yeesh. Talk about a pathetic stereotype–it’s as if they think that all those full minivans and vans they see at church occur because Mom & Dad can’t stand the sight of each other naked or something.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    On the light side, I appreciated the way “Patrol”‘s writer suggests that those who disapprove of CT’s review “hate sex.” To put it mildly, it would come as news to my wife if I did, and I’d have to guess that Mrs. Ted Slater and others would be surprised as well.

    No, those who dislike nudity and sex scenes in the movies don’t hate sex. Rather, they treasure it so much, they don’t want to pollute it by filling their minds with actors faking it.

    Yeesh. Talk about a pathetic stereotype–it’s as if they think that all those full minivans and vans they see at church occur because Mom & Dad can’t stand the sight of each other naked or something.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So Ted (@25), if I understand correctly, you view no movies or TV shows, and read no books, that contain elements depicting sinful themes. Is that right? Because otherwise, you’d be eating dog poop. As it were.

    And should a work contain anything that is not God-pleasing, the only proper response is to say that you did not like it at all, even if you found much of it thought-provoking or enjoyable. Otherwise, it is as if you said you enjoyed eating dog poop. For that reason, I will now have to tell people how much I hated visiting the Uffizi — it, too, is saturated in pornographic imagery. Too bad.

    Of course, it’s possible your metaphor is ill-fitting. Say I’d been to a fine Japanese restaurant and had a wonderful meal of all kinds of sushi and small plates. Say that one of those small plates had natto on it (if you’re not familiar with it, it is — in my opinion — the Japanese food equivalent of dog poop). Say you tried some natto and found it foul beyond belief. Now say someone asked you about that meal — would you mention the soft, buttery fish? The delicate interplay of flavors? The artful presentation? Or would you merely decry the whole experience as “execrable”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So Ted (@25), if I understand correctly, you view no movies or TV shows, and read no books, that contain elements depicting sinful themes. Is that right? Because otherwise, you’d be eating dog poop. As it were.

    And should a work contain anything that is not God-pleasing, the only proper response is to say that you did not like it at all, even if you found much of it thought-provoking or enjoyable. Otherwise, it is as if you said you enjoyed eating dog poop. For that reason, I will now have to tell people how much I hated visiting the Uffizi — it, too, is saturated in pornographic imagery. Too bad.

    Of course, it’s possible your metaphor is ill-fitting. Say I’d been to a fine Japanese restaurant and had a wonderful meal of all kinds of sushi and small plates. Say that one of those small plates had natto on it (if you’re not familiar with it, it is — in my opinion — the Japanese food equivalent of dog poop). Say you tried some natto and found it foul beyond belief. Now say someone asked you about that meal — would you mention the soft, buttery fish? The delicate interplay of flavors? The artful presentation? Or would you merely decry the whole experience as “execrable”?

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    SLATER:>> Jeffrey, you really are devious in your excerpting.<> Plugged In makes it clear that this movie can do damage to its viewers; CT’s review makes it clear that this movie is enjoyable, despite its pornographic imagery and dialog.<>I urge you not to squander it by misrepresenting Christians with whom you disagree.<<

    And so I include links to the entire posts. (Heck, even here I included links to the WORLD review and the FOTF review, but that sent my message into Gene’s spam folder, so in order to get my message posted, I had to remove the links.)

    And I agree with tODD on Comment #23. Your own headline, even before the article began, misrepresented Christians with whom you clearly disagree.

    Lest anyone think I’m deceitful in the excerpts I’ve just quoted from Slater’s comment, please go back and re-read his entire comment. It’s #25.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    SLATER:>> Jeffrey, you really are devious in your excerpting.<> Plugged In makes it clear that this movie can do damage to its viewers; CT’s review makes it clear that this movie is enjoyable, despite its pornographic imagery and dialog.<>I urge you not to squander it by misrepresenting Christians with whom you disagree.<<

    And so I include links to the entire posts. (Heck, even here I included links to the WORLD review and the FOTF review, but that sent my message into Gene’s spam folder, so in order to get my message posted, I had to remove the links.)

    And I agree with tODD on Comment #23. Your own headline, even before the article began, misrepresented Christians with whom you clearly disagree.

    Lest anyone think I’m deceitful in the excerpts I’ve just quoted from Slater’s comment, please go back and re-read his entire comment. It’s #25.

  • mamaof2

    Porn is seeping into every aspect of our society and normalizing immodesty and every kind of aberrant sexual behavior. Do we need more of this in our faces?? I cannot believe that anyone would refer to the characters in this movie as “beloved’, nor their ‘friendships’ as ‘meaningful. Come on–the women portrayed on that show are self-serving to the nth degree. There are movies worth reviewing–CT should not waste its time reviewing porn.

  • mamaof2

    Porn is seeping into every aspect of our society and normalizing immodesty and every kind of aberrant sexual behavior. Do we need more of this in our faces?? I cannot believe that anyone would refer to the characters in this movie as “beloved’, nor their ‘friendships’ as ‘meaningful. Come on–the women portrayed on that show are self-serving to the nth degree. There are movies worth reviewing–CT should not waste its time reviewing porn.

  • Booklover

    Why do Christians have to pretend to need the sophistication of movies that include much fornication, materialism, shallowness, 3-somes, etc.???

    Excluding the sin factor, think of what we could be doing with our time and money! Send a check to the recent midwest flood victims, visit an elder at a nursing home, finish writing that song, play catch with our children. . .

    Please. We don’t have to play in the mud to know what mud is.

  • Booklover

    Why do Christians have to pretend to need the sophistication of movies that include much fornication, materialism, shallowness, 3-somes, etc.???

    Excluding the sin factor, think of what we could be doing with our time and money! Send a check to the recent midwest flood victims, visit an elder at a nursing home, finish writing that song, play catch with our children. . .

    Please. We don’t have to play in the mud to know what mud is.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer TK

    Thanks, Dr. Veith, for alerting me to the Patrol’s review of the battle. More and more, I’m finding great wisdom coming from the youngest generation of teens and adults (I’m assuming the writers and audience are that age range). It’s comforting. In particular, the comment section of the Patrol piece is good.

    Mr. Slater, your description of a delicious meal served along with dog poop describes anything on this sinful earth. Name one thing (book, movie, church, pastor, congregant, idea, animal, person) on this earth that isn’t tainted by sin. Yes, we should avoid sin, but unless we all cloister ourselves (no thanks) we have to learn to live in this world without becoming of it. I agree the show and the movie are mostly worthless, but like everything else good exists along with the bad…until we are called home.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer TK

    Thanks, Dr. Veith, for alerting me to the Patrol’s review of the battle. More and more, I’m finding great wisdom coming from the youngest generation of teens and adults (I’m assuming the writers and audience are that age range). It’s comforting. In particular, the comment section of the Patrol piece is good.

    Mr. Slater, your description of a delicious meal served along with dog poop describes anything on this sinful earth. Name one thing (book, movie, church, pastor, congregant, idea, animal, person) on this earth that isn’t tainted by sin. Yes, we should avoid sin, but unless we all cloister ourselves (no thanks) we have to learn to live in this world without becoming of it. I agree the show and the movie are mostly worthless, but like everything else good exists along with the bad…until we are called home.

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    tODD, I’ve addressed the concept of “thresholds,” and how individuals and prominent Christian publications might observe them differently, in my most recent blog post on this topic: http://www.boundlessline.org/2008/06/clarifying-my-o.html

    I lack both ability and heart to make my position more clear. I appreciate the many commenters here to do seem to understand what I’m saying. I wish you could be among them.

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    tODD, I’ve addressed the concept of “thresholds,” and how individuals and prominent Christian publications might observe them differently, in my most recent blog post on this topic: http://www.boundlessline.org/2008/06/clarifying-my-o.html

    I lack both ability and heart to make my position more clear. I appreciate the many commenters here to do seem to understand what I’m saying. I wish you could be among them.

  • http://planetaugsburg.wordpress.com Andy Adams

    Wow! There seem to be a lot of grenades being lobbed around in here. I am almost afraid to step in.

    Have not seen the movie, nor do I care to, but I am interested in Dr. Veith’s larger question:

    “When engaging works of culture, is it possible to praise what is good without reveling in what is bad, or must Christians throw out discernment altogether?”

    The answer to this question is “yes” I believe, but I think we (I mean Christians when I say this) have become very bad at it.

    There are certainly works of art (regardless of the media) with no redeeming value, see, e.g., your basic pornographic magazines – Penthouse, Hustler, US, People, Vanity Fair.

    There are certainly works of art with very questionable content that define truth, beauty, and the good. I would submit that Homer’s Iliad is in this class. There is plenty of objectionable content there.

    Most of what we encounter in our culture fits somewhere in between. Discernment can be difficult. The more cultured we are (and I mean that in the classical sense) the better we are at discerning.

  • http://planetaugsburg.wordpress.com Andy Adams

    Wow! There seem to be a lot of grenades being lobbed around in here. I am almost afraid to step in.

    Have not seen the movie, nor do I care to, but I am interested in Dr. Veith’s larger question:

    “When engaging works of culture, is it possible to praise what is good without reveling in what is bad, or must Christians throw out discernment altogether?”

    The answer to this question is “yes” I believe, but I think we (I mean Christians when I say this) have become very bad at it.

    There are certainly works of art (regardless of the media) with no redeeming value, see, e.g., your basic pornographic magazines – Penthouse, Hustler, US, People, Vanity Fair.

    There are certainly works of art with very questionable content that define truth, beauty, and the good. I would submit that Homer’s Iliad is in this class. There is plenty of objectionable content there.

    Most of what we encounter in our culture fits somewhere in between. Discernment can be difficult. The more cultured we are (and I mean that in the classical sense) the better we are at discerning.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    There’s plenty of “poop” in broadcasts of professional sports. How many of us watch sports?

    There’s plenty of “poop” on the radio. How many of us tune in?

    There’s a great deal of self-righteous condemnation on talk radio… even Christian talk radio. How many of us ever listen?

    In grocery stores, there are all kinds of foods that are unhealthy for us. How many of us drink soda pop?

    It is nearly impossible to blind ourselves to sinful material. It is possible to live in a world that is full of such stuff, and through the transforming of our minds to behave responsibly and with discernment.

    As for Comment #6, Joe, thank you for your thoughtful question. I’ll share a few thoughts…

    JOE: >>I have no problem with CT doing a movie review, but other than generic passing references to the fact that the movie depicts sinful behavior the review could have been written by any secular movie reviewer who was female, in her mid thirties or early forties and fully immersed in the materialistic and secular culture that dominates our society.<>The reasons Christians seek out reviews in CT or World is to get a review of the movie from a christian world view, or a review that expressly states the flaws in the world view of the movie.<>CT’s review did not do that. It blew an opportunity to reach out to women who may be attracted to the themes of this show and say, “while this film tackles tough issues such as the desire to find romantic love, what true friendship means, etc. it approaches these topics from a secular point of view and answers the questions in ways that are contrary to God’s answers to these issues.”<<

    We disagree on this. I hope that’s okay.

    I wouldn’t nominate Courtney’s review for a blue ribbon or anything, but I thought she did her job:

    - She examined the film’s strengths and weaknesses.
    - She was open about her own personal experience with the series.
    - She made it very very clear that the film has explicit content, and warned people sufficiently.
    - She said that the film is inappropriate for young people *and* most adults. A necessary warning, and I’m glad she included it. (Some who haven’t scrolled to the bottom of the review page have missed that.)
    - She shared how those who *do* engage with this film *can* see glimmers of truth in it and have rewarding conversations.
    - She spoke about her experience of enjoying what is *good* about the show, and frowned on what is merely shocking and shameful.
    - She even went above and beyond the reviewer’s duty, speculating about why this series is popular, and noted that there is a lack of substantial exploration of sexual issues in Christian conversation.

    That’s quite a review, in my opinion. I learn more from that than from a detailed listing of sex acts and swear words.

    And really, how many secular movie reviewers include this statement from Courtney at CT?

    “Sex and the City is rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, and language. Take the rating very seriously. There are several scenes with nudity, including a brief glimpse at frontal male nudity, a brief guy-to-guy kiss, and several graphic sex scenes, including a threesome. The language is colorful at times, but not as problematic as the sex and nudity. This isn’t a movie for children or teens, and due to the content, not even for some adults.”

    Does that sound like the comments of a reviewer who “relishes sexual perversion”?

    And for what it’s worth, I’m a Gene Edward Veith fan too, and have referred people to his WORLD reviews and features for many years.

    Anyway, I hope that’s helpful, Joe. Thanks for asking the question.

    I gotta run… I’ve spent a lot of time here today. Thanks to Gene for hosting the chat. If I have time, I’ll check back later. If anyone wants to continue this discussion privately, email me at joverstreet [at] gmail [dot] com.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    There’s plenty of “poop” in broadcasts of professional sports. How many of us watch sports?

    There’s plenty of “poop” on the radio. How many of us tune in?

    There’s a great deal of self-righteous condemnation on talk radio… even Christian talk radio. How many of us ever listen?

    In grocery stores, there are all kinds of foods that are unhealthy for us. How many of us drink soda pop?

    It is nearly impossible to blind ourselves to sinful material. It is possible to live in a world that is full of such stuff, and through the transforming of our minds to behave responsibly and with discernment.

    As for Comment #6, Joe, thank you for your thoughtful question. I’ll share a few thoughts…

    JOE: >>I have no problem with CT doing a movie review, but other than generic passing references to the fact that the movie depicts sinful behavior the review could have been written by any secular movie reviewer who was female, in her mid thirties or early forties and fully immersed in the materialistic and secular culture that dominates our society.<>The reasons Christians seek out reviews in CT or World is to get a review of the movie from a christian world view, or a review that expressly states the flaws in the world view of the movie.<>CT’s review did not do that. It blew an opportunity to reach out to women who may be attracted to the themes of this show and say, “while this film tackles tough issues such as the desire to find romantic love, what true friendship means, etc. it approaches these topics from a secular point of view and answers the questions in ways that are contrary to God’s answers to these issues.”<<

    We disagree on this. I hope that’s okay.

