I frequently receive mail from readers who argue that we should ignore “Hollywood’s output” because of the ways in which Christians are negatively portrayed.
If I dare answer by suggesting that some of these portrayals are actually fair — even deserved — I am quickly swamped by email telling me where I’ll be spending eternity. (Hint: Not heaven.)
But I know many Christians who are devoting their lives to developing meaningful art and entertainment. Yes, in Hollywood.
And I frequently participate in fruitful, enlightening discussions about movies made by Hollywood studios… movies that that explore issues of faith.
Further, I frequently see movies that present Christianity, Christians, and truths fundamental to Christian faith in a positive light — movies from Hollywood, but from also from other cultures. I see movies all the time that provide visions of beauty and reflections of truth, declaring God’s glory without any direct mention of Christianity.
So I have a hard time taking such complaints against those unflattering portrayals seriously. Of course we should be discerning moviegoers. But just boycott or condemn art and entertainment from Hollywood, simply because Christians are sometimes portrayed as liars (which we sometimes are), charlatans (which we sometimes are), and hypocrites (which we sometimes are)?
Might as well boycott grocery stores. Or public libraries. Or public schools. Grocery stores stock products owned by organizations that are unfriendly toward Christians. Public libraries are full of books that portray Christianity in a negative light. Public schools often employ teachers who are hostile toward Christianity.
I was delighted to discover a useful list to keep on hand when I receive such complaints. My friend and colleague Steven D. Greydanus, who publishes reviews at Decent Films and at Christianity Today Movies was challenged, at artsandfaith.com, to “name twenty Hollywood movies made since the turn of the millennium that present Christianity in a positive light.”
He took a stab at it, and came up with this list:
[UPDATE: PLEASE NOTE, I did not create this list. Some bloggers have reported that I wrote it. And further, PLEASE NOTE, the challenge asked for Hollywood movies made since the turn of the millennium!]
- Amazing Grace
- America’s Heart and Soul
- Because of Winn-Dixie
- Bridge to Terabithia
- Charlotte’s Web
- Cinderella Man
- Count of Monte Cristo, The
- Exorcism of Emily Rose, The
- Ladder 49
- Lars and the Real Girl
- Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding
- Nativity Story, The
- New World, The
- Patriot, The
- Return to Me
- Rookie, The
- 6th Day, The
- Tears of the Sun
- Walk to Remember, A
- We Are Marshall
- World Trade Center
- X2: X-Men United
Thank you, Steven!
Now, I don’t think Greydanus is claiming that these films qualify as profound spiritual explorations. But they do stand in stark contrast to the claim that “Hollywood” (as if that was just one company, united under Satan) is operating under a mandate to slander and destroy Christianity.
Can you think of other titles that qualify? Name them! (Remember, they need to qualify as “Hollywood movies.” In other words, from a major American studio. If we were to expand this list to include independents and international film, the list would expand significantly.)
UPDATE: Ken Morefield has just posted a perspective on this, and it’s well worth reading.