What’s with today’s Christians and movies?

The Washington Post had a big story about a new venture in “doing church” in which a network of cutting edged congregations is meeting in movie theaters:  From a movie theater church, pastor Mark Batterson blends orthodoxy and innovation – The Washington Post.

I’ve noticed that evangelicals today are often fixated on movies.  They seem to think that movies drive the culture and that making movies is a way to change the culture.

I’m not against that, by any means.  I teach a course in film.  But I don’t know that I like movies more than, say, novels or epic poems.  Yes, films have vast artistic potential–though few are interested in even trying to reach that potential, the commercial motives dominating so much of the film world. And, yes, films can explore spiritual truths, though that poses particular challenges for a visual medium. Why are Christians today more interested in movies, than, say, in literature or even the other visual arts?

I think it’s good that Christians are getting so interested in film.  But I’m curious about why.  When I was growing up, I had a friend from a really strict church that wouldn’t let him go to movies.  This at a time when most movies were pretty much innocent.  Now that stance seems quite rare, if it exists at all, and we seem to be at the other extreme, even though movies have become much less innocent.

I’m curious about your thoughts.  And go ahead and discuss the Oscars if you want to.  I’ve seen more of the nominated films than I have for some time, though I was not all that impressed with them (though I have Tree of Life on DVD but haven’t watched it yet) and made no effort to watch the Academy Awards.   That two of the leading pictures up for awards are about silent movies–The Artist and Hugo–is good in a way.  Hollywood is discovering its traditions, which is healthy, and silent movies are very much worth seeing, being pure examples of visual story telling and some of the classic silent films do that in a stunning way.  On the other hand, all of this looking back–when you add in all of the rummaging through old comic book collections, sequels, prequels, and remakes of  movies made not all that long ago–may be a sign of creative paralysis.  Which indeed would mean an opening for Christians, if we could only recover the Christian imagination.

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.

  • Doug

    That last line, Dr. Veith, is right on, “if we could only recover the Christian imagination.” Christians apparently have no imagination whatsoever. All we do is rip off the world. Christian music, movies, t-shirts and books all lack originality. If I hear of one more Christian movie that involves some under privileged kid in some small town overcoming all odds to win at something I am going to scream.

  • Doug

    That last line, Dr. Veith, is right on, “if we could only recover the Christian imagination.” Christians apparently have no imagination whatsoever. All we do is rip off the world. Christian music, movies, t-shirts and books all lack originality. If I hear of one more Christian movie that involves some under privileged kid in some small town overcoming all odds to win at something I am going to scream.

  • Dan Kempin

    Your questions about Christian culture and film are compelling, but there was something else in the article that interested me. It seems that this venue was not chosen because of a fixation on movies, but because of a trend of architecture in the new culture.

    “In an urban environment, a church building is a thing of the past. We’ll approach this like a developer,” he said in an interview.

    I think that, in it’s own way, is brilliant. A retro movie theater, no longer suited to the business model of cinema, would be well suited for a church service, have great location, and have positive associations to boot. It could still be used for screenings and movies, and is much better positioned to reach unbelievers than a megachurch building on the outskirts of nowhere or a spired building tucked away in a neighborhood that intimidates those who have never been inside a church. Plus, it would probably have much better resale value.

    I wouldn’t want pastor Batterson anywhere near the pulpit of my church, but I’d love to have him on the steering committee for a new building.

  • Dan Kempin

    Your questions about Christian culture and film are compelling, but there was something else in the article that interested me. It seems that this venue was not chosen because of a fixation on movies, but because of a trend of architecture in the new culture.

    “In an urban environment, a church building is a thing of the past. We’ll approach this like a developer,” he said in an interview.

    I think that, in it’s own way, is brilliant. A retro movie theater, no longer suited to the business model of cinema, would be well suited for a church service, have great location, and have positive associations to boot. It could still be used for screenings and movies, and is much better positioned to reach unbelievers than a megachurch building on the outskirts of nowhere or a spired building tucked away in a neighborhood that intimidates those who have never been inside a church. Plus, it would probably have much better resale value.

    I wouldn’t want pastor Batterson anywhere near the pulpit of my church, but I’d love to have him on the steering committee for a new building.

  • Michael B.

    “I’ve noticed that evangelicals today are often fixated on movies. They seem to think that movies drive the culture and that making movies is a way to change the culture.”

    I agree. It seems like Evangelicals greatly exaggerate how influential films are. I heard from this pastor who thought that a liberal might watch “Facing the Giants” and all of a sudden be moved toward a religious lifestyle.

  • Michael B.

    “I’ve noticed that evangelicals today are often fixated on movies. They seem to think that movies drive the culture and that making movies is a way to change the culture.”

    I agree. It seems like Evangelicals greatly exaggerate how influential films are. I heard from this pastor who thought that a liberal might watch “Facing the Giants” and all of a sudden be moved toward a religious lifestyle.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    TCM.

    The only way to fly.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    TCM.

    The only way to fly.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    “I’ve noticed that evangelicals today are often fixated on movies. They seem to think that movies drive the culture and that making movies is a way to change the culture.”

    The Medium is the Message.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    “I’ve noticed that evangelicals today are often fixated on movies. They seem to think that movies drive the culture and that making movies is a way to change the culture.”

    The Medium is the Message.

  • #4 Kitty

    “if we could only recover the Christian imagination.”
    I don’t think I’ve heard of that term before. Does it refer to a time when Christian iconography was at the forefront of art and culture? I wouldn’t mind seeing that myself. However, we’re still very much a nation of Puritans; a group which has not always had the best relationship with the arts.

  • #4 Kitty

    “if we could only recover the Christian imagination.”
    I don’t think I’ve heard of that term before. Does it refer to a time when Christian iconography was at the forefront of art and culture? I wouldn’t mind seeing that myself. However, we’re still very much a nation of Puritans; a group which has not always had the best relationship with the arts.

  • MarkB

    When I took a course on media in college, it was stated that reading books was an intellectual endevour, but watching a movie was more emotional. So could this just be following the trend of more visualization in everything we do which then involves everyone being more emotional in their reaction?

  • MarkB

    When I took a course on media in college, it was stated that reading books was an intellectual endevour, but watching a movie was more emotional. So could this just be following the trend of more visualization in everything we do which then involves everyone being more emotional in their reaction?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Agree completely about the need to recover the Christian imagination. While I admire the heart and desire of people making movies like Fireproof, Courageous and Facing the Giants, too often the writers and producers are so anxious to get the message out that they sacrifice any sense of the artistic. Christian movies may have the message right, but they lose their artistry in the process more often than not.

    To be frank, the movies (and entertainment in general) are a poor substitute for the pulpit. As Mike @ 5 said: The Medium is the Message. It’s fine for entertainment, and as a suppliment to the Christian life it can be a good thing, but it’s not a replacement for the simple preaching of the gospel. When we watch a movie, we don’ do so for the sake of instruction; we do it because we want to be amused, and that mentality carries over even into our Christian movies.

    I’m just happy when I see a positive Christian portrayal in movies, like in the movie A River Runs Through It, where the Presbyterian pastor played by Tom Skerritt is shown to be a strict but good father who is appreciated by his sons, even by the more rebellious one.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Agree completely about the need to recover the Christian imagination. While I admire the heart and desire of people making movies like Fireproof, Courageous and Facing the Giants, too often the writers and producers are so anxious to get the message out that they sacrifice any sense of the artistic. Christian movies may have the message right, but they lose their artistry in the process more often than not.

    To be frank, the movies (and entertainment in general) are a poor substitute for the pulpit. As Mike @ 5 said: The Medium is the Message. It’s fine for entertainment, and as a suppliment to the Christian life it can be a good thing, but it’s not a replacement for the simple preaching of the gospel. When we watch a movie, we don’ do so for the sake of instruction; we do it because we want to be amused, and that mentality carries over even into our Christian movies.

    I’m just happy when I see a positive Christian portrayal in movies, like in the movie A River Runs Through It, where the Presbyterian pastor played by Tom Skerritt is shown to be a strict but good father who is appreciated by his sons, even by the more rebellious one.

  • sandi

    I meet weekly we a group of college age students to discuss books and movies. The movie discussion is what draws them in; they want to discuss what they are watching. My intent is to get them to read good books, which they find much more difficult to accomplish. On a very simple level any discussion of what’s going on in the culture and how we might take that captive for Christ is engaging. I am finding that this generation is looking for some kind of “family” environment within the church. Watching movies together is just one way to offer this. Half the group is lame when it comes to finishing books, they don’t seem to have the discipline. But at least we are offering the motivation to practice the discipline..but again, the movies are so much easier. These guys have so much electronic distraction that movies are just part of the on-going flow. But taking the time to talk about movies get them thinking on a deeper level about many topics that they just might “accept”, when in fact, they need to learn to take them captive. I would disagree with the movie theaters as churches concept. I’m from California and we have thousands of those kinds of churches. It might be fine for my “hang loose” generation. But I see that it has produced in the next generation a real lack of understanding of worship, holiness, something set apart within the culture. And artistically it is just another example of our non-artistic, no imagination approach to the culture. A beautiful church building speaks about the beauty that we (humans) want to create to express who God is. It is not a good thing when the church “looks like” the rest of the culture.

  • sandi

    I meet weekly we a group of college age students to discuss books and movies. The movie discussion is what draws them in; they want to discuss what they are watching. My intent is to get them to read good books, which they find much more difficult to accomplish. On a very simple level any discussion of what’s going on in the culture and how we might take that captive for Christ is engaging. I am finding that this generation is looking for some kind of “family” environment within the church. Watching movies together is just one way to offer this. Half the group is lame when it comes to finishing books, they don’t seem to have the discipline. But at least we are offering the motivation to practice the discipline..but again, the movies are so much easier. These guys have so much electronic distraction that movies are just part of the on-going flow. But taking the time to talk about movies get them thinking on a deeper level about many topics that they just might “accept”, when in fact, they need to learn to take them captive. I would disagree with the movie theaters as churches concept. I’m from California and we have thousands of those kinds of churches. It might be fine for my “hang loose” generation. But I see that it has produced in the next generation a real lack of understanding of worship, holiness, something set apart within the culture. And artistically it is just another example of our non-artistic, no imagination approach to the culture. A beautiful church building speaks about the beauty that we (humans) want to create to express who God is. It is not a good thing when the church “looks like” the rest of the culture.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Out here in Mennonite country, where even Lutherans are ghastly outsiders, censorious attitudes to movies is not uncommon, though less prevalent than before, I gather.

    But I’m completely with Doug: Sappy, Hallmarkish Christianity prevails everywhere, nowadays. The Christianity in Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (for instance) is stronger than in any “Christian” movie to have appeared over the last number of years. Probably decades.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Out here in Mennonite country, where even Lutherans are ghastly outsiders, censorious attitudes to movies is not uncommon, though less prevalent than before, I gather.