    I wouldn’t nominate Courtney’s review for a blue ribbon or anything, but I thought she did her job:

    - She examined the film’s strengths and weaknesses.
    - She was open about her own personal experience with the series.
    - She made it very very clear that the film has explicit content, and warned people sufficiently.
    - She said that the film is inappropriate for young people *and* most adults. A necessary warning, and I’m glad she included it. (Some who haven’t scrolled to the bottom of the review page have missed that.)
    - She shared how those who *do* engage with this film *can* see glimmers of truth in it and have rewarding conversations.
    - She spoke about her experience of enjoying what is *good* about the show, and frowned on what is merely shocking and shameful.
    - She even went above and beyond the reviewer’s duty, speculating about why this series is popular, and noted that there is a lack of substantial exploration of sexual issues in Christian conversation.

    That’s quite a review, in my opinion. I learn more from that than from a detailed listing of sex acts and swear words.

    And really, how many secular movie reviewers include this statement from Courtney at CT?

    “Sex and the City is rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, and language. Take the rating very seriously. There are several scenes with nudity, including a brief glimpse at frontal male nudity, a brief guy-to-guy kiss, and several graphic sex scenes, including a threesome. The language is colorful at times, but not as problematic as the sex and nudity. This isn’t a movie for children or teens, and due to the content, not even for some adults.”

    Does that sound like the comments of a reviewer who “relishes sexual perversion”?

    And for what it’s worth, I’m a Gene Edward Veith fan too, and have referred people to his WORLD reviews and features for many years.

    Anyway, I hope that’s helpful, Joe. Thanks for asking the question.

    I gotta run… I’ve spent a lot of time here today. Thanks to Gene for hosting the chat. If I have time, I’ll check back later. If anyone wants to continue this discussion privately, email me at joverstreet [at] gmail [dot] com.

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    TK — you write that my “description of a delicious meal served along with dog poop describes anything on this sinful earth.”

    To a degree, you’re right. But surely you see a difference between the content of a movie like “Sex and the City” and the content of a movie like, say, “Lord of the Rings”? Are you able to differentiate the two? Can you make any kind of judgment about the imagery, about the themes, about the heart, about the relationships, about the dialog, and so on?

    Again, as I’ve written to the disappointment of those who try to misrepresent me as a sanctimonious prude, this is an issue of thresholds. At some point, surely, we make a conscious decision not to watch something because the *way* it communicates its messages may damage us in a way that we sense will grieve the Lord.

    Whether to pay money to view something a group of guys has produced is up to each Christian’s conscience. But when it comes to a prominent Christian publication, that threshold certainly should be a bit closer to the “lowest common denominator” than to the upper limit of sexual immorality.

    I guess I’m just trying to insert the concept of “sanctification” back into this discussion. At what point should we be more concerned with our sanctification than with trying to be relevant? At what point will we choose not to watch something? At what point will CT no longer summarize a movie as “enjoyable”? Does such a point exist?

    Does CT bear any responsibility for the young man who, because of this review, goes to see the movie and then finds himself lusting during the pornographic scenes?

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    TK — you write that my “description of a delicious meal served along with dog poop describes anything on this sinful earth.”

    To a degree, you’re right. But surely you see a difference between the content of a movie like “Sex and the City” and the content of a movie like, say, “Lord of the Rings”? Are you able to differentiate the two? Can you make any kind of judgment about the imagery, about the themes, about the heart, about the relationships, about the dialog, and so on?

    Again, as I’ve written to the disappointment of those who try to misrepresent me as a sanctimonious prude, this is an issue of thresholds. At some point, surely, we make a conscious decision not to watch something because the *way* it communicates its messages may damage us in a way that we sense will grieve the Lord.

    Whether to pay money to view something a group of guys has produced is up to each Christian’s conscience. But when it comes to a prominent Christian publication, that threshold certainly should be a bit closer to the “lowest common denominator” than to the upper limit of sexual immorality.

    I guess I’m just trying to insert the concept of “sanctification” back into this discussion. At what point should we be more concerned with our sanctification than with trying to be relevant? At what point will we choose not to watch something? At what point will CT no longer summarize a movie as “enjoyable”? Does such a point exist?

    Does CT bear any responsibility for the young man who, because of this review, goes to see the movie and then finds himself lusting during the pornographic scenes?

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer TK

    Ted,

    I feel for you! I , too, am a “sanctimonious prude” to my teenagers (at least on some days). You are right in that sometimes we cannot just say nothing. I would encourage no one to see the movie, but many young adult women will. I want to, at the least, understand the show/movie, and Courtney’s review tells me all I need to know. And I’ve fought this same battle with my 19 year old daughter who tries to defend the good which exists in the show (and the movie), while I try to point out the not-too-good aspects. We are our own Siskel and Ebert! I have to remind myself that I have faith in God’s ability to continue to speak through his Word and remind myself that sanctification comes from Christ alone and not through our own actions.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer TK

    Ted,

    I feel for you! I , too, am a “sanctimonious prude” to my teenagers (at least on some days). You are right in that sometimes we cannot just say nothing. I would encourage no one to see the movie, but many young adult women will. I want to, at the least, understand the show/movie, and Courtney’s review tells me all I need to know. And I’ve fought this same battle with my 19 year old daughter who tries to defend the good which exists in the show (and the movie), while I try to point out the not-too-good aspects. We are our own Siskel and Ebert! I have to remind myself that I have faith in God’s ability to continue to speak through his Word and remind myself that sanctification comes from Christ alone and not through our own actions.

  • http://filmchatblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/sex-geeks-consumerism-morality.html Peter T Chattaway

    Ted Slater wrote:
    : But surely you see a difference between the content of a movie like “Sex and the City” and the content of a movie like, say, “Lord of the Rings”?

    Ted, I have to ask: Have *you* seen the difference? I mean, have you actually *seen* the two movies? Both of them? In all this hubbub, in all your condemnations of Sex and the City and those who speak positively about it, I haven’t got a clear sense yet of whether you actually know what you’re talking about. And it is you, far far more than Camerin, who has made me *want* to see this movie, just because *I* want to know what we’re talking about, and I’m getting tired of discussing this movie purely on the basis of abstract principles.

  • http://filmchatblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/sex-geeks-consumerism-morality.html Peter T Chattaway

    Ted Slater wrote:
    : But surely you see a difference between the content of a movie like “Sex and the City” and the content of a movie like, say, “Lord of the Rings”?

    Ted, I have to ask: Have *you* seen the difference? I mean, have you actually *seen* the two movies? Both of them? In all this hubbub, in all your condemnations of Sex and the City and those who speak positively about it, I haven’t got a clear sense yet of whether you actually know what you’re talking about. And it is you, far far more than Camerin, who has made me *want* to see this movie, just because *I* want to know what we’re talking about, and I’m getting tired of discussing this movie purely on the basis of abstract principles.

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    Peter, no I haven’t seen SATC. I also haven’t seen either Deep Throat or Debbie Does Dallas. Plenty of things I haven’t seen that I’m able to formulate opinions about. Isn’t that the primary purpose of movie reviews, after all?

    I have, of course, read reviews for SATC, and determined that, for me, it would be wrong to watch something with so much nudity. I’m a regular red-blooded guy, after all.

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    Peter, no I haven’t seen SATC. I also haven’t seen either Deep Throat or Debbie Does Dallas. Plenty of things I haven’t seen that I’m able to formulate opinions about. Isn’t that the primary purpose of movie reviews, after all?

    I have, of course, read reviews for SATC, and determined that, for me, it would be wrong to watch something with so much nudity. I’m a regular red-blooded guy, after all.

  • Joe

    Jeffery – “We disagree on this. I hope that’s okay.” It is okay, but it sure would make life easier if you and everyone else would just go ahead agree with me already. :)

    Seriously, thank you for the effort you put into your response. My point, that I think you kind of missed, is that the CT review should have done more than say, “there is a lot of sex in this movie.” The CT reviewer certainly made the fact that there was way too much sex and that she did not like all the sex clear as a bell. But I think more is required in a Christian movie review.

    I contend that, in addition to the sex warnings, she should have said, this movie tackles very important themes such as the meaning true friendship, what constitutes a healthy sexual/romantic relationship BUT it tackles them from a decidedly unchristian world view. Then the reviewer should have offered a critical analysis of the world view of the movie, including analysis and criticism of the “mores” the movie promotes. Such a review may even reveal that the non-christian movie ends up promoting Christian themes (but for different reasons). This is what I, as a consumer, expect from a Christian review. I submit that, without this analysis, the review is not a “Christian” review – it is simply a review by someone who thinks there is too much sex in the movie. That could be written by a Muslim, a Jew, an atheist, a porn star …

  • Joe

    Jeffery – “We disagree on this. I hope that’s okay.” It is okay, but it sure would make life easier if you and everyone else would just go ahead agree with me already. :)

    Seriously, thank you for the effort you put into your response. My point, that I think you kind of missed, is that the CT review should have done more than say, “there is a lot of sex in this movie.” The CT reviewer certainly made the fact that there was way too much sex and that she did not like all the sex clear as a bell. But I think more is required in a Christian movie review.

    I contend that, in addition to the sex warnings, she should have said, this movie tackles very important themes such as the meaning true friendship, what constitutes a healthy sexual/romantic relationship BUT it tackles them from a decidedly unchristian world view. Then the reviewer should have offered a critical analysis of the world view of the movie, including analysis and criticism of the “mores” the movie promotes. Such a review may even reveal that the non-christian movie ends up promoting Christian themes (but for different reasons). This is what I, as a consumer, expect from a Christian review. I submit that, without this analysis, the review is not a “Christian” review – it is simply a review by someone who thinks there is too much sex in the movie. That could be written by a Muslim, a Jew, an atheist, a porn star …

  • http://filmchatblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/sex-geeks-consumerism-morality.html Peter T Chattaway

    Ted Slater wrote:
    : Peter, no I haven’t seen SATC. I also haven’t seen either Deep Throat or Debbie Does Dallas.

    SATC is R-rated, while the other two films are X-rated, according to the MPAA. That alone suggests that there is a difference in content between those films, and that you are making a false equivalence between those films.

    : Plenty of things I haven’t seen that I’m able to formulate opinions about. Isn’t that the primary purpose of movie reviews, after all?

    Uh, no. Movie reviews serve two purposes: Helping people to prioritize their moviegoing options, and enabling people to see things in movies that might not have occurred to them if they had simply been thinking about those movies by themselves (or, worse, if they had not been thinking about the movies that they see at all).

    You can make a choice to see a movie or not to see a movie based on a review, just as you can choose to go to one restaurant and not another based on the writings of a food critic. But you cannot form an opinion of a movie — you cannot join an existing conversation about a movie, and reviews are one way in which that conversation takes place — unless you see the movie itself. You cannot tell us what the meal was like unless you have tasted it yourself.

    So far, this debate has not been about the movie, but about Camerin’s review of the movie. Personally, I’m getting tired of discussing the review, and I would much rather discuss the movie itself. I mean, really, to really engage with the pros and cons of Camerin’s review, we would have to engage with the pros and cons of the movie she was reviewing, wouldn’t we?

    : I have, of course, read reviews for SATC, and determined that, for me, it would be wrong to watch something with so much nudity.

    Bully for you. That is your prerogative. Allow others their own prerogatives.

    : I’m a regular red-blooded guy, after all.

    Well, Camerin isn’t.

  • http://filmchatblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/sex-geeks-consumerism-morality.html Peter T Chattaway

    Ted Slater wrote:
    : Peter, no I haven’t seen SATC. I also haven’t seen either Deep Throat or Debbie Does Dallas.

    SATC is R-rated, while the other two films are X-rated, according to the MPAA. That alone suggests that there is a difference in content between those films, and that you are making a false equivalence between those films.

    : Plenty of things I haven’t seen that I’m able to formulate opinions about. Isn’t that the primary purpose of movie reviews, after all?

    Uh, no. Movie reviews serve two purposes: Helping people to prioritize their moviegoing options, and enabling people to see things in movies that might not have occurred to them if they had simply been thinking about those movies by themselves (or, worse, if they had not been thinking about the movies that they see at all).

    You can make a choice to see a movie or not to see a movie based on a review, just as you can choose to go to one restaurant and not another based on the writings of a food critic. But you cannot form an opinion of a movie — you cannot join an existing conversation about a movie, and reviews are one way in which that conversation takes place — unless you see the movie itself. You cannot tell us what the meal was like unless you have tasted it yourself.

    So far, this debate has not been about the movie, but about Camerin’s review of the movie. Personally, I’m getting tired of discussing the review, and I would much rather discuss the movie itself. I mean, really, to really engage with the pros and cons of Camerin’s review, we would have to engage with the pros and cons of the movie she was reviewing, wouldn’t we?

    : I have, of course, read reviews for SATC, and determined that, for me, it would be wrong to watch something with so much nudity.

    Bully for you. That is your prerogative. Allow others their own prerogatives.

    : I’m a regular red-blooded guy, after all.

    Well, Camerin isn’t.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Peter, is it somehow OK for those who are not guys or red blooded to watch sex scenes?

    Let’s be serious here; most of us are married, and I assume most of us enjoy sex. I hope that those who are married enjoy it a lot.

    Now how many of us have invited the neighbors over to watch? I sure hope none, and don’t let me know if I’m wrong. Please.

    Now why is it OK to watch simulated sex by actors, then, if we’d never invite the neighbors over to watch marital relations?

    Or, as the movie portrays, a threesome–literally inviting the neighbors to join in.

    There is a reason that almost all of the church fathers recommend keeping away from the theater–the Greek theaters of the time had much of the same issue as the movies of today. Maybe we’d do well to listen a bit.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Peter, is it somehow OK for those who are not guys or red blooded to watch sex scenes?

