Television’s Kirk Cameron’s Film Monumental: You can’t go back, you can only go forward.

Television’s Kirk Cameron was on The Today Show this morning promoting his new film called Monumental. It’s a documentary type project built upon this premise:

“I spent the last year and a half on a personal journey traveling through Europe and the United States in search of what I’m calling the real national treasure of America. I’ve got six kids and as a dad I’m wanting my kids to have a great future. And I look at what’s going on around, turn on the news and economically we’re struggling greatly as a nation, we’re 15, 16 trillion dollars in debt. Families falling apart, divorce, teenage pregnancy, suicide, crime, drugs, alcohol, so many things, I’m thinking, how can you turn things around culturally? And with so many people playing the blame game… maybe there’s a simple solution. If only we could get in a time machine and go back and talk to the men and women who built this country, these courageous moms and dads who went against all odds and started a brand-new idea maybe they could tell us what we’re doing right and wrong and what to do to get on the right track.”

Ah…. the time machine solution. Interesting… I have two issues:
First, you can’t go back. You can only go through. The answer to all of our problems is not back there somewhere waiting to be unearthed. First of all there is no such thing as a time machine. And even if you could go back in time, you would find roughly the same thing you find today: suicide, crime, drugs, alcohol, families falling apart (also much more disease, violence, poverty, and fewer rights for women & minorities). Most of all, however, you would find people arguing about what was happening and why. 
Any attempt to distill the “truth” and then import it into our present time would fail because the story of US history can be told in many different ways. The way you tell the story, for instance, as a rich, white, male, ex-television star will be quite different than they way you would tell the story if you were an African slave, a Native American, a woman, an illegal immigrant, and so on.
Don’t get me wrong – I love to study history. We should work hard to understand what has happened in the past. However, it means that we cannot base the path we take through – on into the future – on any single telling of our history. It takes many voices, it takes many points of view. I would caution anyone who plans to watch the movie, to remember that Television’s Kirk Cameron is not a theologian or an historian.
Second, since when did the Christian “we” become the American “we”? The conflation of the Christian “we” with the American “we” makes what Cameron is trying to do ill-advised. The way through is not some big mystery which must be solved. The way through is always to be the church for our day. The people of God simply live into the kingdom of God in their time, in their place, pursuing faithfully the chance to bear witness to the lordship of Jesus not only with our words, but with our lives, believing that we can only do this together in the diverse, manifold witness of the church of the past, present, and future.
Here’s the trailer:
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  • any movie trailer starting with "KIRK CAMERON PRESENTS" is bound to be beyond epic!

  • Hey… it's "television's Kirk Cameron…" there are rules :-0

  • Television's Kirk Cameron looks like a superhero in that first photo… all standing in front of Lady Liberty, saving all the families. I miss Mikey Seaver.

  • Yep, he's going to travel back in time, rescue history, then carry it back to present day in order to solve all of our problems. That's a job for a superhero, don't you think?

  • Wow. You were QUITE gracious. I couldn't have made it sound so loving.

    History according to (television's) Kirk Cameron? – no thanks.

  • Ahhh, slavery, rich white guys, women not voting, rampant preventable disease, Thomas Jeffersons Bible, Growing Pains with Televisions Kirk Cameron…the past was so much better and morally superior, wasn't it?

  • Russ

    You nailed it Tim. And I also think you’re more gracious than I. But here’s my attempt at some thoughts.

    It drives me nuts when I hear people talk about today’s problems as if they’re new. Sure some issues may be more prevalent now than they were 200 years ago, but to act like everything was hunky dory “back then” is absurd. And to act like the answers can be found in a time that was so repressive for so many is dangerous.

    There are many great things happening to take us forward, and I’m so thankful for them. But there’s a lot of things being said that are also moving us backwards. Like Bono once said in a song, “you glorify the past when the future dries up.”

    What does that say about this message?

    I don’t see the future dried up, I see a ripe harvest.

  • Den

    Tim, I've already commented on this blog post on Facebook, so I won't repeat myself here. I will only say that after having seen the trailer for the movie, I am saddened even more that this movie was even made. To think that the monument that seems to be the core of the movie is the sole "solution" to our nation's problems is beyond bizarre. This attributes some sort of totem status to this monument, and makes it as close to an idol as anything I can think of. Furthermore, to imply that somehow our country has been on a deteriorating path since we lost the "national treasure" is creative storytelling of a very pernicious kind. This is once again an example of memory failure, as Cameron looks back to a past that never existed, except in his fevered imagination, as the goal that we should move toward.

    The greatest thing I have as a Christian is that I live in the real world, a world where we're all sinners, where we're all broken and fallible, and where we're all in need of grace to allow us to move toward the kingdom of our Lord. I do not want to live in a fantasy world that masquerades as the real one; that's what the Prince of Lies offers me. I refuse to listen to those falsehoods. Instead, I have to discover daily what the world will reveal about itself to me, and depend on my Lord to help me understand.

    Thanks for bringing this movie to our attention. I'm helped thereby to find something useful to do with my time that evening.

  • RichJ

    I didn’t want to waste my time reading all of your followers comments cause you all missed it. Glad I don’t go to your spiritually deceived church.