    But I’m completely with Doug: Sappy, Hallmarkish Christianity prevails everywhere, nowadays. The Christianity in Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (for instance) is stronger than in any “Christian” movie to have appeared over the last number of years. Probably decades.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I think part of the fixation is because movies and tv have surplanted written media as the major means of communication. I don’t have hard data, but it is a perception that is out there.

    It is also driven by the not quite underground Christian subculture. There are a group of people want to have their cake but eat it too. They see the falling moors of society and so they desire to seperate themselves. Yet, at the same time they don’t want to give up their precious time at the theater eating over priced popcorn and having their feet stick to the floor. So, they try to put together reasonably done movies that the major distributors pick up to fill dead space.

    While I admire the willingness of people to try and put together movies with reasonable production quality, movies like Facing the Giants etc haven’t impressed me with their story telling. To be honest the a fore mentioned movie was like every sports movie I have ever seen but with prayer.

    Now if somebody were to translate some of Walker’s books or Maier’s books into film, maybe I would get a bit more excited about Christian movies. I have to admit though, the hack jobs that were the Narnia sequels makes me pretty leery of what would be made of their books.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I think part of the fixation is because movies and tv have surplanted written media as the major means of communication. I don’t have hard data, but it is a perception that is out there.

    It is also driven by the not quite underground Christian subculture. There are a group of people want to have their cake but eat it too. They see the falling moors of society and so they desire to seperate themselves. Yet, at the same time they don’t want to give up their precious time at the theater eating over priced popcorn and having their feet stick to the floor. So, they try to put together reasonably done movies that the major distributors pick up to fill dead space.

    While I admire the willingness of people to try and put together movies with reasonable production quality, movies like Facing the Giants etc haven’t impressed me with their story telling. To be honest the a fore mentioned movie was like every sports movie I have ever seen but with prayer.

    Now if somebody were to translate some of Walker’s books or Maier’s books into film, maybe I would get a bit more excited about Christian movies. I have to admit though, the hack jobs that were the Narnia sequels makes me pretty leery of what would be made of their books.

  • http://jdueck.net Joel D.

    J. Dean says “To be frank, the movies (and entertainment in general) are a poor substitute for the pulpit.” I don’t see anyone pushing one as a substitute for the other, so I’m not sure what he’s talking about. But if I had to choose between a culture that valued talking about truth and one that valued portraying truth, I’d choose the latter in a heartbeat.

  • http://jdueck.net Joel D.

    J. Dean says “To be frank, the movies (and entertainment in general) are a poor substitute for the pulpit.” I don’t see anyone pushing one as a substitute for the other, so I’m not sure what he’s talking about. But if I had to choose between a culture that valued talking about truth and one that valued portraying truth, I’d choose the latter in a heartbeat.

  • http://jdueck.net Joel D.

    J. Dean @ 8: “When we watch a movie, we don’ do so for the sake of instruction; we do it because we want to be amused.”

    Dr. Luther @ 11: “[Those in the Christian subculture] don’t want to give up their precious time at the theater eating over priced popcorn and having their feet stick to the floor.”

    Wow. Either of you care to spend any time backing up these sweeping generalizations?

  • http://jdueck.net Joel D.

    J. Dean @ 8: “When we watch a movie, we don’ do so for the sake of instruction; we do it because we want to be amused.”

    Dr. Luther @ 11: “[Those in the Christian subculture] don’t want to give up their precious time at the theater eating over priced popcorn and having their feet stick to the floor.”

    Wow. Either of you care to spend any time backing up these sweeping generalizations?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Joel D @ 13: tell me whether or not the last time you went to Blockbuster or visited Netflix that you did so for sound theological instruction.

    And assuming you did (which I seriously doubt you would if you have any sense, as I presume you do), you would be in the minority of movie watchers-the EXTREME minority.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Joel D @ 13: tell me whether or not the last time you went to Blockbuster or visited Netflix that you did so for sound theological instruction.

    And assuming you did (which I seriously doubt you would if you have any sense, as I presume you do), you would be in the minority of movie watchers-the EXTREME minority.

  • DonS

    Hmm. The posted article has very little to do with Dr. Veith’s post and topic. The article is about a church meeting in a movie theater, which they are converting for church use. There is no indication that the particular church is “fixated on movies”. Nor is there any other provided evidence that Christians are “often fixated on movies”.

    To the point of the article, real estate in Washington D.C. and in many other urbanized areas is very expensive and highly regulated. This particular church is re-purposing a movie theater because it is available, and convenient to the congregation. A lot of start-up churches in our area begin in active movie theaters, because the theaters are naturally formatted for the gathering of a group for worship, and sometimes schools just aren’t available or want to charge too high of a rent. Since moves aren’t typically shown until about noon on Sundays, it works out. It’s not a “fixation on movies” thing, it’s a “need a place to gather” thing.

    As for movies in general, and Christians’ relationship to them, legalism of the sort you describe was rampant in the middle 20th Century, particularly in fundamentalist churches. Not only were movies off-limits, so was alcohol, smoking, face cards, dancing, etc. To say it’s a fixation on movies that has caused the cultural shift toward Christians relaxing their legalistic attitude towards movies is to miss the point. The same thing has happened with the other formerly forbidden activities, such as dancing, cards, and the like.

    Movies and television are the primary cultural medium for most Americans today. Not a good thing, but it’s true. Plenty of Christians are writing fiction and non-fiction books today, but the fact of the matter is that most Americans no longer read, at least once they are done with school. You are not going to have a major impact on this culture by writing poems. It is for this reason that some young Christian filmmakers have taken up the challenge to write and produce movies that portray Christian values. Some of the early efforts were hokie and art-less, but as time goes by and some really talented young people are entering the industry, this is changing rapidly. Hollywood, for the most part, is deeply opposed to biblical values and morality. I’m glad there are talented filmmakers who are willing to fill the void. And, the funny thing is, their films tend to do very well at the box office.

  • DonS

    Hmm. The posted article has very little to do with Dr. Veith’s post and topic. The article is about a church meeting in a movie theater, which they are converting for church use. There is no indication that the particular church is “fixated on movies”. Nor is there any other provided evidence that Christians are “often fixated on movies”.

    To the point of the article, real estate in Washington D.C. and in many other urbanized areas is very expensive and highly regulated. This particular church is re-purposing a movie theater because it is available, and convenient to the congregation. A lot of start-up churches in our area begin in active movie theaters, because the theaters are naturally formatted for the gathering of a group for worship, and sometimes schools just aren’t available or want to charge too high of a rent. Since moves aren’t typically shown until about noon on Sundays, it works out. It’s not a “fixation on movies” thing, it’s a “need a place to gather” thing.

    As for movies in general, and Christians’ relationship to them, legalism of the sort you describe was rampant in the middle 20th Century, particularly in fundamentalist churches. Not only were movies off-limits, so was alcohol, smoking, face cards, dancing, etc. To say it’s a fixation on movies that has caused the cultural shift toward Christians relaxing their legalistic attitude towards movies is to miss the point. The same thing has happened with the other formerly forbidden activities, such as dancing, cards, and the like.

    Movies and television are the primary cultural medium for most Americans today. Not a good thing, but it’s true. Plenty of Christians are writing fiction and non-fiction books today, but the fact of the matter is that most Americans no longer read, at least once they are done with school. You are not going to have a major impact on this culture by writing poems. It is for this reason that some young Christian filmmakers have taken up the challenge to write and produce movies that portray Christian values. Some of the early efforts were hokie and art-less, but as time goes by and some really talented young people are entering the industry, this is changing rapidly. Hollywood, for the most part, is deeply opposed to biblical values and morality. I’m glad there are talented filmmakers who are willing to fill the void. And, the funny thing is, their films tend to do very well at the box office.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#13
    Certainly, if I received a nickle for every time I heard somebody tell me, I only see Christian movies, I would be a rich man.

    The ubiquity of Christian “book”stores is evidence enough of this sub-culture that largely manifests itself by slapping a prayer or random bible verse on something and then calls itself Christian.

    Much of it boils down to a simple desire to retain the ambiance but lose the guilty feeling of seeing something secular. I say this because if they actually cared about content they wouldn’t be settling for things like Facing The Giants, they would instead be demanding a story worth watching. They would be demanding music worth listening to and art worth appreciating. Instead they settle for a movie with a little morality and a prayer or two and call it good. So what is left but to say they want to keep the sticky floors and expensive popcorn while maintaining the facade of separating themselves from evil secular culture.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#13
    Certainly, if I received a nickle for every time I heard somebody tell me, I only see Christian movies, I would be a rich man.

    The ubiquity of Christian “book”stores is evidence enough of this sub-culture that largely manifests itself by slapping a prayer or random bible verse on something and then calls itself Christian.

    Much of it boils down to a simple desire to retain the ambiance but lose the guilty feeling of seeing something secular. I say this because if they actually cared about content they wouldn’t be settling for things like Facing The Giants, they would instead be demanding a story worth watching. They would be demanding music worth listening to and art worth appreciating. Instead they settle for a movie with a little morality and a prayer or two and call it good. So what is left but to say they want to keep the sticky floors and expensive popcorn while maintaining the facade of separating themselves from evil secular culture.

  • http://jdueck.net Joel D.

    J. Dean, you choose to speak of theological instruction and “amusement” as though they are opposites and extremes, and that because “we” aren’t motivated by the former, it must somehow be the latter. You might just as well say “no one reads Charles Dickens or goes to a performance of Liszt to get theological instruction, they just do it to be amused.” Both make the same kind of lazy claim (“we all do it for the same reason”). Because people all watch Tree of Life for the exact same reason they watch Snakes on a Plane, right? The former won wide acclaim and several awards from shallow movie-watchers who “just want to be amused,” while the latter was a box-office failure.

  • http://jdueck.net Joel D.

    J. Dean, you choose to speak of theological instruction and “amusement” as though they are opposites and extremes, and that because “we” aren’t motivated by the former, it must somehow be the latter. You might just as well say “no one reads Charles Dickens or goes to a performance of Liszt to get theological instruction, they just do it to be amused.” Both make the same kind of lazy claim (“we all do it for the same reason”). Because people all watch Tree of Life for the exact same reason they watch Snakes on a Plane, right? The former won wide acclaim and several awards from shallow movie-watchers who “just want to be amused,” while the latter was a box-office failure.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Dr. Luther @ 16, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Dr. Luther @ 16, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Joel, Dean holds to a Anabaptist worldview, if I’m correct (he is neither Lutheran, nor Calvinist, nor Catholic, not Orthodox), so that is to be expected: He would not have access to a “theology of pleasure” – neither Lutheran, nor Kuyperian nor anything else.

