The vocation of the critic

Some thoughts about the controversy over movie reviews that we discussed yesterday, occasioned by the Christianity Today critic giving “Sex & the City” three stars. . .(This blog seems to have become THE place to talk about this, with even one of the parties to the controversy, Ted Slater of Focus on the Family weighing in, as well as other movie critics. I really appreciate that, Mr. Slater and the rest of you, for your stimulating discussion.) But here are some of my principles for reviewing:

(1) A review is not an advertisement or an endorsement but an analysis. Just condemning or just praising a movie or other work of art is not enough. A good review should yield understanding, not just of the work but of what the work is about.

(2) The word “good” has different senses. It can be used in a moral sense (“helping the flood victims was a good deed”) or an aesthetic sense (“that movie had good acting”). A movie can be good aesthetically and bad morally. Or, to bring the other absolutes into the discussion, a work of art that is true and good may not be beautiful; or one that is beautiful and good may not be true; or any of the other possible combinations. Part of the critic’s job is to sort all of that out.

(3) Not everyone should watch every movie, and thanks to the vocation of the movie critic, they don’t have to. Recall the principle that what is lawful for one vocation may not be lawful for someone without that vocation (e.g., soldiers, police officers, and executioners are called to do what civilians may not). Just as physicians must deal with repulsive diseases, critics may sometimes have to deal with repulsive movies. Not that even critics may fall into sin. If watching a movie is an occasion for sin, the critic should stay away, but experienced professionals usually get pretty detached, like a physician operating on a naked body. But if you can’t be detached, this may not be your calling.

(4) In the case at issue, Mr. Slater reviewed the review in a way that was overly inflammatory. Even if the critic is going to condemn something, there is a right and an effective way to go about it. The purpose of every vocation, as we have discussed, is to love and service to the neighbor, so a sense of compassion can make negative criticism sink in more. And, again, the goal of a review should be to increase understanding, both of truth (as the Focus review does, rightly, in condemning sin) and the work being discussed. While still attacking the review for minimizing the movie’s sexual immorality, the Focus on the Family critic could have zeroed in on what the review both discusses and exemplifies: the plight of single Christians–such as the reviewer herself who raises these issues–who get so little support from the church and are thrown back to the resources of the world, such as “Sex & the City.”

(5) The original review could also have given us more analysis, which might have defused some of the controversy. We are told that the movie has the characters wrestling with relationships. Tell us more about the content of those struggles. What, I think, emerges (based on snippets of the TV series that I have seen) is that what these young women really want is MARRIAGE, and yet their promiscuity undermines that quest. They treat men like they treat their shoes, as consumer accessories for their own gratification, and yet they want much more. What they yearn for is, in fact, God’s design. With that kind of specific analysis, the reviewer could fully engage the movie–praising its artistic qualities, taking it seriously by arguing with it, and leaving the reader with understanding, not just of the movie, but of issues of truth, goodness, and beauty.

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.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I’m reminded of Chesterton’s comment (which I quote from memory, and so doubtless have wrong): “There are two senses of the word ‘good.’ If a man were able to shoot his grandmother with a rifle at a range of 500 yards, I would call him a good shot. I would not call him a good man.”

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I’m reminded of Chesterton’s comment (which I quote from memory, and so doubtless have wrong): “There are two senses of the word ‘good.’ If a man were able to shoot his grandmother with a rifle at a range of 500 yards, I would call him a good shot. I would not call him a good man.”

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    “A movie can be good aesthetically and bad morally.”

    This is very similar to what George Orwell has to say about Salvador Dali and his autobiography. While Orwell notes that “It is a book that stinks,” and a society in which people like Dali “can flourish has something wrong with it,” Orwell also says that “against this has to be set the fact that Dali is a draughtsman of very exceptional gifts.” Orwell equally criticizes people who “are not unable to admit that what can be morally degraded can be aesthetically right” but also those who can’t admit vice versa. “One ought to be able to hold in one’s head
    simultaneously the two facts that Dali is a good draughtsman and a disgusting human being. The one does not invalidate or, in a sense, affect the other.” Ultimately what Dali “clearly needs” is not suppression but “diagnosis.” “The important thing is not to denounce him as a cad who ought to be horsewhipped, or to defend him as a genius who ought to be questioned, but to find out why he exhibits that particular set of aberrations.” So reviewers themselves usually won’t have enough space to get into those sorts of diagnostic examinations, but certainly critics in general can.

    George Orwell, “Benefit of Clergy: Some Notes on Salvador Dali

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    “A movie can be good aesthetically and bad morally.”

    This is very similar to what George Orwell has to say about Salvador Dali and his autobiography. While Orwell notes that “It is a book that stinks,” and a society in which people like Dali “can flourish has something wrong with it,” Orwell also says that “against this has to be set the fact that Dali is a draughtsman of very exceptional gifts.” Orwell equally criticizes people who “are not unable to admit that what can be morally degraded can be aesthetically right” but also those who can’t admit vice versa. “One ought to be able to hold in one’s head
    simultaneously the two facts that Dali is a good draughtsman and a disgusting human being. The one does not invalidate or, in a sense, affect the other.” Ultimately what Dali “clearly needs” is not suppression but “diagnosis.” “The important thing is not to denounce him as a cad who ought to be horsewhipped, or to defend him as a genius who ought to be questioned, but to find out why he exhibits that particular set of aberrations.” So reviewers themselves usually won’t have enough space to get into those sorts of diagnostic examinations, but certainly critics in general can.

    George Orwell, “Benefit of Clergy: Some Notes on Salvador Dali

  • Carl Vehse

    “Not everyone should watch every movie, and thanks to the vocation of the movie critic, they don’t have to. Recall the principle that what is lawful for one vocation may not be lawful for someone without that vocation”

    Is there (and who has) a vocation for critiquing the critic… and so on?

  • Carl Vehse

    “Not everyone should watch every movie, and thanks to the vocation of the movie critic, they don’t have to. Recall the principle that what is lawful for one vocation may not be lawful for someone without that vocation”

    Is there (and who has) a vocation for critiquing the critic… and so on?

  • Joe

    Dr. Veith – from the stand point of a consumer of Christian movie reviews, I agree with everything you said. I have taken the position (here and in private emails) that to be a Christian review, a world view analysis and a discussion of presumed or endorsed mores of the film are required. Do you agree?

    (based on (5) of your post, I get the impression that you do.)

  • Joe

    Dr. Veith – from the stand point of a consumer of Christian movie reviews, I agree with everything you said. I have taken the position (here and in private emails) that to be a Christian review, a world view analysis and a discussion of presumed or endorsed mores of the film are required. Do you agree?

    (based on (5) of your post, I get the impression that you do.)

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

    Excellent points, Gene.

    Three movies convinced me to do a better job at personal media discernment (meaning making a conscious choice whether or not to view something, and actively critiquing those films I’ve chosen to watch): Silence of the Lambs, Fargo, and Fight Club.

    Amazingly well-made movies. Stunning. But after seeing them, I determined that they weren’t “good” for me. Since then, I’ve been a lot more cautious about what media I choose to ingest.

    There’s a lot of discussion right now about how to evaluate movies we see. I don’t see enough discussion, though, about how to evaluate whether or not to even see a movie. Some professional film critics seem especially wary of addressing that issue.

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

    Excellent points, Gene.

    Three movies convinced me to do a better job at personal media discernment (meaning making a conscious choice whether or not to view something, and actively critiquing those films I’ve chosen to watch): Silence of the Lambs, Fargo, and Fight Club.

    Amazingly well-made movies. Stunning. But after seeing them, I determined that they weren’t “good” for me. Since then, I’ve been a lot more cautious about what media I choose to ingest.

    There’s a lot of discussion right now about how to evaluate movies we see. I don’t see enough discussion, though, about how to evaluate whether or not to even see a movie. Some professional film critics seem especially wary of addressing that issue.

  • Booklover

    “There’s a lot of discussion right now about how to evaluate movies we see. I don’t see enough discussion, though, about how to evaluate whether or not to even see a movie. ”

    Agreed. There is the oft heard quote from the Bible that it’s what comes out of a man that defiles him, not what goes into him. We forget that part in the Bible in which King David watches the naked woman from afar, then invites her into his bedroom and brings her husband to his demise.

    We’re all so afraid of appearing unsophisticated that we won’t even say “no” to the latest offering at the cinema.

  • Booklover

    “There’s a lot of discussion right now about how to evaluate movies we see. I don’t see enough discussion, though, about how to evaluate whether or not to even see a movie. ”

    Agreed. There is the oft heard quote from the Bible that it’s what comes out of a man that defiles him, not what goes into him. We forget that part in the Bible in which King David watches the naked woman from afar, then invites her into his bedroom and brings her husband to his demise.

    We’re all so afraid of appearing unsophisticated that we won’t even say “no” to the latest offering at the cinema.

  • Booklover

    Something else has been bothering me all night. I am a Lutheran in my heart so I know the paradoxes of the Christian faith. I am not pietist or what have you, but here’s what has been bothering me.

    Various theologians have described the Christian life as a balance of *holiness* and *love.* When one of those ideals gets out of whack, it is a wrong representation of Christ.

    Here is what I have seen where I live. Many many people are attracted to the Mormon church because of their focus on the *holiness* aspect. They tire of Christians whose lives don’t differ from anyone else’s in the world. Granted, they are missing a few brain cells in their search for correct doctrine, but they have the right idea when they have that goal of the search for right living.

    My point is, can’t we say “no” to at least some worldly temptations so that we look different than the world? When we are the same as the world, it seems we are driving searching people away. As a famous theologian once said, “The cults are the unpaid bills of the church.”

  • Booklover

    Something else has been bothering me all night. I am a Lutheran in my heart so I know the paradoxes of the Christian faith. I am not pietist or what have you, but here’s what has been bothering me.

    Various theologians have described the Christian life as a balance of *holiness* and *love.* When one of those ideals gets out of whack, it is a wrong representation of Christ.

    Here is what I have seen where I live. Many many people are attracted to the Mormon church because of their focus on the *holiness* aspect. They tire of Christians whose lives don’t differ from anyone else’s in the world. Granted, they are missing a few brain cells in their search for correct doctrine, but they have the right idea when they have that goal of the search for right living.

    My point is, can’t we say “no” to at least some worldly temptations so that we look different than the world? When we are the same as the world, it seems we are driving searching people away. As a famous theologian once said, “The cults are the unpaid bills of the church.”

  • Raymond Coffey

    Here’s the problem with CT. They want so bad to impress and to be accepted. Read Russ Douthat’s review in the current National Review for an example of an excellent review.

  • Raymond Coffey

    Here’s the problem with CT. They want so bad to impress and to be accepted. Read Russ Douthat’s review in the current National Review for an example of an excellent review.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Thank you, Gene, for a thoughtful and concise response. (The latter always impresses me, as I clearly could learn a thing or two about brevity.)

    And speaking of brevity:
    One of the frustrations most journalists and reviewers must face: a word-count limit. I have often felt that a 1,000 word review barely gives me enough room to address the aesthetics of a film, and hinders me from writing in-depth about a film’s meaning. (Moring’s been good enough to accept some of my 1500-word examinations, but on complicated films, even THAT doesn’t seem like enough room to dig deep.) I have taken to submitting mid-length reviews to CT, then publishing expanded versions of those reviews on my own site.

    I wonder how much deeper Camerin Courtney might have gone into the issues of “Sex and the City” if she’d been able to keep writing. But, for obvious reasons, the editor needs to put a limit on the length of these reviews… otherwise, readers take a quick glance and think, “Mercy, I don’t have time to read THAT! Just tell me if it’s GOOD!”

    (And, ah, there’s a problem. Many don’t want to be encouraged to think about a movie. They’d rather it was a black-and-white issue: thumb’s up, or thumb’s down. This is why a three-star review is not necessarily an “endorsement.” Art is complicated. Something can be very well done, and yet still be packaging a lie.)

    For what it’s worth, I have it on good authority that an examination of Sex and the City is going to be posted at Image Journal (http://imagejournal.org) soon. That’ll be interesting. Few publications offer such substantial explorations of art through Christian perspectives.

    It’s tough. The world needs Christians who will bring light and insight to discussions of popular culture. Those that do venture in to play such a part are constantly pelted by accusations of being “the same as the world,” when instead many of us are trying to follow instructions: be “in, but not of, the world.” To be “salt and light,” we must “season” the culture around us. That means observation, engagement, but not compromise. It’s a messy area, and the argument about how to do so conscientiously will go on and on, I’m sure. I just hope we can learn to discuss it amongst ourselves with grace rather than accusation.

    I should also add, in closing, that in spite of all that Peter and I have posted over the last couple of days, we’re still just freelancers. Christianity Today has not posted any official response, and the editors have just gone on with their work. Criticisms like the kind CT has see this week is nothing new, and if they were to take the time to respond in-depth every time, they’d never do anything *but* respond. There’s work to be done.

    As always, I appreciate your perspective, Gene.

    Jeffrey

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Thank you, Gene, for a thoughtful and concise response. (The latter always impresses me, as I clearly could learn a thing or two about brevity.)

    And speaking of brevity:
    One of the frustrations most journalists and reviewers must face: a word-count limit. I have often felt that a 1,000 word review barely gives me enough room to address the aesthetics of a film, and hinders me from writing in-depth about a film’s meaning. (Moring’s been good enough to accept some of my 1500-word examinations, but on complicated films, even THAT doesn’t seem like enough room to dig deep.) I have taken to submitting mid-length reviews to CT, then publishing expanded versions of those reviews on my own site.

    I wonder how much deeper Camerin Courtney might have gone into the issues of “Sex and the City” if she’d been able to keep writing. But, for obvious reasons, the editor needs to put a limit on the length of these reviews… otherwise, readers take a quick glance and think, “Mercy, I don’t have time to read THAT! Just tell me if it’s GOOD!”

    (And, ah, there’s a problem. Many don’t want to be encouraged to think about a movie. They’d rather it was a black-and-white issue: thumb’s up, or thumb’s down. This is why a three-star review is not necessarily an “endorsement.” Art is complicated. Something can be very well done, and yet still be packaging a lie.)

    For what it’s worth, I have it on good authority that an examination of Sex and the City is going to be posted at Image Journal (http://imagejournal.org) soon. That’ll be interesting. Few publications offer such substantial explorations of art through Christian perspectives.

    It’s tough. The world needs Christians who will bring light and insight to discussions of popular culture. Those that do venture in to play such a part are constantly pelted by accusations of being “the same as the world,” when instead many of us are trying to follow instructions: be “in, but not of, the world.” To be “salt and light,” we must “season” the culture around us. That means observation, engagement, but not compromise. It’s a messy area, and the argument about how to do so conscientiously will go on and on, I’m sure. I just hope we can learn to discuss it amongst ourselves with grace rather than accusation.

    I should also add, in closing, that in spite of all that Peter and I have posted over the last couple of days, we’re still just freelancers. Christianity Today has not posted any official response, and the editors have just gone on with their work. Criticisms like the kind CT has see this week is nothing new, and if they were to take the time to respond in-depth every time, they’d never do anything *but* respond. There’s work to be done.

    As always, I appreciate your perspective, Gene.

    Jeffrey

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    P.S.

    We sometimes hear people say what Raymond just said too. Sigh. Yet another presumptuous accusation.

    What are we to do when people tell us that we’re doing this because we “want so badly to impress and be accepted,” when we get up in the morning looking forward to discussing art and entertainment because it’s a passion, it’s a call, it’s a mission, and it’s a pleasure?

    I feel no drive to be “accepted,” whatever that means, nor do I feel any drive to “impress.” But to explore art and entertainment for purposes of truth and beauty? You betcha.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    P.S.

    We sometimes hear people say what Raymond just said too. Sigh. Yet another presumptuous accusation.

    What are we to do when people tell us that we’re doing this because we “want so badly to impress and be accepted,” when we get up in the morning looking forward to discussing art and entertainment because it’s a passion, it’s a call, it’s a mission, and it’s a pleasure?

    I feel no drive to be “accepted,” whatever that means, nor do I feel any drive to “impress.” But to explore art and entertainment for purposes of truth and beauty? You betcha.

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

    Jeffrey, I’ve asked you before and don’t think you’ve answered:

    Is there any movie that you’ve chosen not to watch, though it’s in many ways an “aesthetically good” movie, because you felt that viewing it might have a negative effect on you?

    A corollary: Are there any movies that are aesthetically good, but which may negatively affect people, even people who are trained in how to evaluate movies?

    If you’re only able to address one of those questions, I’d prefer to hear your response to the first one.

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

    Jeffrey, I’ve asked you before and don’t think you’ve answered:

    Is there any movie that you’ve chosen not to watch, though it’s in many ways an “aesthetically good” movie, because you felt that viewing it might have a negative effect on you?

    A corollary: Are there any movies that are aesthetically good, but which may negatively affect people, even people who are trained in how to evaluate movies?

    If you’re only able to address one of those questions, I’d prefer to hear your response to the first one.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Yes, I have chosen not to watch certain films because they delve into subject matter that I find particularly disturbing.

    But that has to do with my own weaknesses and my own experiences. One of those films in particular actually contributed in the salvation of a friend of mine. So I will not judge that particular, complicated film, because it is, like so many things, a mix of good and bad, sacred and profane. While it would be a stumbling block to some, it will be an occasion for insight for others. But I won’t see it because I know it would be detrimental to my spirit.

    I won’t name names or titles, for fear that naming them would send us down another long tangent of debate.

    And I always, *always*, try to avoid propaganda and pornography. The first is not art — it is advertising, it is an act of persuasion, dressed up as art. I get too many sales-pitches thrown at me every day. I want a story, or an image. I want something true and beautiful, even if that truth and beauty, even if those truths and visions are discomforting. I don’t really want to spend 10 bucks to see something familiar, or something that I already know I agree with. I want revelation. I want to be challenged and humbled and shaken.

    And yes, there are countless movies that are aesthetically good but that may negatively affect people, even critics. I have sometimes, in my reviews, testified as to how infuriated I was by a film. “American Beauty” is a prime example. That film was very, very well made, and there is much that I appreciate about it. But I have a hard time controlling my temper when I discuss it, because there are so many devious lies woven throughout. (And yet, now that I think about it, I know several devout Christians who gained valuable insights from that film, who get teary-eyed when they discuss certain scenes that broke their hearts, and who get very annoyed by my objections. I can’t deny that they did encounter something profound… even Biblical… in the midst of that complicated film. But as for me, I need to stay away from it.)

    Personally, I’m steering clear of Sex and the City because I’ve seen enough clips on television to know that it’s a *kind* of entertainment that I find annoying. But as three of my female Christian friends have testified about why the good outweighs the bad in their experience with the show, I’m not going to condemn it outright. I’ll just keep warning people that it’s not for everyone… in fact, it’s inappropriate for *most* people… and yet show respect to those whose conscience and experience have led them to a different conclusion. Whatever the case, it certainly wasn’t the film’s occasional flashes of inappropriate imagery that they enjoyed.

    I need to move on. At this point, reading constant accusations and judgment from people who don’t even know me is becoming detrimental to my spirit. It’s exhausting to answer each occasion of this. I have work to do.