    Let’s be serious here; most of us are married, and I assume most of us enjoy sex. I hope that those who are married enjoy it a lot.

    Now how many of us have invited the neighbors over to watch? I sure hope none, and don’t let me know if I’m wrong. Please.

    Now why is it OK to watch simulated sex by actors, then, if we’d never invite the neighbors over to watch marital relations?

    Or, as the movie portrays, a threesome–literally inviting the neighbors to join in.

    There is a reason that almost all of the church fathers recommend keeping away from the theater–the Greek theaters of the time had much of the same issue as the movies of today. Maybe we’d do well to listen a bit.

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    Peter, all three movies I referenced are about sex. Each has plenty of nudity and sexual content. Each has characters and plot lines as well. That’s the commonality.

    You say that one of the purposes of movie reviews is to help “people to prioritize their moviegoing options….” Isn’t that accomplished by providing them sufficient information for them to have an opinion about whether or not to see something? The key word being “opinion”?

    It’s the same with a restaurant review — you read a food critic’s restaurant review, and consequently formulate an opinion about whether or not to go to that restaurant. You have an opinion: “I hear this restaurant’s salsa isn’t all that good; I think I’ll go somewhere else.”

    Can I tell you anything about, say, murder without having experienced it? Yes, I can; I can have opinions about murder. Can I have an opinion about adultery or embezzlement without having engaged in those activities? Of course. I may be able to speak in more depth about these things if I’ve killed someone, committed adultery or stolen from my employer, but I do have sufficiently informed opinions about these things despite my, um, innocence.

    You say, “Bully for you” in response to my decision not to watch this movie. Are you ridiculing me for my concern for my personal sanctification? I can’t imagine any Christian diminishing another Christian’s desire for purity.

    Again I ask, to what depths will you go to get behind the eyes of “the depraved”? Is there anything you won’t watch, out of concern for your growth in godliness? Or is it all “good” for you to watch, so that you might engage with the ideas presented, so that you might impress your unsaved friends?

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    Peter, all three movies I referenced are about sex. Each has plenty of nudity and sexual content. Each has characters and plot lines as well. That’s the commonality.

    You say that one of the purposes of movie reviews is to help “people to prioritize their moviegoing options….” Isn’t that accomplished by providing them sufficient information for them to have an opinion about whether or not to see something? The key word being “opinion”?

    It’s the same with a restaurant review — you read a food critic’s restaurant review, and consequently formulate an opinion about whether or not to go to that restaurant. You have an opinion: “I hear this restaurant’s salsa isn’t all that good; I think I’ll go somewhere else.”

    Can I tell you anything about, say, murder without having experienced it? Yes, I can; I can have opinions about murder. Can I have an opinion about adultery or embezzlement without having engaged in those activities? Of course. I may be able to speak in more depth about these things if I’ve killed someone, committed adultery or stolen from my employer, but I do have sufficiently informed opinions about these things despite my, um, innocence.

    You say, “Bully for you” in response to my decision not to watch this movie. Are you ridiculing me for my concern for my personal sanctification? I can’t imagine any Christian diminishing another Christian’s desire for purity.

    Again I ask, to what depths will you go to get behind the eyes of “the depraved”? Is there anything you won’t watch, out of concern for your growth in godliness? Or is it all “good” for you to watch, so that you might engage with the ideas presented, so that you might impress your unsaved friends?

  • Booklover

    Bike Bubba #42

    You said it all. I have always thought that those who enjoyed watching sex on a screen weren’t very good at it themselves. Me, I’d rather enjoy love with my husband than watch someone else. Maybe he’s just more exceptional than most men.

    Ted Slater is to be applauded for having to defend himself to other Christians. No one should have to be chastised for not preferring to watch a man kiss another man, or a threesome. Please.

    I think this movie has now gotten far more attention than it deserves. That missionary in Russia needs a new hymnbook and we’re discussing Sarah Jessica Parker in 25 new dresses having sex out of wedlock with perhaps that many men. She’s not even that cute. But then I enjoy my husband. Gotta go. He’ll be home soon.

  • Booklover

    Bike Bubba #42

    You said it all. I have always thought that those who enjoyed watching sex on a screen weren’t very good at it themselves. Me, I’d rather enjoy love with my husband than watch someone else. Maybe he’s just more exceptional than most men.

    Ted Slater is to be applauded for having to defend himself to other Christians. No one should have to be chastised for not preferring to watch a man kiss another man, or a threesome. Please.

    I think this movie has now gotten far more attention than it deserves. That missionary in Russia needs a new hymnbook and we’re discussing Sarah Jessica Parker in 25 new dresses having sex out of wedlock with perhaps that many men. She’s not even that cute. But then I enjoy my husband. Gotta go. He’ll be home soon.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    But Booklover (#44), who has chastised Mr. Slater or anyone else “for not preferring to watch a man kiss another man, or a threesome”? I don’t believe Jeffrey, Peter, Patrol Mag, or CT have done that. All of them would recognize–and have recognized, I believe–the right–indeed, the duty–of Christians to avoid whatever works of culture they cannot attend to in good conscience. Also, I hope you are not assuming that anyone who believes that they *can* do so in good conscience is doing so because they “prefer” those things. Why make that assumption, especially when Jesus avers in Mark 7 that “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him”, and again, that “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    But Booklover (#44), who has chastised Mr. Slater or anyone else “for not preferring to watch a man kiss another man, or a threesome”? I don’t believe Jeffrey, Peter, Patrol Mag, or CT have done that. All of them would recognize–and have recognized, I believe–the right–indeed, the duty–of Christians to avoid whatever works of culture they cannot attend to in good conscience. Also, I hope you are not assuming that anyone who believes that they *can* do so in good conscience is doing so because they “prefer” those things. Why make that assumption, especially when Jesus avers in Mark 7 that “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him”, and again, that “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

  • http://filmchatblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/sex-geeks-consumerism-morality.html Peter T Chattaway

    Ted Slater wrote:
    : Peter, all three movies I referenced are about sex.

    Yeah, so? As the great Roger Ebert often says, the important thing about a movie is not *what* it is about, but *how* it is about it.

    : You say that one of the purposes of movie reviews is to help “people to prioritize their moviegoing options….” Isn’t that accomplished by providing them sufficient information for them to have an opinion about whether or not to see something? The key word being “opinion”?

    Yes, of course. But we were not talking about your opinion regarding whether or not you should see the film for yourself. We were talking about your opinion regarding whether anybody, anywhere, should be allowed to see the film or to find something worthwhile in the film or to encourage others to see the film, etc. And that is the sort of opinion you can only make when you have seen the film for yourself and you know what you are talking about. As it is, you have *not* seen the film, so you do *not* know what you are talking about. Thus, your opinion is worthless.

    : Can I tell you anything about, say, murder without having experienced it? Yes, I can; I can have opinions about murder.

    Yes, of course, but only within certain limits, of course. You can tell me that murder is bad for a variety of reasons, but you cannot tell me what it felt like to be murdered, or to murder someone else. Your opinion on such matters would be worthless, unless you had had the experience itself.

    On another blog where you and I have discussed this subject, I mentioned that I had referred to my own sexual abstinence and post-marital loss of virginity when I reviewed The 40-Year-Old Virgin for CT. I mentioned these things in my review because, for all the vulgarity that was strewn across that film, I responded rather powerfully to the fact that this film made waiting for the wedding night a key part of its central relationship. All of the other characters — sexually active or promiscuous as they seem to be — turn out to be losers of one sort or another, whereas the 40-year-old virgin turns out to be, in a strange way, the most virtuous and well-adjusted of the lot. So when the scene came, and the central characters got married and went to the bedroom for their wedding night, I, as a Christian who is constantly inundated with images of non-marital sex, felt affirmed. I don’t think I would have had that reaction if I had not experienced the same kind of wedding night myself.

    So. That was one insight I had into the film, due both to my experiences in my personal life *and* to my experiences as a moviegoer who watched that film. Was it wrong for me to point out the positive elements in that film? Was it wrong for me to say, “Hey, there’s lots of really crude stuff in this movie, but at its heart, there’s a positive message here, so those who can handle it — and *only* those who can handle it — might want to consider checking it out”? I don’t think so. And it would not surprise me one bit if Sex and the City worked for Camerin for a very similar reason: because it spoke to her experiences as a single woman on some level, even if there were elements in the film that she could have done without.

    : You say, “Bully for you” in response to my decision not to watch this movie. Are you ridiculing me for my concern for my personal sanctification?

    No, but I may be ridiculing you for thinking that your personal choice automatically applies to everyone else.

    : I can’t imagine any Christian diminishing another Christian’s desire for purity.

    And I can’t imagine any Christian assuming the worst about another Christian’s motives when reviewing a film.

    : Again I ask, to what depths will you go to get behind the eyes of “the depraved”? Is there anything you won’t watch, out of concern for your growth in godliness?

    Well, speaking just for myself, I honestly don’t know. There was a time when the very thought of watching movies like Monty Python’s Life of Brian filled me with fear and trepidation, because of the things I had heard about them. And I remember being very, very nervous when I first saw that film, sometime around my 21st birthday. But now I count that film among my all-time favorites.

    I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to everybody, and I certainly think there are times when even *I* should refrain from watching it. But those are matters of discernment for me that only I, not you, can ultimately answer.

    Bike Bubba wrote:
    : Peter, is it somehow OK for those who are not guys or red blooded to watch sex scenes?

    I think it’s OK for members of just about every people-group that you can imagine, depending on the context — and by that I mean both the context that the movie gives to those scenes, and the context that the viewer brings to the experience of watching that movie.

    Why do so many conservative Christians — including those who frown upon Sex and the City — approve of Braveheart and Schindler’s List, movies which feature both nudity and sex? I think it may have something to do with the context in which those scenes are put — both by the films and by the viewers. There is an agreement, in other words, between the viewers and the films over how those scenes ought to be contextualized. But apparently, there is a *dis*agreement between some viewers and the film version of Sex and the City over how *this* film’s scenes should be contextualized. Okay, fine, disagree away. But you can’t really explain *why* you’re disagreeing unless you actually know what you’re talking about. And to know what you’re talking about, you need to see the film.

    : Now why is it OK to watch simulated sex by actors, then, if we’d never invite the neighbors over to watch marital relations?

    Well, for one thing, my wife and I don’t “simulate” it. We *do* it. (Three kids after three years of marriage ought to be proof enough of that.) And I gather most of the actors involved in the sex scenes in a typical PG or PG-13 or R-rated movie — or even the typical NC-17 movie, come to that — are merely “simulating” the sex act, and are not actually *doing* it. So, that’s another distinction worth making.

    : There is a reason that almost all of the church fathers recommend keeping away from the theatre — the Greek theaters of the time had much of the same issue as the movies of today. Maybe we’d do well to listen a bit.

    Well, there’s a bit more to it than that, I think. If I’m not mistaken, they were also concerned with the possible identify confusion between an actor and the character he played. They probably also objected to the fact that only men were allowed to be actors back then, so the female characters were all played by men in drag — which essentially made every actor a transvestite, which of course was forbidden by Moses. And actors were forbidden by secular law to engage in certain social activities that were open to non-actors, so the church fathers were arguably accepting a social prejudice of the time, there. And there were other issues involved.

    Of course, even some of the more traditionally minded Christians have moved on from that point of view, and have come to embrace the theatre. One of the greatest Catholic popes in recent memory, John Paul II, was a former actor and playwright, no? So obviously the question of how a Christian should deal with acting, per se, is much bigger and much more complex than we can really deal with here.

    Booklover wrote:
    : Ted Slater is to be applauded for having to defend himself to other Christians. No one should have to be chastised for not preferring to watch a man kiss another man, or a threesome. Please.

    Ted Slater is not, however, to be applauded for attacking other Christians and for twisting their words out of context in order to make those attacks. (He keeps saying that Camerin called SATC “soft-core porn” when, in fact, as should be plain to anyone who actually reads her review, she did not.)

    I agree: No one should have to be chastised for deciding what they can and cannot watch. So Ted, stop chastising.

  • http://filmchatblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/sex-geeks-consumerism-morality.html Peter T Chattaway

    Ted Slater wrote:
    : Peter, all three movies I referenced are about sex.

    Yeah, so? As the great Roger Ebert often says, the important thing about a movie is not *what* it is about, but *how* it is about it.

    : You say that one of the purposes of movie reviews is to help “people to prioritize their moviegoing options….” Isn’t that accomplished by providing them sufficient information for them to have an opinion about whether or not to see something? The key word being “opinion”?

    Yes, of course. But we were not talking about your opinion regarding whether or not you should see the film for yourself. We were talking about your opinion regarding whether anybody, anywhere, should be allowed to see the film or to find something worthwhile in the film or to encourage others to see the film, etc. And that is the sort of opinion you can only make when you have seen the film for yourself and you know what you are talking about. As it is, you have *not* seen the film, so you do *not* know what you are talking about. Thus, your opinion is worthless.

    : Can I tell you anything about, say, murder without having experienced it? Yes, I can; I can have opinions about murder.

    Yes, of course, but only within certain limits, of course. You can tell me that murder is bad for a variety of reasons, but you cannot tell me what it felt like to be murdered, or to murder someone else. Your opinion on such matters would be worthless, unless you had had the experience itself.

    On another blog where you and I have discussed this subject, I mentioned that I had referred to my own sexual abstinence and post-marital loss of virginity when I reviewed The 40-Year-Old Virgin for CT. I mentioned these things in my review because, for all the vulgarity that was strewn across that film, I responded rather powerfully to the fact that this film made waiting for the wedding night a key part of its central relationship. All of the other characters — sexually active or promiscuous as they seem to be — turn out to be losers of one sort or another, whereas the 40-year-old virgin turns out to be, in a strange way, the most virtuous and well-adjusted of the lot. So when the scene came, and the central characters got married and went to the bedroom for their wedding night, I, as a Christian who is constantly inundated with images of non-marital sex, felt affirmed. I don’t think I would have had that reaction if I had not experienced the same kind of wedding night myself.