    One’s theology determines ones views on amusement, and the common presence of the anabaptist (to call it thus) worldviews has just as much to do with the state of affairs Gene comments on as anything else.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Joel, Dean holds to a Anabaptist worldview, if I’m correct (he is neither Lutheran, nor Calvinist, nor Catholic, not Orthodox), so that is to be expected: He would not have access to a “theology of pleasure” – neither Lutheran, nor Kuyperian nor anything else.

    One’s theology determines ones views on amusement, and the common presence of the anabaptist (to call it thus) worldviews has just as much to do with the state of affairs Gene comments on as anything else.

  • Grace

    Most of my friends aren’t interested in going to the theater to watch films. The reason being, we don’t like them. I don’t want to see bloody, sexually explicit film.

    Most rent films, as my husband does (he loved “The Help”) I watched only a small part of it, but enjoyed it as well. You can watch in the comfort of your own home.

    The theaters here are not doing a great business, even though they are situated in the best parts of the city. Some theaters are now offering comfy seating in large chairs, with a variety of food selection and wine, as a way to entice more business. I don’t think it’s been all that successful.

    The twenty something’s are more apt to go and see a film.

  • Grace

    Most of my friends aren’t interested in going to the theater to watch films. The reason being, we don’t like them. I don’t want to see bloody, sexually explicit film.

    Most rent films, as my husband does (he loved “The Help”) I watched only a small part of it, but enjoyed it as well. You can watch in the comfort of your own home.

    The theaters here are not doing a great business, even though they are situated in the best parts of the city. Some theaters are now offering comfy seating in large chairs, with a variety of food selection and wine, as a way to entice more business. I don’t think it’s been all that successful.

    The twenty something’s are more apt to go and see a film.

  • SKPeterson

    KK @ 19 – Is that not then part of the loss of the Christian imagination, or part of its dumbing down? The Christian imagination used to encompass Bach, Caravaggio, El Greco, Vivaldi, Donne, Handel, Mozart, Dante, Goethe, Mendelsohn and more. Now, we have to go out of our way to find even “Harry Potter,” and yet have it be decried by the Anabaptists and their inheritance as not truly Christian. But trite, bodice-ripper writing (I hesitate to say literature) summarily gussied up with a veneer of religiosity (best done with a slight Mennonite or Amish twist for ‘authenticity’) is held up as the pinnacle of Christian literary achievement.

  • SKPeterson

    KK @ 19 – Is that not then part of the loss of the Christian imagination, or part of its dumbing down? The Christian imagination used to encompass Bach, Caravaggio, El Greco, Vivaldi, Donne, Handel, Mozart, Dante, Goethe, Mendelsohn and more. Now, we have to go out of our way to find even “Harry Potter,” and yet have it be decried by the Anabaptists and their inheritance as not truly Christian. But trite, bodice-ripper writing (I hesitate to say literature) summarily gussied up with a veneer of religiosity (best done with a slight Mennonite or Amish twist for ‘authenticity’) is held up as the pinnacle of Christian literary achievement.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    SKP – either descriptions would do, I guess. Dumbing down equates to loss, I think. But what is just as bad is that the receiving minds can, even when they are exposed to the real thing, no longer see it for what it is.

    The average enavgelical, when reading Jane Austen, for instance, would see a nice romantic story, and not a complex interplay of societal standards and classes with a razor sharp wit, and a critcal eye. Chesterton would be read as moralistic, and not as a complex interplay of Politcal Writing (and not a little left wing)and Traditional Christian/Catholic Apologetics, with a hilarious sense of humour.

    Liszt would be pretty music, and not a revultionary. Beethoven would by nice, and not a headstrong rebel.

    Etc etc.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    SKP – either descriptions would do, I guess. Dumbing down equates to loss, I think. But what is just as bad is that the receiving minds can, even when they are exposed to the real thing, no longer see it for what it is.

    The average enavgelical, when reading Jane Austen, for instance, would see a nice romantic story, and not a complex interplay of societal standards and classes with a razor sharp wit, and a critcal eye. Chesterton would be read as moralistic, and not as a complex interplay of Politcal Writing (and not a little left wing)and Traditional Christian/Catholic Apologetics, with a hilarious sense of humour.

    Liszt would be pretty music, and not a revultionary. Beethoven would by nice, and not a headstrong rebel.

    Etc etc.

  • Steve Billingsley
  • Steve Billingsley
  • SKPeterson

    Steve @ 23 – Point taken. I’m knocking crappy Christian art, but I do recognize that there are those out there who find it entertaining. Fair enough. At the end of the day, no matter how many Christian conversions take place by art or artifice in modern Christian literature, schlock is still schlock. So, I still stand aghast at those who promote this literature as the pinnacle of Christian art and deride examples of Christian art that actually transcend the tired limitations of what they hold aloft. Yes, “Janie and the Missionary” may provide entertainment for some, but that should not come at the expense of declaring it to be of better Christian value or value to the Christian than Goethe, or Donne, or Robert Frost.

  • SKPeterson

    Steve @ 23 – Point taken. I’m knocking crappy Christian art, but I do recognize that there are those out there who find it entertaining. Fair enough. At the end of the day, no matter how many Christian conversions take place by art or artifice in modern Christian literature, schlock is still schlock. So, I still stand aghast at those who promote this literature as the pinnacle of Christian art and deride examples of Christian art that actually transcend the tired limitations of what they hold aloft. Yes, “Janie and the Missionary” may provide entertainment for some, but that should not come at the expense of declaring it to be of better Christian value or value to the Christian than Goethe, or Donne, or Robert Frost.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@23), I can’t help but notice that, in your article, you’re fine with Christians who enjoy “crappy Christian art”. You’re fine with non-Christians who dislike it. You’re fine with everyone having their opinions about it … except, for some reason, Christians who don’t like such art.

    I’m not terribly invested in the whole of Christian art — I don’t have the time/inclination to consume it, much less critique it — but I won’t defend crappy Christian art any more than I will crappy Christian theology. And the reason for both is the same: because it presents itself as “Christian”, because it presumes to speak on my behalf.

    Crappy theology that presents itself as New Age thought or Shintoism? I really don’t care much about that. It is what it is. But “oneness” Pentecostals, legalistic types, or whomever else attempts to present themselves as “Christian”, I have an interest in defending against. Same with “Christian” art.

    Of course, my interest in the art will vary on how its Christianity is presented — both in terms of the theology and the audience. The more widespread a work is, especially among non-Christians, the more we Christians will need to speak up about it: do we agree with what it says? Does it represent Christianity’s tenets faithfully?

    Much “Christian” art is downright terrible about actually conveying the Gospel. It makes Christianity look like a system of morals whose main motto is “try harder”. I will not defend that.

    Now compare that to Giertz’s Hammer of God. I’m on record here as not being the biggest fan of that book from a literary point of view. But at the least its theology is rock-solid — light years beyond most of what you’ll find in a “Christian” book store. If all our “crappy Christian art” was at that level, I doubt I’d have as much to say about it as I do what TBN, et al., are peddling.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve (@23), I can’t help but notice that, in your article, you’re fine with Christians who enjoy “crappy Christian art”. You’re fine with non-Christians who dislike it. You’re fine with everyone having their opinions about it … except, for some reason, Christians who don’t like such art.

    I’m not terribly invested in the whole of Christian art — I don’t have the time/inclination to consume it, much less critique it — but I won’t defend crappy Christian art any more than I will crappy Christian theology. And the reason for both is the same: because it presents itself as “Christian”, because it presumes to speak on my behalf.

    Crappy theology that presents itself as New Age thought or Shintoism? I really don’t care much about that. It is what it is. But “oneness” Pentecostals, legalistic types, or whomever else attempts to present themselves as “Christian”, I have an interest in defending against. Same with “Christian” art.

    Of course, my interest in the art will vary on how its Christianity is presented — both in terms of the theology and the audience. The more widespread a work is, especially among non-Christians, the more we Christians will need to speak up about it: do we agree with what it says? Does it represent Christianity’s tenets faithfully?

    Much “Christian” art is downright terrible about actually conveying the Gospel. It makes Christianity look like a system of morals whose main motto is “try harder”. I will not defend that.

    Now compare that to Giertz’s Hammer of God. I’m on record here as not being the biggest fan of that book from a literary point of view. But at the least its theology is rock-solid — light years beyond most of what you’ll find in a “Christian” book store. If all our “crappy Christian art” was at that level, I doubt I’d have as much to say about it as I do what TBN, et al., are peddling.

  • Pete

    tODD @25 Much “Christian” art is downright terrible about actually conveying the Gospel. It makes Christianity look like a system of morals whose main motto is “try harder”. I will not defend that.

    Preach it, brother!

  • Pete

    tODD @25 Much “Christian” art is downright terrible about actually conveying the Gospel. It makes Christianity look like a system of morals whose main motto is “try harder”. I will not defend that.

    Preach it, brother!

  • JunkerGeorg

    I agree with those who find it hard to stomach “Christianized”, or rather, “Evangelicalized” copies of secular culture, whether it be in art, music, or movies. A good debate would simply be over the question of whether or not portraying truth in terms of how the world really is and/or can really be is good, neutral, or evil? Granted, ala St. Paul, what is permissable is not necessarily beneficial, and what may be “true” may not necessarily also be “good” or “wise” as things to portray/think upon. Still, I’m mindful of Luther’s Heidelburg Theses when it comes to what I appreciate in art/music/cinema, specifically thesis 21,

    “A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.”

    So, if a movie portrays a divorce, don’t sugarcoat it. Make it the grisly death it is. If a movie contains a tragic death, let there be mourning, rather than just a “Hey lady, stick a flower in your hat and smile, because Jesus is Lord!” kind of junk spoken with a triumphant smile by the likes of a “Kirk Cameron” (who is in so many of these types of movies). You know, the “Let’s get past Friday’s Cross for Sunday’s Open Tomb as quickly as possible” kind of lawless and gospel-less sentimental junk which I’d dare to speculate that our Lord himself might vomit over as much as He wept for the bereaved of Lazarus. But I rant…

  • JunkerGeorg

    I agree with those who find it hard to stomach “Christianized”, or rather, “Evangelicalized” copies of secular culture, whether it be in art, music, or movies. A good debate would simply be over the question of whether or not portraying truth in terms of how the world really is and/or can really be is good, neutral, or evil? Granted, ala St. Paul, what is permissable is not necessarily beneficial, and what may be “true” may not necessarily also be “good” or “wise” as things to portray/think upon. Still, I’m mindful of Luther’s Heidelburg Theses when it comes to what I appreciate in art/music/cinema, specifically thesis 21,

    “A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.”