    But I’ll say again… and forgive me, but I really *don’t* mean this as a sales pitch (I’ll send you a free copy if you like)… I did take the time to write “Through a Screen Darkly” for the specific purpose of addressing questions like yours, Ted, and to share what I have learned from so many movies, so many wise Christian mentors and artists (like C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Madeleine L’Engle, Flannery O’Connor, and more).

    They’re complicated questions, and it’s almost impossible to address them sufficiently in a comment on a blog. If you’re ever curious, give it a look, and let’s continue this conversation via email. I’d welcome that. Maybe we can get out from under the shadow of our unfortunate argument and talk like brothers and friends. That’s what we’re called to be, after all.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Yes, I have chosen not to watch certain films because they delve into subject matter that I find particularly disturbing.

    But that has to do with my own weaknesses and my own experiences. One of those films in particular actually contributed in the salvation of a friend of mine. So I will not judge that particular, complicated film, because it is, like so many things, a mix of good and bad, sacred and profane. While it would be a stumbling block to some, it will be an occasion for insight for others. But I won’t see it because I know it would be detrimental to my spirit.

    I won’t name names or titles, for fear that naming them would send us down another long tangent of debate.

    And I always, *always*, try to avoid propaganda and pornography. The first is not art — it is advertising, it is an act of persuasion, dressed up as art. I get too many sales-pitches thrown at me every day. I want a story, or an image. I want something true and beautiful, even if that truth and beauty, even if those truths and visions are discomforting. I don’t really want to spend 10 bucks to see something familiar, or something that I already know I agree with. I want revelation. I want to be challenged and humbled and shaken.

    And yes, there are countless movies that are aesthetically good but that may negatively affect people, even critics. I have sometimes, in my reviews, testified as to how infuriated I was by a film. “American Beauty” is a prime example. That film was very, very well made, and there is much that I appreciate about it. But I have a hard time controlling my temper when I discuss it, because there are so many devious lies woven throughout. (And yet, now that I think about it, I know several devout Christians who gained valuable insights from that film, who get teary-eyed when they discuss certain scenes that broke their hearts, and who get very annoyed by my objections. I can’t deny that they did encounter something profound… even Biblical… in the midst of that complicated film. But as for me, I need to stay away from it.)

    Personally, I’m steering clear of Sex and the City because I’ve seen enough clips on television to know that it’s a *kind* of entertainment that I find annoying. But as three of my female Christian friends have testified about why the good outweighs the bad in their experience with the show, I’m not going to condemn it outright. I’ll just keep warning people that it’s not for everyone… in fact, it’s inappropriate for *most* people… and yet show respect to those whose conscience and experience have led them to a different conclusion. Whatever the case, it certainly wasn’t the film’s occasional flashes of inappropriate imagery that they enjoyed.

    I need to move on. At this point, reading constant accusations and judgment from people who don’t even know me is becoming detrimental to my spirit. It’s exhausting to answer each occasion of this. I have work to do.

    But I’ll say again… and forgive me, but I really *don’t* mean this as a sales pitch (I’ll send you a free copy if you like)… I did take the time to write “Through a Screen Darkly” for the specific purpose of addressing questions like yours, Ted, and to share what I have learned from so many movies, so many wise Christian mentors and artists (like C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Madeleine L’Engle, Flannery O’Connor, and more).

    They’re complicated questions, and it’s almost impossible to address them sufficiently in a comment on a blog. If you’re ever curious, give it a look, and let’s continue this conversation via email. I’d welcome that. Maybe we can get out from under the shadow of our unfortunate argument and talk like brothers and friends. That’s what we’re called to be, after all.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    “We’re all so afraid of appearing unsophisticated that we won’t even say “no” to the latest offering at the cinema.”

    That is one view. A less cynical possibility is that people are very peculiar beings, who on the one hand are made to live in the truth and yet whose attempts to do so are marred by constant failure, for reasons which they often grasp only later, if at all. “I was far away from thee in the land of unlikeness,” says Augustine, recollecting his past.

    As Augustine knew from personal experience, people misplace their desires. They think they love one thing or another, but what they really desire is God himself. Until they realize that they are never truly happy.

    But Augustine doesn’t condemn them for their struggles. Rather his concern is to point them to “that truth by which all things are true.” But does that humbly, because of his own experience with disordered love. And he also does so quite beautifully because he tells the story of that experience with extraordinary honesty.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    “We’re all so afraid of appearing unsophisticated that we won’t even say “no” to the latest offering at the cinema.”

    That is one view. A less cynical possibility is that people are very peculiar beings, who on the one hand are made to live in the truth and yet whose attempts to do so are marred by constant failure, for reasons which they often grasp only later, if at all. “I was far away from thee in the land of unlikeness,” says Augustine, recollecting his past.

    As Augustine knew from personal experience, people misplace their desires. They think they love one thing or another, but what they really desire is God himself. Until they realize that they are never truly happy.

    But Augustine doesn’t condemn them for their struggles. Rather his concern is to point them to “that truth by which all things are true.” But does that humbly, because of his own experience with disordered love. And he also does so quite beautifully because he tells the story of that experience with extraordinary honesty.

  • http://www.patrolmag.com Nathan

    It’s funny you mention American Beauty, because that was the first film that popped in my head when I read Ted’s question.

    Although there was a lot about that film that I could identify with, or buy into.

    I walked away from the movie with a nauseated taste in my mouth, and a strong desire to never turn the film on again.

    I didn’t feel like Sex in the City was one of those movies, it just wasn’t that good.

    I went into the movie having never spent any time with the t.v. show, and having paid 3$ for the ticket (a little cheaper in Costa Rica), I walked out feeling like I had moderately wasted an hour plus, and less a fan of women.

    I wouldn’t classify the movie as perversion before I’d label it “bad art”

    it’s not aesthetically pleasing, it doesn’t have a good story, the cinematography is nothing remarkable, and the worldview is obviously flawed,
    so the question can be raised, why watch it?

    There will obviously be films that should be avoided on an individual level on the basis of the negative repercussions upon the soul of the individual, but I don’t think you can make a laundry list of those movies.

    It’s an individual struggle and decision.

    Ultimately, the critic, like the average movie-goer, must establish a strong spiritual life and then let that life affect all his decision making.

    You’re going to end up seeing some bad films occasionally, some one’s that make you want to erase the last 1.5 hrs of your life and the ones that make you want to erase the art itself, but that’s part of your calling.

    The sad thing would be to walk out of that movie and not serve as a voice of reason to those around you.

    It’s an individual decision.

    oh,
    and for the record.

    If perversion is a label that needs to be used in describing recent cinematic releases, I’d sooner apply it to Prince Caspian than Sex in the City.

    It’s not hard to see why.

  • http://www.patrolmag.com Nathan

    It’s funny you mention American Beauty, because that was the first film that popped in my head when I read Ted’s question.

    Although there was a lot about that film that I could identify with, or buy into.

    I walked away from the movie with a nauseated taste in my mouth, and a strong desire to never turn the film on again.

    I didn’t feel like Sex in the City was one of those movies, it just wasn’t that good.

    I went into the movie having never spent any time with the t.v. show, and having paid 3$ for the ticket (a little cheaper in Costa Rica), I walked out feeling like I had moderately wasted an hour plus, and less a fan of women.

    I wouldn’t classify the movie as perversion before I’d label it “bad art”

    it’s not aesthetically pleasing, it doesn’t have a good story, the cinematography is nothing remarkable, and the worldview is obviously flawed,
    so the question can be raised, why watch it?

    There will obviously be films that should be avoided on an individual level on the basis of the negative repercussions upon the soul of the individual, but I don’t think you can make a laundry list of those movies.

    It’s an individual struggle and decision.

    Ultimately, the critic, like the average movie-goer, must establish a strong spiritual life and then let that life affect all his decision making.

    You’re going to end up seeing some bad films occasionally, some one’s that make you want to erase the last 1.5 hrs of your life and the ones that make you want to erase the art itself, but that’s part of your calling.

    The sad thing would be to walk out of that movie and not serve as a voice of reason to those around you.

    It’s an individual decision.

    oh,
    and for the record.

    If perversion is a label that needs to be used in describing recent cinematic releases, I’d sooner apply it to Prince Caspian than Sex in the City.

    It’s not hard to see why.

  • http://www.patrolmag.com Nathan

    p.s. Veith’s points are pretty much right on.
    p.p.s. I have walked out of one movie in my life, just fyi, I got talked into seeing Jarhead. I gave up on that one about an hour into the film.

  • http://www.patrolmag.com Nathan

    p.s. Veith’s points are pretty much right on.
    p.p.s. I have walked out of one movie in my life, just fyi, I got talked into seeing Jarhead. I gave up on that one about an hour into the film.

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

    Lost in the discussion here, I’m afraid, is what exactly is added to a film by the objectionable elements; we all too often forget that when we “turn on” the hormones, the brain turns off. Good luck with plot development there!

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

    Lost in the discussion here, I’m afraid, is what exactly is added to a film by the objectionable elements; we all too often forget that when we “turn on” the hormones, the brain turns off. Good luck with plot development there!

  • http://missionarybroadcasting.com Chris

    I’m sorry, but I am still stuck on the theory that says a good review is not an “endorsement”. If I review this blog positively on my website, people that trust me are likely to visit expecting something good. If that is not an endorsement; what exactly is? Do I have to actually say the word “endorse” in order for a positive review to be an endorsement? Sounds like politics to me!

  • http://missionarybroadcasting.com Chris

    I’m sorry, but I am still stuck on the theory that says a good review is not an “endorsement”. If I review this blog positively on my website, people that trust me are likely to visit expecting something good. If that is not an endorsement; what exactly is? Do I have to actually say the word “endorse” in order for a positive review to be an endorsement? Sounds like politics to me!

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

    Well said; exactly how is a reviewer calling a movie “good” like saying that the murderer of one’s mother was a “good shot”?

    No, when a reviewer gives a movie three stars on a scale of four, he’s saying it’s a good movie that people ought to see, and when CT’s reviewer uses the world’s criteria for establishing this (even mocking the efforts of many Christians to help young single people stay chaste), she deserves to be called on it.

    (honestly, about half the time when I glance at a movie review in World or other Christian magazines, I wonder “why did you bother?”)

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

    Well said; exactly how is a reviewer calling a movie “good” like saying that the murderer of one’s mother was a “good shot”?

    No, when a reviewer gives a movie three stars on a scale of four, he’s saying it’s a good movie that people ought to see, and when CT’s reviewer uses the world’s criteria for establishing this (even mocking the efforts of many Christians to help young single people stay chaste), she deserves to be called on it.

    (honestly, about half the time when I glance at a movie review in World or other Christian magazines, I wonder “why did you bother?”)

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    An endorsement is an either/or judgment. When, as an author, I ask someone if they will endorse a book, they can say “Yes, I will endorse the book” or “No, I won’t.” Working with my publisher, the pursuit of endorsements and the pursuit of reviews are two entirely different processes, with different mailing lists, and different subsequent steps.

    If they say, “Yes,” and offer an endorsement, they are choosing to actively promote the book. To act as a spokesperson for it. To actively persuade others to read it.

    When Barack Obama appears at the end of a campaign advertisement to say, “I approve of this message,” he’s giving his endorsement. He wholly approves of the message, and will put his stamp of approval on it.

    I don’t think anybody expects Obama to appear and offer a “review” of the commercial, because a review… even a good review… might go something like this: “I didn’t care for the way this was worded, and the actress was annoying, but generally the message was decent, and overall I found it enjoyable.”

    When I ask someone to review my book, I’m asking for something far more complicated and personal than an endorsement. I’m asking for them to weigh the pros and the cons — in public, no less. I’m asking them to share their examination, to give me their opinion, good or bad (or mixed). The reviews of my book are very different from the endorsements … even the good reviews. A reviewer who liked my book may not be ready to say, “And yes, I approve of it so wholeheartedly that I’ll take extra steps to sell your book. I’ll become a representative for it.”

    I have given 3/4 stars to a lot of movies because I was moderately impressed with them, but I took issue with certain aspects. And if they’d asked me to endorse the film… that is to say, “I will stand by this film without flinching and approve of it wholeheartedly”… no, I probably wouldn’t do that.

    That’s one of the reasons I like freelancing for CT Movies. They’re not interested in “Do you or don’t you approve?” They want something more complicated and nuanced. Art and entertainment usually deserve better than “I approve” or “I don’t approve.” (Alas, for many years, certain critics seem to think that’s all we need. But that just tells us their opinion, it doesn’t teach us anything about discernment.)

    One of the dictionary definitions of “endorsement” compares it to “writing an advertisement for.”

    A review, even a good review, should not be an advertisement, but a thorough analysis.

    Roger Ebert has complained about how lines from his reviews have been pinned to the advertisements for those movies as endorsements, because they misrepresented his review. Sometimes, he’s written a bad review, but one line was pulled out of context and attached to the ad as an endorsement. He never intended that, and he’s protested, because he never agreed to help promote the movie.

    I value reviews much more than endorsements, because I don’t want to just hear if somebody approves. I want to hear about what they liked and why, what they didn’t like and why.

    I’ve endorsed the work of artists I appreciate before. But when I did, I was doing something quite different from reviewing it. I was working to help them spread the word about their story, rather than giving a nuanced, detailed, critical analysis.

    Nobody asked Courtney to endorse Sex and the City. And I don’t believe she did. They asked her to analyze it and share her experience of the film. Some people will read it and decide to see the movie, some will read it and decide to avoid it… and that’s because it was a detailed review, with pros and cons.

    If she had turned in an *advertisement* for the movie, that would have been something very different.

    (Now, that doesn’t mean somebody won’t rip a line out of context and slap it on the advertisements. Some critics actually write their reviews hoping that will happen. They want use their reviews in hopes of becoming famous by getting their name on movie advertisements. I’m aware of one reviewer who walked out of a recent adventure movie complaining about how disappointing it was. But his review, published a couple of days later, was full of easily-quotable praise. And sure enough, that praise ended up on advertisements for the movie. In that case, you had a reviewer who was much more interested in giving an endorsement… one that would bring him more attention… than in giving a helpful, honest review.)

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    An endorsement is an either/or judgment. When, as an author, I ask someone if they will endorse a book, they can say “Yes, I will endorse the book” or “No, I won’t.” Working with my publisher, the pursuit of endorsements and the pursuit of reviews are two entirely different processes, with different mailing lists, and different subsequent steps.

    If they say, “Yes,” and offer an endorsement, they are choosing to actively promote the book. To act as a spokesperson for it. To actively persuade others to read it.

    When Barack Obama appears at the end of a campaign advertisement to say, “I approve of this message,” he’s giving his endorsement. He wholly approves of the message, and will put his stamp of approval on it.

    I don’t think anybody expects Obama to appear and offer a “review” of the commercial, because a review… even a good review… might go something like this: “I didn’t care for the way this was worded, and the actress was annoying, but generally the message was decent, and overall I found it enjoyable.”

    When I ask someone to review my book, I’m asking for something far more complicated and personal than an endorsement. I’m asking for them to weigh the pros and the cons — in public, no less. I’m asking them to share their examination, to give me their opinion, good or bad (or mixed). The reviews of my book are very different from the endorsements … even the good reviews. A reviewer who liked my book may not be ready to say, “And yes, I approve of it so wholeheartedly that I’ll take extra steps to sell your book. I’ll become a representative for it.”

    I have given 3/4 stars to a lot of movies because I was moderately impressed with them, but I took issue with certain aspects. And if they’d asked me to endorse the film… that is to say, “I will stand by this film without flinching and approve of it wholeheartedly”… no, I probably wouldn’t do that.

    That’s one of the reasons I like freelancing for CT Movies. They’re not interested in “Do you or don’t you approve?” They want something more complicated and nuanced. Art and entertainment usually deserve better than “I approve” or “I don’t approve.” (Alas, for many years, certain critics seem to think that’s all we need. But that just tells us their opinion, it doesn’t teach us anything about discernment.)

    One of the dictionary definitions of “endorsement” compares it to “writing an advertisement for.”

    A review, even a good review, should not be an advertisement, but a thorough analysis.

    Roger Ebert has complained about how lines from his reviews have been pinned to the advertisements for those movies as endorsements, because they misrepresented his review. Sometimes, he’s written a bad review, but one line was pulled out of context and attached to the ad as an endorsement. He never intended that, and he’s protested, because he never agreed to help promote the movie.

    I value reviews much more than endorsements, because I don’t want to just hear if somebody approves. I want to hear about what they liked and why, what they didn’t like and why.

    I’ve endorsed the work of artists I appreciate before. But when I did, I was doing something quite different from reviewing it. I was working to help them spread the word about their story, rather than giving a nuanced, detailed, critical analysis.

    Nobody asked Courtney to endorse Sex and the City. And I don’t believe she did. They asked her to analyze it and share her experience of the film. Some people will read it and decide to see the movie, some will read it and decide to avoid it… and that’s because it was a detailed review, with pros and cons.

    If she had turned in an *advertisement* for the movie, that would have been something very different.

    (Now, that doesn’t mean somebody won’t rip a line out of context and slap it on the advertisements. Some critics actually write their reviews hoping that will happen. They want use their reviews in hopes of becoming famous by getting their name on movie advertisements. I’m aware of one reviewer who walked out of a recent adventure movie complaining about how disappointing it was. But his review, published a couple of days later, was full of easily-quotable praise. And sure enough, that praise ended up on advertisements for the movie. In that case, you had a reviewer who was much more interested in giving an endorsement… one that would bring him more attention… than in giving a helpful, honest review.)

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    For what it’s worth, there are too many three-star movies out there. I don’t really want to waste time with three-star movies. I want to see the four-star movies.

    I gave A Beautiful Mind three stars. It was very, very well made, and very entertaining.

    But I don’t recommend the movie. I docked that fourth star because the film claims to be a true story, and yet it is full of fictions that cover up the truth about the main character.

    Three stars don’t tell me “I recommend it!” They tell me, “Eh, it was better than average. But I’m unenthusiastic.”

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    For what it’s worth, there are too many three-star movies out there. I don’t really want to waste time with three-star movies. I want to see the four-star movies.

    I gave A Beautiful Mind three stars. It was very, very well made, and very entertaining.

    But I don’t recommend the movie. I docked that fourth star because the film claims to be a true story, and yet it is full of fictions that cover up the truth about the main character.

    Three stars don’t tell me “I recommend it!” They tell me, “Eh, it was better than average. But I’m unenthusiastic.”

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    What Jeffrey said.

    Chris, in the example you give, it would depend on how you are reviewing this blog. If you say little more than “Prithee, go visit Dr. Veith’s excellent blog post-haste, for it is most diverting and features much merriment, raillery, and truthsaying,” or some such thing, although I would be quite delighted, I’d have to say that you aren’t really reviewing it. A review proper, to my mind, would involve analyzing the various constituent elements of Cranach: The Blog of Veith, and then examining how they relate to each other. From there you can then begin to make evaluations, which are equally important. But the key is to provide some sense of what the thing reviewed is all about, what it is trying to do (and what it is NOT trying to do–a common mistake is condemning a work for not being what the reviewer thinks it should be). Endorsements entail no such commitment to understanding. Also, endorsers–for instance, politicians–often have a vested interest in the success of those they endorse, which film reviewers do not (or should not, anyway–ahem, Ted Baehr).