    So. That was one insight I had into the film, due both to my experiences in my personal life *and* to my experiences as a moviegoer who watched that film. Was it wrong for me to point out the positive elements in that film? Was it wrong for me to say, “Hey, there’s lots of really crude stuff in this movie, but at its heart, there’s a positive message here, so those who can handle it — and *only* those who can handle it — might want to consider checking it out”? I don’t think so. And it would not surprise me one bit if Sex and the City worked for Camerin for a very similar reason: because it spoke to her experiences as a single woman on some level, even if there were elements in the film that she could have done without.

    : You say, “Bully for you” in response to my decision not to watch this movie. Are you ridiculing me for my concern for my personal sanctification?

    No, but I may be ridiculing you for thinking that your personal choice automatically applies to everyone else.

    : I can’t imagine any Christian diminishing another Christian’s desire for purity.

    And I can’t imagine any Christian assuming the worst about another Christian’s motives when reviewing a film.

    : Again I ask, to what depths will you go to get behind the eyes of “the depraved”? Is there anything you won’t watch, out of concern for your growth in godliness?

    Well, speaking just for myself, I honestly don’t know. There was a time when the very thought of watching movies like Monty Python’s Life of Brian filled me with fear and trepidation, because of the things I had heard about them. And I remember being very, very nervous when I first saw that film, sometime around my 21st birthday. But now I count that film among my all-time favorites.

    I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to everybody, and I certainly think there are times when even *I* should refrain from watching it. But those are matters of discernment for me that only I, not you, can ultimately answer.

    Bike Bubba wrote:
    : Peter, is it somehow OK for those who are not guys or red blooded to watch sex scenes?

    I think it’s OK for members of just about every people-group that you can imagine, depending on the context — and by that I mean both the context that the movie gives to those scenes, and the context that the viewer brings to the experience of watching that movie.

    Why do so many conservative Christians — including those who frown upon Sex and the City — approve of Braveheart and Schindler’s List, movies which feature both nudity and sex? I think it may have something to do with the context in which those scenes are put — both by the films and by the viewers. There is an agreement, in other words, between the viewers and the films over how those scenes ought to be contextualized. But apparently, there is a *dis*agreement between some viewers and the film version of Sex and the City over how *this* film’s scenes should be contextualized. Okay, fine, disagree away. But you can’t really explain *why* you’re disagreeing unless you actually know what you’re talking about. And to know what you’re talking about, you need to see the film.

    : Now why is it OK to watch simulated sex by actors, then, if we’d never invite the neighbors over to watch marital relations?

    Well, for one thing, my wife and I don’t “simulate” it. We *do* it. (Three kids after three years of marriage ought to be proof enough of that.) And I gather most of the actors involved in the sex scenes in a typical PG or PG-13 or R-rated movie — or even the typical NC-17 movie, come to that — are merely “simulating” the sex act, and are not actually *doing* it. So, that’s another distinction worth making.

    : There is a reason that almost all of the church fathers recommend keeping away from the theatre — the Greek theaters of the time had much of the same issue as the movies of today. Maybe we’d do well to listen a bit.

    Well, there’s a bit more to it than that, I think. If I’m not mistaken, they were also concerned with the possible identify confusion between an actor and the character he played. They probably also objected to the fact that only men were allowed to be actors back then, so the female characters were all played by men in drag — which essentially made every actor a transvestite, which of course was forbidden by Moses. And actors were forbidden by secular law to engage in certain social activities that were open to non-actors, so the church fathers were arguably accepting a social prejudice of the time, there. And there were other issues involved.

    Of course, even some of the more traditionally minded Christians have moved on from that point of view, and have come to embrace the theatre. One of the greatest Catholic popes in recent memory, John Paul II, was a former actor and playwright, no? So obviously the question of how a Christian should deal with acting, per se, is much bigger and much more complex than we can really deal with here.

    Booklover wrote:
    : Ted Slater is to be applauded for having to defend himself to other Christians. No one should have to be chastised for not preferring to watch a man kiss another man, or a threesome. Please.

    Ted Slater is not, however, to be applauded for attacking other Christians and for twisting their words out of context in order to make those attacks. (He keeps saying that Camerin called SATC “soft-core porn” when, in fact, as should be plain to anyone who actually reads her review, she did not.)

    I agree: No one should have to be chastised for deciding what they can and cannot watch. So Ted, stop chastising.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Slater is also not to be applauded for this statement:

    >>”The definition of “relish” is: “liking or enjoyment of the taste of something; pleasurable appreciation of anything.” Clearly, Camerin liked this movie — she used the word “enjoyed” to summarize her feelings about it.”<<

    This is as untrue as his claim that she called it “soft-core porn.”

    She used the word “enjoyed” to describe ONE PART of the movie she enjoyed… the reunion of four characters. It was not in any way a summary of her thoughts on the entire package.

    She did not, as she clearly explained in her review, summarize her thoughts on the sex scenes, which she specifically criticized, and which she warned viewers about again at the end, telling them that those elements make the film inappropriate for young people AND most adults.

    So long as Slater stands by his headline (which is demonstrably untrue), and by these other false statements (clearly untrue), how can we have a conversation?

    And he sent me an email asking me to be more “honest” and “gracious,” after standing by that headline and describing it as “effectively shocking”? (I’m sure that’s how the makers of “Sex and the City” would defend their own inclusion of nude scenes.)

    I no longer know how to respond to someone who goes on attacking a review that, based on his descriptions of it, doesn’t really exist.

    I’m talking about the review Courtney WROTE… which adequately warns people about the content, which objects to the objectionable content, and which properly praises what she found to be notable in the film.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Slater is also not to be applauded for this statement:

    >>”The definition of “relish” is: “liking or enjoyment of the taste of something; pleasurable appreciation of anything.” Clearly, Camerin liked this movie — she used the word “enjoyed” to summarize her feelings about it.”<<

    This is as untrue as his claim that she called it “soft-core porn.”

    She used the word “enjoyed” to describe ONE PART of the movie she enjoyed… the reunion of four characters. It was not in any way a summary of her thoughts on the entire package.

    She did not, as she clearly explained in her review, summarize her thoughts on the sex scenes, which she specifically criticized, and which she warned viewers about again at the end, telling them that those elements make the film inappropriate for young people AND most adults.

    So long as Slater stands by his headline (which is demonstrably untrue), and by these other false statements (clearly untrue), how can we have a conversation?

    And he sent me an email asking me to be more “honest” and “gracious,” after standing by that headline and describing it as “effectively shocking”? (I’m sure that’s how the makers of “Sex and the City” would defend their own inclusion of nude scenes.)

    I no longer know how to respond to someone who goes on attacking a review that, based on his descriptions of it, doesn’t really exist.

    I’m talking about the review Courtney WROTE… which adequately warns people about the content, which objects to the objectionable content, and which properly praises what she found to be notable in the film.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    I apologize for a misstatement earlier.

    I was arguably in error when I said that Kamilla was quoting Mark Moring in her objection to these lines:

    ”It’s good to sometimes enter into the minds and worldviews of others, even of those we completely disagree with. It’s good to see what the world looks like through the eyes of even the depraved.”

    Technically, Moring was paraphrasing words by C.S. Lewis.

    ……………………………………..
    MORING:
    In his book, An Experiment in Criticism, Lewis writes, “We therefore delight to enter into other men’s beliefs … even though we think them untrue. And into their passions, though we think them depraved. … And also into their imaginations, though they lack all realism of content.”
    …………………………………………

    My bad. Sorry.

    I need to be very careful to quote people properly.

    May I share, again, a quote from Frederick Buechner (which nobody has commented on):

    “If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.”

    Certainly, I don’t benefit from seeing gratuitous sex scenes (and I’m confident Courtney would agree, based on her review). I avoid them. But I can benefit from listening to conversations between worldly characters, conversations that reveal their doubts, longings, hopes, misconceptions, and flaws.

    You know, if you got all of the CT freelancers in a room, we would disagree on many movies. We often do. We would disagree on the finer points of “threshholds,” I’m sure. But we would speak to each other with grace and respect, and we would learn from each other. We do. It happens all time time.

    Of course, those conversations never start with rash presumptuous accusations.

    That’s the kind of conversation CTMovies has been cultivating… Christian individuals sharing their individual (and different) experiences with movies; offering thoughtful discussion questions; and responding (at times) to reader mail. One of our goals is the encouragement of a fruitful conversation among discerning adults, regarding the movies that they are seeing, as well as offering them enough information so that they can make up their own minds about what to see.

    Peter and I have (and still do) disagree about many things, but we don’t condemn each other for our various differences, and I certainly wouldn’t overstate things to say that he “relishes” anything grotesque or sinful. I’ve seen no evidence of such a thing.

    I’d rather read a review from a thoughtful, conscientious Christian who shares her honest experience with a movie, as Courtney did, than a review from someone with a condescending, finger-wagging style who tells me that I must agree or be counted with the enemy.

    (Movieguide just declared that if I buy a ticket to go see “Tropic Thunder,” I am casting “a vote against decency and morality.” Movieguide once rated a film as “ABHORRENT” that was, in fact, a film by a Christian director who was retelling the story of The Prodigal Son, only revising it to be a story of a prodigal, irresponsible father. I found the film deeply moving and inspiring. What did Movieguide object to? There were scenes set in a casino, where the father gambled and hit rock bottom. Did I “relish gambling” by enjoying that movie?)

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    I apologize for a misstatement earlier.

    I was arguably in error when I said that Kamilla was quoting Mark Moring in her objection to these lines:

    ”It’s good to sometimes enter into the minds and worldviews of others, even of those we completely disagree with. It’s good to see what the world looks like through the eyes of even the depraved.”

    Technically, Moring was paraphrasing words by C.S. Lewis.

    ……………………………………..
    MORING:
    In his book, An Experiment in Criticism, Lewis writes, “We therefore delight to enter into other men’s beliefs … even though we think them untrue. And into their passions, though we think them depraved. … And also into their imaginations, though they lack all realism of content.”
    …………………………………………

    My bad. Sorry.

    I need to be very careful to quote people properly.

    May I share, again, a quote from Frederick Buechner (which nobody has commented on):

    “If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.”

    Certainly, I don’t benefit from seeing gratuitous sex scenes (and I’m confident Courtney would agree, based on her review). I avoid them. But I can benefit from listening to conversations between worldly characters, conversations that reveal their doubts, longings, hopes, misconceptions, and flaws.

    You know, if you got all of the CT freelancers in a room, we would disagree on many movies. We often do. We would disagree on the finer points of “threshholds,” I’m sure. But we would speak to each other with grace and respect, and we would learn from each other. We do. It happens all time time.

    Of course, those conversations never start with rash presumptuous accusations.

    That’s the kind of conversation CTMovies has been cultivating… Christian individuals sharing their individual (and different) experiences with movies; offering thoughtful discussion questions; and responding (at times) to reader mail. One of our goals is the encouragement of a fruitful conversation among discerning adults, regarding the movies that they are seeing, as well as offering them enough information so that they can make up their own minds about what to see.

    Peter and I have (and still do) disagree about many things, but we don’t condemn each other for our various differences, and I certainly wouldn’t overstate things to say that he “relishes” anything grotesque or sinful. I’ve seen no evidence of such a thing.

    I’d rather read a review from a thoughtful, conscientious Christian who shares her honest experience with a movie, as Courtney did, than a review from someone with a condescending, finger-wagging style who tells me that I must agree or be counted with the enemy.

    (Movieguide just declared that if I buy a ticket to go see “Tropic Thunder,” I am casting “a vote against decency and morality.” Movieguide once rated a film as “ABHORRENT” that was, in fact, a film by a Christian director who was retelling the story of The Prodigal Son, only revising it to be a story of a prodigal, irresponsible father. I found the film deeply moving and inspiring. What did Movieguide object to? There were scenes set in a casino, where the father gambled and hit rock bottom. Did I “relish gambling” by enjoying that movie?)

  • The Jones

    I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE YELLING ABOUT!!!
    LOUD NOISES!!! LOUD NOISES!!!

  • The Jones

    I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE YELLING ABOUT!!!
    LOUD NOISES!!! LOUD NOISES!!!

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    LOL!!

    I love that movie.

    (Gasp.)

    Uh-oh… did I just say that out loud?

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    LOL!!

    I love that movie.

    (Gasp.)

    Uh-oh… did I just say that out loud?

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Thank you, Tickletext, for comment #45.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Thank you, Tickletext, for comment #45.

  • Glenn

    I have read the first three articles you linked to and most of Jeffrey Overstreet’s response to Slater. There is a lot here and a lot in the discussion thread and I have to say that a lot of what I have read does not seem to be very Bible centered. I would like to make some observations and put in my two cents worth.

    I read Ted Slater’s condemnation and while I believe he overstated how strongly Ms. Courtney supported the immorality in the movie, I have to say that her review was quite sympathetic to it while seeming to be almost antagonistic to her fellow Christians. This quote really caught my eye:

    “Most of the few Christian voices speaking to the growing single segment of the population offer ten easy steps to find our soulmate. As if it’s that wondrously simple. Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda, however, show how challenging it really can be for intelligent, accomplished, and admittedly neurotic women to find lasting love. They, unlike many Christians, don’t insult my intelligence.”

    Ah yes, those nasty Christians are so naive and insulting. It certainly appears that the scriptures have nothing to say about sex and marriage that Ms. Courtney would find relevant. Rather than get into what the Bible says about sex and marriage (it has a lot to say) I will state that if Ms. Courtney follows the path of the heroines in Sex and the City, she has a lonely and frustrating future ahead of her. She, and the other woman who seem to relate to this pagan fairy tale, deserves a lot better.