    So, if a movie portrays a divorce, don’t sugarcoat it. Make it the grisly death it is. If a movie contains a tragic death, let there be mourning, rather than just a “Hey lady, stick a flower in your hat and smile, because Jesus is Lord!” kind of junk spoken with a triumphant smile by the likes of a “Kirk Cameron” (who is in so many of these types of movies). You know, the “Let’s get past Friday’s Cross for Sunday’s Open Tomb as quickly as possible” kind of lawless and gospel-less sentimental junk which I’d dare to speculate that our Lord himself might vomit over as much as He wept for the bereaved of Lazarus. But I rant…

  • Mary

    I’m reminded of a movie several years ago called The English Patient. It received it’s R rating for good reasons. What powerful themes. Mixed in of course with the requisite sex and violence. There was almost no redemption found in the movie, but I must say I came away from it with the most profound knowledge that- you sin, you die. I would guess that most Christians would shy away from it because of it’s darkness and the overt sex found in it, but what a jump off point to share the Gospel with someone.

  • Mary

    I’m reminded of a movie several years ago called The English Patient. It received it’s R rating for good reasons. What powerful themes. Mixed in of course with the requisite sex and violence. There was almost no redemption found in the movie, but I must say I came away from it with the most profound knowledge that- you sin, you die. I would guess that most Christians would shy away from it because of it’s darkness and the overt sex found in it, but what a jump off point to share the Gospel with someone.

  • kerner

    I love the movies. I don’t know if it is the overpriced popcorn or the sticky floors in the theaters, but whatever it is, I like movies. A well done movie is great entertainment and can be thought provoking (perhaps stimulating the “Christian imagination”, to borrow a phrase), just as a good book can be.

    And I don’t like the treacle that often passes for “Christian movies”…or “Christian music” or any other kind of “Christian” art.

    I personally like movies that portray people as they are, which is very often not a pretty picture. Take for example the movie “Crash”, which was about racism. I really enjoyed that movie, because it was one of those movies that has its characters saying out loud the things that people often think, but don’t say.

    But I have a friend who is a Pastor, who couldn’t get past the language that a lot of the characters were using in the movie, which was profain. He is one of those people who simply doesn’t find that sort of thing entertaining, no matter what the underlying message of the movie may be. I consider this a valid alternative position. Looking at sin realisticly may have its place in art and be very moving for many of us. But I understand if, for many Christians, it’s just not their idea of a good time.

    But one thing that causes me to give a movie maker points is when he doesn’t make Christians all look stupid. One of the things that Christians legitimately complain about, is that Hollywood can get away with ridiculing Christians (which it could not do with other religions) and regularly does exactly that. For a good example, see the movie “Amistad”, which was not made by Christians, but which portrays them, and Christianity itself, favorably. There are others that are harsher movies, but Amistad is one that won’t shock Christians too badly.

  • kerner

    I love the movies. I don’t know if it is the overpriced popcorn or the sticky floors in the theaters, but whatever it is, I like movies. A well done movie is great entertainment and can be thought provoking (perhaps stimulating the “Christian imagination”, to borrow a phrase), just as a good book can be.

    And I don’t like the treacle that often passes for “Christian movies”…or “Christian music” or any other kind of “Christian” art.

    I personally like movies that portray people as they are, which is very often not a pretty picture. Take for example the movie “Crash”, which was about racism. I really enjoyed that movie, because it was one of those movies that has its characters saying out loud the things that people often think, but don’t say.

    But I have a friend who is a Pastor, who couldn’t get past the language that a lot of the characters were using in the movie, which was profain. He is one of those people who simply doesn’t find that sort of thing entertaining, no matter what the underlying message of the movie may be. I consider this a valid alternative position. Looking at sin realisticly may have its place in art and be very moving for many of us. But I understand if, for many Christians, it’s just not their idea of a good time.

    But one thing that causes me to give a movie maker points is when he doesn’t make Christians all look stupid. One of the things that Christians legitimately complain about, is that Hollywood can get away with ridiculing Christians (which it could not do with other religions) and regularly does exactly that. For a good example, see the movie “Amistad”, which was not made by Christians, but which portrays them, and Christianity itself, favorably. There are others that are harsher movies, but Amistad is one that won’t shock Christians too badly.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Veith also said he doesn’t mind if we got into a discussion about the Oscars last night. I personally have seen only 2 of the winning movies – The Help, and Midnight In Paris. The former reminded me a lot of some things I saw in my childhood years, both good and bad – and it was a very good movie. But the latter goes on my list of all time favourites. The blow it gives to postmodern nostalgia is phenomenal – Woody Allen outdid himself. Of the others, I defintely want to see The Artist, Hugo, The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo and A Separation. Any comments?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Veith also said he doesn’t mind if we got into a discussion about the Oscars last night. I personally have seen only 2 of the winning movies – The Help, and Midnight In Paris. The former reminded me a lot of some things I saw in my childhood years, both good and bad – and it was a very good movie. But the latter goes on my list of all time favourites. The blow it gives to postmodern nostalgia is phenomenal – Woody Allen outdid himself. Of the others, I defintely want to see The Artist, Hugo, The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo and A Separation. Any comments?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Oh, and that flying book short animated feature – looked like fun!

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Oh, and that flying book short animated feature – looked like fun!

  • Michael B.

    I think we need to be much more careful about portraying most Christian art as inferior, unless we stick to modern times. Christianity has produced some of the most awe-inspiring art the world has ever seen. Even the most hardened person can’t be moved. If you’re doubtful, visit Papal Basilica of Saint Peter, or the Sistine Chapel, or just look at any of the countless beautiful works of art, like The Crowning of the Virgin by the Trinity (Velazquez).

  • Michael B.

    I think we need to be much more careful about portraying most Christian art as inferior, unless we stick to modern times. Christianity has produced some of the most awe-inspiring art the world has ever seen. Even the most hardened person can’t be moved. If you’re doubtful, visit Papal Basilica of Saint Peter, or the Sistine Chapel, or just look at any of the countless beautiful works of art, like The Crowning of the Virgin by the Trinity (Velazquez).

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Michael’s got a great point; I’m not a huge fan of some of what’s in the Vatican–it tells a little bit too much about the personal lives of the artists, if you catch my drift– but other parts of it are wonderful. I remember being in awe of the little chapel outside the catacombs of San Sebastian as well.

    Or, for that matter, Pilgrim’s Progress, and the hymns. Maybe it would be a good idea to posit that Christians will start to recover preeminence in movies when they first recover preeminence in the literary arts. It’ll be even better if they can avoid doing what Hollywood too often does–assume that they can improve on Dickens and Shakespeare.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Michael’s got a great point; I’m not a huge fan of some of what’s in the Vatican–it tells a little bit too much about the personal lives of the artists, if you catch my drift– but other parts of it are wonderful. I remember being in awe of the little chapel outside the catacombs of San Sebastian as well.

    Or, for that matter, Pilgrim’s Progress, and the hymns. Maybe it would be a good idea to posit that Christians will start to recover preeminence in movies when they first recover preeminence in the literary arts. It’ll be even better if they can avoid doing what Hollywood too often does–assume that they can improve on Dickens and Shakespeare.

  • JunkerGeorg

    @Michael B., #32,

    Good point. Can’t think of more beautiful works of “Christian art” (and/or “art produced by Christians”) than the “Isenheim Altarpiece” by Matthias Grünewald, or Bach’s Opening Chorus to his St. John Passion, that is, beautiful from a “theology of the Cross” point of view.

  • JunkerGeorg

    @Michael B., #32,

    Good point. Can’t think of more beautiful works of “Christian art” (and/or “art produced by Christians”) than the “Isenheim Altarpiece” by Matthias Grünewald, or Bach’s Opening Chorus to his St. John Passion, that is, beautiful from a “theology of the Cross” point of view.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Christians used to be the great masters and even innovators of literature. This was so not only of classic writers of the past–Dante, Herbert, Milton, Hopkins–but of modern writers, such as T. S. Eliot, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Flannery O’Connor.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Christians used to be the great masters and even innovators of literature. This was so not only of classic writers of the past–Dante, Herbert, Milton, Hopkins–but of modern writers, such as T. S. Eliot, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Flannery O’Connor.

  • Steve Billingsley

    A few things.

    1. How much art that is produced (Christian, non-Christian – whatever) is great art – 0r even particularly good art? Not a lot. Yet people can derive enjoyment, learn something or discern truth from art that is less than great. Who exactly is promoting today’s Christian “art” (be it movies, music or whatever) as the pinnacle of anything? The people who produce this art for the most part are simply doing the best that they can with the talent that they have. Where it stacks up compared to others is really for the test of time to tell.

    2. It is very easy to point to the best of Christian art through the ages (Bach, the Sistine Chapel, etc.) – but how much art that was produced contemporary to these masterpieces was mediocre and is now gone and forgotten? Yet at the same time, some people enjoyed and/or were inspired by this art. Is their experience invalid or inferior? Are you and I qualified to judge that? Are you and I qualified to judge similar works and experiences today?

    3. What I am being critical of is the smug attitude toward much of the Christian art that is produced today. For those who think that
    “Courageous” or “Facing the Giants” are horrible – my question would be, compared with what? “Citizen Kane” or “The Godfather” – probably so. But compared with “Cowboys and Aliens” or “Talledega Nights” – is it really that bad? Really? The artists that produce the feature films or music or paintings in question are at least putting something out in the marketplace that is a genuine effort to convey a message of truth and beauty. It is very easy to sit on the sidelines and sneer. I am not so sure that the critics are necessarily the pinnacle of excellence in their own fields. Are you? Really? How do you measure up to the best in your vocation? Until you maximize the gifts and talents that you have in your own vocation – I am not so sure that I (or anyone else) should give much weight to the criticisms that are given toward others in their work.

    “Crappy” (and I use that term with more than a hint of irony) Christian art – even if it is truly “crappy” – serves a purpose that should not be looked down upon. It provides something that is needed in culture. It provides entertainment, a sense of relief from the ordinariness of much of life for many people and it provides a glimpse into truth, goodness of beauty (even if it does so imperfectly or incompletely). And it should not be discounted or looked down upon.

  • Steve Billingsley

    A few things.

    1. How much art that is produced (Christian, non-Christian – whatever) is great art – 0r even particularly good art? Not a lot. Yet people can derive enjoyment, learn something or discern truth from art that is less than great. Who exactly is promoting today’s Christian “art” (be it movies, music or whatever) as the pinnacle of anything? The people who produce this art for the most part are simply doing the best that they can with the talent that they have. Where it stacks up compared to others is really for the test of time to tell.

    2. It is very easy to point to the best of Christian art through the ages (Bach, the Sistine Chapel, etc.) – but how much art that was produced contemporary to these masterpieces was mediocre and is now gone and forgotten? Yet at the same time, some people enjoyed and/or were inspired by this art. Is their experience invalid or inferior? Are you and I qualified to judge that? Are you and I qualified to judge similar works and experiences today?