    I would refer you to John Updike’s rules for reviewing books.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    What Jeffrey said.

    Chris, in the example you give, it would depend on how you are reviewing this blog. If you say little more than “Prithee, go visit Dr. Veith’s excellent blog post-haste, for it is most diverting and features much merriment, raillery, and truthsaying,” or some such thing, although I would be quite delighted, I’d have to say that you aren’t really reviewing it. A review proper, to my mind, would involve analyzing the various constituent elements of Cranach: The Blog of Veith, and then examining how they relate to each other. From there you can then begin to make evaluations, which are equally important. But the key is to provide some sense of what the thing reviewed is all about, what it is trying to do (and what it is NOT trying to do–a common mistake is condemning a work for not being what the reviewer thinks it should be). Endorsements entail no such commitment to understanding. Also, endorsers–for instance, politicians–often have a vested interest in the success of those they endorse, which film reviewers do not (or should not, anyway–ahem, Ted Baehr).

    I would refer you to John Updike’s rules for reviewing books.

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

    I just saw “Fireproof” last night, the second time in two months. It’s the latest film produced by Sherwood Baptist Church (who also made “Facing the Giants,” a faith-inspiring film that CT thought was terrible). It’s going to be in theaters on Sept. 26, 2008.

    I suspect that CT movie reviewers, and others who look primarily at the aesthetics of a movie rather than its morality, will also pan this movie.

    What I found notable was that the movie effectively explored issues of pornography and adultery without actually *showing* it. That reminds me that movies can help us wrestle with significant issues without having to pollute our minds and hearts in the process.

    I, for one, strongly and unapologetically encourage you see this movie. It won’t win any awards for cinematography or soundtrack or acting, but it will improve lives in ways that movies like SATC doesn’t.

    In the end, which movie is the better one? The “randy” one that discusses single womanhood in a way your church doesn’t? Or the one produced by a church in Georgia that provokes men toward godliness and marital purity?

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

    I just saw “Fireproof” last night, the second time in two months. It’s the latest film produced by Sherwood Baptist Church (who also made “Facing the Giants,” a faith-inspiring film that CT thought was terrible). It’s going to be in theaters on Sept. 26, 2008.

    I suspect that CT movie reviewers, and others who look primarily at the aesthetics of a movie rather than its morality, will also pan this movie.

    What I found notable was that the movie effectively explored issues of pornography and adultery without actually *showing* it. That reminds me that movies can help us wrestle with significant issues without having to pollute our minds and hearts in the process.

    I, for one, strongly and unapologetically encourage you see this movie. It won’t win any awards for cinematography or soundtrack or acting, but it will improve lives in ways that movies like SATC doesn’t.

    In the end, which movie is the better one? The “randy” one that discusses single womanhood in a way your church doesn’t? Or the one produced by a church in Georgia that provokes men toward godliness and marital purity?

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    “CT movie reviewers, and others who look primarily at the aesthetics of a movie rather than its morality”

    Ted, as someone who follows the work of Jeffrey Overstreet, Peter Chattaway and others in CT as well as other places, I think I’d have to (humbly) disagree with this characterization.

    “the one produced by a church in Georgia”

    To me, details like this are not really all that important when I decide what works of culture to support. If you find truth in Georgia, great. But if there is gold in Egypt, I say take it with you even as you make your way to the promised land (this is how Augustine defended the study of pagan philosophers).

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    “CT movie reviewers, and others who look primarily at the aesthetics of a movie rather than its morality”

    Ted, as someone who follows the work of Jeffrey Overstreet, Peter Chattaway and others in CT as well as other places, I think I’d have to (humbly) disagree with this characterization.

    “the one produced by a church in Georgia”

    To me, details like this are not really all that important when I decide what works of culture to support. If you find truth in Georgia, great. But if there is gold in Egypt, I say take it with you even as you make your way to the promised land (this is how Augustine defended the study of pagan philosophers).

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

    Tickletext — from what I’ve seen, CT’s reviews emphasize aesthetics over morality. That’s just what they do. When a review summarizes a movie as “good” which contains a lot of nudity, it’s clear the reviewer is focusing on aesthetics, or something other than morality.

    (Keep in mind that I work for Focus on the Family, an organization that is aware of how pornography negatively affects marriages.)

    FWIW, I prefer PluggedInOnline.org’s reviews, which balance the two, perhaps erring on the side of considering a movie’s morality.

    I mention that “Fireproof” was produced by a church in Georgia because for me, the backstory does matter. I live in the real world. When I go to the theater, I bring myself with me. If I know how a film came to be, for me it’s more meaningful. When I know that a movie was produced by unsophisticated church members, I extend more grace (toward the acting, the music, the color correction, etc.) while watching, and am able to better engage with the story. And Fireproof is a powerful, life-changing story.

    Again, I’m not ashamed to say that I’m enthusiastic about this film. I look forward to seeing how it’s reviewed in various Christian publications. That will be very telling.

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

    Tickletext — from what I’ve seen, CT’s reviews emphasize aesthetics over morality. That’s just what they do. When a review summarizes a movie as “good” which contains a lot of nudity, it’s clear the reviewer is focusing on aesthetics, or something other than morality.

    (Keep in mind that I work for Focus on the Family, an organization that is aware of how pornography negatively affects marriages.)

    FWIW, I prefer PluggedInOnline.org’s reviews, which balance the two, perhaps erring on the side of considering a movie’s morality.

    I mention that “Fireproof” was produced by a church in Georgia because for me, the backstory does matter. I live in the real world. When I go to the theater, I bring myself with me. If I know how a film came to be, for me it’s more meaningful. When I know that a movie was produced by unsophisticated church members, I extend more grace (toward the acting, the music, the color correction, etc.) while watching, and am able to better engage with the story. And Fireproof is a powerful, life-changing story.

    Again, I’m not ashamed to say that I’m enthusiastic about this film. I look forward to seeing how it’s reviewed in various Christian publications. That will be very telling.

  • Martin Stillion

    I’ve yet to see a CT review that doesn’t pay attention to a film’s morality. What Ted is asking for — as he all but admits in his most recent comment — are film reviews where morality trumps every other consideration that can be applied. As Ted notes, plenty of publications already publish such reviews … usually with disappointing results. Perhaps this is because such reviews are out of line with the nature of film itself. Film is an essentially artistic exercise with a moral component (i.e., every film, of necessity, has a point of view and thus a moral dimension, but that dimension usually isn’t the film’s primary raison d’etre). So reviews that are written as an essentially moral exercise, to the neglect or diminution of artistic considerations, will almost always miss much of what the film is about.

    If one wants to know the difference between a review and an endorsement, just read what Ted says about “Fireproof.” That, kids, is an endorsement. Not a review.

    As to whether provoking men toward godliness and marital purity is what makes a film “good,” why not compare “Fireproof” to, say, Murnau’s “Sunrise” — a pro-fidelity film that also happens to be a towering artistic achievement? Is it heresy to suggest that a given film might do an even better job of provoking men toward godliness and moral purity if its aesthetic ineptitude didn’t distract those men from its message?

  • Martin Stillion

    I’ve yet to see a CT review that doesn’t pay attention to a film’s morality. What Ted is asking for — as he all but admits in his most recent comment — are film reviews where morality trumps every other consideration that can be applied. As Ted notes, plenty of publications already publish such reviews … usually with disappointing results. Perhaps this is because such reviews are out of line with the nature of film itself. Film is an essentially artistic exercise with a moral component (i.e., every film, of necessity, has a point of view and thus a moral dimension, but that dimension usually isn’t the film’s primary raison d’etre). So reviews that are written as an essentially moral exercise, to the neglect or diminution of artistic considerations, will almost always miss much of what the film is about.

    If one wants to know the difference between a review and an endorsement, just read what Ted says about “Fireproof.” That, kids, is an endorsement. Not a review.

    As to whether provoking men toward godliness and marital purity is what makes a film “good,” why not compare “Fireproof” to, say, Murnau’s “Sunrise” — a pro-fidelity film that also happens to be a towering artistic achievement? Is it heresy to suggest that a given film might do an even better job of provoking men toward godliness and moral purity if its aesthetic ineptitude didn’t distract those men from its message?

  • Martin Stillion

    P.S. Ted wrote: “When a review summarizes a movie as good’ which contains a lot of nudity, it’s clear the reviewer is focusing on aesthetics, or something other than morality.”

    To which review of which film does he allude? Camerin Courtney’s CT review of “SATC” doesn’t summarize the movie as “good.” The word “good” appears exactly once in her remarks, in the phrase “For years, good churchgoing friends of mine secretly raved about Sex and the City.”

  • Martin Stillion

    P.S. Ted wrote: “When a review summarizes a movie as good’ which contains a lot of nudity, it’s clear the reviewer is focusing on aesthetics, or something other than morality.”

    To which review of which film does he allude? Camerin Courtney’s CT review of “SATC” doesn’t summarize the movie as “good.” The word “good” appears exactly once in her remarks, in the phrase “For years, good churchgoing friends of mine secretly raved about Sex and the City.”

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    Exactly, Martin.

    There is a place for moral criticism. But the danger to which Americans (and American Christians) are generally prone is to fall into a view of art which is Utilitarian and Gnostic. When we reduce art to its utilitarian function, its “message,” at the expense of its formal qualities, we come too close to the Gnostic lie that flesh is evil. In other words we effectively deny the Incarnation, whether or not we mean to.

    Additionally, being trained to recognize aesthetic excellence actually enhances our ability to evaluate a work’s moral point-of-view. For instance, a really well-made lie is far more morally dangerous than a poorly-made one. As an example I consider “Dead Poets Society” a very well-constructed lie. From what I’ve read, Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” books may fall into that category as well. Similarly, two films may both have the same “message,” but a really well-made truth is far more spiritually potent than a poorly-made one.

    Being able to see the ways in which films like “Dead Poets Society” are well-made allows us to more fully discern what makes them so spiritually disconcerting. And once we can do that, we can then begin to discuss how that which is well-made can be true in spite of the ostensible falsity of its message, and how that which is ill-made can be false in spite of the apparent truth of its message. Truth and falsehood are irreducible to message. All of creation is either true to Christ or false to Christ.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    Exactly, Martin.

    There is a place for moral criticism. But the danger to which Americans (and American Christians) are generally prone is to fall into a view of art which is Utilitarian and Gnostic. When we reduce art to its utilitarian function, its “message,” at the expense of its formal qualities, we come too close to the Gnostic lie that flesh is evil. In other words we effectively deny the Incarnation, whether or not we mean to.

    Additionally, being trained to recognize aesthetic excellence actually enhances our ability to evaluate a work’s moral point-of-view. For instance, a really well-made lie is far more morally dangerous than a poorly-made one. As an example I consider “Dead Poets Society” a very well-constructed lie. From what I’ve read, Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” books may fall into that category as well. Similarly, two films may both have the same “message,” but a really well-made truth is far more spiritually potent than a poorly-made one.

    Being able to see the ways in which films like “Dead Poets Society” are well-made allows us to more fully discern what makes them so spiritually disconcerting. And once we can do that, we can then begin to discuss how that which is well-made can be true in spite of the ostensible falsity of its message, and how that which is ill-made can be false in spite of the apparent truth of its message. Truth and falsehood are irreducible to message. All of creation is either true to Christ or false to Christ.

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

    Martin Stillion — I think you do understand me. You wrote, “What Ted is asking for — as he all but admits in his most recent comment — are film reviews where morality trumps every other consideration that can be applied.” Yes, this is what I believe.

    And, yes, I provided an “endorsement” for this movie, “Fireproof.” Not sure why you included the word “kids” in your characterization of my endorsement. Seems a bit condescending.

    Movies don’t descend out of heaven. They don’t appear from thin air, but out of the minds of men and women who have an agenda. I evaluate movies in light of the motivations of the scriptwriters, the directors, the producers, and so on. I can’t divorce a movie from where it came from.

    Martin, you ask in comment #26 where the term “good” came from. It came from CT’s defense of Camerin’s review, where the author wrote, “It’s good to see what the world looks like through the eyes of even the depraved.” In the context of his defense, he’s saying that it’s “good” to watch SATC.

    Tickletext (comment #27) — I don’t understand how those who are primarily concerned about a movie’s moral aspects are somehow viewing movies in a “Gnostic” way. And to suggest that those who are primarily concerned about a movie’s morality are denying the incarnation — I don’t understand that at all.

    You wrote, “Additionally, being trained to recognize aesthetic excellence actually enhances our ability to evaluate a work’s moral point-of-view.” I agree with that. My wife’s master’s degree is in cinema/TV; she has been trained to recognize aesthetic excellence. One of mine is in communication theory, and so I also am able to recognize and appreciate aesthetic excellence. We’re both also Christians, and so we think primarily about the morality of a movie over its aesthetics. I’m a Christian first, and a movie critic second.

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

    Martin Stillion — I think you do understand me. You wrote, “What Ted is asking for — as he all but admits in his most recent comment — are film reviews where morality trumps every other consideration that can be applied.” Yes, this is what I believe.

    And, yes, I provided an “endorsement” for this movie, “Fireproof.” Not sure why you included the word “kids” in your characterization of my endorsement. Seems a bit condescending.

    Movies don’t descend out of heaven. They don’t appear from thin air, but out of the minds of men and women who have an agenda. I evaluate movies in light of the motivations of the scriptwriters, the directors, the producers, and so on. I can’t divorce a movie from where it came from.

    Martin, you ask in comment #26 where the term “good” came from. It came from CT’s defense of Camerin’s review, where the author wrote, “It’s good to see what the world looks like through the eyes of even the depraved.” In the context of his defense, he’s saying that it’s “good” to watch SATC.

    Tickletext (comment #27) — I don’t understand how those who are primarily concerned about a movie’s moral aspects are somehow viewing movies in a “Gnostic” way. And to suggest that those who are primarily concerned about a movie’s morality are denying the incarnation — I don’t understand that at all.

    You wrote, “Additionally, being trained to recognize aesthetic excellence actually enhances our ability to evaluate a work’s moral point-of-view.” I agree with that. My wife’s master’s degree is in cinema/TV; she has been trained to recognize aesthetic excellence. One of mine is in communication theory, and so I also am able to recognize and appreciate aesthetic excellence. We’re both also Christians, and so we think primarily about the morality of a movie over its aesthetics. I’m a Christian first, and a movie critic second.

  • http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/ Rebecca LuElla Miller

    Booklover, you said: “Various theologians have described the Christian life as a balance of *holiness* and *love.* When one of those ideals gets out of whack, it is a wrong representation of Christ.”

    I think you’ve raised an important point here, as critical as the “truth and beauty” aspects of the discussion.

    To be honest, I’ve never heard this idea presented like this before. Of course Christ, who has infinite love and infinite holiness, holds those traits in perfect balance.

    But it seems odd to me to think of my trying to balance them in my life. It puts in mind the image of reining in love a little so it doesn’t get ahead of my holiness.

    In fact, (and I’ll change the metaphor here) I think I should be opening up the faucets of both love and holiness, and allow the Holy Spirit to produce the balance.

    So you asked: “My point is, can’t we say “no” to at least some worldly temptations so that we look different than the world?”

    I’d say, absolutely we should say “no” to ALL the worldly temptations, but it’s important to look to Jesus as our example. He was without sin, but He touched lepers before He healed them, purposefully “broke” the Sabbath by ignoring pharisaical traditions to heal the needy, and ate meals in the company of “sinners.”

    All of which made Him look very different from the Pharisees, even as He spoke with authority against looking with lust at a woman or holding hatred in the heart.

    In other words, holiness is much more than what we do or don’t do on the outside, and love may mean we have to get our hands dirty while others insult us for it.

    Becky

  • http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/ Rebecca LuElla Miller

    Booklover, you said: “Various theologians have described the Christian life as a balance of *holiness* and *love.* When one of those ideals gets out of whack, it is a wrong representation of Christ.”

    I think you’ve raised an important point here, as critical as the “truth and beauty” aspects of the discussion.

    To be honest, I’ve never heard this idea presented like this before. Of course Christ, who has infinite love and infinite holiness, holds those traits in perfect balance.

    But it seems odd to me to think of my trying to balance them in my life. It puts in mind the image of reining in love a little so it doesn’t get ahead of my holiness.

    In fact, (and I’ll change the metaphor here) I think I should be opening up the faucets of both love and holiness, and allow the Holy Spirit to produce the balance.

    So you asked: “My point is, can’t we say “no” to at least some worldly temptations so that we look different than the world?”

    I’d say, absolutely we should say “no” to ALL the worldly temptations, but it’s important to look to Jesus as our example. He was without sin, but He touched lepers before He healed them, purposefully “broke” the Sabbath by ignoring pharisaical traditions to heal the needy, and ate meals in the company of “sinners.”

    All of which made Him look very different from the Pharisees, even as He spoke with authority against looking with lust at a woman or holding hatred in the heart.

    In other words, holiness is much more than what we do or don’t do on the outside, and love may mean we have to get our hands dirty while others insult us for it.

    Becky

  • Martin Stillion

    Ah. So someone with a master’s degree in communication theory ought to be able to see that he is committing verbal sleight-of-hand here. He writes:

    “When a review summarizes a movie as ‘good’ which contains a lot of nudity…”

    Asked what he means by this, he comes back with:

    “…the term ‘good’ … came from CT’s defense of Camerin’s review, where the author wrote, ‘It’s good to see what the world looks like through the eyes of even the depraved.’ In the context of his defense, he’s saying that it’s ‘good’ to watch SATC.”

    Ted here executes a triple switch that would make Bobby Cox stand up and applaud. First he moves the word “good” from an explicit general statement about observing the work of non-Christian artists into an inferred specific statement about watching SATC. We can probably allow this first substitution as a reasonable inference.

    Second, though, he implies that “it’s good to watch SATC” is tantamount to “SATC is good.” And, as the Mad Hatter told Alice, it’s “not the same thing at all! … Why, you might as well say that I see what I eat is the same thing as I eat what I see!” It might be “good” for me to visit Dachau, but that certainly doesn’t mean there’s anything good about what happened there.

    Third, Ted moves his erroneously inferred statement from a DEFENSE OF THE REVIEW into THE REVIEW ITSELF, and hopes no one will notice.

    Then he has the temerity to chide me for being condescending.

  • Martin Stillion

    Ah. So someone with a master’s degree in communication theory ought to be able to see that he is committing verbal sleight-of-hand here. He writes:

    “When a review summarizes a movie as ‘good’ which contains a lot of nudity…”

    Asked what he means by this, he comes back with:

    “…the term ‘good’ … came from CT’s defense of Camerin’s review, where the author wrote, ‘It’s good to see what the world looks like through the eyes of even the depraved.’ In the context of his defense, he’s saying that it’s ‘good’ to watch SATC.”

    Ted here executes a triple switch that would make Bobby Cox stand up and applaud. First he moves the word “good” from an explicit general statement about observing the work of non-Christian artists into an inferred specific statement about watching SATC. We can probably allow this first substitution as a reasonable inference.