    Also, in the reams of verbiage that has been written I was not disappointed to see Paul’s Mars Hill address mentioned. It seems that this is the rationalization that is so popular right now in Christian circles. I have read Paul’s address on several occasions (see Acts 17 if any of you are interested) and I still cannot understand where he went along to get along in this passage. In order to use this passage to justify Ms. Courtney’s irritation wouldn’t Paul have had to say something like “I find your temples to be challenging for intelligent people such as yourselves, unlike my insulting Christian brethren…” Not likely.

    Also the idea that we have to be involved in this secular (really the appropriate term is pagan) culture as it somehow helps us engage unbelievers seems like mighty thin gruel. I hope that most of you would agree that we, as Christians, have a responsibility to be a witness to the unsaved world around us. Acting and thinking like the unbelieving world, even if it is wrapped in a bit of Christian sounding jargon, does not provide the witness our savior has required us to give. What is there to research that is not already known? These passages sum this up nicely:

    What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.

    Ecclesiastes 1:9

    The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?

    Jeremiah 17:9

    Even though we do live in the Devil’s world and there is evil all around us there is no excuse for a Christian to give in to it. I personally try to keep this passage in mind:

    23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
    24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

    John 14:23-24

    Not wanting to be a “Pharasiac” Christian I wouldn’t dream of telling you not to watch movies, read poetry, or any of the other things you may wish to do but as Christians we do have our marching orders. Who among us can say we know better?

  • Glenn

    I have read the first three articles you linked to and most of Jeffrey Overstreet’s response to Slater. There is a lot here and a lot in the discussion thread and I have to say that a lot of what I have read does not seem to be very Bible centered. I would like to make some observations and put in my two cents worth.

    I read Ted Slater’s condemnation and while I believe he overstated how strongly Ms. Courtney supported the immorality in the movie, I have to say that her review was quite sympathetic to it while seeming to be almost antagonistic to her fellow Christians. This quote really caught my eye:

    “Most of the few Christian voices speaking to the growing single segment of the population offer ten easy steps to find our soulmate. As if it’s that wondrously simple. Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda, however, show how challenging it really can be for intelligent, accomplished, and admittedly neurotic women to find lasting love. They, unlike many Christians, don’t insult my intelligence.”

    Ah yes, those nasty Christians are so naive and insulting. It certainly appears that the scriptures have nothing to say about sex and marriage that Ms. Courtney would find relevant. Rather than get into what the Bible says about sex and marriage (it has a lot to say) I will state that if Ms. Courtney follows the path of the heroines in Sex and the City, she has a lonely and frustrating future ahead of her. She, and the other woman who seem to relate to this pagan fairy tale, deserves a lot better.

    Also, in the reams of verbiage that has been written I was not disappointed to see Paul’s Mars Hill address mentioned. It seems that this is the rationalization that is so popular right now in Christian circles. I have read Paul’s address on several occasions (see Acts 17 if any of you are interested) and I still cannot understand where he went along to get along in this passage. In order to use this passage to justify Ms. Courtney’s irritation wouldn’t Paul have had to say something like “I find your temples to be challenging for intelligent people such as yourselves, unlike my insulting Christian brethren…” Not likely.

    Also the idea that we have to be involved in this secular (really the appropriate term is pagan) culture as it somehow helps us engage unbelievers seems like mighty thin gruel. I hope that most of you would agree that we, as Christians, have a responsibility to be a witness to the unsaved world around us. Acting and thinking like the unbelieving world, even if it is wrapped in a bit of Christian sounding jargon, does not provide the witness our savior has required us to give. What is there to research that is not already known? These passages sum this up nicely:

    What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.

    Ecclesiastes 1:9

    The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?

    Jeremiah 17:9

    Even though we do live in the Devil’s world and there is evil all around us there is no excuse for a Christian to give in to it. I personally try to keep this passage in mind:

    23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
    24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

    John 14:23-24

    Not wanting to be a “Pharasiac” Christian I wouldn’t dream of telling you not to watch movies, read poetry, or any of the other things you may wish to do but as Christians we do have our marching orders. Who among us can say we know better?

  • http://missionarybroadcasting.com Chris

    If a positive review does not endorse; then what exactly does constitute an endorsement?

  • http://missionarybroadcasting.com Chris

    If a positive review does not endorse; then what exactly does constitute an endorsement?

  • http://filmchatblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/sex-geeks-consumerism-morality.html Peter T Chattaway

    Glenn wrote:
    : Also the idea that we have to be involved in this secular (really the appropriate term is pagan) culture . . .

    Well, C.S. Lewis would have disagreed with you about that. I quote from an essay of his in God in the Dock:

    “When grave persons express their fear that England is relapsing into Paganism, I am tempted to reply, ‘Would that she were.’ For I do not think it at all likely that we shall ever see Parliament opened by the slaughtering of a garlanded white bull in the House of Lords or Cabinet Ministers leaving sandwiches in Hyde Park as an offering for the Dryads. If such a state of affairs came about, then the Christian apologist would have something to work on. For a Pagan, as history shows, is a man eminently convertible to Christianity. He is essentially the pre-Christian, or sub-Christian, religious man. The post-Christian man of our day differs from him as much as a divorcée differs from a virgin. The Christian and the Pagan have much more in common with one another than either has with the writers of the New Statesman; and those writers would of course agree with me.”

    For what it’s worth, Lewis wrote the book Prince Caspian partly because he felt the culture was too secular and not pagan enough — but of course, the film version strips out most of the pagan stuff, and thus most of the Christian stuff that went with it, and settles for mostly secular stuff. And I mention that here partly because one of the criticisms that Slater and others have made of CT is that Prince Caspian got half-a-star less than SATC did. But clearly, simply because a movie is loosely based on a novel by a Christian, it does not necessarily follow that the movie itself will be more Christian than any other particular movie.

  • http://filmchatblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/sex-geeks-consumerism-morality.html Peter T Chattaway

    Glenn wrote:
    : Also the idea that we have to be involved in this secular (really the appropriate term is pagan) culture . . .

    Well, C.S. Lewis would have disagreed with you about that. I quote from an essay of his in God in the Dock:

    “When grave persons express their fear that England is relapsing into Paganism, I am tempted to reply, ‘Would that she were.’ For I do not think it at all likely that we shall ever see Parliament opened by the slaughtering of a garlanded white bull in the House of Lords or Cabinet Ministers leaving sandwiches in Hyde Park as an offering for the Dryads. If such a state of affairs came about, then the Christian apologist would have something to work on. For a Pagan, as history shows, is a man eminently convertible to Christianity. He is essentially the pre-Christian, or sub-Christian, religious man. The post-Christian man of our day differs from him as much as a divorcée differs from a virgin. The Christian and the Pagan have much more in common with one another than either has with the writers of the New Statesman; and those writers would of course agree with me.”

    For what it’s worth, Lewis wrote the book Prince Caspian partly because he felt the culture was too secular and not pagan enough — but of course, the film version strips out most of the pagan stuff, and thus most of the Christian stuff that went with it, and settles for mostly secular stuff. And I mention that here partly because one of the criticisms that Slater and others have made of CT is that Prince Caspian got half-a-star less than SATC did. But clearly, simply because a movie is loosely based on a novel by a Christian, it does not necessarily follow that the movie itself will be more Christian than any other particular movie.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    No, thank *you*, Jeffrey.

    I’ve been thinking a great deal about this tonight, and I have a lot to say. However, instead I shall simply provide two quotations.

    “I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat. Assuredly we bring not innocence into the world, we bring impurity much rather; that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary. That virtue therefore which is but a youngling in the contemplation of evil, and knows not the utmost that vice promises to her followers, and rejects it, is but a blank virtue, not a pure; her whiteness is but an excremental whiteness. [...] Since therefore the knowledge and survey of vice is in this world so necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and with less danger, scout into the regions of sin and falsity than by reading all manner of tractates and hearing all manner of reason? And this is the benefit which may be had of books promiscuously read.”
    –John Milton, Areopagitica

    “I could [...]
    Find reasons fast enough
    To face the sky and roar
    In anger and despair
    At what is going on,
    Demanding that it name
    Whoever is to blame.
    The sky would only wait
    Till all my breath was gone
    And then reiterate
    As if I wasn’t there
    That singular command
    I do not understand,
    Bless what there is for being
    Which has to be obeyed, for
    What else am I made for,
    Agreeing or disagreeing?
    –W. H. Auden, “Precious Five”

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    No, thank *you*, Jeffrey.

    I’ve been thinking a great deal about this tonight, and I have a lot to say. However, instead I shall simply provide two quotations.

    “I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat. Assuredly we bring not innocence into the world, we bring impurity much rather; that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary. That virtue therefore which is but a youngling in the contemplation of evil, and knows not the utmost that vice promises to her followers, and rejects it, is but a blank virtue, not a pure; her whiteness is but an excremental whiteness. [...] Since therefore the knowledge and survey of vice is in this world so necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and with less danger, scout into the regions of sin and falsity than by reading all manner of tractates and hearing all manner of reason? And this is the benefit which may be had of books promiscuously read.”
    –John Milton, Areopagitica

    “I could [...]
    Find reasons fast enough
    To face the sky and roar
    In anger and despair
    At what is going on,
    Demanding that it name
    Whoever is to blame.
    The sky would only wait
    Till all my breath was gone
    And then reiterate
    As if I wasn’t there
    That singular command
    I do not understand,
    Bless what there is for being
    Which has to be obeyed, for
    What else am I made for,
    Agreeing or disagreeing?
    –W. H. Auden, “Precious Five”

  • Glenn

    Peter,

    Thank you for your response. I read Christianity Today’s editorial response to the criticism of the review and I saw that they also drew heavily on the writings of C.S. Lewis. I want to say up front that I have a lot of respect for C.S. Lewis and believe that he did a lot of good work. However, I cannot say that I agree with his quotes at least in the context of the CT editorial response. From what I have read of C.S. Lewis I would think that he would “delight to enter into other men’s beliefs” so that he could use it against those beliefs which “lack all realism of content.” If I am wrong in this regard then I will have to respectfully disagree with C.S. Lewis on this point.

    The disconnect in CT’s editorial response, and the use of the C.S. Lewis quotes, is that the original review of Ms. Courtney’s was not a Christian apologetic in any sense that I can detect. She appeared angry at her fellow Christians but couldn’t seem to work up much of a lather about the choices made by the movie’s heroines, many of which are in direct opposition to the teachings of scripture. Where does she defend anything Christian or advance any Christian concept? I would think that C.S. Lewis would have found a way.

  • Glenn

    Peter,

    Thank you for your response. I read Christianity Today’s editorial response to the criticism of the review and I saw that they also drew heavily on the writings of C.S. Lewis. I want to say up front that I have a lot of respect for C.S. Lewis and believe that he did a lot of good work. However, I cannot say that I agree with his quotes at least in the context of the CT editorial response. From what I have read of C.S. Lewis I would think that he would “delight to enter into other men’s beliefs” so that he could use it against those beliefs which “lack all realism of content.” If I am wrong in this regard then I will have to respectfully disagree with C.S. Lewis on this point.

    The disconnect in CT’s editorial response, and the use of the C.S. Lewis quotes, is that the original review of Ms. Courtney’s was not a Christian apologetic in any sense that I can detect. She appeared angry at her fellow Christians but couldn’t seem to work up much of a lather about the choices made by the movie’s heroines, many of which are in direct opposition to the teachings of scripture. Where does she defend anything Christian or advance any Christian concept? I would think that C.S. Lewis would have found a way.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    FYI… Gene has responded, and so the conversation seems to be moving to THIS link:

    http://www.geneveith.com/the-vocation-of-the-critic/_679/

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    FYI… Gene has responded, and so the conversation seems to be moving to THIS link:

    http://www.geneveith.com/the-vocation-of-the-critic/_679/

  • Raymond Coffey

    What can be said. CT desparately wants to be accepted and respectable in certain circles. For an excellent review read Ross Douthat in the current issue of National Review, June 30, 2008, Vol LX, No. 12.

  • Raymond Coffey

    What can be said. CT desparately wants to be accepted and respectable in certain circles. For an excellent review read Ross Douthat in the current issue of National Review, June 30, 2008, Vol LX, No. 12.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Raymond (@58), you already said that about Christianity Today on the other thread (“The vocation of the critic”). It was no more helpful then, either. “What can be said,” indeed.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Raymond (@58), you already said that about Christianity Today on the other thread (“The vocation of the critic”). It was no more helpful then, either. “What can be said,” indeed.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Uh-huh, Jeffrey. Sure you can watch sex scenes with no tinge of trouble with Matthew 5:28. You betcha. And all those filmmakers take all those half-talent starlets and pay them extra for those scenes because nobody would EVER watch a movie based on that issue.

    Uh-huh.

    You know, competent directors of the past, no-names like “Shakespeare,” managed to produce some pretty decent theater without “T&A.” Some guys from the 1930s to the 1950s even managed to do it.

    If someone tried it today, maybe they’d even manage to put together a coherent plot and develop some characters.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Uh-huh, Jeffrey. Sure you can watch sex scenes with no tinge of trouble with Matthew 5:28. You betcha. And all those filmmakers take all those half-talent starlets and pay them extra for those scenes because nobody would EVER watch a movie based on that issue.

    Uh-huh.

    You know, competent directors of the past, no-names like “Shakespeare,” managed to produce some pretty decent theater without “T&A.” Some guys from the 1930s to the 1950s even managed to do it.

    If someone tried it today, maybe they’d even manage to put together a coherent plot and develop some characters.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    “Uh-huh, Jeffrey. Sure you can watch sex scenes with no tinge of trouble with Matthew 5:28.”

    Bike Bubba, according to that verse, “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” But doesn’t that verse leave open the possibility of looking on a woman *without* thus lusting? In other words, this verse seems to square with Mark 7 in recognizing that the problem is in the man’s heart, for the man sets out with corrupt desires. But regardless, wouldn’t it be the better part of graciousness not to grossly impugn someone else’s motives, as you seem to do here? We can have disagreements without casting aspersions.