    3. What I am being critical of is the smug attitude toward much of the Christian art that is produced today. For those who think that
    “Courageous” or “Facing the Giants” are horrible – my question would be, compared with what? “Citizen Kane” or “The Godfather” – probably so. But compared with “Cowboys and Aliens” or “Talledega Nights” – is it really that bad? Really? The artists that produce the feature films or music or paintings in question are at least putting something out in the marketplace that is a genuine effort to convey a message of truth and beauty. It is very easy to sit on the sidelines and sneer. I am not so sure that the critics are necessarily the pinnacle of excellence in their own fields. Are you? Really? How do you measure up to the best in your vocation? Until you maximize the gifts and talents that you have in your own vocation – I am not so sure that I (or anyone else) should give much weight to the criticisms that are given toward others in their work.

    “Crappy” (and I use that term with more than a hint of irony) Christian art – even if it is truly “crappy” – serves a purpose that should not be looked down upon. It provides something that is needed in culture. It provides entertainment, a sense of relief from the ordinariness of much of life for many people and it provides a glimpse into truth, goodness of beauty (even if it does so imperfectly or incompletely). And it should not be discounted or looked down upon.

  • jbo

    i remembered reading something similar a while ago…

    http://contrast2.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/why-are-christian-movies-so-awful/

  • jbo

    i remembered reading something similar a while ago…

    http://contrast2.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/why-are-christian-movies-so-awful/

  • JunkerGeorg

    @Steve Billingsly, #36

    “What I am being critical of is the smug attitude toward much of the Christian art that is produced today. For those who think that
    “Courageous” or “Facing the Giants” are horrible – my question would be, compared with what? “Citizen Kane” or “The Godfather” – probably so. But compared with “Cowboys and Aliens” or “Talledega Nights” – is it really that bad? Really?”
    ——

    While I realize and try to be respectful of the fact that we have all types of posters here from various religious backgrounds, I must say that as a former Arminian Evangelical Pharisee and Antinomian all rolled up into one, who was turned to Lutheranism (LCMS) by the sheer, undeserved grace of God, I cannot but reply that now having literally just finished watching “Courageous” (i.e, “Promise Keepers, Part Deux”), which was ‘enthusiastically’ given to me to watch by a parishioner who has been a very tormented husband and father over the years (no wonder why), I cannot but say my ‘attitude’ toward such a production is not merely “smug”, but downright “horrified”….so utterly lacking was it in the truth of the Gospel, while thus being so utterly laced through and through not with the truth of the Law which kills, but with the Arminian false assumption that knowing the Law is also part of the power for keeping the Law in its entirety as it demands (along with our free will and sheer “resolve” to keep it, if we would only but make that “decision” to do so)………Now, if you are not a Lutheran, or were “raised Lutheran” but poorly catechized in the proper distinction between the message of the Law and the message of the Gospel, then I can’t blame you for liking such a movie and considering it worthy art. But as a former Arminian turned Lutheran who appreciates the utter difference between the two beliefs from painful personal experience and much catechesis, I could much rather appreciate as art (of a purposefully comedic nature) watching Ricky Bobby praying to “…eight pound, six ounce, newborn baby Jesus, lyin there in your golden fleece diapers, so cuddly, yet still omnipotent, lookin at your baby Einstein developmental videos, learnin’ ’bout shapes and colors”…..then I ever could appreciate something I personally find as falsehood masquarading as truth as such an utterly Arminian-driven movie as Courageous, which will potentially cause many a father to become either a prideful pharisee or a despairing Judas. I’ll take Ricky Bobby for art value any day of the week, and not corrupt my faith in the process. Smug enough for you?

    P.S.: Cowboys and Aliens was a terrible movie, I agree. But again, I’d still take that over Courageous too, since as a fictional sci-fi meets cowboy western movie, at least it was not trying to preach itself as “the Divine truth.”

  • JunkerGeorg

    @Steve Billingsly, #36

    “What I am being critical of is the smug attitude toward much of the Christian art that is produced today. For those who think that
    “Courageous” or “Facing the Giants” are horrible – my question would be, compared with what? “Citizen Kane” or “The Godfather” – probably so. But compared with “Cowboys and Aliens” or “Talledega Nights” – is it really that bad? Really?”
    ——

    While I realize and try to be respectful of the fact that we have all types of posters here from various religious backgrounds, I must say that as a former Arminian Evangelical Pharisee and Antinomian all rolled up into one, who was turned to Lutheranism (LCMS) by the sheer, undeserved grace of God, I cannot but reply that now having literally just finished watching “Courageous” (i.e, “Promise Keepers, Part Deux”), which was ‘enthusiastically’ given to me to watch by a parishioner who has been a very tormented husband and father over the years (no wonder why), I cannot but say my ‘attitude’ toward such a production is not merely “smug”, but downright “horrified”….so utterly lacking was it in the truth of the Gospel, while thus being so utterly laced through and through not with the truth of the Law which kills, but with the Arminian false assumption that knowing the Law is also part of the power for keeping the Law in its entirety as it demands (along with our free will and sheer “resolve” to keep it, if we would only but make that “decision” to do so)………Now, if you are not a Lutheran, or were “raised Lutheran” but poorly catechized in the proper distinction between the message of the Law and the message of the Gospel, then I can’t blame you for liking such a movie and considering it worthy art. But as a former Arminian turned Lutheran who appreciates the utter difference between the two beliefs from painful personal experience and much catechesis, I could much rather appreciate as art (of a purposefully comedic nature) watching Ricky Bobby praying to “…eight pound, six ounce, newborn baby Jesus, lyin there in your golden fleece diapers, so cuddly, yet still omnipotent, lookin at your baby Einstein developmental videos, learnin’ ’bout shapes and colors”…..then I ever could appreciate something I personally find as falsehood masquarading as truth as such an utterly Arminian-driven movie as Courageous, which will potentially cause many a father to become either a prideful pharisee or a despairing Judas. I’ll take Ricky Bobby for art value any day of the week, and not corrupt my faith in the process. Smug enough for you?

    P.S.: Cowboys and Aliens was a terrible movie, I agree. But again, I’d still take that over Courageous too, since as a fictional sci-fi meets cowboy western movie, at least it was not trying to preach itself as “the Divine truth.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B (@32), well I guess I now know you’re a Catholic.

    Because, while St. Peter’s certainly is grandiose and impressive, I would not classify it as Christian art. Indeed, the main impression I got while in there was that it really is all about the Pope. Likewise, I wouldn’t hold up Velázquez’s Coronation of the Virgin as Christian art, owing to its, well, depiction of an un-Christian (though thoroughly Marian) doctrine.

    In fact, I’d go so far to say that these two works in particular are “Christian” in the same way that so much modern (Evangelical) dreck is “Christian”. That is, a sort of “never mind the message of it — it’s got Jesus in there somewhere, isn’t that enough?” idea.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B (@32), well I guess I now know you’re a Catholic.

    Because, while St. Peter’s certainly is grandiose and impressive, I would not classify it as Christian art. Indeed, the main impression I got while in there was that it really is all about the Pope. Likewise, I wouldn’t hold up Velázquez’s Coronation of the Virgin as Christian art, owing to its, well, depiction of an un-Christian (though thoroughly Marian) doctrine.

    In fact, I’d go so far to say that these two works in particular are “Christian” in the same way that so much modern (Evangelical) dreck is “Christian”. That is, a sort of “never mind the message of it — it’s got Jesus in there somewhere, isn’t that enough?” idea.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Also, it’s not that modern Christians aren’t making good, thought-provoking, imaginative stuff these days. They are. But, as far as I can tell, your average (Evangelical) Christian isn’t aware of the good stuff, because it’s nowhere to be found in his local “Christian” book store, or on TBN, or being discussed at church. No, the good stuff is, in my experience, far more likely to be found among the secular crowd these days, being enjoyed by them (in spite of its Christian message) for being good, while the Christians shun or at least ignore it because it isn’t marketed as “Christian”.

    I mention him a lot, but in the music world, Sufjan Stevens leaps to mind. His albums have become less overtly Christian over time, but he never really sold himself as a Christian artist. I don’t even know if he considers himself Christian, honestly. But I do know that he grasped sin in a way that few tracks on an overtly-marketed “Christian” CD ever could, on his song John Wayne Gacy, Jr.. I mean, he describes in fairly horrific, if simple, lyrics, the life of the titular person, and then concludes with a shocking personal addition (at least for the non-Christian):

    And in my best behavior
    I am really just like him
    Look beneath the floorboards
    For the secrets I have hid

    No Gospel there, it’s true. But what a Law message! He gets it!

    Of course, the topic of Gacy is simply too much for most “Christian” media to consider — too dark, too violent, too full of sexual ickiness. What I don’t get is how these people can think like that. The Bible, too, is chock full of those same things! Because we humans are full of those things. How could anyone ever think that the depiction of sin could disqualify a work as being for Christians?

    Usually, the answer you’ll get is that it’s “okay” for God to tell us how awful people behaved in Scripture, but it’s not okay for men to tell their own such stories, even if they’re merely factual, in modern media. Which is pure gibberish. You get the impression that these people would be just as happy if they could remove all those icky, sexual, violent parts from the Bible, too. You know, to make it more “Christian”. Feh.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Also, it’s not that modern Christians aren’t making good, thought-provoking, imaginative stuff these days. They are. But, as far as I can tell, your average (Evangelical) Christian isn’t aware of the good stuff, because it’s nowhere to be found in his local “Christian” book store, or on TBN, or being discussed at church. No, the good stuff is, in my experience, far more likely to be found among the secular crowd these days, being enjoyed by them (in spite of its Christian message) for being good, while the Christians shun or at least ignore it because it isn’t marketed as “Christian”.

    I mention him a lot, but in the music world, Sufjan Stevens leaps to mind. His albums have become less overtly Christian over time, but he never really sold himself as a Christian artist. I don’t even know if he considers himself Christian, honestly. But I do know that he grasped sin in a way that few tracks on an overtly-marketed “Christian” CD ever could, on his song John Wayne Gacy, Jr.. I mean, he describes in fairly horrific, if simple, lyrics, the life of the titular person, and then concludes with a shocking personal addition (at least for the non-Christian):

    And in my best behavior
    I am really just like him
    Look beneath the floorboards
    For the secrets I have hid

    No Gospel there, it’s true. But what a Law message! He gets it!

    Of course, the topic of Gacy is simply too much for most “Christian” media to consider — too dark, too violent, too full of sexual ickiness. What I don’t get is how these people can think like that. The Bible, too, is chock full of those same things! Because we humans are full of those things. How could anyone ever think that the depiction of sin could disqualify a work as being for Christians?

    Usually, the answer you’ll get is that it’s “okay” for God to tell us how awful people behaved in Scripture, but it’s not okay for men to tell their own such stories, even if they’re merely factual, in modern media. Which is pure gibberish. You get the impression that these people would be just as happy if they could remove all those icky, sexual, violent parts from the Bible, too. You know, to make it more “Christian”. Feh.

