“You reviewed WHAT??”

Mark Moring responds to a chorus of angry readers regarding why Christianity Today Movies bothered to post a review of Sex and the City.

Mark’s response is calm and thoughtful, which is the best way to respond to hysteria and outrage.

(And this isn’t the first time CTMovies has printed an answer to mail of that sort.)

I get mail of this sort every single week. Usually, I don’t answer them because the tone of the letters make it clear that the writers aren’t ready to listen, and they don’t want a thoughtful answer — they’ve already made up their minds and they just want to lash out.

But beneath the fury and self-righteous rage, there are some important questions that, when asked carefully and with humility, can lead us into a meaningful conversation. Once in a while, I get letters that ask the same questions, but those who are asking show respect and a desire to think things through. They show up without carrying torches and daggers. It was for those folks that I took the time to address questions about R-rated art as fully as I knew how, and I called it Through a Screen Darkly. I wanted to pass on the things I learned from some patient and thoughtful teachers who had the heart to wait until I’d worn myself out with my own self-righteous anger. When I was finally ready to listen, they responded with wisdom and a deep understanding of scripture. If Through a Screen Darkly will deliver to a new audience some of the insights that they gave to me, I’ll declare it a mission accomplished.

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  • http://vastunmeasured.blogspot.com wkshank

    I too thought Moring’s response (and the original review) very well done. The response was respectful without being obsequious. But he also stuck to his guns, referring (as he should) to CT’s mission and philosophy.

    Most churches, my own included, have a contingent of people who are uncomfortable engaging much with our culture. They prefer to create and live in a neat little sub-culture, removed from most influences of this world we live in (most films, most TV shows, public education…). Many of them do it for admirable reasons, and they will even give you grace not to join them and still call you brother/sister. They may even be genuinely interested in what you’re learning from the “out there” (though they are sure they don’t want to come out and join you any time soon.) When they object to what they see as worldliness in the church, their words are seasoned with grace and humility, and frankly sometimes we need their correction.

    But others, unfortunately, have decided that this evangelical cloistering is the ONLY way to respond to a sin-sick world, so the fact that you don’t live this way makes you a compromiser at best, or a complete sell-out at worst. Their objections sound uncharitable, even strident, and they can make almost any topic into a primary issue. They are, as you say, unwilling to listen. This approach brings out the worst in everyone, and the divisions they cause can bring churches to ruin.

    I would love to hear if anyone has found great resources for dealing with these kinds of people in a loving way. Moring did a good job of it. How does one maintain both sensitivity AND a thick skin?

  • jenzug

    That was an excellent article (letter?), and I especially loved the C.S. Lewis quote.

    Was thinking on this today and feel strongly that Christians spend too much time seeing with their eyes.

    Those who fear culture in the way some of these fundamentalist critics fear culture are really expressing their lack of trust in the power of God to redeem creation and the ability of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction. Not that we aren’t to confront brothers and sisters who are in sin, because the Bible clearly teaches we are to hold one another accountable, but I believe we are to do this by asking questions and listening to the answers – in love – not by judging or accusing.

    Re culture, Christians should trust that God is powerful enough to speak in and through all mediums of art, however difficult it is for our seeing eyes to accept this. As human beings, God created us as sub-creators. So even though we may not create something with a clearly marked “Jesus” label, the act of creation itself is located somewhere on the justification/sanctification spectrum.

  • Alan

    Mr. Overstreet,

    I definitely sympathize with you, Moring, and rest of the CT film review team. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on Boundless.org’s response to CT’s response:

    http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/boundlessline/blog/~3/308114511/christianity-to.html

    Best,
    Alan

  • sdgx

    Heh. My pastor told me the other day he WISHED I would review Sex and the City, since he felt a solid Catholic Christian perspective on the film was badly needed.


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