    And as for the Hays Code, arguably that whole system actually intensified the whole problem of sexuality in film by pushing it all offscreen. Hays singlehandedly supplied the Marx Brothers with an everlasting source of sexual innuendo (as if Groucho needed any encouragement). I’m not saying you *have* to show sex, mind you, I just consider Hays a legalistic substitute for true morality, which begins with the transformed heart, and cannot be imposed upon us by fiat. At any rate I have a very hard time believing that the good films of that period were good because of the Code. If anything, they were probably good in spite of it.

    Would the famously bawdy Shakespeare have survived Hays? Would the bible itself? I doubt it, even if you account for the intrinsic differences between the word and the image.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    “Uh-huh, Jeffrey. Sure you can watch sex scenes with no tinge of trouble with Matthew 5:28.”

    Bike Bubba, according to that verse, “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” But doesn’t that verse leave open the possibility of looking on a woman *without* thus lusting? In other words, this verse seems to square with Mark 7 in recognizing that the problem is in the man’s heart, for the man sets out with corrupt desires. But regardless, wouldn’t it be the better part of graciousness not to grossly impugn someone else’s motives, as you seem to do here? We can have disagreements without casting aspersions.

    And as for the Hays Code, arguably that whole system actually intensified the whole problem of sexuality in film by pushing it all offscreen. Hays singlehandedly supplied the Marx Brothers with an everlasting source of sexual innuendo (as if Groucho needed any encouragement). I’m not saying you *have* to show sex, mind you, I just consider Hays a legalistic substitute for true morality, which begins with the transformed heart, and cannot be imposed upon us by fiat. At any rate I have a very hard time believing that the good films of that period were good because of the Code. If anything, they were probably good in spite of it.

    Would the famously bawdy Shakespeare have survived Hays? Would the bible itself? I doubt it, even if you account for the intrinsic differences between the word and the image.

  • Martin Stillion

    And Bike Bubba spake into the ether, saying:

    “You know, competent directors of the past, no-names like ‘Shakespeare,’ managed to produce some pretty decent theater without ‘T&A.’”

    Good grief, man, have you ever READ Shakespeare?

    I have, of course, had my say in the other thread on this topic. I hadn’t read this thread until now. I see Jeffrey and Peter have already made my points, only they made ‘em with gloves on.

    I particularly appreciate Ted’s dog poop comment. What he’s essentially saying is this: If I say that apart from the dog poop, I enjoyed the meal, then he, Ted, is justified in coming along and writing a headline that says I relish dog poop.

    And that, dear friends, is nothing but poop from another sort of animal, if you get my drift.

  • Martin Stillion

    And Bike Bubba spake into the ether, saying:

    “You know, competent directors of the past, no-names like ‘Shakespeare,’ managed to produce some pretty decent theater without ‘T&A.’”

    Good grief, man, have you ever READ Shakespeare?

    I have, of course, had my say in the other thread on this topic. I hadn’t read this thread until now. I see Jeffrey and Peter have already made my points, only they made ‘em with gloves on.

    I particularly appreciate Ted’s dog poop comment. What he’s essentially saying is this: If I say that apart from the dog poop, I enjoyed the meal, then he, Ted, is justified in coming along and writing a headline that says I relish dog poop.

    And that, dear friends, is nothing but poop from another sort of animal, if you get my drift.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Would this be a good time for some John Milton?

    From Areopagitica:

    “He that can apprehend and consider vice with all her baits and seeming pleasures, and yet abstain, and yet distinguish, and yet prefer that which is truly better, he is the true wayfaring Christian. I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat… We boast our light; but if we look not wisely on the sun itself, it smites us into darkness.”

    (But of course, really… it’s not from the Bible, so… should we really trust this Milton guy? I mean, he sounds like the kind of guy who might try to justify the ways of God to man…)

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Would this be a good time for some John Milton?

    From Areopagitica:

    “He that can apprehend and consider vice with all her baits and seeming pleasures, and yet abstain, and yet distinguish, and yet prefer that which is truly better, he is the true wayfaring Christian. I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat… We boast our light; but if we look not wisely on the sun itself, it smites us into darkness.”

    (But of course, really… it’s not from the Bible, so… should we really trust this Milton guy? I mean, he sounds like the kind of guy who might try to justify the ways of God to man…)

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    On this blog, it’s ALWAYS time for Milton.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    On this blog, it’s ALWAYS time for Milton.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    Ha, I actually quoted that same passage back at #55! Great minds etc…
    http://www.geneveith.com/christians-reviewing-movies/_677/#comment-8549

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    Ha, I actually quoted that same passage back at #55! Great minds etc…
    http://www.geneveith.com/christians-reviewing-movies/_677/#comment-8549

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    Jeffrey and Tickletext — can we have a discussion about when and how to expose ourselves to ungodliness conveyed through film, or are you merely interested in bludgeoning your opponents with Milton quotes?

    It just feels like there’s such a resistance to acknowledging that many such films may very well cause more damage than they might facilitate spiritual maturity.

    My threshold — everyone’s threshold — is different. You may watch 8 minutes of sex and nudity over the course of a movie and not be affected; others may. I suspect that I would.

    If we can at least acknowledge that such a threshold exists, even among sincere Christians, I think we can make progress in this discussion.

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    Jeffrey and Tickletext — can we have a discussion about when and how to expose ourselves to ungodliness conveyed through film, or are you merely interested in bludgeoning your opponents with Milton quotes?

    It just feels like there’s such a resistance to acknowledging that many such films may very well cause more damage than they might facilitate spiritual maturity.

    My threshold — everyone’s threshold — is different. You may watch 8 minutes of sex and nudity over the course of a movie and not be affected; others may. I suspect that I would.

    If we can at least acknowledge that such a threshold exists, even among sincere Christians, I think we can make progress in this discussion.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    I’m not bludgeoning, Ted. I’m bringing the insights of much more eloquent thinkers than myself to help navigate a complicated discussion. I bring such quotes because they have sometimes expressed the truth in the best words possible. They’re forceful, sure. But they’re illuminating.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m not thinking of this conversation in terms of “opponents.” I’m thinking of it in terms of separating lies from truth, and wisdom from fear.

    This all started with the declaration that “Christianity Today Relishes Sexual Perversion.” I consider that a lie of cruel and unusual proportions. It was quite a bludgeon. It declared something that goes against the very core of the vision for CT Movies, and the character of those who contribute to that site. It requires that a lot of light be brought to bear on the situation to expose *why* it’s a lie. Milton is a bright light.

    I’ve acknowledged repeatedly, and wrote a whole book about, the complicated life’s work of being “in, but not of” the world… focusing primarily on moviegoing as a way of talking about our entire lives. I’m just a beginner on that subject, but I wanted to share what I’m beginning to learn. If you’re really curious about my thoughts on that — and you keep saying that you are, so I’m striving to believe you — I encourage you to read it. I wrote it so I wouldn’t have to keep explaining myself in long, elaborate posts (like this one is sure to be).

    I can’t give you a simple rule for “when and how to expose ourselves to ungodliness.” I’d have a hard time thinking of movies that *don’t* expose us to such things. That’s like asking, “How should we then live?” A big question, with libraries full of responses.

    Even watching G-rated movies, we are “exposing ourselves to ungodliness portrayed through film.” I’m often more disgusted with PG-entertainment than I am with R-rated entertainment.

    We encounter it in all kinds of ways, in all kinds of films: portrayals of glamour, greed, pride, mockery, violence, sexual misbehavior, obscenity, and in many more subtle ways, as values and products and lifestyles are affirmed or critiqued by how they are portrayed. We also encounter it in shoddy craftsmanship, which dulls our senses and wastes our time.

    And, as I’ve repeatedly acknowledged, every person is unique in their personal experiences, the areas where they are weak, the areas where they are strong. Yes, of course, we need to be careful not to lead our weaker brothers into temptation. But we also must not constrain the entire community to the limitations of the weaker brother, or else none of us can grow, and nobody will ever set foot outside the church nursery.

    We could make our missionaries stay home and warn them not to go into dangerous territory because a “weaker brother” might follow them and get hurt.

    Further, there’s a problem right there. To think that we can create a “sin-free zone” at home, where we are not “exposing ourselves to ungodliness” is foolish. We carry those sins in ourselves, and my experience has been such that churches have been some of the most corrupt communities I’ve known.

    Scripture tells us to “examine everything carefully” in order to “hold fast to what is good.” That means that, in order to know what is good and hold fast to it, we need to develop discerning skills of examination. That’s why I love the Milton quote, which says it all so well.

    We are also told “Have nothing to do with the unfruitful deeds of darkness… but instead, even expose them.” That means, don’t become a part of the evil… but do the work of exposing it. That’s like the work of the surgeon: “Have nothing to do with cancer. But do study cancer, and its effects, for the purposes of understanding it and learning how to deal with it.”

    To engage with movies is to engage with storytelling. We are to love our neighbors, so we need to be attentive to the stories of our neighbors and our cultures… and other cultures. The storytelling of any culture is a place where ideas are shared, examined, sifted, and interpreted. It’s also a place where people share themselves and express themselves. Those expressions — even among Christians — will give evidence of our weaknesses, our delusions, and our sins. But they will also contain traces of beauty, truth, and wisdom.

    And often I find the greatest expressions of beauty in the messy, broken expressions of the lost. Eternity is there, written in their hearts, too.

    Those who have had the most influence on the lives of unbelievers, at least in my experience, have been those willing to listen and attend to messy situations without being seduced by the sin there. And those who have stood on the edge of the community and pointed fingers and made condemning pronouncements, they haven’t had much effect, except to hinder the work of the missionaries in the middle and increase the world’s perception that Christians are self-righteous and judgmental. Condemnation of sin is important, but alas, in Christian culture it sometimes seem like all we do.

    I read a remarkable essay in which a teacher talked about people she’d known who cringed at foul language and insisted that they remove themselves from any situation where profanity was spoken. She said that as these people “removed themselves” from communities where rough talk was prevalent, those communities were left without helpers, without hope, without role models. Christ, I believe, would have gone in there with such attentiveness, love, and grace that those people would have clung to him.

    Further, she argued that the people who freaked out about bad language were sometimes people who were demonstrating more “class prejudice” than actual concern about sin. They were unable to function in any kind of ministry with the poor and the needy in the inner city, because when you’re in those environments you encounter a lot of misbehavior and “dirty talk.” It took a great compassion, patience, and character for the missionaries who worked among the uneducated and the poor, where profanity was strewn through conversations like punctuation. Sure, some people wouldn’t be able to work in such ministries without picking up some of the “local talk.” But I’m grateful that many act on their courage and compassion more than their fear, and that they*do* venture into relationships and conversations where obscenities are commonplace. I’m grateful for those who love those people, who affirm their virtues and strengths, instead of starting out by attacking their vocabulary. Because that’s how Christ comes to the table there, and lovingly reveals a better way.

    In the same way, Christians can engage in meaningful dialogue about life’s most essential questions if we examine cultural art and engage with what is good, and what is central, instead of dwelling on shouting out all of the things that offend us. Yes, it’s important to graciously but firmly acknowledge what is poorly done, and clearly denounce what is indulgent and sinful. But if we speak the truth in love, those who read our reviews will come away more impressed with the insight and the love than rattled by harsh corrective statements.

    My favorite teachers and counselors are those who convince me that they care about me and love me. When I’m convinced, then I find that I really listen and respect them when they point out areas where I am wrong, or prideful, or selfish, or deceived. I want to be that kind of writer. I want readers to come away grateful for what they read, not jarred by all of the things I told them were wrong.

    As I grew up paying attention to Christian media, I saw mostly condemnation, and it wore me out. Today, listening to Christian radio, I’m not exaggerating to say that 75% of what I hear are other Christians talking about how bad culture is, and how evil homosexuals are, and how bad liberals are. I don’t come away from most Christian media inspired by beauty and truth, but dispirited by the relentless expressions of outrage (peppered with scripture verses). (When I was on a radio-interview tour for Auralia’s Colors, THREE out of FOUR interviews followed stories about “the evils of the homosexual agenda” on those talk shows. I couldn’t believe it.)

    Meaningful engagement with worldly art (whether that worldly art be Christian or otherwise) requires attention to so many questions.

    We have to consider: Are they artists “exposing” evils, so that we can learn how to live in a world that’s full of such evils? Or are they “condoning” those evils? What do they ‘claim’ to affirm, and what do their aesthetics affirm? Are we getting mixed messages?

    Martin Scorsese says that he *has* to show violence when he tells stories about casinos. Because if he’s going to show you the fancy cars and the fancy clothes and the supermodels and the money, then it would be irresponsible to hide the truth from people — he has to show the audience what comes with that kind of culture. So, Casino and GoodFellas are full of glamour and razzle-dazzle… and thus they’re also full of blood and profanity. If he’s going to portray such ego and gluttony, then he must also show the wages of such sin. Otherwise, people might be deceived by the glitz.

    And the questions about the responsibility of the VIEWER are different from those questions that the ARTIST must consider. The artist must be attentive to his or her conscience as he works, but the viewer may be wrestling with entirely different matters. If artists had to worry about every viewer and make every effort to avoid ever offending or tempting anybody anywhere, they’d never get anything done. (And the Bible would be a banned book. Think of how often it offends, how often it is misinterpreted and exploited. Heck, the Bible includes some of the most famous erotic poetry ever penned.)

    Viewers must consider their conscience and their weaknesses. But it shouldn’t stop there. We shouldn’t just say, “Well, that’s my weakness,” and be done. We should also consider, “Why am I weak? How can I become strong?”

    Anyway, I’m in danger of losing my day re-writing my book here. I just spent my lunch break writing this. I have a job to do. So that’s all for today.

    Gene, I’d love to read more of your thoughts on this. Martin, you too…

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    I’m not bludgeoning, Ted. I’m bringing the insights of much more eloquent thinkers than myself to help navigate a complicated discussion. I bring such quotes because they have sometimes expressed the truth in the best words possible. They’re forceful, sure. But they’re illuminating.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m not thinking of this conversation in terms of “opponents.” I’m thinking of it in terms of separating lies from truth, and wisdom from fear.