    Second, though, he implies that “it’s good to watch SATC” is tantamount to “SATC is good.” And, as the Mad Hatter told Alice, it’s “not the same thing at all! … Why, you might as well say that I see what I eat is the same thing as I eat what I see!” It might be “good” for me to visit Dachau, but that certainly doesn’t mean there’s anything good about what happened there.

    Third, Ted moves his erroneously inferred statement from a DEFENSE OF THE REVIEW into THE REVIEW ITSELF, and hopes no one will notice.

    Then he has the temerity to chide me for being condescending.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    Ted, what I mean is this. All art is made. No matter what kind of art it is, all art is crafted from some set of materials. Which is to say that any work of art takes on a life of its own, conferred upon it by its maker yet somehow distinct from its maker. Regardless of how we choose to make art, when we do we are like God, who made us in his image yet gave us life of our own.

    But some people deny this. The Romantics, for instance, tended to believe that a work of art is not good in itself but valuable only as an expression of the artist’s personality. You can see this view in practice all the time in the art world today, where countless works which are of themselves quite insipid are supposed to have meaning because of some political message which is appended to them. This is a return to gnosticism because it denies the goodness of creation. It is also a denial of the incarnation because Jesus came in the flesh.

    To think that ethics is separable from aesthetics is dualistic, and hence is not biblical. It is impossible to be ethical without a body. Aesthetics and ethics need each other dearly.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    Ted, what I mean is this. All art is made. No matter what kind of art it is, all art is crafted from some set of materials. Which is to say that any work of art takes on a life of its own, conferred upon it by its maker yet somehow distinct from its maker. Regardless of how we choose to make art, when we do we are like God, who made us in his image yet gave us life of our own.

    But some people deny this. The Romantics, for instance, tended to believe that a work of art is not good in itself but valuable only as an expression of the artist’s personality. You can see this view in practice all the time in the art world today, where countless works which are of themselves quite insipid are supposed to have meaning because of some political message which is appended to them. This is a return to gnosticism because it denies the goodness of creation. It is also a denial of the incarnation because Jesus came in the flesh.

    To think that ethics is separable from aesthetics is dualistic, and hence is not biblical. It is impossible to be ethical without a body. Aesthetics and ethics need each other dearly.

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

    Martin, I did misspeak. I was wrong.

    I had written, “When a review summarizes a movie as ‘good’ which contains a lot of nudity….”

    You’re right that that is incorrect.

    It would be more accurate to say either of the following:

    “When a review summarizes a movie as ‘enjoyable’ which contains a lot of nudity …” or “When a review considers viewing a movie as ‘good’ which contains a lot of nudity….”

    Both of those statements are accurate. My previous one wasn’t.

    Tickletext — “All this” was created good. That is true. But “all this” is no longer good, but has been “subjected to futility” (Romans 8:20), and is run through with defect. Sin has corrupted everything. No art, therefore, is “good in itself.” Indeed, I, Ted Slater, am not “good in myself.” I am only of some worth because I’ve got the Creator’s fingerprints on me; I’m of significant worth because I’ve been redeemed and adopted by the Lord.

    Jesus came in the flesh, that is true. He is the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) and “in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19). The only begotten Son of God, unlike all of creation, was and is flawless. Of course I don’t deny the incarnation.

    I still maintain that it is valuable to know where something comes from: a film, a painting, a person. Knowing the context of its coming into being indeed “enhances our ability to evaluate a work’s moral point-of-view,” to quote something said earlier on this thread.

    For example, I just saw the 1937 film “Lost Horizon,” directed by Frank Capra. Knowing some of the context for its coming into being enhances my appreciation of it. Similarly, knowing that I’m an adopted child of the Lord enhances your understanding of these words I’m typing. And similarly, knowing how “Fireproof” came about, how the Lord gave them the concept during an extended time of prayer, how the team that put it together are from a normal church in Georgia, how they had folks praying during the entire filming process, how this film is better than their previous one, “Facing the Giants,” and so much better than their first one … all that information enhances my appreciation of the film-watching experience.

    FWIW, these guys are the first to say that this is not a “Hollywood” movie. It’s a “church in Athens, Georgia” movie.

    Fascinating discussion. I feel like I should take a film course. Does Gene Veith teach online courses? ;-)

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

    Martin, I did misspeak. I was wrong.

    I had written, “When a review summarizes a movie as ‘good’ which contains a lot of nudity….”

    You’re right that that is incorrect.

    It would be more accurate to say either of the following:

    “When a review summarizes a movie as ‘enjoyable’ which contains a lot of nudity …” or “When a review considers viewing a movie as ‘good’ which contains a lot of nudity….”

    Both of those statements are accurate. My previous one wasn’t.

    Tickletext — “All this” was created good. That is true. But “all this” is no longer good, but has been “subjected to futility” (Romans 8:20), and is run through with defect. Sin has corrupted everything. No art, therefore, is “good in itself.” Indeed, I, Ted Slater, am not “good in myself.” I am only of some worth because I’ve got the Creator’s fingerprints on me; I’m of significant worth because I’ve been redeemed and adopted by the Lord.

    Jesus came in the flesh, that is true. He is the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) and “in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19). The only begotten Son of God, unlike all of creation, was and is flawless. Of course I don’t deny the incarnation.

    I still maintain that it is valuable to know where something comes from: a film, a painting, a person. Knowing the context of its coming into being indeed “enhances our ability to evaluate a work’s moral point-of-view,” to quote something said earlier on this thread.

    For example, I just saw the 1937 film “Lost Horizon,” directed by Frank Capra. Knowing some of the context for its coming into being enhances my appreciation of it. Similarly, knowing that I’m an adopted child of the Lord enhances your understanding of these words I’m typing. And similarly, knowing how “Fireproof” came about, how the Lord gave them the concept during an extended time of prayer, how the team that put it together are from a normal church in Georgia, how they had folks praying during the entire filming process, how this film is better than their previous one, “Facing the Giants,” and so much better than their first one … all that information enhances my appreciation of the film-watching experience.

    FWIW, these guys are the first to say that this is not a “Hollywood” movie. It’s a “church in Athens, Georgia” movie.

    Fascinating discussion. I feel like I should take a film course. Does Gene Veith teach online courses? ;-)

  • Martin Stillion

    Thanks for the apology, Ted.

    But.

    Your first example still fudges what the review said. Cameron does not summarize the movie as “enjoyable”; she doesn’t even use the adjective “enjoyable.” By juxtaposing the term “enjoyable” with the term “nudity,” you’re making it sound as if Cameron said that the entire film was enjoyable, nudity and all. What she actually said was “I certainly enjoyed this meaningful reunion with its beloved characters and their winning friendships.” The enjoyable part, for her, was the relationships. Not the relations. About the nudity, she said, “[T]here were too many times when it seemed that the producers were simply trying to shock.” That doesn’t sound to me as if she enjoyed it.

    And your second example is really no better than the initial misstatement, which you’ve already said was wrong. Now you’re saying, “When a review considers viewing a movie as ‘good’ which contains a lot of nudity….” But as I’ve taken pains to point out, you’re misattributing that remark. It does not come from the review. You’ve taken your triple switch down to a double switch, but you’re still committing verbal legerdemain.

    Which begins to beg the question: Why does someone with a master’s degree in communication theory persist in miscommunicating? (Not to mention the further question: Why, oh why, do people drag their sheepskins out when they sense that an argument isn’t going their way?) Surely somewhere during your graduate studies, you MUST have learned that it’s necessary to quote people correctly. I have only a meek little B.A. in journalism, but I can assure you I had the importance of accurate quotation drummed into my head.

    So I can’t imagine why you cannot confine yourself to what Cameron actually said. You’ve already been called out numerous times for misrepresenting her review, and yet you persist in doing it. No matter how strong your passion for combating the evil that you see in this film, you must not fall into the sin of bearing false witness against your sister in Christ. The way I see it, you stand in need of as much repentance as anyone at CT does. Maybe more.

  • Martin Stillion

    Thanks for the apology, Ted.

    But.

    Your first example still fudges what the review said. Cameron does not summarize the movie as “enjoyable”; she doesn’t even use the adjective “enjoyable.” By juxtaposing the term “enjoyable” with the term “nudity,” you’re making it sound as if Cameron said that the entire film was enjoyable, nudity and all. What she actually said was “I certainly enjoyed this meaningful reunion with its beloved characters and their winning friendships.” The enjoyable part, for her, was the relationships. Not the relations. About the nudity, she said, “[T]here were too many times when it seemed that the producers were simply trying to shock.” That doesn’t sound to me as if she enjoyed it.

    And your second example is really no better than the initial misstatement, which you’ve already said was wrong. Now you’re saying, “When a review considers viewing a movie as ‘good’ which contains a lot of nudity….” But as I’ve taken pains to point out, you’re misattributing that remark. It does not come from the review. You’ve taken your triple switch down to a double switch, but you’re still committing verbal legerdemain.

    Which begins to beg the question: Why does someone with a master’s degree in communication theory persist in miscommunicating? (Not to mention the further question: Why, oh why, do people drag their sheepskins out when they sense that an argument isn’t going their way?) Surely somewhere during your graduate studies, you MUST have learned that it’s necessary to quote people correctly. I have only a meek little B.A. in journalism, but I can assure you I had the importance of accurate quotation drummed into my head.

    So I can’t imagine why you cannot confine yourself to what Cameron actually said. You’ve already been called out numerous times for misrepresenting her review, and yet you persist in doing it. No matter how strong your passion for combating the evil that you see in this film, you must not fall into the sin of bearing false witness against your sister in Christ. The way I see it, you stand in need of as much repentance as anyone at CT does. Maybe more.

  • Martin Stillion

    And before Ted or anyone else jumps down my throat, yes, I did misspell Camerin’s name in my previous comment. I regret the error.

  • Martin Stillion

    And before Ted or anyone else jumps down my throat, yes, I did misspell Camerin’s name in my previous comment. I regret the error.

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

    Martin — I stand by what I wrote. Throughout Camerin’s review she points out how the movie resonates with her. The final sentence, the summarizing sentence, speaks of the her enjoyment. You’re free to interpret that as you wish. I interpret that simply to mean that she “enjoyed” it. It’s her final sentence, for goodness sake.

    You tell me: Did Camerin “enjoy” this movie, or not? Occam’s razor would say that she did.

    Another question: Can a movie with “lots of nudity” be morally good?

    Martin, your deconstruction is exhausting.

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

    Martin — I stand by what I wrote. Throughout Camerin’s review she points out how the movie resonates with her. The final sentence, the summarizing sentence, speaks of the her enjoyment. You’re free to interpret that as you wish. I interpret that simply to mean that she “enjoyed” it. It’s her final sentence, for goodness sake.

    You tell me: Did Camerin “enjoy” this movie, or not? Occam’s razor would say that she did.

    Another question: Can a movie with “lots of nudity” be morally good?

    Martin, your deconstruction is exhausting.

  • Martin Stillion

    “Schindler’s List” has lots of nudity, and its main character is a sinful and corrupt man, in the midst of a depraved society, who nonetheless makes some good choices, even if they are sometimes for the wrong reasons. Only at the end of the film does he realize how much good he has actually done and how he might have done even more. Yes, I thought that film was morally good.

    Camerin’s review devotes an entire paragraph to her discomfort with the amount of sex and nudity in SATC, for goodness’ sake. Her final sentence, for goodness’ sake, begins with the phrase “In the end, I didn’t quite heart SATC,” which offers some qualification, for goodness’ sake, to her statement that she enjoyed the characters’ relationships.

    If my deconstruction is exhausting, it’s only because your misrepresentations are exhaustive. If you insist on standing by what you have written, we can only conclude that you are a liar. You, sir, are determined to break the ninth commandment by bearing false witness against Camerin and CT.

    Repent.

  • Martin Stillion

    “Schindler’s List” has lots of nudity, and its main character is a sinful and corrupt man, in the midst of a depraved society, who nonetheless makes some good choices, even if they are sometimes for the wrong reasons. Only at the end of the film does he realize how much good he has actually done and how he might have done even more. Yes, I thought that film was morally good.

    Camerin’s review devotes an entire paragraph to her discomfort with the amount of sex and nudity in SATC, for goodness’ sake. Her final sentence, for goodness’ sake, begins with the phrase “In the end, I didn’t quite heart SATC,” which offers some qualification, for goodness’ sake, to her statement that she enjoyed the characters’ relationships.

    If my deconstruction is exhausting, it’s only because your misrepresentations are exhaustive. If you insist on standing by what you have written, we can only conclude that you are a liar. You, sir, are determined to break the ninth commandment by bearing false witness against Camerin and CT.

    Repent.

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

    Gene, if you’ve got a bit of time, I wouldn’t mind a bit of help resolving this conflict that Martin and I are having.

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

    Gene, if you’ve got a bit of time, I wouldn’t mind a bit of help resolving this conflict that Martin and I are having.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    Ted, you are quite right to bring up original sin. Indeed, because of sin our vision is obscured. We see as through a glass darkly. And yet nonetheless we do see. And so I think it is possible to affirm the goodness of creation while still accepting original sin. But that would be a very complicated thing to try to properly address here.

    “Knowing some of the context for its coming into being enhances my appreciation of it. Similarly, knowing that I’m an adopted child of the Lord enhances your understanding of these words I’m typing.”

    In one sense this is true but in another it isn’t. Knowing that you are a Christian helps me contextualize your words. But of course that doesn’t mitigate my duty to attend to the words themselves.

    Actually, I would go further than you and say that oftentimes it is nigh impossible for us not to take externalities into consideration when judging a work, especially if we already have strong opinions/feelings about those externalities. But it is a double-edged sword. Knowing where a work came from can blind us against the merits/demerits of the work itself.

    Finally I wish to make it clear that I don’t mean to accuse you of “denying the Incarnation,” etc.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    Ted, you are quite right to bring up original sin. Indeed, because of sin our vision is obscured. We see as through a glass darkly. And yet nonetheless we do see. And so I think it is possible to affirm the goodness of creation while still accepting original sin. But that would be a very complicated thing to try to properly address here.

    “Knowing some of the context for its coming into being enhances my appreciation of it. Similarly, knowing that I’m an adopted child of the Lord enhances your understanding of these words I’m typing.”

    In one sense this is true but in another it isn’t. Knowing that you are a Christian helps me contextualize your words. But of course that doesn’t mitigate my duty to attend to the words themselves.

    Actually, I would go further than you and say that oftentimes it is nigh impossible for us not to take externalities into consideration when judging a work, especially if we already have strong opinions/feelings about those externalities. But it is a double-edged sword. Knowing where a work came from can blind us against the merits/demerits of the work itself.

    Finally I wish to make it clear that I don’t mean to accuse you of “denying the Incarnation,” etc.

  • Don S

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this discussion in these two threads over the past few days. Ted and Jeffrey have had a very intelligent and enlightening debate and the comments of others such as Tickletext have been illuminating as well.

    Martin, while I appreciate the input you have brought to the thread recently, your last couple of posts, accusing a fellow believer of sinning against his sister in Christ, should be addressed and resolved off-line, by private email, rather than in a public forum.

  • Don S

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this discussion in these two threads over the past few days. Ted and Jeffrey have had a very intelligent and enlightening debate and the comments of others such as Tickletext have been illuminating as well.

    Martin, while I appreciate the input you have brought to the thread recently, your last couple of posts, accusing a fellow believer of sinning against his sister in Christ, should be addressed and resolved off-line, by private email, rather than in a public forum.

  • Martin Stillion

    Ted used a public forum, namely his own blog, to publicly accuse Camerin of reveling in pornography, and deserves to be publicly held to account for his public transgression.

  • Martin Stillion

    Ted used a public forum, namely his own blog, to publicly accuse Camerin of reveling in pornography, and deserves to be publicly held to account for his public transgression.

  • Martin Stillion

    P.S. Don, can you guess who said the following?

    “[T]here are times when one should approach someone privately about their sins. I’ve done that very thing in some cases. And then there are other occasions, modeled in Scripture, when it is appropriate to publicly call for someone to change their stance (aka, ‘repent’).”

  • Martin Stillion

    P.S. Don, can you guess who said the following?

    “[T]here are times when one should approach someone privately about their sins. I’ve done that very thing in some cases. And then there are other occasions, modeled in Scripture, when it is appropriate to publicly call for someone to change their stance (aka, ‘repent’).”

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    In answer to Ted’s request that I weigh in, I don’t really have time right now, but I’ll continue to address “criticism” in the future. I am going to teach a film class this fall at Patrick Henry College, though not online, and I’ll try to report on what we are learning as it unfolds. So stay tuned to this blog.

    Ted started with a call for someone to repent, now Martin, in opposing Ted, does the same thing. That’s good advice for everyone! I have often thought that while most arguments are about each person insisting that he or she is right, a distinctly Christian argument should involve each person confessing that he is wrong. Let’s just all repent and move on.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    In answer to Ted’s request that I weigh in, I don’t really have time right now, but I’ll continue to address “criticism” in the future. I am going to teach a film class this fall at Patrick Henry College, though not online, and I’ll try to report on what we are learning as it unfolds. So stay tuned to this blog.

    Ted started with a call for someone to repent, now Martin, in opposing Ted, does the same thing. That’s good advice for everyone! I have often thought that while most arguments are about each person insisting that he or she is right, a distinctly Christian argument should involve each person confessing that he is wrong. Let’s just all repent and move on.

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    Someone should start RepentAndMoveOn.org…

  • http://viz.tumblr.com Tickletext

    Someone should start RepentAndMoveOn.org…

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    The grace and honesty of Kelly Foster at Image journal in her testimony about the Slater/CT/Sex & the City hubbub is enough to make me want to repent for having responded with so much emotion. Here, she humbly lays out her perspective with truth, generosity, and insight, and I’m grateful.

    http://imagejournal.org/page/blog/why-i-watch-sex-and-the-city

    P.S. Martin, thanks for your attention to details. It *is* exhausting to reach, but it’s also necessary and true.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    The grace and honesty of Kelly Foster at Image journal in her testimony about the Slater/CT/Sex & the City hubbub is enough to make me want to repent for having responded with so much emotion. Here, she humbly lays out her perspective with truth, generosity, and insight, and I’m grateful.

    http://imagejournal.org/page/blog/why-i-watch-sex-and-the-city

    P.S. Martin, thanks for your attention to details. It *is* exhausting to reach, but it’s also necessary and true.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Did I say “exhausting to reach”? I meant “exhausting to read.” Maybe I need some rest… I think I’m suffering from blog-comment exhaustion.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Did I say “exhausting to reach”? I meant “exhausting to read.” Maybe I need some rest… I think I’m suffering from blog-comment exhaustion.

  • Don S

    My apologies, at post #39, for appearing one-sided. I didn’t realize that Ted had called on Camerin Courtney to “repent” on his own blog. That was inappropriate as well, and helps to put Martin’s exhortation to Ted in context.

    My point stands, though. It’s one thing to have a spirited discussion about these issues, and the better approach for reviewing art as a Christian, but it’s quite another to publicly accuse someone of sin. In this case, Ted should have followed the Biblical model and contacted Camerin privately regarding any exhortation for her to repent, and confined his public comments to the merits of her review.

  • Don S

    My apologies, at post #39, for appearing one-sided. I didn’t realize that Ted had called on Camerin Courtney to “repent” on his own blog. That was inappropriate as well, and helps to put Martin’s exhortation to Ted in context.