  • Grace

    tODD @ 40

    “They are. But, as far as I can tell, your average (Evangelical) Christian isn’t aware of the good stuff, because it’s nowhere to be found in his local “Christian” book store, or on TBN, or being discussed at church.”

    tODD, you are either living in a tent, with no radio, TV, or any other outside communication or, you are just “BAITING” – no one, and I mean NO ONE I know is involved with TBN. Drop it, you’ve worn out the excuse, and your usual definition of an “Evangelical” would cause one to up-chuck, even a retarded rat. As for your constant complaints about “Evangelical” linking them with every group that’s not Scriptural, you’ve worn that one out as well!

    No, the good stuff is, in my experience, far more likely to be found among the secular crowd these days, being enjoyed by them (in spite of its Christian message) for being good, while the Christians shun or at least ignore it because it isn’t marketed as “Christian”.”

    It’s obvious that YOU would find the “good stuff” among “secular” society, who else would welcome any and all views on Scripture, if in fact they believed in any of it to begin with.

    It’s not a matter of “marketed as Christian” – the point being, if it doesn’t point to Christ and his sacrifice, HIS death, resurrection and our faith in HIM for Salvation, there is nothing to be gained by such pretense, it’s all a sham.

    “Usually, the answer you’ll get is that it’s “okay” for God to tell us how awful people behaved in Scripture, but it’s not okay for men to tell their own such stories, even if they’re merely factual, in modern media. Which is pure gibberish. You get the impression that these people would be just as happy if they could remove all those icky, sexual, violent parts from the Bible, too. You know, to make it more “Christian”

    No one has ever said such things, you’re not making sense. All too many people want to explore, and exhibit their sins in tech color for all the world to see. Turning to Christ is the most important decision anyone can make, it’s between the sinner and HIS Savior Jesus Christ. Sin doesn’t need to be sold as a book or film, to attract those who are struggling with sin, Christ works in the hearts of men to lead them to HIMSELF, they can either accept or deny such a great Salvation. Every single sinner knows he’s hit bottom, no matter the degree. There are either those who have given themselves to Christ, and have accepted HIM through faith, or they have rejected HIM.

  • Grace

    tODD @ 40

    “They are. But, as far as I can tell, your average (Evangelical) Christian isn’t aware of the good stuff, because it’s nowhere to be found in his local “Christian” book store, or on TBN, or being discussed at church.”

    tODD, you are either living in a tent, with no radio, TV, or any other outside communication or, you are just “BAITING” – no one, and I mean NO ONE I know is involved with TBN. Drop it, you’ve worn out the excuse, and your usual definition of an “Evangelical” would cause one to up-chuck, even a retarded rat. As for your constant complaints about “Evangelical” linking them with every group that’s not Scriptural, you’ve worn that one out as well!

    No, the good stuff is, in my experience, far more likely to be found among the secular crowd these days, being enjoyed by them (in spite of its Christian message) for being good, while the Christians shun or at least ignore it because it isn’t marketed as “Christian”.”

    It’s obvious that YOU would find the “good stuff” among “secular” society, who else would welcome any and all views on Scripture, if in fact they believed in any of it to begin with.

    It’s not a matter of “marketed as Christian” – the point being, if it doesn’t point to Christ and his sacrifice, HIS death, resurrection and our faith in HIM for Salvation, there is nothing to be gained by such pretense, it’s all a sham.

    “Usually, the answer you’ll get is that it’s “okay” for God to tell us how awful people behaved in Scripture, but it’s not okay for men to tell their own such stories, even if they’re merely factual, in modern media. Which is pure gibberish. You get the impression that these people would be just as happy if they could remove all those icky, sexual, violent parts from the Bible, too. You know, to make it more “Christian”

    No one has ever said such things, you’re not making sense. All too many people want to explore, and exhibit their sins in tech color for all the world to see. Turning to Christ is the most important decision anyone can make, it’s between the sinner and HIS Savior Jesus Christ. Sin doesn’t need to be sold as a book or film, to attract those who are struggling with sin, Christ works in the hearts of men to lead them to HIMSELF, they can either accept or deny such a great Salvation. Every single sinner knows he’s hit bottom, no matter the degree. There are either those who have given themselves to Christ, and have accepted HIM through faith, or they have rejected HIM.

  • Grace

    tODD @ 40 should read:

    “They are. But, as far as I can tell, your average (Evangelical) Christian isn’t aware of the good stuff, because it’s nowhere to be found in his local “Christian” book store, or on TBN, or being discussed at church.”

    tODD, you are either living in a tent, with no radio, TV, or any other outside communication or, you are just “BAITING” – no one, and I mean NO ONE I know is involved with TBN. Drop it, you’ve worn out the excuse, and your usual definition of an “Evangelical” would cause one to up-chuck, even a retarded rat. As for your constant complaints about “Evangelical” linking them with every group that’s not Scriptural, you’ve worn that one out as well!

    “No, the good stuff is, in my experience, far more likely to be found among the secular crowd these days, being enjoyed by them (in spite of its Christian message) for being good, while the Christians shun or at least ignore it because it isn’t marketed as “Christian”.”

    It’s obvious that YOU would find the “good stuff” among “secular” society, who else would welcome any and all views on Scripture, if in fact they believed in any of it to begin with.

    It’s not a matter of “marketed as Christian” – the point being, if it doesn’t point to Christ and his sacrifice, HIS death, resurrection and our faith in HIM for Salvation, there is nothing to be gained by such pretense, it’s all a sham.

    “Usually, the answer you’ll get is that it’s “okay” for God to tell us how awful people behaved in Scripture, but it’s not okay for men to tell their own such stories, even if they’re merely factual, in modern media. Which is pure gibberish. You get the impression that these people would be just as happy if they could remove all those icky, sexual, violent parts from the Bible, too. You know, to make it more “Christian”

    No one has ever said such things, you’re not making sense. All too many people want to explore, and exhibit their sins in tech color for all the world to see. Turning to Christ is the most important decision anyone can make, it’s between the sinner and HIS Savior Jesus Christ. Sin doesn’t need to be sold as a book or film, to attract those who are struggling with sin, Christ works in the hearts of men to lead them to HIMSELF, they can either accept or deny such a great Salvation. Every single sinner knows he’s hit bottom, no matter the degree. There are either those who have given themselves to Christ, and have accepted HIM through faith, or they have rejected HIM.

  • Grace

    tODD @ 40 should read:

    “They are. But, as far as I can tell, your average (Evangelical) Christian isn’t aware of the good stuff, because it’s nowhere to be found in his local “Christian” book store, or on TBN, or being discussed at church.”

    tODD, you are either living in a tent, with no radio, TV, or any other outside communication or, you are just “BAITING” – no one, and I mean NO ONE I know is involved with TBN. Drop it, you’ve worn out the excuse, and your usual definition of an “Evangelical” would cause one to up-chuck, even a retarded rat. As for your constant complaints about “Evangelical” linking them with every group that’s not Scriptural, you’ve worn that one out as well!

    “No, the good stuff is, in my experience, far more likely to be found among the secular crowd these days, being enjoyed by them (in spite of its Christian message) for being good, while the Christians shun or at least ignore it because it isn’t marketed as “Christian”.”

    It’s obvious that YOU would find the “good stuff” among “secular” society, who else would welcome any and all views on Scripture, if in fact they believed in any of it to begin with.

    It’s not a matter of “marketed as Christian” – the point being, if it doesn’t point to Christ and his sacrifice, HIS death, resurrection and our faith in HIM for Salvation, there is nothing to be gained by such pretense, it’s all a sham.

    “Usually, the answer you’ll get is that it’s “okay” for God to tell us how awful people behaved in Scripture, but it’s not okay for men to tell their own such stories, even if they’re merely factual, in modern media. Which is pure gibberish. You get the impression that these people would be just as happy if they could remove all those icky, sexual, violent parts from the Bible, too. You know, to make it more “Christian”

    No one has ever said such things, you’re not making sense. All too many people want to explore, and exhibit their sins in tech color for all the world to see. Turning to Christ is the most important decision anyone can make, it’s between the sinner and HIS Savior Jesus Christ. Sin doesn’t need to be sold as a book or film, to attract those who are struggling with sin, Christ works in the hearts of men to lead them to HIMSELF, they can either accept or deny such a great Salvation. Every single sinner knows he’s hit bottom, no matter the degree. There are either those who have given themselves to Christ, and have accepted HIM through faith, or they have rejected HIM.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve B (@36) asked:

    How much art that is produced (Christian, non-Christian – whatever) is great art – 0r even particularly good art? Not a lot.

    Okay, sure, but I also will make fun of (or at least point out the many shortcomings in) bad non-Christian art, too. But you seem uniquely defensive of not-great Christian art. Why?

    people can derive enjoyment, learn something or discern truth from art that is less than great.

    In theory, yes. But much more likely, at least with the lousy “Christian” art I’m thinking of, is that, rather than “discern truth”, they’ll be led away from it, while thinking what they’re consuming is “wholesome”.

    The people who produce this art for the most part are simply doing the best that they can with the talent that they have.

    Sorry, but not everyone in the world is doing their best. I would further argue that many Christians, failing to understand the doctrine of vocation, actually crank out inferior works because they feel they have to have some sort of overt Christian “mission” in their work. Maybe they’re not even in a line of work they’re good at or interested in, but they feel compelled to, in order to fulfill this “mission” obligation. I mean, I’ve seen enough people on TBN who simply aren’t actors and need to stop considering that as a line of work. But they probably think lousy acting on a poorly-written TBN show is somehow more pleasing than, I don’t know, being a really good waiter or stay-at-home parent. I disagree.

    how much art that was produced contemporary to these masterpieces was mediocre and is now gone and forgotten?

    I don’t know. Do you? Your question presumes that the answer is “tons”, but that’s all that you offer us: a presumption.

    some people enjoyed and/or were inspired by this art. Is their experience invalid or inferior? Are you and I qualified to judge that?

    You’re trying to have it both ways. People who have a positive experience are allowed to say and think so. But people who had a negative experience are somehow not “qualified” to say and think so. Why not let those who enjoyed it say so, and let those who think it’s lousy also say so?

    For those who think that “Courageous” or “Facing the Giants” are horrible – my question would be, compared with what?

    I don’t know, compared with the best movies that came out that year? That is to say, the best of the (marketed as) “Christian” films usually pale in comparison to most of their “secular” peers.

    The artists that produce the feature films or music or paintings in question are at least putting something out in the marketplace that is a genuine effort to convey a message of truth and beauty.

    Really? “At least they’re trying”? Should we give them an E for Effort, then? Maybe my two-year-old son, who is also trying to learn how to use a crayon properly, should also be given an honorable mention for his artwork? It’s just a bunch of scribbles, but he’s genuinely trying, and who’s to say if his work is better or worse than that of Albrecht Dürer? Blech.

    And no, the whole contention here — at least by me and several others — is that they’re frequently not conveying a message of “truth”, much less “beauty”.

    It is very easy to sit on the sidelines and sneer.