    This all started with the declaration that “Christianity Today Relishes Sexual Perversion.” I consider that a lie of cruel and unusual proportions. It was quite a bludgeon. It declared something that goes against the very core of the vision for CT Movies, and the character of those who contribute to that site. It requires that a lot of light be brought to bear on the situation to expose *why* it’s a lie. Milton is a bright light.

    I’ve acknowledged repeatedly, and wrote a whole book about, the complicated life’s work of being “in, but not of” the world… focusing primarily on moviegoing as a way of talking about our entire lives. I’m just a beginner on that subject, but I wanted to share what I’m beginning to learn. If you’re really curious about my thoughts on that — and you keep saying that you are, so I’m striving to believe you — I encourage you to read it. I wrote it so I wouldn’t have to keep explaining myself in long, elaborate posts (like this one is sure to be).

    I can’t give you a simple rule for “when and how to expose ourselves to ungodliness.” I’d have a hard time thinking of movies that *don’t* expose us to such things. That’s like asking, “How should we then live?” A big question, with libraries full of responses.

    Even watching G-rated movies, we are “exposing ourselves to ungodliness portrayed through film.” I’m often more disgusted with PG-entertainment than I am with R-rated entertainment.

    We encounter it in all kinds of ways, in all kinds of films: portrayals of glamour, greed, pride, mockery, violence, sexual misbehavior, obscenity, and in many more subtle ways, as values and products and lifestyles are affirmed or critiqued by how they are portrayed. We also encounter it in shoddy craftsmanship, which dulls our senses and wastes our time.

    And, as I’ve repeatedly acknowledged, every person is unique in their personal experiences, the areas where they are weak, the areas where they are strong. Yes, of course, we need to be careful not to lead our weaker brothers into temptation. But we also must not constrain the entire community to the limitations of the weaker brother, or else none of us can grow, and nobody will ever set foot outside the church nursery.

    We could make our missionaries stay home and warn them not to go into dangerous territory because a “weaker brother” might follow them and get hurt.

    Further, there’s a problem right there. To think that we can create a “sin-free zone” at home, where we are not “exposing ourselves to ungodliness” is foolish. We carry those sins in ourselves, and my experience has been such that churches have been some of the most corrupt communities I’ve known.

    Scripture tells us to “examine everything carefully” in order to “hold fast to what is good.” That means that, in order to know what is good and hold fast to it, we need to develop discerning skills of examination. That’s why I love the Milton quote, which says it all so well.

    We are also told “Have nothing to do with the unfruitful deeds of darkness… but instead, even expose them.” That means, don’t become a part of the evil… but do the work of exposing it. That’s like the work of the surgeon: “Have nothing to do with cancer. But do study cancer, and its effects, for the purposes of understanding it and learning how to deal with it.”

    To engage with movies is to engage with storytelling. We are to love our neighbors, so we need to be attentive to the stories of our neighbors and our cultures… and other cultures. The storytelling of any culture is a place where ideas are shared, examined, sifted, and interpreted. It’s also a place where people share themselves and express themselves. Those expressions — even among Christians — will give evidence of our weaknesses, our delusions, and our sins. But they will also contain traces of beauty, truth, and wisdom.

    And often I find the greatest expressions of beauty in the messy, broken expressions of the lost. Eternity is there, written in their hearts, too.

    Those who have had the most influence on the lives of unbelievers, at least in my experience, have been those willing to listen and attend to messy situations without being seduced by the sin there. And those who have stood on the edge of the community and pointed fingers and made condemning pronouncements, they haven’t had much effect, except to hinder the work of the missionaries in the middle and increase the world’s perception that Christians are self-righteous and judgmental. Condemnation of sin is important, but alas, in Christian culture it sometimes seem like all we do.

    I read a remarkable essay in which a teacher talked about people she’d known who cringed at foul language and insisted that they remove themselves from any situation where profanity was spoken. She said that as these people “removed themselves” from communities where rough talk was prevalent, those communities were left without helpers, without hope, without role models. Christ, I believe, would have gone in there with such attentiveness, love, and grace that those people would have clung to him.

    Further, she argued that the people who freaked out about bad language were sometimes people who were demonstrating more “class prejudice” than actual concern about sin. They were unable to function in any kind of ministry with the poor and the needy in the inner city, because when you’re in those environments you encounter a lot of misbehavior and “dirty talk.” It took a great compassion, patience, and character for the missionaries who worked among the uneducated and the poor, where profanity was strewn through conversations like punctuation. Sure, some people wouldn’t be able to work in such ministries without picking up some of the “local talk.” But I’m grateful that many act on their courage and compassion more than their fear, and that they*do* venture into relationships and conversations where obscenities are commonplace. I’m grateful for those who love those people, who affirm their virtues and strengths, instead of starting out by attacking their vocabulary. Because that’s how Christ comes to the table there, and lovingly reveals a better way.

    In the same way, Christians can engage in meaningful dialogue about life’s most essential questions if we examine cultural art and engage with what is good, and what is central, instead of dwelling on shouting out all of the things that offend us. Yes, it’s important to graciously but firmly acknowledge what is poorly done, and clearly denounce what is indulgent and sinful. But if we speak the truth in love, those who read our reviews will come away more impressed with the insight and the love than rattled by harsh corrective statements.

    My favorite teachers and counselors are those who convince me that they care about me and love me. When I’m convinced, then I find that I really listen and respect them when they point out areas where I am wrong, or prideful, or selfish, or deceived. I want to be that kind of writer. I want readers to come away grateful for what they read, not jarred by all of the things I told them were wrong.

    As I grew up paying attention to Christian media, I saw mostly condemnation, and it wore me out. Today, listening to Christian radio, I’m not exaggerating to say that 75% of what I hear are other Christians talking about how bad culture is, and how evil homosexuals are, and how bad liberals are. I don’t come away from most Christian media inspired by beauty and truth, but dispirited by the relentless expressions of outrage (peppered with scripture verses). (When I was on a radio-interview tour for Auralia’s Colors, THREE out of FOUR interviews followed stories about “the evils of the homosexual agenda” on those talk shows. I couldn’t believe it.)

    Meaningful engagement with worldly art (whether that worldly art be Christian or otherwise) requires attention to so many questions.

    We have to consider: Are they artists “exposing” evils, so that we can learn how to live in a world that’s full of such evils? Or are they “condoning” those evils? What do they ‘claim’ to affirm, and what do their aesthetics affirm? Are we getting mixed messages?

    Martin Scorsese says that he *has* to show violence when he tells stories about casinos. Because if he’s going to show you the fancy cars and the fancy clothes and the supermodels and the money, then it would be irresponsible to hide the truth from people — he has to show the audience what comes with that kind of culture. So, Casino and GoodFellas are full of glamour and razzle-dazzle… and thus they’re also full of blood and profanity. If he’s going to portray such ego and gluttony, then he must also show the wages of such sin. Otherwise, people might be deceived by the glitz.

    And the questions about the responsibility of the VIEWER are different from those questions that the ARTIST must consider. The artist must be attentive to his or her conscience as he works, but the viewer may be wrestling with entirely different matters. If artists had to worry about every viewer and make every effort to avoid ever offending or tempting anybody anywhere, they’d never get anything done. (And the Bible would be a banned book. Think of how often it offends, how often it is misinterpreted and exploited. Heck, the Bible includes some of the most famous erotic poetry ever penned.)

    Viewers must consider their conscience and their weaknesses. But it shouldn’t stop there. We shouldn’t just say, “Well, that’s my weakness,” and be done. We should also consider, “Why am I weak? How can I become strong?”

    Anyway, I’m in danger of losing my day re-writing my book here. I just spent my lunch break writing this. I have a job to do. So that’s all for today.

    Gene, I’d love to read more of your thoughts on this. Martin, you too…

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    Jeffrey, you sure used a lot of words to avoid answering my simple question. For some reason, Proverbs 10:19 came to mind.

    I understand that CT-affiliated film critics don’t like my headline. You all have made that clear. I’ve explained why I see it as accurate, though admittedly and effectively tabloidesque.

    FWIW, I think sometimes you conflate “strong” with “desensitized.” Just my opinion.

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    Jeffrey, you sure used a lot of words to avoid answering my simple question. For some reason, Proverbs 10:19 came to mind.

    I understand that CT-affiliated film critics don’t like my headline. You all have made that clear. I’ve explained why I see it as accurate, though admittedly and effectively tabloidesque.

    FWIW, I think sometimes you conflate “strong” with “desensitized.” Just my opinion.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ted (@68), honestly, why even bother to write that response?

    I can’t believe you dared to ask (@66), “can we have a discussion about when and how to expose ourselves to ungodliness conveyed through film, or are you merely interested in bludgeoning your opponents”, followed up by Jeffrey’s engaging in just that discussion (@67) — and rather eloquently, I might add — and then you just bludgeon him over the head by saying he didn’t answer your question and he wrote too much. What’s the point? Why not say “Jeffrey, you’re a doo-doo head”? It would be just as loving and thoughtful a response.

    And I can’t believe, after all that’s been written on it, that you would still defend your ridiculous, false, unloving, slanderous headline. You’re not in the least bit repentant.

    And I say that as someone who has, frankly, never read a copy of Christianity Today (nor do I think it’s my kind of magazine), much less someone affiliated with the magazine. That said, given what the “CT-affiliated film critics” have written here, I can see it’s a better, more thoughtful publication than I’d imagined, and a far sight more desirable than anything you’ve written on this topic.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ted (@68), honestly, why even bother to write that response?

    I can’t believe you dared to ask (@66), “can we have a discussion about when and how to expose ourselves to ungodliness conveyed through film, or are you merely interested in bludgeoning your opponents”, followed up by Jeffrey’s engaging in just that discussion (@67) — and rather eloquently, I might add — and then you just bludgeon him over the head by saying he didn’t answer your question and he wrote too much. What’s the point? Why not say “Jeffrey, you’re a doo-doo head”? It would be just as loving and thoughtful a response.

    And I can’t believe, after all that’s been written on it, that you would still defend your ridiculous, false, unloving, slanderous headline. You’re not in the least bit repentant.

    And I say that as someone who has, frankly, never read a copy of Christianity Today (nor do I think it’s my kind of magazine), much less someone affiliated with the magazine. That said, given what the “CT-affiliated film critics” have written here, I can see it’s a better, more thoughtful publication than I’d imagined, and a far sight more desirable than anything you’ve written on this topic.

  • Martin Stillion

    Said Ted: “[C]an we have a discussion about when and how to expose ourselves to ungodliness conveyed through film …?”

    I guess “we” can have that discussion when “we” are mature enough. First, though, “we” will have to resolve the present discussion about how to recognize the ungodliness conveyed through telling lies about other believers and the ministries they work for.

    You have at least one former newspaper guy on staff there at Focus: Gary Schneeberger, VP of media relations. Go buy him a Coke and ask him to explain what libel is. While you’re at it, ask him whether the shock value of being “tabloidesque” is worth the damage you’ve done to your credibility.

  • Martin Stillion

    Said Ted: “[C]an we have a discussion about when and how to expose ourselves to ungodliness conveyed through film …?”

    I guess “we” can have that discussion when “we” are mature enough. First, though, “we” will have to resolve the present discussion about how to recognize the ungodliness conveyed through telling lies about other believers and the ministries they work for.

    You have at least one former newspaper guy on staff there at Focus: Gary Schneeberger, VP of media relations. Go buy him a Coke and ask him to explain what libel is. While you’re at it, ask him whether the shock value of being “tabloidesque” is worth the damage you’ve done to your credibility.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Thanks, tODD, for saying what I was thinking.

    I can’t believe this.

    His question was, and I quote: “Can we have a discussion about when and how to expose ourselves to ungodliness conveyed through film?”

    I responded to that question. In detail. And referred him to a whole book written in answer to it.

    And he tosses out a Bible verse and tells me I didn’t answer the question.

    Clearly, Ted does not understand my explanation. Others do, and they assure me I’m being clear, so I guess I needn’t keep losing hours trying to translate my language into something Ted will understand.

    And still, after all of this, he shows no remorse and offers no apology for the headline that has slandered and hurt his brothers and sisters in Christ, the headline that goes on hurting so long as he lets it stand.

    I am done talking to Slater. Why would I give him more words to distort and ignore? It is clearly not making any difference.

    Thanks to those who emailed me.

    Gene, thanks for hosting these discussions. I appreciate your encouragement and insight.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Thanks, tODD, for saying what I was thinking.

    I can’t believe this.

    His question was, and I quote: “Can we have a discussion about when and how to expose ourselves to ungodliness conveyed through film?”

    I responded to that question. In detail. And referred him to a whole book written in answer to it.

    And he tosses out a Bible verse and tells me I didn’t answer the question.

    Clearly, Ted does not understand my explanation. Others do, and they assure me I’m being clear, so I guess I needn’t keep losing hours trying to translate my language into something Ted will understand.

    And still, after all of this, he shows no remorse and offers no apology for the headline that has slandered and hurt his brothers and sisters in Christ, the headline that goes on hurting so long as he lets it stand.

    I am done talking to Slater. Why would I give him more words to distort and ignore? It is clearly not making any difference.

    Thanks to those who emailed me.

    Gene, thanks for hosting these discussions. I appreciate your encouragement and insight.

  • Martin Stillion

    Ted complained about the wordiness of Jeffrey’s post, and then alluded to Prov. 10:19:

    “When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
    but the prudent are restrained in speech.”

    (This would appear to be a favorite verse of Ted’s; he also refers to it in his grad-school paper on the ethics of lying, to which I have linked in thread 679.)

    Either (a) Ted is making some indirect, mealymouthed, backdoor insinuation that Jeffrey’s guilty of an unspecified “transgression”…

    or (b) Ted is trying to remind himself to keep his trap shut, lest he further transgress by opening it again.