    My point stands, though. It’s one thing to have a spirited discussion about these issues, and the better approach for reviewing art as a Christian, but it’s quite another to publicly accuse someone of sin. In this case, Ted should have followed the Biblical model and contacted Camerin privately regarding any exhortation for her to repent, and confined his public comments to the merits of her review.

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

    Don S — I did not call for Camerin Courtney to “repent.” I was addressing the editors of CT, whose defense of the SATC review encouraged their readers to watch this kind of pornographic movie in order to “see what the world looks like through the eyes of even the depraved.”

    I’ve tried clarifying my concerns here.

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

    Don S — I did not call for Camerin Courtney to “repent.” I was addressing the editors of CT, whose defense of the SATC review encouraged their readers to watch this kind of pornographic movie in order to “see what the world looks like through the eyes of even the depraved.”

    I’ve tried clarifying my concerns here.

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

    Jeffrey, in comment #12 you mention “American Beauty.” At first glance, it seems that you’re identifying it as an example of a movie that “may negatively affect people.”

    I just read an article you wrote for Relevant Magazine, though, where you identify it as among the most important spiritual movies of the past decade (I think I have that right; I don’t have the magazine in front of me). Not just an OK movie, but one of the most important of the past decade.

    Help me understand. Is “American Beauty” so disturbing and sexually twisted that it “may negatively affect people,” or is it a movie that you’re recommending Christians watch?

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

    Jeffrey, in comment #12 you mention “American Beauty.” At first glance, it seems that you’re identifying it as an example of a movie that “may negatively affect people.”

    I just read an article you wrote for Relevant Magazine, though, where you identify it as among the most important spiritual movies of the past decade (I think I have that right; I don’t have the magazine in front of me). Not just an OK movie, but one of the most important of the past decade.

    Help me understand. Is “American Beauty” so disturbing and sexually twisted that it “may negatively affect people,” or is it a movie that you’re recommending Christians watch?

  • Don S

    Thank you for the clarification at #47, Ted. Believe me, I lean in your direction on this one, as far as the merits go. I have difficulty seeing movies like SATC as “art”, and I long ago lost faith in CT as a reliable Christian resource.

    I do cringe, however, when Christians start using “sin” words in a public discussion concerning activities which are not clearly defined as sins in the Bible. It is usually counterproductive to the discussion, generating a lot of heat but little light, and does not comport with Biblical exhortations to confront your brother/sister privately when you believe them to be sinning.

  • Don S

    Thank you for the clarification at #47, Ted. Believe me, I lean in your direction on this one, as far as the merits go. I have difficulty seeing movies like SATC as “art”, and I long ago lost faith in CT as a reliable Christian resource.

    I do cringe, however, when Christians start using “sin” words in a public discussion concerning activities which are not clearly defined as sins in the Bible. It is usually counterproductive to the discussion, generating a lot of heat but little light, and does not comport with Biblical exhortations to confront your brother/sister privately when you believe them to be sinning.

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

    Don S., I think one of the problems is the way I define terms, fairly broadly. By “repent,” I mean “change what you’re doing.” By “sin,” I mean “missing the mark” or “promoting foolishness.” I don’t see these words as “religious” words, but simply as useful, concise words.

    I do need to be more careful in my word choices; they can distract from what I’m meaning to communicate.

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

    Don S., I think one of the problems is the way I define terms, fairly broadly. By “repent,” I mean “change what you’re doing.” By “sin,” I mean “missing the mark” or “promoting foolishness.” I don’t see these words as “religious” words, but simply as useful, concise words.

    I do need to be more careful in my word choices; they can distract from what I’m meaning to communicate.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Okay, I’m back because a friend informed me that there was a question for me here.

    Ted,

    A film can be both “spiritually significant” and yet have the potential to “negatively affect people.” (Take “The Passion of the Christ” for example, or “Saving Private Ryan.” Both films have inspired many, but both have also proven too much, too disturbing, too violent for many. It depends on the mind and heart of the viewer as to whether such grisly stuff is a wise choice for their viewing. I certainly wouldn’t take children to either movie, as the ideas central to the film would probably prove hard to grasp in the midst of so much searing, bloody imagery.)

    I’ve heard people celebrate “Prince Caspian” as redemptive and wonderful. I’ve heard others dismayed and infuriated that a story written for small children has been “taken away” from small children and refashioned into a PG-13-level war movie with intense violence and plenty of fodder for translation into a video game. I understand, and agree with, both responses. It’s a well-made adventure movie, but I’m deeply disappointed in how the movie fails to represent that core ideas of C.S. Lewis’s book. It’s both a solid piece of moviemaking and yet a project with distinct flaws and weaknesses in its conception.

    “American Beauty” has powerful, redemptive threads woven through it, and I know many people who have drawn powerful, meaningful, true life lessons from it. I know a fellow who runs a theater company in Vancouver B.C. — a humble, compassionate Christian man whose whole life is dedicated to staging plays that will engage his community with spiritual questions and draw them closer to Christ. He cherishes “American Beauty” for its inspiring focus on “looking closer” (a theme that is so close to my heart, I borrowed the term for my own website). If he were to list five films that have changed his life and deepened his faith, I suspect he would include “American Beauty.” He finds meaning in the main character’s hard-learned lessons of life’s emptiness and futility (like the writer of Ecclesiastes)… that is, until he starts learning to see beauty and meaning in the world around him, and is humbled. At a key moment, facing powerful temptation, he turns away.

    Me, I’m *personally* too troubled by the things that I believe the film does indulgently and poorly. So it’s a movie that really bothers me, and I don’t go around recommending it. So yes, it’s one of the most important in that it has inspired many (in admirable ways) and sparked more interesting and useful discussions than many American films of the last decade. And yes, it may “negatively affect” people… depending on their own strengths, weaknesses, and sensitivities, their own personal interpretation of the story, and their own life experience (which will influence what resonates with them and what doesn’t.)

    I have to be done with this thread here. If anyone has more questions for me, please email them to me or post them on LookingCloser.org. I don’t plan to respond to more here. I have plenty of other sites where things need my attention.

    Jeffrey

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    Okay, I’m back because a friend informed me that there was a question for me here.

    Ted,

    A film can be both “spiritually significant” and yet have the potential to “negatively affect people.” (Take “The Passion of the Christ” for example, or “Saving Private Ryan.” Both films have inspired many, but both have also proven too much, too disturbing, too violent for many. It depends on the mind and heart of the viewer as to whether such grisly stuff is a wise choice for their viewing. I certainly wouldn’t take children to either movie, as the ideas central to the film would probably prove hard to grasp in the midst of so much searing, bloody imagery.)

    I’ve heard people celebrate “Prince Caspian” as redemptive and wonderful. I’ve heard others dismayed and infuriated that a story written for small children has been “taken away” from small children and refashioned into a PG-13-level war movie with intense violence and plenty of fodder for translation into a video game. I understand, and agree with, both responses. It’s a well-made adventure movie, but I’m deeply disappointed in how the movie fails to represent that core ideas of C.S. Lewis’s book. It’s both a solid piece of moviemaking and yet a project with distinct flaws and weaknesses in its conception.

    “American Beauty” has powerful, redemptive threads woven through it, and I know many people who have drawn powerful, meaningful, true life lessons from it. I know a fellow who runs a theater company in Vancouver B.C. — a humble, compassionate Christian man whose whole life is dedicated to staging plays that will engage his community with spiritual questions and draw them closer to Christ. He cherishes “American Beauty” for its inspiring focus on “looking closer” (a theme that is so close to my heart, I borrowed the term for my own website). If he were to list five films that have changed his life and deepened his faith, I suspect he would include “American Beauty.” He finds meaning in the main character’s hard-learned lessons of life’s emptiness and futility (like the writer of Ecclesiastes)… that is, until he starts learning to see beauty and meaning in the world around him, and is humbled. At a key moment, facing powerful temptation, he turns away.

    Me, I’m *personally* too troubled by the things that I believe the film does indulgently and poorly. So it’s a movie that really bothers me, and I don’t go around recommending it. So yes, it’s one of the most important in that it has inspired many (in admirable ways) and sparked more interesting and useful discussions than many American films of the last decade. And yes, it may “negatively affect” people… depending on their own strengths, weaknesses, and sensitivities, their own personal interpretation of the story, and their own life experience (which will influence what resonates with them and what doesn’t.)

    I have to be done with this thread here. If anyone has more questions for me, please email them to me or post them on LookingCloser.org. I don’t plan to respond to more here. I have plenty of other sites where things need my attention.

    Jeffrey

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    One more thing:

    You asked:
    Is “American Beauty” so disturbing and sexually twisted that it “may negatively affect people,” or is it a movie that you’re recommending Christians watch?

    It’s not a movie that I’m recommending Christians watch. The term “Christians” encompasses a vast community of all kinds of people. Very rarely do I come across a movie that I would just flat-out recommend to Christians, period. Besides, “American Beauty” is R-rated because the characters behave in ways that children wouldn’t understand, and that would be too alarming for them to think through.

    It’s a movie *about* a man with dangerous, selfish, distorted sexual inclinations. He is cruel to his wife, and she’s unfaithful to him. He’s tempted by a high school cheerleader. But the movie itself is not “sexually twisted.” It shows how his sinful desires lead him to the edge of total destruction. We watch him drawn toward a terrible sin, but the movie does not condone that sin. (Sounds a lot like the story of David and Bathsheba.) And, thank goodness, he has a moral awakening at the last minute that changes his mind and perspective. The influence of beauty on his broken mind and heart inspire him to make the right decision.

    Now, I personally am upset with the filmmaker because, even as he told a story of temptation and lust and sin, he was irresponsible with the imagery of the film, and with the tone of it. At times, I find he is allowing us to laugh at the man’s rebelliousness, and I find that rebellion too disturbing to be very funny. While he’s telling a tale of moral awakening, I think he was too indulgent and reckless along the way. But that’s my opinion, and it’s open to debate.

    There are other thoughtful, discerning Christians who disagree with me on that point. And, just as I’d like to changes some things about “American Beauty”, I’m sure they’d like to change some things about *my* favorite films.

    The film has the potential to distract and disturb with its explicit imagery, AND YET there are plenty of people who aren’t tempted or troubled by that imagery, and they come away deeply moved and inspired by the film’s tale of one man’s last-minute moral awakening.

    In the same way, some people are equipped to go into the messy, dangerous parts of my hometown to live there, hear the harsh language, witness the crimes, see the people who dress to sell themselves, and deal with the dangers in order to think things through and make a difference. For others, those dark, messy, dangerous places would be too fraught with temptation and danger and trouble.

    There is no “one judgment” on a work of art that applies to every individual.

    (Now, one might come back at that and say, “What about porn?” Well, porn is not art. Porn is constructed for one purpose… to inspire a physical, chemical response that short-circuits thought, interpretation, and reflection. Porn is provocation to a sexual response. Porn is designed specifically to deliver a specific result to the buyer. Art and storytelling aren’t meant for that. They’re meant to draw us into thoughtfulness, reflection, and the kind of enjoyment that opens us to good things, instead of reducing us to seekers of merely carnal pleasures. This is why Courtney said Sex and the City *isn’t* soft-porn. She said the substance of the storytelling elevates the show above that, and she condemned the elements of the show that were unnecessary and gratuitous because they interfere with the show’s integrity. The women who are defending Sex and the City are talking about what the stories mean to them, how the characters resonate with them, and how they get something meaningful from the relationships of those women.)

    I write reviews not to say “Go see it” or “Don’t go see it.” I write reviews to examine what the film is, how it works, what kinds of things we can glean from it, and where it falls short. Then I give my experience of the film to the reader, so each individual can make their own discerning choice based on what they know about themselves.

    That’s why you’ll rarely ever find me willing to respond to a film with a mere “thumb’s up” or “thumb’s down.” Instead, I’ll say, “Well, that depends. Who’s the audience?”

    I just saw “WALL-E” last night. I can’t even give a simple answer on that one. It’s complicated. It’s going to divide audiences and start arguments. And that’s because it’s a powerful work of art.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    One more thing:

    You asked:
    Is “American Beauty” so disturbing and sexually twisted that it “may negatively affect people,” or is it a movie that you’re recommending Christians watch?

    It’s not a movie that I’m recommending Christians watch. The term “Christians” encompasses a vast community of all kinds of people. Very rarely do I come across a movie that I would just flat-out recommend to Christians, period. Besides, “American Beauty” is R-rated because the characters behave in ways that children wouldn’t understand, and that would be too alarming for them to think through.

    It’s a movie *about* a man with dangerous, selfish, distorted sexual inclinations. He is cruel to his wife, and she’s unfaithful to him. He’s tempted by a high school cheerleader. But the movie itself is not “sexually twisted.” It shows how his sinful desires lead him to the edge of total destruction. We watch him drawn toward a terrible sin, but the movie does not condone that sin. (Sounds a lot like the story of David and Bathsheba.) And, thank goodness, he has a moral awakening at the last minute that changes his mind and perspective. The influence of beauty on his broken mind and heart inspire him to make the right decision.

    Now, I personally am upset with the filmmaker because, even as he told a story of temptation and lust and sin, he was irresponsible with the imagery of the film, and with the tone of it. At times, I find he is allowing us to laugh at the man’s rebelliousness, and I find that rebellion too disturbing to be very funny. While he’s telling a tale of moral awakening, I think he was too indulgent and reckless along the way. But that’s my opinion, and it’s open to debate.

    There are other thoughtful, discerning Christians who disagree with me on that point. And, just as I’d like to changes some things about “American Beauty”, I’m sure they’d like to change some things about *my* favorite films.

    The film has the potential to distract and disturb with its explicit imagery, AND YET there are plenty of people who aren’t tempted or troubled by that imagery, and they come away deeply moved and inspired by the film’s tale of one man’s last-minute moral awakening.

    In the same way, some people are equipped to go into the messy, dangerous parts of my hometown to live there, hear the harsh language, witness the crimes, see the people who dress to sell themselves, and deal with the dangers in order to think things through and make a difference. For others, those dark, messy, dangerous places would be too fraught with temptation and danger and trouble.

    There is no “one judgment” on a work of art that applies to every individual.

    (Now, one might come back at that and say, “What about porn?” Well, porn is not art. Porn is constructed for one purpose… to inspire a physical, chemical response that short-circuits thought, interpretation, and reflection. Porn is provocation to a sexual response. Porn is designed specifically to deliver a specific result to the buyer. Art and storytelling aren’t meant for that. They’re meant to draw us into thoughtfulness, reflection, and the kind of enjoyment that opens us to good things, instead of reducing us to seekers of merely carnal pleasures. This is why Courtney said Sex and the City *isn’t* soft-porn. She said the substance of the storytelling elevates the show above that, and she condemned the elements of the show that were unnecessary and gratuitous because they interfere with the show’s integrity. The women who are defending Sex and the City are talking about what the stories mean to them, how the characters resonate with them, and how they get something meaningful from the relationships of those women.)

    I write reviews not to say “Go see it” or “Don’t go see it.” I write reviews to examine what the film is, how it works, what kinds of things we can glean from it, and where it falls short. Then I give my experience of the film to the reader, so each individual can make their own discerning choice based on what they know about themselves.

    That’s why you’ll rarely ever find me willing to respond to a film with a mere “thumb’s up” or “thumb’s down.” Instead, I’ll say, “Well, that depends. Who’s the audience?”

    I just saw “WALL-E” last night. I can’t even give a simple answer on that one. It’s complicated. It’s going to divide audiences and start arguments. And that’s because it’s a powerful work of art.

  • Martin Stillion

    I’d recommend reading Jeffrey’s rather sternly worded review of “American Beauty” here:

    http://tinyurl.com/65n56f

  • Martin Stillion

    I’d recommend reading Jeffrey’s rather sternly worded review of “American Beauty” here:

    http://tinyurl.com/65n56f

  • Martin Stillion

    Furthermore, the selection of American Beauty as a “spiritually significant” film was made in a 2004 poll of film critics and fans, of whom Jeffrey is only one. It has not appeared in subsequent versions of that poll.

  • Martin Stillion

    Furthermore, the selection of American Beauty as a “spiritually significant” film was made in a 2004 poll of film critics and fans, of whom Jeffrey is only one. It has not appeared in subsequent versions of that poll.

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

    I now have the current issue of Relevant Magazine in front of me. The list of the 10 “most spiritually significant films of the last 10 years” is included immediately after Jeffrey’s article.

    I had misunderstood whose list this is. I thought it was Jeffrey’s list, as it came at the end of his article; it actually appears to be Relevant Magazine’s list.

    I actually appreciate Jeffrey’s discussion of this movie both here and on his own website. Very thoughtful, and there’s no question that he’s not encouraging anyone to go see it.

    Relevant Magazine’s promotion of this movie is a lot like the one CT gave for SATC — a mention of the disturbing content, but an affirmation of it that trumps such a warning:

    “Make no mistake, American Beauty has some extremely graphic content. At its crux, though, it’s a story about the beauty of life, even when it seems mundane. American Beauty shows us that the things for which we should be most grateful are often the things we overlook”

    The introduction to Relevant Magazine’s list, which includes “American Beauty,” says that “some films seem to transcend entertainment and speak to deep truths. Here’s our look at the 10 most spiritually significant films of the last decade.”

    In context, Relevant Magazine is encouraging its readers to see “American Beauty.”

    It really is a fascinating thing for me to think about: the tug-of-war between wanting to pursue sanctification and wanting to be culturally relevant and gain insights into human struggle by wrestling with themes presented in well-crafted films.

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

    I now have the current issue of Relevant Magazine in front of me. The list of the 10 “most spiritually significant films of the last 10 years” is included immediately after Jeffrey’s article.

    I had misunderstood whose list this is. I thought it was Jeffrey’s list, as it came at the end of his article; it actually appears to be Relevant Magazine’s list.

    I actually appreciate Jeffrey’s discussion of this movie both here and on his own website. Very thoughtful, and there’s no question that he’s not encouraging anyone to go see it.

    Relevant Magazine’s promotion of this movie is a lot like the one CT gave for SATC — a mention of the disturbing content, but an affirmation of it that trumps such a warning:

    “Make no mistake, American Beauty has some extremely graphic content. At its crux, though, it’s a story about the beauty of life, even when it seems mundane. American Beauty shows us that the things for which we should be most grateful are often the things we overlook”

    The introduction to Relevant Magazine’s list, which includes “American Beauty,” says that “some films seem to transcend entertainment and speak to deep truths. Here’s our look at the 10 most spiritually significant films of the last decade.”

    In context, Relevant Magazine is encouraging its readers to see “American Beauty.”

    It really is a fascinating thing for me to think about: the tug-of-war between wanting to pursue sanctification and wanting to be culturally relevant and gain insights into human struggle by wrestling with themes presented in well-crafted films.

  • Martin Stillion

    Apparently people who read film reviews are sheep who are only looking to be told whether or not to see the film, and the last sentence of a film review always “trumps” anything else the reviewer might have written earlier.

    So really, only four kinds of film reviews are possible:

    1. See it.
    2. Don’t see it.
    3. See it. Whoops, I mean don’t see it.
    4. Don’t see it. Whoops, I mean see it.

    Film critics sure waste a lot of space, don’t they?