    Apparently, it’s also really easy to decry all criticism, legitimate or otherwise, as “sneering”.

    Until you maximize the gifts and talents that you have in your own vocation – I am not so sure that I (or anyone else) should give much weight to the criticisms that are given toward others in their work.

    Man, do you ever sound defensive! “Unless you’re the best in the world, I won’t listen to your criticism!” Hey Steve, do you think that sword’s got two edges? Do you think you rise to your own standard here? That is, why, based on the standard you posit here, should I not disregard your own criticism of others’ criticisms?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve B (@36) asked:

    How much art that is produced (Christian, non-Christian – whatever) is great art – 0r even particularly good art? Not a lot.

    Okay, sure, but I also will make fun of (or at least point out the many shortcomings in) bad non-Christian art, too. But you seem uniquely defensive of not-great Christian art. Why?

    people can derive enjoyment, learn something or discern truth from art that is less than great.

    In theory, yes. But much more likely, at least with the lousy “Christian” art I’m thinking of, is that, rather than “discern truth”, they’ll be led away from it, while thinking what they’re consuming is “wholesome”.

    The people who produce this art for the most part are simply doing the best that they can with the talent that they have.

    Sorry, but not everyone in the world is doing their best. I would further argue that many Christians, failing to understand the doctrine of vocation, actually crank out inferior works because they feel they have to have some sort of overt Christian “mission” in their work. Maybe they’re not even in a line of work they’re good at or interested in, but they feel compelled to, in order to fulfill this “mission” obligation. I mean, I’ve seen enough people on TBN who simply aren’t actors and need to stop considering that as a line of work. But they probably think lousy acting on a poorly-written TBN show is somehow more pleasing than, I don’t know, being a really good waiter or stay-at-home parent. I disagree.

    how much art that was produced contemporary to these masterpieces was mediocre and is now gone and forgotten?

    I don’t know. Do you? Your question presumes that the answer is “tons”, but that’s all that you offer us: a presumption.

    some people enjoyed and/or were inspired by this art. Is their experience invalid or inferior? Are you and I qualified to judge that?

    You’re trying to have it both ways. People who have a positive experience are allowed to say and think so. But people who had a negative experience are somehow not “qualified” to say and think so. Why not let those who enjoyed it say so, and let those who think it’s lousy also say so?

    For those who think that “Courageous” or “Facing the Giants” are horrible – my question would be, compared with what?

    I don’t know, compared with the best movies that came out that year? That is to say, the best of the (marketed as) “Christian” films usually pale in comparison to most of their “secular” peers.

    The artists that produce the feature films or music or paintings in question are at least putting something out in the marketplace that is a genuine effort to convey a message of truth and beauty.

    Really? “At least they’re trying”? Should we give them an E for Effort, then? Maybe my two-year-old son, who is also trying to learn how to use a crayon properly, should also be given an honorable mention for his artwork? It’s just a bunch of scribbles, but he’s genuinely trying, and who’s to say if his work is better or worse than that of Albrecht Dürer? Blech.

    And no, the whole contention here — at least by me and several others — is that they’re frequently not conveying a message of “truth”, much less “beauty”.

    It is very easy to sit on the sidelines and sneer.

    Apparently, it’s also really easy to decry all criticism, legitimate or otherwise, as “sneering”.

    Until you maximize the gifts and talents that you have in your own vocation – I am not so sure that I (or anyone else) should give much weight to the criticisms that are given toward others in their work.

    Man, do you ever sound defensive! “Unless you’re the best in the world, I won’t listen to your criticism!” Hey Steve, do you think that sword’s got two edges? Do you think you rise to your own standard here? That is, why, based on the standard you posit here, should I not disregard your own criticism of others’ criticisms?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@42), I’m not sure why you’re feeling so defensive, particularly about TBN, but I have a friend who works for TBN — technically, for JCTV. You might some day come to grips with the fact that your experience is not the same as everyone else’s, and just because you don’t know anyone involved in TBN doesn’t mean that no one else does. Also, regardless of whether you or I know anyone “involved” with TBN, it is clearly a force in the Evangelical media landscape, whether you like it or not.

    It’s not a matter of “marketed as Christian” – the point being, if it doesn’t point to Christ and his sacrifice, HIS death, resurrection and our faith in HIM for Salvation, there is nothing to be gained by such pretense, it’s all a sham.

    You know what? I’ll agree with you on this one, as written. The problem is, much — if not most — of what is marketed as “Christian” fails by this metric.

    Sin doesn’t need to be sold as a book or film, to attract those who are struggling with sin

    Not every depiction of sin is attractive. You have read the Bible, right? What do you think all those depictions of sins in there are doing? Tempting people? What do you think the preaching of the Law is going to deal with, exactly?

    Christ works in the hearts of men to lead them to HIMSELF

    That’s funny. Because just one sentence earlier, you were telling us we all need to make “decisions” for Christ on our own. And decision theology fails your aforementioned rubric of being all about Christ and his sacrifice and death.

    Every single sinner knows he’s hit bottom, no matter the degree.

    Wow. It’s like you don’t know any people.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@42), I’m not sure why you’re feeling so defensive, particularly about TBN, but I have a friend who works for TBN — technically, for JCTV. You might some day come to grips with the fact that your experience is not the same as everyone else’s, and just because you don’t know anyone involved in TBN doesn’t mean that no one else does. Also, regardless of whether you or I know anyone “involved” with TBN, it is clearly a force in the Evangelical media landscape, whether you like it or not.

    It’s not a matter of “marketed as Christian” – the point being, if it doesn’t point to Christ and his sacrifice, HIS death, resurrection and our faith in HIM for Salvation, there is nothing to be gained by such pretense, it’s all a sham.

    You know what? I’ll agree with you on this one, as written. The problem is, much — if not most — of what is marketed as “Christian” fails by this metric.

    Sin doesn’t need to be sold as a book or film, to attract those who are struggling with sin

    Not every depiction of sin is attractive. You have read the Bible, right? What do you think all those depictions of sins in there are doing? Tempting people? What do you think the preaching of the Law is going to deal with, exactly?

    Christ works in the hearts of men to lead them to HIMSELF

    That’s funny. Because just one sentence earlier, you were telling us we all need to make “decisions” for Christ on our own. And decision theology fails your aforementioned rubric of being all about Christ and his sacrifice and death.

    Every single sinner knows he’s hit bottom, no matter the degree.

    Wow. It’s like you don’t know any people.

  • Grace

    An ICON, in this day and age is most likely to be overlooked when it comes to art, in any way shape or form. But the Bible is specific as to Idolatry, idols, and “icons” as we call them today.

    All the excuses regarding Michelangelo are a farce. Yes, the standards of sinful man, look upon his paintings as if they were wrought by something beyond time and space. But history regarding the artist is far from Godly. For this reason, these artistic renderings upon the chapel and other places do not mean, nor should they pronounce themselves as being Godly. They were painted by a man who’s history is anything but that of which the Scriptures speaks as a Believer. Then take into account the “icon” problem, which equates into idolatry. One cannot stand and semi-worship a painting or sculpture without thinking about what God ALMIGHTY has warned against.

    The Roman Church for centuries has used the “chapel” where one can observe the paintings as a backdrop of religion and worship – but are they?

    I studied many things throughout my life, my earliest was WW2 and art. Great artists, especially Michelangelo, and many others. I loved and love oil, water color, and pastels. What I have learned is that through art, one can go to far, meaning to translate, what you believe unto paper or board that which amounts to “icons” – and as we’ve observed in Europe, cathedrals, churches, museums, etc., is to observe the finest artistic talent, but to MISS the “ICON” and therefore delude yourself into thinking you’ve only seen the best of art in the past 500 years.

  • Grace

    An ICON, in this day and age is most likely to be overlooked when it comes to art, in any way shape or form. But the Bible is specific as to Idolatry, idols, and “icons” as we call them today.

    All the excuses regarding Michelangelo are a farce. Yes, the standards of sinful man, look upon his paintings as if they were wrought by something beyond time and space. But history regarding the artist is far from Godly. For this reason, these artistic renderings upon the chapel and other places do not mean, nor should they pronounce themselves as being Godly. They were painted by a man who’s history is anything but that of which the Scriptures speaks as a Believer. Then take into account the “icon” problem, which equates into idolatry. One cannot stand and semi-worship a painting or sculpture without thinking about what God ALMIGHTY has warned against.

    The Roman Church for centuries has used the “chapel” where one can observe the paintings as a backdrop of religion and worship – but are they?

    I studied many things throughout my life, my earliest was WW2 and art. Great artists, especially Michelangelo, and many others. I loved and love oil, water color, and pastels. What I have learned is that through art, one can go to far, meaning to translate, what you believe unto paper or board that which amounts to “icons” – and as we’ve observed in Europe, cathedrals, churches, museums, etc., is to observe the finest artistic talent, but to MISS the “ICON” and therefore delude yourself into thinking you’ve only seen the best of art in the past 500 years.

  • Grace

    Todd @ 44

    “You might some day come to grips with the fact that your experience is not the same as everyone else’s, and just because you don’t know anyone involved in TBN doesn’t mean that no one else does. Also, regardless of whether you or I know anyone “involved” with TBN, it is clearly a force in the Evangelical media landscape, whether you like it or not.”

    tODD, as usual you jump off the side without knowledge.

    I live twenty miles or so from TBN. I also know people who work for TBN. Add to that I have met and talked with the founders. These people shop and dine with many in our area, they know us, and we know them. You know little of my life, nor that of the area in which all this takes place.

  • Grace

    Todd @ 44

    “You might some day come to grips with the fact that your experience is not the same as everyone else’s, and just because you don’t know anyone involved in TBN doesn’t mean that no one else does. Also, regardless of whether you or I know anyone “involved” with TBN, it is clearly a force in the Evangelical media landscape, whether you like it or not.”

    tODD, as usual you jump off the side without knowledge.

    I live twenty miles or so from TBN. I also know people who work for TBN. Add to that I have met and talked with the founders. These people shop and dine with many in our area, they know us, and we know them. You know little of my life, nor that of the area in which all this takes place.

  • Grace

    Because one knows those at TBN, does not mean they agree with them doctrinally. There is a big difference between knowing people, and agreeing with them on doctrinal issues.

  • Grace

    Because one knows those at TBN, does not mean they agree with them doctrinally. There is a big difference between knowing people, and agreeing with them on doctrinal issues.

  • SKPeterson

    Grace,

    Are you saying that because Michaelangelo was a sinner, his gift of artistry should be discounted? Look at the history of 99.999999% of humanity – you’ll find them all full of sin. In fact we’ve got only one out of billions who ever made it through without sinning.

    Also, please rewrite your last paragraph in #45. It doesn’t read very well. You have some interesting thoughts, but your phrasing is somewhat jumbled. What is going too far? Taking a work of art and transferring the subject matter from canvas to wood or paper? Is it the medium that creates an icon? Are icons truly idolatry?

