One of my favorite writers, Wendell Berry, is getting some well-deserved attention today from Christianity Today.
This isn’t confined to Christians: every wunderkind director who thinks the studio having final cut absolves him from any blame for the movie’s flaws, every fanboy who tenaciously defends said wunderkind’s movies….same rhetoric (religious, save theirs is the religion of aestheticism), same line of reasoning. It’s distressing to see Christians give into the old Adam like this, but it is certainly nothing unique.
A CT reader wrote in to say: “A ‘Christian’ film doesn’t have to be all sunshine and roses; it can also portray ‘sin’ so long as the sin is portrayed as ugly.”
My response: I believe the Bible already does exactly that. So in that light, I’m all down and groovey with being “scriptural” in the crafting of cinema.
I’m going to butcher this, but Flannery O’ Connor once said something along the lines of, if you can’t trust Christians to make good art, why should you trust them to have the larger questions of life figured out? I always remember that when I hear Christians trying to defend absolute drivel because it happens to be “Christian.”
While I understand the sentimental appeal of Wendell Berry, I do not and perhaps never will share in the appreciation of his writing beyond its starting conversations about conservation and migration.
I believe that, along perhaps with Berry himself, too many of his followers overemphasize the food we eat and the place in which we’re born. That overemphasis runs counter to Christ’s teaching that what we eat does not defile us and counter to Paul’s example of traveling the world to spread the Gospel, and in emphasizing diet and tradition, it reminds me more of the Judaism that preceded Christ than the Christianity that has followed.