  • Martin Stillion

    Apparently people who read film reviews are sheep who are only looking to be told whether or not to see the film, and the last sentence of a film review always “trumps” anything else the reviewer might have written earlier.

    So really, only four kinds of film reviews are possible:

    1. See it.
    2. Don’t see it.
    3. See it. Whoops, I mean don’t see it.
    4. Don’t see it. Whoops, I mean see it.

    Film critics sure waste a lot of space, don’t they?

  • http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies Mark Moring

    It’s hard to believe that this conversation is still going on. But Ted Slander, er, I mean, Slater is clearly intent on keeping it going, on continuing to misrepresent us and misquote us, on throwing hateful stones at us.

    I was not going to comment on any of this publicly. But since it is still going on, I’m going to weigh in here — and only here — and then pray that it comes to a swift end.

    I am glad that there is conversation about movie reviews and what a Christian approach to such reviews should be. That’s a good discussion that should continue. But this never was a conversation; this started out as an outright attack. I’m not sure Slater was ever interested in intelligent dialogue; it seems (yes, I use words like “seems,” because I’m not presumptuous enough to absolutely KNOW one’s motives, like Slater *seems* to be) like he was more interested in firing shots, and then reloading as quickly as possible.

    Just one word on reviews: Different Christian outlets handle reviews in different ways, and those different ways appeal to different audiences. Who’s to say which ways are absolutely “right” and which are “wrong”?

    Well, Ted Slater, apparently. But I’m not going to get into all the semantics of what our review did and didn’t say — though I will say that our review did NOT say most of what Slater says it did; his misquotes and gross misrepresentations are inexcusable, as are his repeated refusals to acknowledge as much.

    I’m only going to address one thing here — Slater’s very first words on the topic:

    CHRISTIANITY TODAY RELISHES SEXUAL PERVERSION

    How preposterous. How outrageous. How ridiculous. How slanderous. How hateful.

    After watching these blog-versations for almost two weeks, thinking they would eventually die down and go away, I finally called Slater last week — privately, a courtesy he did NOT extend to us before launching his very public attack — and confronted him with some hard questions.

    Among many other questions, I asked Slater if he REALLY believed that everyone at Christianity Today “relishes sexual perversion.” He said no. I asked him if he thought Camerin Courtney, who wrote the SATC review, really “relishes sexual perversion.” He said no. I asked him if he really thought that I “relish sexual perversion.” He said no.

    So, unless Slater was lying (and I have no reason to believe he was), he really doesn’t believe that ANYONE at Christianity Today “relishes sexual perversion.” Which makes his initial title an outright lie.

    Which also makes it slanderous. Period.

    Martin Stillion is absolutely right when confronting Slater with the notion that he’s been “bearing false witness against his sister in Christ.” I would also contend that he has been bearing false witness against MANY brothers and sisters in Christ by accusing our company of “relishing sexual perversion.”

    I don’t have the audacity to publicly call Slater to repent of his slanderous attacks. Whether or not he repents is between him and the Lord. But I do know this: I might have a plank in my eye on a number of things, but it certainly isn’t getting in the way of clearly seeing a lumber yard in Slater’s. Anybody who would have the gall to accuse an entire Christian company of “relishing sexual perversion” seems to have some sort of vision problem of his own. (Yes, I said “seems” again. I don’t speak in absolutes, like Slater does.)

    Last word: I don’t know of anyone at CTI who “relishes sexual perversion.” I have been here 15 years, and many of my colleagues are some of the godliest people I’ve ever known. Friends here have laughed with me, cried with me, prayed with me, encouraged me, sustained me, lifted me, admonished me, consoled me, exhorted me, counseld me. But no one in 15 years — here or from any other Christian publication — has ever launched so vile and vicious an attack as Ted Slater has on our company. And rather than approaching me personally with a phone call or an e-mail, he went public with it:

    CHRISTIANITY TODAY RELISHES SEXUAL PERVERSION

    An absolutely incredible charge. My mind still reels. And my heart still hurts.

    Lord help us, forgive us of our sins, and grant us mercy.

    Amen.

    Mark Moring
    Editor, Christianity Today Movies

  • http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies Mark Moring

    It’s hard to believe that this conversation is still going on. But Ted Slander, er, I mean, Slater is clearly intent on keeping it going, on continuing to misrepresent us and misquote us, on throwing hateful stones at us.

    I was not going to comment on any of this publicly. But since it is still going on, I’m going to weigh in here — and only here — and then pray that it comes to a swift end.

    I am glad that there is conversation about movie reviews and what a Christian approach to such reviews should be. That’s a good discussion that should continue. But this never was a conversation; this started out as an outright attack. I’m not sure Slater was ever interested in intelligent dialogue; it seems (yes, I use words like “seems,” because I’m not presumptuous enough to absolutely KNOW one’s motives, like Slater *seems* to be) like he was more interested in firing shots, and then reloading as quickly as possible.

    Just one word on reviews: Different Christian outlets handle reviews in different ways, and those different ways appeal to different audiences. Who’s to say which ways are absolutely “right” and which are “wrong”?

    Well, Ted Slater, apparently. But I’m not going to get into all the semantics of what our review did and didn’t say — though I will say that our review did NOT say most of what Slater says it did; his misquotes and gross misrepresentations are inexcusable, as are his repeated refusals to acknowledge as much.

    I’m only going to address one thing here — Slater’s very first words on the topic:

    CHRISTIANITY TODAY RELISHES SEXUAL PERVERSION

    How preposterous. How outrageous. How ridiculous. How slanderous. How hateful.

    After watching these blog-versations for almost two weeks, thinking they would eventually die down and go away, I finally called Slater last week — privately, a courtesy he did NOT extend to us before launching his very public attack — and confronted him with some hard questions.

    Among many other questions, I asked Slater if he REALLY believed that everyone at Christianity Today “relishes sexual perversion.” He said no. I asked him if he thought Camerin Courtney, who wrote the SATC review, really “relishes sexual perversion.” He said no. I asked him if he really thought that I “relish sexual perversion.” He said no.

    So, unless Slater was lying (and I have no reason to believe he was), he really doesn’t believe that ANYONE at Christianity Today “relishes sexual perversion.” Which makes his initial title an outright lie.

    Which also makes it slanderous. Period.

    Martin Stillion is absolutely right when confronting Slater with the notion that he’s been “bearing false witness against his sister in Christ.” I would also contend that he has been bearing false witness against MANY brothers and sisters in Christ by accusing our company of “relishing sexual perversion.”

    I don’t have the audacity to publicly call Slater to repent of his slanderous attacks. Whether or not he repents is between him and the Lord. But I do know this: I might have a plank in my eye on a number of things, but it certainly isn’t getting in the way of clearly seeing a lumber yard in Slater’s. Anybody who would have the gall to accuse an entire Christian company of “relishing sexual perversion” seems to have some sort of vision problem of his own. (Yes, I said “seems” again. I don’t speak in absolutes, like Slater does.)

    Last word: I don’t know of anyone at CTI who “relishes sexual perversion.” I have been here 15 years, and many of my colleagues are some of the godliest people I’ve ever known. Friends here have laughed with me, cried with me, prayed with me, encouraged me, sustained me, lifted me, admonished me, consoled me, exhorted me, counseld me. But no one in 15 years — here or from any other Christian publication — has ever launched so vile and vicious an attack as Ted Slater has on our company. And rather than approaching me personally with a phone call or an e-mail, he went public with it:

    CHRISTIANITY TODAY RELISHES SEXUAL PERVERSION

    An absolutely incredible charge. My mind still reels. And my heart still hurts.

    Lord help us, forgive us of our sins, and grant us mercy.

    Amen.

    Mark Moring
    Editor, Christianity Today Movies

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

    Mark — you called me and said that our conversation was confidential. I’ve honored your request; you haven’t. Your anger has clearly gotten the best of you.

    Let me break down the headline for you, so you understand why I wrote it that way. You weren’t listening when we talked on the phone; perhaps you’ll be able to see what I’m saying when I put it here:

    “Christianity Today” — the name of your publication, the periodical itself, the entity in which the review was printed and defended, the magazine that provided the platform for both the review and its defense. You’ll note that in my original blog post I didn’t identify a single name, but rather was addressing the caretakers of CT, the stewards of your ministry.

    “Relishes” — a synonym for “enjoyed,” a word used in the final sentence of the movie review, used to summarize the reviewer’s feelings.

    “Sexual Perversion” — I consider this movie, not just the nudity etc., to be “sexual perversion”; the series, which culminated in this movie, centered around “sex” from the perspective of worldly single women (hence the name of the series); the SATC franchise — including this movie — is “sexual perversion,” not merely specific elements.

    Now you understand how I came up with the title. Hope that helps.

    I’m disappointed that you disclosed details of our conversation, Mark, details that you obviously misunderstood, from a conversation that you began by saying it would remain confidential.

    Tell you what: Pull the cheerful review and I’ll affirm your decision by pulling the blog posts. Humbly recognize how such a movie review as the one you published contributes to the trivialization of sex, a problem that I’ve seen, over the course of my job, to have destroyed countless lives and families.

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

    Mark — you called me and said that our conversation was confidential. I’ve honored your request; you haven’t. Your anger has clearly gotten the best of you.

    Let me break down the headline for you, so you understand why I wrote it that way. You weren’t listening when we talked on the phone; perhaps you’ll be able to see what I’m saying when I put it here:

    “Christianity Today” — the name of your publication, the periodical itself, the entity in which the review was printed and defended, the magazine that provided the platform for both the review and its defense. You’ll note that in my original blog post I didn’t identify a single name, but rather was addressing the caretakers of CT, the stewards of your ministry.

    “Relishes” — a synonym for “enjoyed,” a word used in the final sentence of the movie review, used to summarize the reviewer’s feelings.

    “Sexual Perversion” — I consider this movie, not just the nudity etc., to be “sexual perversion”; the series, which culminated in this movie, centered around “sex” from the perspective of worldly single women (hence the name of the series); the SATC franchise — including this movie — is “sexual perversion,” not merely specific elements.

    Now you understand how I came up with the title. Hope that helps.

    I’m disappointed that you disclosed details of our conversation, Mark, details that you obviously misunderstood, from a conversation that you began by saying it would remain confidential.

    Tell you what: Pull the cheerful review and I’ll affirm your decision by pulling the blog posts. Humbly recognize how such a movie review as the one you published contributes to the trivialization of sex, a problem that I’ve seen, over the course of my job, to have destroyed countless lives and families.

  • http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies Mark Moring

    I will publicly apologize for noting our private phone conversation. I will even publicly repent of that. I’m sorry.

    But . . .

    Don’t tell me I wasn’t listening when we were on the phone. Dozens of people in the blogosphere have accused you of not listening, because you keep making the same points — wrong ones — over and over. Who’s not listening?

    And spare me the lecture about who’s angry. Yes, I’m angry, but you’re the one who’s turned this into a crusade. You’re the one who launched the vicious attack in the first place, and you’re the one who has chased it all over the blogosphere — for who knows how many hours — to “prove” you’re right. (Just when DO you actually work, Ted? Man, I wish I had hours and hours every day to surf all around the blogosphere. Must be nice.)

    This is also the umteenth time you’ve “explained” your hateful title. But the “explanation” simply doesn’t work, Ted. You wrote that “Christianity Today Relishes Sexual Perversion.” Real journalists don’t write titles that have to be “explained” and “defended” ad nauseum. Real journalists write headlines that are clear and are not open to misinterpretation. And real journalists, when they realized they’ve erred in a title, come back and write a correction and an apology. I’ve written thousands of titles in 25 years as a journalist, and believe me, I know how important it is to be crystal clear — and not sensationalistic or misleading — in a title. It’s a lesson you need to learn. Right now.

    You keep saying you’re addressing the “caretakers” of CT, the “stewards” of our ministry. Who do you think those caretakers and stewards are, Ted? They’re PEOPLE. They’re your brothers and sisters in Christ. And you have accused them — US — of “relishing sexual perversion.” I’m the editor of CT Movies, so I’m the steward and caretaker. So, you’re accusing me of “relishing sexual perversion.” Quit trying to make it so dang impersonal, Ted, by implying that it’s “just” caretakers and stewards. You’re pointing at me. And it hurt — even though you’re wrong and a liar. It still hurt.

    And if you don’t understand the notion of us “caretakers” getting defensive about a title directed at us, then why did you write a blog post on May 22 titled, “Focus on the Family Hates Homosexuals”? Why did you feel the need to defend your company — and the people you work with — about that? Because you know it’s not true, that’s why. So get off my case about defending CTI against your charge of “relishing sexual perversion.” If you can defend your ministry against a reckless charge, I can defend mine. Right?

    You keep saying — over and over and over — that the word “relishes” is a synonym for “enjoyed.” Why do you keep saying that? I KNOW what the word “relishes” means. Quit insulting people’s intelligence by defining the word. And quit lying about what Camerin wrote in her review. She wrote that she enjoyed “the meaningful reunion” between the main characters; she did NOT say she enjoyed the entire movie, and she *specifically* said she did NOT enjoy the immoral parts. But you keep saying that she did. That’s a lie, Ted. She also specifically said, in that same final sentence you keep quoting, that she “didn’t quite heart SATC.” You conveniently keep forgetting to quote that. You’re mispresenting her, Ted. That’s dishonest.

    You also keep insisting that the final sentence of a review necessarily “summarizes the viewer’s feelings.” That’s often true, but always? Roger Ebert gave 3.5 stars to Mongol. He really liked it. His last line: “And we think our election campaigns run on too long.” That sounds like a negative last line, doesn’t it? Do final sentences ALWAYS summarize the viewer’s feelings? No. You are guilty of taking something way out of context, and not presenting the full picture. (Now go and tell Roger Ebert that he needs to improve his review writing.)

    But you have mispresented her — and us — time and time again, by saying that she — and we — “relish” sexual perversion.

    Ted, that is a lie. You are a liar. And I AM naming names. You note that your initial post did not name names. Good for you. But I’m naming one: Ted Slater. And you have lied, repeatedly, about what Camerin’s review said. And you have mispresented my views, repeatedly. Lies and slander. You don’t name names; you just say that anybody who would dare to *watch* SATC aren’t serious about pursuing a life of righteousness. You’re the one making blanket judgments about people, Ted. Not me.

    And we will absolutely not “pull the cheerful review,” which is probably the 538th time you’ve misrepresented it. It is NOT a cheerful review. It is a professional film critic’s opinion — ONE PERSON’S OPINION, NOT A COMPANY’S — about one movie. And don’t give me any guff about, “But you endorsed it too! You defended her!” I defended our right to review it, Camerin’s right to review in the way she did, and I used the words of CS Lewis to note that SOMETIMES it’s good to see the world through the eyes of others — even those we disagree with, even the depraved. Again, Lewis’s words, not mine. If you disagree with that line of thinking, blame Clives Staples.

    OK, Ted, I’ve publicly confessed that I’m a liar — that I broke our confidence about the private phone call, the courtesy which you never extended to me. I repent. I lied. When I called you, I had NOT intended to go public with it — and there’s much about our conversation (most of it, actually) that I am keeping private. But your relentless attacks drove me to finally speak up, and in trying to show others how wrong you’ve been, I broke our confidence. I’m sorry. I repent.

    Now, do you have the guts to admit you have also lied?

    Yes, I’m angry, Ted, and I admit it. I tell the truth. You don’t. And I’m calling you on it.

    ‘Nuff said.

    mm

  • http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies Mark Moring

    I will publicly apologize for noting our private phone conversation. I will even publicly repent of that. I’m sorry.

    But . . .

    Don’t tell me I wasn’t listening when we were on the phone. Dozens of people in the blogosphere have accused you of not listening, because you keep making the same points — wrong ones — over and over. Who’s not listening?

    And spare me the lecture about who’s angry. Yes, I’m angry, but you’re the one who’s turned this into a crusade. You’re the one who launched the vicious attack in the first place, and you’re the one who has chased it all over the blogosphere — for who knows how many hours — to “prove” you’re right. (Just when DO you actually work, Ted? Man, I wish I had hours and hours every day to surf all around the blogosphere. Must be nice.)

    This is also the umteenth time you’ve “explained” your hateful title. But the “explanation” simply doesn’t work, Ted. You wrote that “Christianity Today Relishes Sexual Perversion.” Real journalists don’t write titles that have to be “explained” and “defended” ad nauseum. Real journalists write headlines that are clear and are not open to misinterpretation. And real journalists, when they realized they’ve erred in a title, come back and write a correction and an apology. I’ve written thousands of titles in 25 years as a journalist, and believe me, I know how important it is to be crystal clear — and not sensationalistic or misleading — in a title. It’s a lesson you need to learn. Right now.

    You keep saying you’re addressing the “caretakers” of CT, the “stewards” of our ministry. Who do you think those caretakers and stewards are, Ted? They’re PEOPLE. They’re your brothers and sisters in Christ. And you have accused them — US — of “relishing sexual perversion.” I’m the editor of CT Movies, so I’m the steward and caretaker. So, you’re accusing me of “relishing sexual perversion.” Quit trying to make it so dang impersonal, Ted, by implying that it’s “just” caretakers and stewards. You’re pointing at me. And it hurt — even though you’re wrong and a liar. It still hurt.

    And if you don’t understand the notion of us “caretakers” getting defensive about a title directed at us, then why did you write a blog post on May 22 titled, “Focus on the Family Hates Homosexuals”? Why did you feel the need to defend your company — and the people you work with — about that? Because you know it’s not true, that’s why. So get off my case about defending CTI against your charge of “relishing sexual perversion.” If you can defend your ministry against a reckless charge, I can defend mine. Right?

    You keep saying — over and over and over — that the word “relishes” is a synonym for “enjoyed.” Why do you keep saying that? I KNOW what the word “relishes” means. Quit insulting people’s intelligence by defining the word. And quit lying about what Camerin wrote in her review. She wrote that she enjoyed “the meaningful reunion” between the main characters; she did NOT say she enjoyed the entire movie, and she *specifically* said she did NOT enjoy the immoral parts. But you keep saying that she did. That’s a lie, Ted. She also specifically said, in that same final sentence you keep quoting, that she “didn’t quite heart SATC.” You conveniently keep forgetting to quote that. You’re mispresenting her, Ted. That’s dishonest.

    You also keep insisting that the final sentence of a review necessarily “summarizes the viewer’s feelings.” That’s often true, but always? Roger Ebert gave 3.5 stars to Mongol. He really liked it. His last line: “And we think our election campaigns run on too long.” That sounds like a negative last line, doesn’t it? Do final sentences ALWAYS summarize the viewer’s feelings? No. You are guilty of taking something way out of context, and not presenting the full picture. (Now go and tell Roger Ebert that he needs to improve his review writing.)

    But you have mispresented her — and us — time and time again, by saying that she — and we — “relish” sexual perversion.

    Ted, that is a lie. You are a liar. And I AM naming names. You note that your initial post did not name names. Good for you. But I’m naming one: Ted Slater. And you have lied, repeatedly, about what Camerin’s review said. And you have mispresented my views, repeatedly. Lies and slander. You don’t name names; you just say that anybody who would dare to *watch* SATC aren’t serious about pursuing a life of righteousness. You’re the one making blanket judgments about people, Ted. Not me.

