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.