    (a) would be the more reasonable inference, but it’s only gracious to offer (b) to Ted if he’s willing to claim it.

  • Martin Stillion

    Ted complained about the wordiness of Jeffrey’s post, and then alluded to Prov. 10:19:

    “When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
    but the prudent are restrained in speech.”

    (This would appear to be a favorite verse of Ted’s; he also refers to it in his grad-school paper on the ethics of lying, to which I have linked in thread 679.)

    Either (a) Ted is making some indirect, mealymouthed, backdoor insinuation that Jeffrey’s guilty of an unspecified “transgression”…

    or (b) Ted is trying to remind himself to keep his trap shut, lest he further transgress by opening it again.

    (a) would be the more reasonable inference, but it’s only gracious to offer (b) to Ted if he’s willing to claim it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ted, in thinking about all this, I came up with a question I thought was interesting: which is more important when a brother has sinned: to get him to repent, or to get people to notice that you have called him to repentance?

    Oh sure, it seems rhetorical, and yes, the answer is obvious. But I ask because of what you wrote @68, labeling your blog headline as “admittedly and effectively tabloidesque” in spite of the controversy it’s generated.

    “Effectively”? What has it been effective in doing? In bringing about a change of heart among those at Christianity Today? Even if one were to suppose — which I do not, with regard to the original review — that repentance was necessary on their part, it is clear that their attitudes have not changed. Your headline, and the many words that have followed, are rather ineffective in this regard. But that happens a lot in calling people to repentance.

    What, then, was so effective about that headline? Best I can tell, it was only effective in getting attention, in riling people up, in getting your voice heard. Is that what you wanted? I honestly can’t tell.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ted, in thinking about all this, I came up with a question I thought was interesting: which is more important when a brother has sinned: to get him to repent, or to get people to notice that you have called him to repentance?

    Oh sure, it seems rhetorical, and yes, the answer is obvious. But I ask because of what you wrote @68, labeling your blog headline as “admittedly and effectively tabloidesque” in spite of the controversy it’s generated.

    “Effectively”? What has it been effective in doing? In bringing about a change of heart among those at Christianity Today? Even if one were to suppose — which I do not, with regard to the original review — that repentance was necessary on their part, it is clear that their attitudes have not changed. Your headline, and the many words that have followed, are rather ineffective in this regard. But that happens a lot in calling people to repentance.

    What, then, was so effective about that headline? Best I can tell, it was only effective in getting attention, in riling people up, in getting your voice heard. Is that what you wanted? I honestly can’t tell.

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    Jeffrey — your lengthy comment was a defense of watching edgy movies. There was a bit about “weaker” brothers who avoid certain movies. But no meaningful discussion about *when* a Christian might rightly choose to avoid a movie out of concern for their ongoing sanctification.

    I think you may just not understand my question. I’m not talking about those who avoid certain edgy movies because they are “weak,” because they are somehow morally defective. I’m talking about those who avoid certain edgy movies because they want to honor God in their media choices, they are concerned about their ongoing sanctification, they don’t want to expose themselves to imagery, dialog and themes that would likely pollute their consciences.

    tODD — my headline was effective in getting Mark Moring’s attention; sadly, it wasn’t effective in getting him to see the concerns of the many for whom I’ve provided a voice.

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    Jeffrey — your lengthy comment was a defense of watching edgy movies. There was a bit about “weaker” brothers who avoid certain movies. But no meaningful discussion about *when* a Christian might rightly choose to avoid a movie out of concern for their ongoing sanctification.

    I think you may just not understand my question. I’m not talking about those who avoid certain edgy movies because they are “weak,” because they are somehow morally defective. I’m talking about those who avoid certain edgy movies because they want to honor God in their media choices, they are concerned about their ongoing sanctification, they don’t want to expose themselves to imagery, dialog and themes that would likely pollute their consciences.

    tODD — my headline was effective in getting Mark Moring’s attention; sadly, it wasn’t effective in getting him to see the concerns of the many for whom I’ve provided a voice.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ted (@74), since Jeffrey may not respond to you (see @71), I will say in his defense that he probably did understand your question. But if you think his “lengthy comment was a defense of watching edgy movies”, then I can’t believe you read it.

    It seems that you want some line drawn in the sand: This movie sinful, this movie holy. But the answer to your question isn’t that facile, nor is it that interesting in this context: People should honestly — and, ideally, prayerfully — consider whether seeing a movie is appropriate for them. Answers will vary. The answer will rest on (1) biblical principles (which doesn’t vary) and (2) self-assessment (which does). But you can’t say that any given movie (or, perhaps, seeing a given movie) is sinful — that’s the Pharisee approach! The Christian approach is to consider one’s heart, to ask if such a movie would hinder your relationship with God or not, or having seen it, why you liked or didn’t like certain aspects.

    What you seem to be missing is that it can be sinful to see a movie you’d consider wholesome, and not sinful to see a movie depicting all kinds of sin. Sex is not the only sin out there, nor is it a worse sin than the others. There are sins of pride, lovelessness, anger, revenge, etc.

    Which is better: (1) to have someone see “Fireproof” and walk out confirmed in his righteousness, thanking God that is is not like the sinners either depicted in the movie or watching less-holy fare, or (2) to have someone see “Sex and the City” and walk out lamenting the shallowness and sex obsession in our society, but realizing that there still is a common desire for healthy relationships, and that this may help that person in dealing with his unbelieving friends?

    In short (I know you hate lengthy comments): Is it what goes into a man’s eyes (and brain) that makes him unclean? Or is it what comes out of a man’s brain that makes him unclean?

    Also, I don’t know where you get the idea that “weak” equals “morally defective”.

    Finally, do you see how your (accurate) assessment of the effectiveness of your headline might lead someone to think that you were more concerned about getting attention than producing repentance? I’m glad that you have, at last, conceded on the other thread that you “could have done better”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ted (@74), since Jeffrey may not respond to you (see @71), I will say in his defense that he probably did understand your question. But if you think his “lengthy comment was a defense of watching edgy movies”, then I can’t believe you read it.

    It seems that you want some line drawn in the sand: This movie sinful, this movie holy. But the answer to your question isn’t that facile, nor is it that interesting in this context: People should honestly — and, ideally, prayerfully — consider whether seeing a movie is appropriate for them. Answers will vary. The answer will rest on (1) biblical principles (which doesn’t vary) and (2) self-assessment (which does). But you can’t say that any given movie (or, perhaps, seeing a given movie) is sinful — that’s the Pharisee approach! The Christian approach is to consider one’s heart, to ask if such a movie would hinder your relationship with God or not, or having seen it, why you liked or didn’t like certain aspects.

    What you seem to be missing is that it can be sinful to see a movie you’d consider wholesome, and not sinful to see a movie depicting all kinds of sin. Sex is not the only sin out there, nor is it a worse sin than the others. There are sins of pride, lovelessness, anger, revenge, etc.

    Which is better: (1) to have someone see “Fireproof” and walk out confirmed in his righteousness, thanking God that is is not like the sinners either depicted in the movie or watching less-holy fare, or (2) to have someone see “Sex and the City” and walk out lamenting the shallowness and sex obsession in our society, but realizing that there still is a common desire for healthy relationships, and that this may help that person in dealing with his unbelieving friends?

    In short (I know you hate lengthy comments): Is it what goes into a man’s eyes (and brain) that makes him unclean? Or is it what comes out of a man’s brain that makes him unclean?

    Also, I don’t know where you get the idea that “weak” equals “morally defective”.

    Finally, do you see how your (accurate) assessment of the effectiveness of your headline might lead someone to think that you were more concerned about getting attention than producing repentance? I’m glad that you have, at last, conceded on the other thread that you “could have done better”.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    I just received this email:

    Didn’t know if you saw this. But on the Focus on the Family movie review website, Plugged In, in their review for ‘Wall-E,’ they actually quote the Christianity Today interview with Andrew Stanton. And it’s a very positive review. So, is it safe to say that Focus on the Family Relishes in Supporting a Magazine that Relishes in Sexual Perversity? ;-)

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    I just received this email:

    Didn’t know if you saw this. But on the Focus on the Family movie review website, Plugged In, in their review for ‘Wall-E,’ they actually quote the Christianity Today interview with Andrew Stanton. And it’s a very positive review. So, is it safe to say that Focus on the Family Relishes in Supporting a Magazine that Relishes in Sexual Perversity? ;-)

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    tODD — are you really saying that “Fireproof” facilitates hypocrisy?

  • http://www.boundless.org Ted Slater

    tODD — are you really saying that “Fireproof” facilitates hypocrisy?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    No, Ted (@77), I’m not “really” saying that — I didn’t say that at all. Go back and read the comment.

    Are you intentionally being obtuse with responses like that, or do you genuinely have comprehension issues?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    No, Ted (@77), I’m not “really” saying that — I didn’t say that at all. Go back and read the comment.

    Are you intentionally being obtuse with responses like that, or do you genuinely have comprehension issues?

  • John

    Oh, for goodness’ sakes, Ted, just answer tODD’s questions! And Jeffery’s, while you’re at it.

    Maybe you’re taking so much heat because *you made a mistake.* Remember Paul talking about eating meat sacrificed to idols? That would seem like a more “dangerous” thing to do than watching SATC (after all, the money you use to buy the meat will go to the pagan temple), but in spite of this, Paul still instructed everyone to decide on the matter by their own discernment and level of spiritual maturity.

    When I read your comments, all I see is a Pharisee-type of stubbornness and self-righteousness. And you still have not retracted the headline that CT “Relishes” in premarital sex, a claim which is not only demonstrably false as pointed out many times in these comments, it can also be described as libel.

    Look, if you personally would be polluted by watching SATC, fine. Don’t watch it. But if more mature Christians than you (Romans 14 – it’s the *weaker* follower of Christ who abstains) actually manage to “swallow the meat and spit out the bones,” sifting valuable and good lessons from the movie and separate these lessons from the R-rated content, then you and I are certainly in no position to accuse them of relishing in perversion. The headline may have grabbed people’s attention, but at what cost? You slandered a sister in Christ for the wrong reasons, and encouraged others to do the same.

    It should be a simple matter here, Ted. Just please take responsibility for your hurtful words and quit dodging the good points other people are making in this thread.

  • John

    Oh, for goodness’ sakes, Ted, just answer tODD’s questions! And Jeffery’s, while you’re at it.

    Maybe you’re taking so much heat because *you made a mistake.* Remember Paul talking about eating meat sacrificed to idols? That would seem like a more “dangerous” thing to do than watching SATC (after all, the money you use to buy the meat will go to the pagan temple), but in spite of this, Paul still instructed everyone to decide on the matter by their own discernment and level of spiritual maturity.

    When I read your comments, all I see is a Pharisee-type of stubbornness and self-righteousness. And you still have not retracted the headline that CT “Relishes” in premarital sex, a claim which is not only demonstrably false as pointed out many times in these comments, it can also be described as libel.

    Look, if you personally would be polluted by watching SATC, fine. Don’t watch it. But if more mature Christians than you (Romans 14 – it’s the *weaker* follower of Christ who abstains) actually manage to “swallow the meat and spit out the bones,” sifting valuable and good lessons from the movie and separate these lessons from the R-rated content, then you and I are certainly in no position to accuse them of relishing in perversion. The headline may have grabbed people’s attention, but at what cost? You slandered a sister in Christ for the wrong reasons, and encouraged others to do the same.

    It should be a simple matter here, Ted. Just please take responsibility for your hurtful words and quit dodging the good points other people are making in this thread.

  • Bosco

    Ted

    I can’t believe you’re still going on about this. Your original headline was libel, plain and simple. Your logic is simplistic. And your legalism — yes, I did read what you wrote about legalism on your own website — is nauseating. Can’t you just admit that you overreacted and apologize.

    Oh, and what’s with promoting a web service that relies on pornographic ads to sell its services? Doctor, heal thyself.

  • Bosco

    Ted

    I can’t believe you’re still going on about this. Your original headline was libel, plain and simple. Your logic is simplistic. And your legalism — yes, I did read what you wrote about legalism on your own website — is nauseating. Can’t you just admit that you overreacted and apologize.

    Oh, and what’s with promoting a web service that relies on pornographic ads to sell its services? Doctor, heal thyself.

  • Bosco

    Ted

    Another question. Did you enjoy “The Passion of the Christ”? You know it facilitates and promotes Roman Catholic idolatry, right? All sorts of unbiblical myths are perpetrated in that film, so what would you say if someone sees that film that Focus on the Family highly recommended and starts praying to saints, believing myths, and the like. Does that mean Focus on the Family “relishes” idolatry?

  • Bosco

    Ted

    Another question. Did you enjoy “The Passion of the Christ”? You know it facilitates and promotes Roman Catholic idolatry, right? All sorts of unbiblical myths are perpetrated in that film, so what would you say if someone sees that film that Focus on the Family highly recommended and starts praying to saints, believing myths, and the like. Does that mean Focus on the Family “relishes” idolatry?

  • John

    Well, I guess he’s just going to hold his tongue and convince himself that he’s “exercising restraint when being persecuted by fools,” or something like that. I just want Ted to take responsibility for what pretty much everyone but him can see was a gross and slanderous mistake. But so far I have seen no indication that he’ll admit that he’s been defending an exercise in legalism.

  • John

    Well, I guess he’s just going to hold his tongue and convince himself that he’s “exercising restraint when being persecuted by fools,” or something like that. I just want Ted to take responsibility for what pretty much everyone but him can see was a gross and slanderous mistake. But so far I have seen no indication that he’ll admit that he’s been defending an exercise in legalism.

  • http://forum.indya.com/member.php?u=131380 John923
  • http://forum.indya.com/member.php?u=131380 John923
  • chad fair

    I have been waiting for years for this conversation, I can’t wait to dig in more fully!

  • chad fair

    I have been waiting for years for this conversation, I can’t wait to dig in more fully!


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X