    And we will absolutely not “pull the cheerful review,” which is probably the 538th time you’ve misrepresented it. It is NOT a cheerful review. It is a professional film critic’s opinion — ONE PERSON’S OPINION, NOT A COMPANY’S — about one movie. And don’t give me any guff about, “But you endorsed it too! You defended her!” I defended our right to review it, Camerin’s right to review in the way she did, and I used the words of CS Lewis to note that SOMETIMES it’s good to see the world through the eyes of others — even those we disagree with, even the depraved. Again, Lewis’s words, not mine. If you disagree with that line of thinking, blame Clives Staples.

    OK, Ted, I’ve publicly confessed that I’m a liar — that I broke our confidence about the private phone call, the courtesy which you never extended to me. I repent. I lied. When I called you, I had NOT intended to go public with it — and there’s much about our conversation (most of it, actually) that I am keeping private. But your relentless attacks drove me to finally speak up, and in trying to show others how wrong you’ve been, I broke our confidence. I’m sorry. I repent.

    Now, do you have the guts to admit you have also lied?

    Yes, I’m angry, Ted, and I admit it. I tell the truth. You don’t. And I’m calling you on it.

    ‘Nuff said.

    mm

  • Martin Stillion

    Everybody understands how you came up with the title, Ted. Your problem is not that you’re misunderstood. Your problem is that you’re a Christian (which requires a commitment to truth) practicing journalism (which requires a commitment to facts) and you’re standing by a claim that you know to be false — which you’re now defending by claiming that the term “Christianity Today” is some nebulous “entity” that doesn’t attach to any of the people who work there, and the term “sexual perversity” is some sort of code for a film and a TV show.

    I’ve already had occasion to use one of my two favorite quotes from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now it’s time to use the other one:

    “`When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’”

    The only quibble I might have with Mark is that he says he has no reason to believe you’re lying. I’m afraid that’s a courtesy I personally can’t extend to you.

  • Martin Stillion

    Everybody understands how you came up with the title, Ted. Your problem is not that you’re misunderstood. Your problem is that you’re a Christian (which requires a commitment to truth) practicing journalism (which requires a commitment to facts) and you’re standing by a claim that you know to be false — which you’re now defending by claiming that the term “Christianity Today” is some nebulous “entity” that doesn’t attach to any of the people who work there, and the term “sexual perversity” is some sort of code for a film and a TV show.

    I’ve already had occasion to use one of my two favorite quotes from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now it’s time to use the other one:

    “`When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’”

    The only quibble I might have with Mark is that he says he has no reason to believe you’re lying. I’m afraid that’s a courtesy I personally can’t extend to you.

  • Martin Stillion

    P.S. Obviously I was writing that last comment while Mark was writing his. I see that Mark and I now have resolved our sole point of disagreement.

    If I were a libel lawyer, or Ted’s boss, I’d begin to wonder when my phone is going to ring.

  • Martin Stillion

    P.S. Obviously I was writing that last comment while Mark was writing his. I see that Mark and I now have resolved our sole point of disagreement.

    If I were a libel lawyer, or Ted’s boss, I’d begin to wonder when my phone is going to ring.

  • Martin Stillion

    P.P.S. The Humpty Dumpty quote is actually from Through the Looking Glass. See how easy it is to correct an incorrect attribution?

  • Martin Stillion

    P.P.S. The Humpty Dumpty quote is actually from Through the Looking Glass. See how easy it is to correct an incorrect attribution?

  • Martin Stillion

    P.P.P.S. Nice little piece of reading here. Allow me to quote you a bit of it, just so’s you can get the flavor:

    “It appears that lying — leading others to believe something which you don’t believe in your heart — though often bad, is sometimes good, according to certain Bible passages. Perhaps the best way to reconcile the inconsistencies which the Bible appears to have is to redefine, or specify, terms, as Kant and Bok have done. For the Christian, however, it would be ideal to gather deontological support for the use of deception instead of relying on the more teleological approach which Kant and Bok appear to have adopted.”

    Wowsers. What was your grade on this paper, Ted? How many of your colleagues at Focus have read it? Did you take your own advice and gather deontological support for your “Relishes Sexual Perversion” headline (if so, we’re dying to see it), or did you figure you’d just get by with rewriting the dictionary?

  • Martin Stillion

    P.P.P.S. Nice little piece of reading here. Allow me to quote you a bit of it, just so’s you can get the flavor:

    “It appears that lying — leading others to believe something which you don’t believe in your heart — though often bad, is sometimes good, according to certain Bible passages. Perhaps the best way to reconcile the inconsistencies which the Bible appears to have is to redefine, or specify, terms, as Kant and Bok have done. For the Christian, however, it would be ideal to gather deontological support for the use of deception instead of relying on the more teleological approach which Kant and Bok appear to have adopted.”

    Wowsers. What was your grade on this paper, Ted? How many of your colleagues at Focus have read it? Did you take your own advice and gather deontological support for your “Relishes Sexual Perversion” headline (if so, we’re dying to see it), or did you figure you’d just get by with rewriting the dictionary?

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    I posted this on the previous post as well, but it’s so good, it deserves to be on both pages.

    “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.”

    That’s from Areopagitica, written by some guy named John Milton, who apparently wrote some poem called Paradise Lost (which I hear was full of nudity and Satanic rebellions against God, so I sure won’t be reading it, much less relishing it). ;)

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    I posted this on the previous post as well, but it’s so good, it deserves to be on both pages.

    “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.”

    That’s from Areopagitica, written by some guy named John Milton, who apparently wrote some poem called Paradise Lost (which I hear was full of nudity and Satanic rebellions against God, so I sure won’t be reading it, much less relishing it). ;)

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Jeffrey, if you follow this blog, you would know that I trot out Milton upon nearly every occasion, so thanks for this.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Jeffrey, if you follow this blog, you would know that I trot out Milton upon nearly every occasion, so thanks for this.

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

    Actually, I followed your World articles, but didn’t discover this blog until recently. So I look forward to working backward through the archives. I remember cheering when I read something you wrote for World (if I recall correctly) about the music of O Brother, Where Art Thou?

    And of course I was joking about my unfamiliarity with Milton. The first course I signed up for in my freshman year at Seattle Pacific was a senior-level Milton course taught by Dr. Janet Blumberg, and I cherished every minute of it. We should host annual Milton-related blogathons.

    And I don’t envy my friend Scott Derrickson for the challenges awaiting him as he seeks to adapt Paradise Lost into a feature film…

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

    Actually, I followed your World articles, but didn’t discover this blog until recently. So I look forward to working backward through the archives. I remember cheering when I read something you wrote for World (if I recall correctly) about the music of O Brother, Where Art Thou?

    And of course I was joking about my unfamiliarity with Milton. The first course I signed up for in my freshman year at Seattle Pacific was a senior-level Milton course taught by Dr. Janet Blumberg, and I cherished every minute of it. We should host annual Milton-related blogathons.

    And I don’t envy my friend Scott Derrickson for the challenges awaiting him as he seeks to adapt Paradise Lost into a feature film…

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Paradise Lost: The MOVIE? Tell me more!

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Paradise Lost: The MOVIE? Tell me more!

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Jeffrey, do a search on this blog for “Milton,” and you will see what I mean about his presence in this blog.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Jeffrey, do a search on this blog for “Milton,” and you will see what I mean about his presence in this blog.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    It’s Derrickson’s dream project. He was going to dive into it after The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

    Then he was drawn into talks to direct another project (that didn’t end up working out), and his name was attached to a dramatization of the story documented in (ironically) Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills. I’m not sure what’s happening with that project.

    Then the opportunity to remake The Day the Earth Stood Still came up, and he’s been busy with that. I’m sure that will give him a lot of experience working on a fantasy blockbuster, and probably help him network to his advantage for Paradise Lost. That’s all I can say about that for now, and the way things go in Hollywood, who knows what will really happen? But I know he’s had his mind set on that project for a while.

    Derrickson’s got an ambitious imagination and a profound understanding of art’s revelatory power. I did an in-depth interview with him about the power of horror movies to reveal the truth. You can read it here. (I recommend using Internet Explorer. There are some font issues when it’s displayed in Firefox.)

    By the way, I submitted the Milton quote as a comment on Slater’s blog. I thought it would be a useful addition to the discussion there yesterday. But it hasn’t appeared, which may mean that Slater didn’t approve it. Oh well.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    It’s Derrickson’s dream project. He was going to dive into it after The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

    Then he was drawn into talks to direct another project (that didn’t end up working out), and his name was attached to a dramatization of the story documented in (ironically) Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills. I’m not sure what’s happening with that project.

    Then the opportunity to remake The Day the Earth Stood Still came up, and he’s been busy with that. I’m sure that will give him a lot of experience working on a fantasy blockbuster, and probably help him network to his advantage for Paradise Lost. That’s all I can say about that for now, and the way things go in Hollywood, who knows what will really happen? But I know he’s had his mind set on that project for a while.

    Derrickson’s got an ambitious imagination and a profound understanding of art’s revelatory power. I did an in-depth interview with him about the power of horror movies to reveal the truth. You can read it here. (I recommend using Internet Explorer. There are some font issues when it’s displayed in Firefox.)

    By the way, I submitted the Milton quote as a comment on Slater’s blog. I thought it would be a useful addition to the discussion there yesterday. But it hasn’t appeared, which may mean that Slater didn’t approve it. Oh well.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    ACK! Please fix my HTML error. I needed an at the end of the word “here.”

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey

    ACK! Please fix my HTML error. I needed an at the end of the word “here.”

  • Martin Stillion

    Milton, and now Merton:

    “As soon as you begin to take yourself seriously and imagine that your virtues are important because they are yours, you become the prisoner of your own vanity, and even your best works will blind and deceive you. Then, in order to defend yourself, you will begin to see sins and faults everywhere in the actions of other men. And the more unreasonable importance you attach to yourself and to your works, the more you will tend to build up your own idea of yourself by condemning other people.”

  • Martin Stillion

    Milton, and now Merton:

    “As soon as you begin to take yourself seriously and imagine that your virtues are important because they are yours, you become the prisoner of your own vanity, and even your best works will blind and deceive you. Then, in order to defend yourself, you will begin to see sins and faults everywhere in the actions of other men. And the more unreasonable importance you attach to yourself and to your works, the more you will tend to build up your own idea of yourself by condemning other people.”

  • Martin Stillion

    P.S. Hey, here’s the last sentence of Plugged In‘s review of SATC:

    “And if Samantha wants to bed a new guy every night until she’s 90, well, that’s great, too.”

    It’s too bad Ted seems to have abandoned the field, because I’d love to see his explanation of how that line summarizes the reviewer’s feelings about the movie.

  • Martin Stillion

    P.S. Hey, here’s the last sentence of Plugged In‘s review of SATC:

    “And if Samantha wants to bed a new guy every night until she’s 90, well, that’s great, too.”

    It’s too bad Ted seems to have abandoned the field, because I’d love to see his explanation of how that line summarizes the reviewer’s feelings about the movie.

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

    Martin, one word to explain the Plugged In review’s final sentence: irony.

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

    Martin, one word to explain the Plugged In review’s final sentence: irony.

  • Martin Stillion

    Oh, you are still here.

    Irony depends on context. You wouldn’t know that line was ironic unless you looked at the review as a whole. Furthermore, that line certainly doesn’t negate other things Lindy said in her review. (She’d be in a heap of trouble if it did.)

    You appear to have one standard for Plugged In reviews (they can conclude with “irony”) and another for CT reviews (they must conclude with a statement that summarizes the movie).

  • Martin Stillion

    Oh, you are still here.

    Irony depends on context. You wouldn’t know that line was ironic unless you looked at the review as a whole. Furthermore, that line certainly doesn’t negate other things Lindy said in her review. (She’d be in a heap of trouble if it did.)

    You appear to have one standard for Plugged In reviews (they can conclude with “irony”) and another for CT reviews (they must conclude with a statement that summarizes the movie).

  • http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies Mark Moring

    Ted Slander, with double standards? Surprise, surprise.

  • http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies Mark Moring

    Ted Slander, with double standards? Surprise, surprise.

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

    Mark, you’re the film editor for Christianity Today. It’s bewildering that someone in your position would resort to name calling.

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

    Mark, you’re the film editor for Christianity Today. It’s bewildering that someone in your position would resort to name calling.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ted (@76), let’s review a few of your statements in comments on this blog. You’ve:
    * decried people for being “devious in [their] excerpting”
    * urged someone “not to squander [their gift] by misrepresenting Christians with whom [they] disagree”
    * said you “can’t imagine any Christian diminishing another Christian’s desire for purity”
    * asked for “a discussion about when and how to expose ourselves to ungodliness conveyed through film” while seeming to decry those “merely interested in bludgeoning [their] opponents”
    * apparently used a Bible verse to tell someone he’s a fool for using too many words
    * accused someone of being “a bit condescending”
    * finally, decrying someone for “resort[ing] to name calling”

    Has it occurred to you that these words might apply to, might be pointed back at you as well? Unless I’m mistaken, that’s what Mark (@75) was trying to point out. He’s not “name calling”, though I’ll admit he didn’t say it in a very loving way.

    I mean, honestly — honestly! — Ted, you’re complaining about “name calling” while still — still! — defending your headline that “Christianity Today Relishes Sexual Perversion”. It boggles the mind. Well, my mind, at least.

    You haven’t done a lot to change my opinion of Focus on the Family, frankly. There are other sins besides those relating to sex, you know. They are also worth considering in this debate.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Ted (@76), let’s review a few of your statements in comments on this blog. You’ve:
    * decried people for being “devious in [their] excerpting”
    * urged someone “not to squander [their gift] by misrepresenting Christians with whom [they] disagree”
    * said you “can’t imagine any Christian diminishing another Christian’s desire for purity”
    * asked for “a discussion about when and how to expose ourselves to ungodliness conveyed through film” while seeming to decry those “merely interested in bludgeoning [their] opponents”
    * apparently used a Bible verse to tell someone he’s a fool for using too many words
    * accused someone of being “a bit condescending”
    * finally, decrying someone for “resort[ing] to name calling”

    Has it occurred to you that these words might apply to, might be pointed back at you as well? Unless I’m mistaken, that’s what Mark (@75) was trying to point out. He’s not “name calling”, though I’ll admit he didn’t say it in a very loving way.

    I mean, honestly — honestly! — Ted, you’re complaining about “name calling” while still — still! — defending your headline that “Christianity Today Relishes Sexual Perversion”. It boggles the mind. Well, my mind, at least.

    You haven’t done a lot to change my opinion of Focus on the Family, frankly. There are other sins besides those relating to sex, you know. They are also worth considering in this debate.

  • Martin Stillion

    Ted, you’re the editor for the Boundless webzine. It’s bewildering that someone in your position would resort to libel. If you really want to draw lines in the sand, first you have to pull your head out of it.

    Here’s a question: Three days before you posted your “open letter,” Suzanne Hadley, another blogger at BoundlessLine, posted this rather stinging (but still civil) rebuke of CT for the same review of SATC. So why was your post even necessary? Is there a particular reason you didn’t just contribute your remarks in Suzanne’s comment-stream?

  • Martin Stillion

    Ted, you’re the editor for the Boundless webzine. It’s bewildering that someone in your position would resort to libel. If you really want to draw lines in the sand, first you have to pull your head out of it.

    Here’s a question: Three days before you posted your “open letter,” Suzanne Hadley, another blogger at BoundlessLine, posted this rather stinging (but still civil) rebuke of CT for the same review of SATC. So why was your post even necessary? Is there a particular reason you didn’t just contribute your remarks in Suzanne’s comment-stream?

  • http://www.christianitytodaymovies.com Mark Moring

    I can’t help but laugh at this. Ted Slander accusing ME of name calling! Ted Slander, who started this whole thing by saying that Christianity Today International is a bunch of sexual perverts. Ted Slander, who . . .

    Oh, wait, did I just say something slightly out of context? ‘Scuse me. Apparently I was starting to play by the Ted Slander rules. He didn’t ACTUALLY accuse CTI of being a bunch of sexual perverts. He ACTUALLY said, “Christianity Today Relishes Sexual Perversion.” And if you hear Ted lamely explain it ad nauseum, it’s a big difference. He’s not saying that we people who work at CTI are actually perverts; he’s pointing at an “entity,” some sort of soul-less, person-less thing. He must be referring to the BUILDING here in the Chicago suburbs. Man, so the building I work in is sexually perverted. Ugh. I’m going to have to take a shower when I come home from now on.

    No, Ted Slander’s not name-calling. Not at all. Gosh, Ted, tODD is spot-on in the post above. It DOES boggle the mind, the size of your blind spots.

    And Martin Stillion is also right. Your head is buried so deep in the sand, you don’t know which way is up. You’re clearly incapable of looking in the mirror (must be the aforementioned lumber yard in your eyes) and seeing your own faults. I’ve fessed up to the ONE place I’ve blown it in this entire exchange, and I’ve publicly repented. (And the irony is that I blew it after taking what was a move you should have taken in the FIRST place — a private call to me to let me know your concerns. But you prefer sitting behind your computer screen and bashing your brothers and sisters in Christ by telling lies and misrepresentations. Ooh, what a tough guy.)

    I’ve said I’m sorry for breaking that confidence. I’ve apologized. I’ve repented. And I don’t recall you saying that you accept the apology, or that you forgive me. But you’re probably above that sort of thing. You’re very good at DEMANDING that people repent; and now that I’ve done so, apologizing for mentioning our phone conversation, you don’t know what to do with the apology. But that doesn’t surprise me. And you? Nah. No way. You’re above it all, you’re Judge and Jury to everyone who disagrees with you. Sinless Ted Slander has all the answers, and dishes out all the blame. He has nothing to confess, nothing to ask for forgiveness, no need to repent of anything.

    I don’t think I’ve never encountered anyone quite so bullheaded in my life. What incredible conceit. For a guy who writes term papers that somehow justify lying from a biblical point of view, for a guy who endorses (exact words: “heartily recommend”) the soft porn methods and imagery of GoDaddy.com, for a guy who breaks the 9th Commandment daily (at least for the last few weeks) by continuing to bear false witness, for a guy who continues to lie about what was (and wasn’t) written on our website, for a guy who refuses to listen to the counsel of ANYONE in the blogosphere, you really take the cake.

    But the ONLY “name-calling” I’ve done is to call you Ted Slander. Because, it is crystal clear to anyone who’s been following this that you are absolutely guilty of it. Anyway, I’d think you’d like being called “Ted Slander,” because it sounds a lot like “Ned Flanders,” a Christian that I certainly look up to. But you’ve got a long way to catch up with Springfield’s finest evangelical . . . (Oops, I think I just revealed that I’ve watched The Simpsons! Watch Ted Slander take me to task for that, instead of addressing the REAL issues here.)

    I don’t see how you can live with your hypocritical self.

