The View From Different Pews

A recent article in Christianity Today as well as a blog post on the Blue Like Jazz Tumblr site have raised some interesting and disturbing issues within the realm of “Christianity”. The recent release of the long awaited movie Blue Like Jazz has triggered an apparently negative reaction from the creators of the movies Fireproof, Facing The Giants, and Courageous.

According to the Tumblr Blog post by Steve Taylor (the producer, co-writer and director of BLJ) the pastor of the Smallwood Baptist Church, which is among the entities producing the Kendricks Brothers films mentioned above, has issued a “fatwa” Blue Like Jazz Posteragainst the Blue Like Jazz movie, allegedly requesting that theaters not run the BLJ Trailer before screening any of their movies.

Also in his blog entry, Taylor levels his own criticisms at “Christian” movies as a whole stating;

“But over the last five years or so, “Christian Movie” has calcified in the public consciousness into a genre where:

  • Sentimentality trumps substance
  • Good intentions trump artistry
  • All conflict must be tidily resolved
  • “Safe for the whole family” is a de facto requirement
  • Or as writer David McFadzean summarized, Christian movies are like porn – poorly lit, poorly acted and you always know how they’re going to end.”

(View Taylor’s full post here)

And so the mud-slinging and name calling begins.  Fueling, or at least tapping into this debate is the popular blog by Matthew Paul Turner. To his credit, Turner expresses no real opinion on the matter but merely provides a forum for others to express their views. After reading his post and most of the recent comments, it seems that most people are rather fed up with divisions in the church as a whole. This is a view that I wholeheartedly agree with.

What are we doing? Here we are, supposedly attempting to be the ambassadors of Love, reaching out to a broken world to show them a better way and we can’t even get our own house in order. This is just one example of the divisions, backbiting and judgmental attitudes of many of the leaders in the Christian faith today. This is heinous, unproductive and unacceptable!

It seems to boil down to one group telling the other “If you don’t present Christianity the way we want you to present Christianity then you aren’t Christians,” while the other group says, “You just don’t get it and you’re nothing but a bunch of narrow-minded fools who don’t get what we’re doing and we think YOU are not Christians.” If I didn’t know any better I’d think I was watching a debate by Republicans and Democrats on the floor of the Senate.

First off, I think we can agree that not only are we not cookie cutter images of each other but that God doesn’t want us to be. The only person we are supposed to, as Christians, be emulating is Jesus Christ, who happened to be the most radical thinker of his time here on earth. I believe we choose the pews we sit in every Sunday based on our individual view of God and faith. I do not think this is wrong in the least. I think God knows what will speak to each of our hearts and therefore he leads us to the place we can hear him best. I think this is also true of the arts in Christianity. Some folks feel the Spirit of the Lord strongest when singing and old gospel hymn while others are moved by more modern Christian tunes. Why would films be any different?

There is room in God’s Kingdom for films that push us to be the best husbands, wives, fathers, and leaders we can be. There is also room in God’s Kingdom for films that tap into the seeker and the doubter in all of us. We worship a VERY BIG GOD! So for heaven’s sake, and the sake of the Church, “Love one another as I have loved you!” (John 13:34-35)

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