    You’ve hit upon a subtext to this conversation: the ramifications of modern iconoclasm, its Puritan antecedents and its birth in the excesses of the Radical Reformation. I would argue that this is part of the ongoing loss of the Christian imagination in our times lamented by Dr. Veith – the upholding and setting forth as proper “Christian” art the output generated by descendants of those members of the Christian community that were opposed to the use of art to convey the Christian message.

  • SKPeterson

    Grace,

    Are you saying that because Michaelangelo was a sinner, his gift of artistry should be discounted? Look at the history of 99.999999% of humanity – you’ll find them all full of sin. In fact we’ve got only one out of billions who ever made it through without sinning.

    Also, please rewrite your last paragraph in #45. It doesn’t read very well. You have some interesting thoughts, but your phrasing is somewhat jumbled. What is going too far? Taking a work of art and transferring the subject matter from canvas to wood or paper? Is it the medium that creates an icon? Are icons truly idolatry?

    You’ve hit upon a subtext to this conversation: the ramifications of modern iconoclasm, its Puritan antecedents and its birth in the excesses of the Radical Reformation. I would argue that this is part of the ongoing loss of the Christian imagination in our times lamented by Dr. Veith – the upholding and setting forth as proper “Christian” art the output generated by descendants of those members of the Christian community that were opposed to the use of art to convey the Christian message.

  • kerner

    Am I the only one here who has seen a movie made in the last 30 years that treats Christians or Christianity favorably? I mentioned “Amistad”. How about “Saving Private Ryan”? Can’t anybody besides me name another? (Both produced by Steven Spielberg, by the way)

  • kerner

    Am I the only one here who has seen a movie made in the last 30 years that treats Christians or Christianity favorably? I mentioned “Amistad”. How about “Saving Private Ryan”? Can’t anybody besides me name another? (Both produced by Steven Spielberg, by the way)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    SKP – absolutely. I firmly believe idol worshipping is wrong. I also firmly believe that iconclasm, ancient, puritan, and modern is wrong. And I do not believe that those two statements need to be mutually exclusive.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    SKP – absolutely. I firmly believe idol worshipping is wrong. I also firmly believe that iconclasm, ancient, puritan, and modern is wrong. And I do not believe that those two statements need to be mutually exclusive.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kerner – Chariots of Fire and The Mission are two rather obvious exampes (almost too obvious, Christianity being the subject matter). Then there is the wonderful Danish movie “Italian for Beginners”. And what about the movie Contact – which contrasted the agnostic and rationalist Jodie Foster character, against the Theist, but still rationalist ex-priest, played by Matthew McConaughey?

    I’ll think of some others….

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kerner – Chariots of Fire and The Mission are two rather obvious exampes (almost too obvious, Christianity being the subject matter). Then there is the wonderful Danish movie “Italian for Beginners”. And what about the movie Contact – which contrasted the agnostic and rationalist Jodie Foster character, against the Theist, but still rationalist ex-priest, played by Matthew McConaughey?

    I’ll think of some others….

  • Mary

    OK I haven’t seen many movies lately, but here are some that I either did see or heard were more positive in their portrayal of the faith.
    Babette’s Feast, Signs, Gran Torino, True Grit…..

  • Mary

    OK I haven’t seen many movies lately, but here are some that I either did see or heard were more positive in their portrayal of the faith.
    Babette’s Feast, Signs, Gran Torino, True Grit…..

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Mary – I thought of Babette’s Feast, but I wasn’t sure if I’d call that positive or not. But I forgot about Gran Torino. That was good.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Mary – I thought of Babette’s Feast, but I wasn’t sure if I’d call that positive or not. But I forgot about Gran Torino. That was good.

  • Mary

    How about this testimony of how great art impacted Peter Hitchens’ life. The brother of Christopher Hitchens.

    No doubt I should be ashamed to confess that fear played a part in my return to religion, specifically a painting: Rogier van der Weyden’s 15th Century Last Judgement, which I saw in Burgundy while on holiday.
    I had scoffed at its mention in the guidebook, but now I gaped, my mouth actually hanging open, at the naked figures fleeing towards the pit of Hell.These people did not appear remote or from the ancient past; they were my own generation. Because they were naked, they were not imprisoned in their own age by time-bound fashions. On the contrary, their hair and the set of their faces were entirely in the style of my own time. They were me, and people I knew.

    I had a sudden strong sense of religion being a thing of the present day, not imprisoned under thick layers of time. My large catalogue of misdeeds replayed themselves rapidly in my head.
    I had absolutely no doubt that I was among the damned, if there were any damned. Van der Weyden was still earning his fee, nearly 500 years after his death.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1255983/How-I-God-peace-atheist-brother-PETER-HITCHENS-traces-journey-Christianity.html#ixzz1ngeMNgyQ

  • Mary

    How about this testimony of how great art impacted Peter Hitchens’ life. The brother of Christopher Hitchens.

    No doubt I should be ashamed to confess that fear played a part in my return to religion, specifically a painting: Rogier van der Weyden’s 15th Century Last Judgement, which I saw in Burgundy while on holiday.
    I had scoffed at its mention in the guidebook, but now I gaped, my mouth actually hanging open, at the naked figures fleeing towards the pit of Hell.These people did not appear remote or from the ancient past; they were my own generation. Because they were naked, they were not imprisoned in their own age by time-bound fashions. On the contrary, their hair and the set of their faces were entirely in the style of my own time. They were me, and people I knew.

    I had a sudden strong sense of religion being a thing of the present day, not imprisoned under thick layers of time. My large catalogue of misdeeds replayed themselves rapidly in my head.
    I had absolutely no doubt that I was among the damned, if there were any damned. Van der Weyden was still earning his fee, nearly 500 years after his death.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1255983/How-I-God-peace-atheist-brother-PETER-HITCHENS-traces-journey-Christianity.html#ixzz1ngeMNgyQ

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Mary – I read that too, and found that quite remarkable. Wonder what Grace would say of that?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Mary – I read that too, and found that quite remarkable. Wonder what Grace would say of that?

  • SKPeterson

    I like this quote from Peter Hitchens as well:

    But I can certainly recall the way the words of the Church of England’s marriage service, at St Bride’s in London, awakened thoughts in me that I had long suppressed. I was entering into my inheritance, as a Christian Englishman, as a man, and as a human being. It was the first properly grown-up thing that I had ever done.

    Entirely appropriate for the topic on college youth and adult supervision.

  • SKPeterson

    I like this quote from Peter Hitchens as well:

    But I can certainly recall the way the words of the Church of England’s marriage service, at St Bride’s in London, awakened thoughts in me that I had long suppressed. I was entering into my inheritance, as a Christian Englishman, as a man, and as a human being. It was the first properly grown-up thing that I had ever done.

    Entirely appropriate for the topic on college youth and adult supervision.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@42):

    no one, and I mean NO ONE I know is involved with TBN.

    And then followed it up by saying (@46):

    I live twenty miles or so from TBN. I also know people who work for TBN. Add to that I have met and talked with the founders.

    So, um, one of those statements is false. Care to tell me which one? Or are you just making things up as it suits your rhetorical needs? Just wondering.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@42):

    no one, and I mean NO ONE I know is involved with TBN.

    And then followed it up by saying (@46):

    I live twenty miles or so from TBN. I also know people who work for TBN. Add to that I have met and talked with the founders.

    So, um, one of those statements is false. Care to tell me which one? Or are you just making things up as it suits your rhetorical needs? Just wondering.

  • Grace

    tODD,

    When I wrote, – - “no one, and I mean NO ONE I know is involved with TBN.” – - that simply means, they are not involved with their ministry, and rarely if ever watch TBN.

    I wrote: – - “I live twenty miles or so from TBN. I also know people who work for TBN. Add to that I have met and talked with the founders. “ – - This should be simple for you to understand tODD, but since you’re having trouble. You can meet people, you can see them in restaurants, stores, and say hello, and briefly chat with them, that does not mean you agree with them, or that you are involved with their ministry.

    “So, um,” I hope this clears it up for you.

  • Grace

    tODD,

    When I wrote, – - “no one, and I mean NO ONE I know is involved with TBN.” – - that simply means, they are not involved with their ministry, and rarely if ever watch TBN.

    I wrote: – - “I live twenty miles or so from TBN. I also know people who work for TBN. Add to that I have met and talked with the founders. “ – - This should be simple for you to understand tODD, but since you’re having trouble. You can meet people, you can see them in restaurants, stores, and say hello, and briefly chat with them, that does not mean you agree with them, or that you are involved with their ministry.

    “So, um,” I hope this clears it up for you.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace – um, no, your handle on logic is, as usual, imaginary.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace – um, no, your handle on logic is, as usual, imaginary.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@58), so what you’re saying is that you know people who work for TBN, but no one you know is involved with TBN’s “ministry”? Nope, that continues to make no sense. How are these people that work at TBN not involved in TBN’s “ministry”?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@58), so what you’re saying is that you know people who work for TBN, but no one you know is involved with TBN’s “ministry”? Nope, that continues to make no sense. How are these people that work at TBN not involved in TBN’s “ministry”?

  • Grace

    tODD,

    Twisting this about as your new toy for the 28th of February is silly.

    We know a lot of people, that doesn’t mean we support them, agreee with them, or socialize with them, or most importantly have anything in common, such as doctrine.

  • Grace

    tODD,

    Twisting this about as your new toy for the 28th of February is silly.

    We know a lot of people, that doesn’t mean we support them, agreee with them, or socialize with them, or most importantly have anything in common, such as doctrine.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace, just admit that your original wording is faulty, unintentionaly so, correct it, and move on. Your insistence that nothing is wrong is becoming a bit farcical, though.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Grace, just admit that your original wording is faulty, unintentionaly so, correct it, and move on. Your insistence that nothing is wrong is becoming a bit farcical, though.

  • SKPeterson

    Well, I think we can all agree that TBN is crappy Christian art/theology/practice at its apogee. ;)

  • SKPeterson

    Well, I think we can all agree that TBN is crappy Christian art/theology/practice at its apogee. ;)

  • Dan Kempin

    One thing is evident to me from this discussion. Christian art is in no way exempt from the universal rule:

    “Everyone’s a critic.”

  • Dan Kempin

    One thing is evident to me from this discussion. Christian art is in no way exempt from the universal rule:

    “Everyone’s a critic.”

  • PinonCoffee

    kerner @ 49 – Cowboys vs. Aliens had a Christian positively portrayed. How’s that for irony? ;-)

  • PinonCoffee

    kerner @ 49 – Cowboys vs. Aliens had a Christian positively portrayed. How’s that for irony? ;-)

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    “PiñonCoffee”….

    I like that handle….

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    “PiñonCoffee”….

    I like that handle….

  • PinonCoffee

    Thanks!

  • PinonCoffee

    Thanks!


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