    May God have mercy on your judgmental, misguided soul. Because I’m having trouble having much mercy on it myself — but, Ted Slander, the ball is in your court. Has been for days now. It’s your turn to make this mess right. You started it, and you CAN fix it — or at least give it a try. Let’s see what kind of a man you really are. Try to make this right, Ted. Tell the world that you were absolutely wrong to write that initial headline. Confess that you have lied and misrepresented Christianity Today. Tell everyone how you’ve unnecessarily hurt a lot of feelings with your judgmental attitudes. Do those things, and I’ll seriously consider dropping the “Ted Slander” shtick. I might even start calling you Ned.

    Still steaming, but desiring a peaceful resolution,

    mm

  • http://www.christianitytodaymovies.com Mark Moring

    I can’t help but laugh at this. Ted Slander accusing ME of name calling! Ted Slander, who started this whole thing by saying that Christianity Today International is a bunch of sexual perverts. Ted Slander, who . . .

    Oh, wait, did I just say something slightly out of context? ‘Scuse me. Apparently I was starting to play by the Ted Slander rules. He didn’t ACTUALLY accuse CTI of being a bunch of sexual perverts. He ACTUALLY said, “Christianity Today Relishes Sexual Perversion.” And if you hear Ted lamely explain it ad nauseum, it’s a big difference. He’s not saying that we people who work at CTI are actually perverts; he’s pointing at an “entity,” some sort of soul-less, person-less thing. He must be referring to the BUILDING here in the Chicago suburbs. Man, so the building I work in is sexually perverted. Ugh. I’m going to have to take a shower when I come home from now on.

    No, Ted Slander’s not name-calling. Not at all. Gosh, Ted, tODD is spot-on in the post above. It DOES boggle the mind, the size of your blind spots.

    And Martin Stillion is also right. Your head is buried so deep in the sand, you don’t know which way is up. You’re clearly incapable of looking in the mirror (must be the aforementioned lumber yard in your eyes) and seeing your own faults. I’ve fessed up to the ONE place I’ve blown it in this entire exchange, and I’ve publicly repented. (And the irony is that I blew it after taking what was a move you should have taken in the FIRST place — a private call to me to let me know your concerns. But you prefer sitting behind your computer screen and bashing your brothers and sisters in Christ by telling lies and misrepresentations. Ooh, what a tough guy.)

    I’ve said I’m sorry for breaking that confidence. I’ve apologized. I’ve repented. And I don’t recall you saying that you accept the apology, or that you forgive me. But you’re probably above that sort of thing. You’re very good at DEMANDING that people repent; and now that I’ve done so, apologizing for mentioning our phone conversation, you don’t know what to do with the apology. But that doesn’t surprise me. And you? Nah. No way. You’re above it all, you’re Judge and Jury to everyone who disagrees with you. Sinless Ted Slander has all the answers, and dishes out all the blame. He has nothing to confess, nothing to ask for forgiveness, no need to repent of anything.

    I don’t think I’ve never encountered anyone quite so bullheaded in my life. What incredible conceit. For a guy who writes term papers that somehow justify lying from a biblical point of view, for a guy who endorses (exact words: “heartily recommend”) the soft porn methods and imagery of GoDaddy.com, for a guy who breaks the 9th Commandment daily (at least for the last few weeks) by continuing to bear false witness, for a guy who continues to lie about what was (and wasn’t) written on our website, for a guy who refuses to listen to the counsel of ANYONE in the blogosphere, you really take the cake.

    But the ONLY “name-calling” I’ve done is to call you Ted Slander. Because, it is crystal clear to anyone who’s been following this that you are absolutely guilty of it. Anyway, I’d think you’d like being called “Ted Slander,” because it sounds a lot like “Ned Flanders,” a Christian that I certainly look up to. But you’ve got a long way to catch up with Springfield’s finest evangelical . . . (Oops, I think I just revealed that I’ve watched The Simpsons! Watch Ted Slander take me to task for that, instead of addressing the REAL issues here.)

    I don’t see how you can live with your hypocritical self.

    May God have mercy on your judgmental, misguided soul. Because I’m having trouble having much mercy on it myself — but, Ted Slander, the ball is in your court. Has been for days now. It’s your turn to make this mess right. You started it, and you CAN fix it — or at least give it a try. Let’s see what kind of a man you really are. Try to make this right, Ted. Tell the world that you were absolutely wrong to write that initial headline. Confess that you have lied and misrepresented Christianity Today. Tell everyone how you’ve unnecessarily hurt a lot of feelings with your judgmental attitudes. Do those things, and I’ll seriously consider dropping the “Ted Slander” shtick. I might even start calling you Ned.

    Still steaming, but desiring a peaceful resolution,

    mm

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Also, I should correct when I said (@77) that Mark (@75) is “not ‘name calling’”. I didn’t notice that he’d written “Slander” instead of “Slater”, which, if perhaps not “name calling”, certainly is juvenile.

    Of course, Mark has a legitimate reason to use the word “slander”, but, as written, it’s a bit much.

    Anyhow, have you guys tried calling each other and talking about this? Once things get more personal than debate-oriented, it’s really hard to have a decent discussion in front of the whole Internet. (And I say this fully aware of my hypocrisy, having engaged in more than my fair share of ticked-off discussions here and elsewhere.)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Also, I should correct when I said (@77) that Mark (@75) is “not ‘name calling’”. I didn’t notice that he’d written “Slander” instead of “Slater”, which, if perhaps not “name calling”, certainly is juvenile.

    Of course, Mark has a legitimate reason to use the word “slander”, but, as written, it’s a bit much.

    Anyhow, have you guys tried calling each other and talking about this? Once things get more personal than debate-oriented, it’s really hard to have a decent discussion in front of the whole Internet. (And I say this fully aware of my hypocrisy, having engaged in more than my fair share of ticked-off discussions here and elsewhere.)

  • Martin Stillion

    In case anyone is wondering about the distinction between “slander” and “libel,” let’s note that Ted repeated some of his accusations in the Boundless podcast. Which is slander, whereas the stuff on his blog is libel. So we needn’t reach for our Occam’s razors to split that particular hair.

    But Mark — your impending vacation appears to be well timed. Peace to you, brother.

    I have decided to weigh in on my own turf. We should not presume further upon Gene’s patience.

  • Martin Stillion

    In case anyone is wondering about the distinction between “slander” and “libel,” let’s note that Ted repeated some of his accusations in the Boundless podcast. Which is slander, whereas the stuff on his blog is libel. So we needn’t reach for our Occam’s razors to split that particular hair.

    But Mark — your impending vacation appears to be well timed. Peace to you, brother.

    I have decided to weigh in on my own turf. We should not presume further upon Gene’s patience.

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

    Mark,

    Thank you for your apology. I accept it.

    I could have done better with the headline. This would have been less divisive: “CT Defends Watching SATC”; the blog post would have gone on to explain why so many folks had a problem with the review and your defense of watching sexually trivializing movies like SATC.

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

    Mark,

    Thank you for your apology. I accept it.

    I could have done better with the headline. This would have been less divisive: “CT Defends Watching SATC”; the blog post would have gone on to explain why so many folks had a problem with the review and your defense of watching sexually trivializing movies like SATC.

  • http://www.christianitytodaymovies.com Mark Moring

    Thanks for accepting the apology, Ted. Of course, no word about forgiveness. Nor any apology from you. Only saying that “I could have done better with the headline.” Not, “I was wrong. I was slanderous. I was sinful.” Not a peep.

    And, of course, you end your blog post with yet ANOTHER misrepresentation and taking things out of context.

    You’re still a liar and a hypocrite, guilty of slander.

  • http://www.christianitytodaymovies.com Mark Moring

    Thanks for accepting the apology, Ted. Of course, no word about forgiveness. Nor any apology from you. Only saying that “I could have done better with the headline.” Not, “I was wrong. I was slanderous. I was sinful.” Not a peep.

    And, of course, you end your blog post with yet ANOTHER misrepresentation and taking things out of context.

    You’re still a liar and a hypocrite, guilty of slander.

  • 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://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Pooh. Wrong tab. Please ignore my previous comment (@84) — it was meant for the other entry (“Christians reviewing movies”). Paste error.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Pooh. Wrong tab. Please ignore my previous comment (@84) — it was meant for the other entry (“Christians reviewing movies”). Paste error.

  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey
  • http://lookingcloser.wordpress.com Jeffrey
  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    What I meant to write over here was in response to Ted’s comment (@82) that “I could have done better with the headline.”

    Ted, you still can do better! The headline is still there! And you can still change it! If that headline was too divisive, then it still is too divisive. Why not change it to a more honest, more loving headline and, if you feel the need, note somewhere in italics that you’ve edited away the old headline, which was wrong for these reasons.

    Produce fruit in keeping with repentance and all — since I doubt that any future readers of that headline will come over to this blog to get more context on what you should have said.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    What I meant to write over here was in response to Ted’s comment (@82) that “I could have done better with the headline.”

    Ted, you still can do better! The headline is still there! And you can still change it! If that headline was too divisive, then it still is too divisive. Why not change it to a more honest, more loving headline and, if you feel the need, note somewhere in italics that you’ve edited away the old headline, which was wrong for these reasons.

    Produce fruit in keeping with repentance and all — since I doubt that any future readers of that headline will come over to this blog to get more context on what you should have said.

  • 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.christianitytodaymovies.com Mark Moring

    OK, Ted. Game over. A couple of reasons:

    1) I’m leaving for vacation in less than an hour. The car’s almost packed. And I’m MOSTLY going to avoid thinking about this while I’m enjoying 3 weeks of R&R.

    2) I say “mostly,” because I will be talking about it to one person — my brother in law, one of Virginia’s finest attorneys. What I am 99% sure is an open and shut case of slander will then become 100% sure. So, when I say “Game over,” here’s how YOU need to end it, because the ball is clearly in your court.

    You need to do more than say “I could’ve done better with that headline” in the posts on Gene Veith’s website. You need to write a blog post at
    Boundless under this headline: “I Apologize to Christianity Today,” and then proceed to write a blog that:

    a) Details what you’re apologizing for, including not just the headline, but your lies and misrepresentations and bearing false witness against me, Camerin and everyone at CTI.

    b) Clearly repents of your sins in this matter.

    c) Beseeches your readers to forgive you.

    d) Write a letter of apology — on paper, not your blog — to Christianity Today’s administration, with copies to me, and post the text of that letter on your blog.

    And most of all, let the Holy Spirit guide you in this process. But I’ve gotta go finish packing the car.

    I fully expect this matter to be resolved in this way in the next three weeks. If it’s not, I will have to consider taking the counsel of others here and of my brother in law, and it’s possible that some far more legal words will occur in our next correspondence.

    As for listening to the Spirit, let me remind you that that includes listening to the counsel of mature Christians who have weighed in on this matter, and strongly advised you to fix this. No one else can fix it, Ted, and you haven’t done anything to fix it.

    Ball’s in your court. For your sake, and Focus’s, let’s hope that word “court” remains merely a metaphor, and that I don’t see you on, or in, one.

    Do the right thing, Ted. I know you CAN, and I hope you WILL.

    peace (and I mean it),

    mm

  • http://www.christianitytodaymovies.com Mark Moring

    OK, Ted. Game over. A couple of reasons:

    1) I’m leaving for vacation in less than an hour. The car’s almost packed. And I’m MOSTLY going to avoid thinking about this while I’m enjoying 3 weeks of R&R.

    2) I say “mostly,” because I will be talking about it to one person — my brother in law, one of Virginia’s finest attorneys. What I am 99% sure is an open and shut case of slander will then become 100% sure. So, when I say “Game over,” here’s how YOU need to end it, because the ball is clearly in your court.

    You need to do more than say “I could’ve done better with that headline” in the posts on Gene Veith’s website. You need to write a blog post at
    Boundless under this headline: “I Apologize to Christianity Today,” and then proceed to write a blog that:

    a) Details what you’re apologizing for, including not just the headline, but your lies and misrepresentations and bearing false witness against me, Camerin and everyone at CTI.

    b) Clearly repents of your sins in this matter.

    c) Beseeches your readers to forgive you.

    d) Write a letter of apology — on paper, not your blog — to Christianity Today’s administration, with copies to me, and post the text of that letter on your blog.

    And most of all, let the Holy Spirit guide you in this process. But I’ve gotta go finish packing the car.

    I fully expect this matter to be resolved in this way in the next three weeks. If it’s not, I will have to consider taking the counsel of others here and of my brother in law, and it’s possible that some far more legal words will occur in our next correspondence.

    As for listening to the Spirit, let me remind you that that includes listening to the counsel of mature Christians who have weighed in on this matter, and strongly advised you to fix this. No one else can fix it, Ted, and you haven’t done anything to fix it.

    Ball’s in your court. For your sake, and Focus’s, let’s hope that word “court” remains merely a metaphor, and that I don’t see you on, or in, one.

    Do the right thing, Ted. I know you CAN, and I hope you WILL.

    peace (and I mean it),

    mm

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Wow, Mark (@89). Wrong response. 1 Corinthians 6:

    If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another — and this in front of unbelievers!

    Mark, please don’t sue Ted. What possible good would that do for the Church?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Wow, Mark (@89). Wrong response. 1 Corinthians 6:

    If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another — and this in front of unbelievers!

    Mark, please don’t sue Ted. What possible good would that do for the Church?

  • http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/ Rebecca LuElla Miller

    Mark, I am astounded. You admit you are angry, then go off on Ted, as if your being injured gives you some kind of immunity to following Scripture. “Speak the truth” has the context of “in love,” and nothing I’ve read of your comments indicates any love.

    Here Booklover asks a hearfelt question (comment #7) and you and the rest ignore it to carry on this grudge match. You and Ted should both be ashamed of your public behavior. The lies, the judgmental attitudes, the name calling, the accusations, and now the threats. It should make every Christian weep.

    What did Jesus say would be the thing to win the world? Our love for each other?

    Screwtape couldn’t have engineered a better situation than this one if he tried!

    Becky

  • http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/ Rebecca LuElla Miller

    Mark, I am astounded. You admit you are angry, then go off on Ted, as if your being injured gives you some kind of immunity to following Scripture. “Speak the truth” has the context of “in love,” and nothing I’ve read of your comments indicates any love.

    Here Booklover asks a hearfelt question (comment #7) and you and the rest ignore it to carry on this grudge match. You and Ted should both be ashamed of your public behavior. The lies, the judgmental attitudes, the name calling, the accusations, and now the threats. It should make every Christian weep.

    What did Jesus say would be the thing to win the world? Our love for each other?

    Screwtape couldn’t have engineered a better situation than this one if he tried!

    Becky

  • Don S

    tODD, well said. Mark, please don’t do this. There are Christian mediation services which can help you resolve this matter in a biblical way. Peacemaker Ministries is one such, but there are others.

    I and others have already posted long ago that this and related threads have gone on publicly far too long. You are harming your ongoing ministries and your relationships with God and the Body. You gentlemen need to take this off-line and as believers you have an obligation to reconcile to one another. Please take some time to pray, read scripture, consult with trusted spiritual advisers, and pray some more. Then, once you have cooled off, get together privately in some manner and get right.

  • Don S

    tODD, well said. Mark, please don’t do this. There are Christian mediation services which can help you resolve this matter in a biblical way. Peacemaker Ministries is one such, but there are others.

    I and others have already posted long ago that this and related threads have gone on publicly far too long. You are harming your ongoing ministries and your relationships with God and the Body. You gentlemen need to take this off-line and as believers you have an obligation to reconcile to one another. Please take some time to pray, read scripture, consult with trusted spiritual advisers, and pray some more. Then, once you have cooled off, get together privately in some manner and get right.

  • http://www.christianitytodaymovies.com Mark Moring

    Friends,

    Thanks for the good counsel. Yes, I’m very ticked at Ted’s refusal to back down from his slanderous comments, and out of my anger — and my hope to get it resolved before going on vacation (which I’m now on) — I brought up the word “legal” and “court.” I have no PLANS to pursue this route, and certainly don’t want to. I would prefer that Ted handle this and do the right thing, and that it NOT come to that.

    So, Ted, to clarify, I don’t currently have any plans to pursue things in a legal manner. As my friends here have advised, that was a hotheaded post. And though I still believe you have slandered us and misrepresented us (and these friends would concur), I have no plans to pursue anything legally right now. So put your mind at rest on that front.

    But I still hope — as do our friends — that you will take the right steps to fix things here, as many of us have encouraged you.

    thanks,

    mark

  • http://www.christianitytodaymovies.com Mark Moring

    Friends,

    Thanks for the good counsel. Yes, I’m very ticked at Ted’s refusal to back down from his slanderous comments, and out of my anger — and my hope to get it resolved before going on vacation (which I’m now on) — I brought up the word “legal” and “court.” I have no PLANS to pursue this route, and certainly don’t want to. I would prefer that Ted handle this and do the right thing, and that it NOT come to that.

    So, Ted, to clarify, I don’t currently have any plans to pursue things in a legal manner. As my friends here have advised, that was a hotheaded post. And though I still believe you have slandered us and misrepresented us (and these friends would concur), I have no plans to pursue anything legally right now. So put your mind at rest on that front.

    But I still hope — as do our friends — that you will take the right steps to fix things here, as many of us have encouraged you.

    thanks,

    mark

  • http://paraklesis.com sally apokedak

    Gene,

    What makes you think a doctor is detached when he’s operating on a naked body? I’ve talked to doctors who say that isn’t true. They say they don’t struggle like they did as teens, but they do still struggle with the images burned into their brains.

    Even if they don’t struggle much at all, operating on a naked body and watching graphic, hot, sweaty sex enacted on the big screen are hardly comparable activities.

    I find it hard to believe that anyone, man or woman, can watch graphic sex scenes and not be affected adversely. It is porn, plain and simple. I’m not sure there’s ever a time that it’s OK to watch porn.

    It can be argued that to operate on the naked body brings about some good that outweighs the damage that might be done to the doctor. I’m not sure the possible good that might come from reviewing Sex in the City makes it a worthwhile endeavor for Christian reviewers.

    sally

  • http://paraklesis.com sally apokedak

    Gene,

    What makes you think a doctor is detached when he’s operating on a naked body? I’ve talked to doctors who say that isn’t true. They say they don’t struggle like they did as teens, but they do still struggle with the images burned into their brains.

    Even if they don’t struggle much at all, operating on a naked body and watching graphic, hot, sweaty sex enacted on the big screen are hardly comparable activities.

    I find it hard to believe that anyone, man or woman, can watch graphic sex scenes and not be affected adversely. It is porn, plain and simple. I’m not sure there’s ever a time that it’s OK to watch porn.

    It can be argued that to operate on the naked body brings about some good that outweighs the damage that might be done to the doctor. I’m not sure the possible good that might come from reviewing Sex in the City makes it a worthwhile endeavor for Christian reviewers.

    sally

  • Miss S

    Wow, the comments on this blog post come across unloving and without charity. It amazes me that mature Christain men are responding in such a backhanded way to resolve a conflict with another brother in the Lord. Is this an appropriate venue to air such grievances? My prayers are for a peaceable ending for all involved.

  • Miss S

    Wow, the comments on this blog post come across unloving and without charity. It amazes me that mature Christain men are responding in such a backhanded way to resolve a conflict with another brother in the Lord. Is this an appropriate venue to air such grievances? My prayers are for a peaceable ending for all involved.