The Gospel according to Sling Blade

The Gospel according to Sling Blade February 16, 2011

I am happy to report that Anthony Sacramone, once of  Luther at the Movies, is back from his blogging hiatus and is posting  again at Strange Herring.  Amidst his wry observations, humorous rants, and theological zingers, he will post thoughtful meditations and perceptive film criticism.  For example, here he discusses What Is a Christian Film? and puts forward an unlikely-seeming candidate:

To me, the most explicitly Christian film ever made is Billy Bob Thornton’s Sling Blade. Consider: the central figure is Karl, who in today’s parlance who be described as mentally challenged or autistic, played by an unrecognizable Thornton himself. We meet Karl as he sits in an institution to which he has been consigned for murdering his own mother. Yet this strange, dangerous man with this creepy affect is about to be let loose on an unsuspecting society. Unsuspecting because Karl is by far the most enlightened person in any room he walks into. And that is for one good reason: he has a keen appreciation for his own capacity for evil. He is not self-deluded. He has a grasp of reality such as would drive most other people to drink.

But this self-knowledge is not born of hubris but of humility. When Karl realizes that he must commit another crime, and thus forsake his hard-won freedom for the sake of another — a little boy who is being tormented by his mother’s boyfriend and their self-destructive lifestyle — the first thing he does is ask to be baptized. He is identifying himself with the crucified Christ because he is about to sacrifice his own “righteousness” (i.e., that fragile social acceptance that permits him to live in civil society) for the sake of another, to save another. Karl knows he is a sinner. He knows he must die for his sin. But he also knows that he has a redeemer, who can save him even as he is about to descend into hell.

And so we leave Karl just as we found him. Incarcerated, but strangely free.

Partly on Mr. Sacramone’s earlier recommendation–he listed Sling Blade among his “Lutheran movies”–I watched it, and he’s right.

Could we agree to this?:  A  movie that is  uplifting or moral or positive is not necessarily a Christian movie.  Rather, for a movie to be Christian, it must have something to do with sin, redemption, and Christ.

Can you think of other examples?


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