The Nativity Story

“What Would Jesus Watch?

The Nativity Story (2 stars)
Jesus Camp (3 stars)

Chances are there won’t be a lot of overlap in the audiences for the two Jesus-themed movies opening in town this week. But anyone who views both will get a varied and contradictory portrait of Christianity, and the sad feeling that no one making movies right now understands how to make a film about Christians without being either overly pious or overly judgmental.”

“Hollywood now has a paradoxical relationship with evangelical America. The movie industry is eager to beckon and serve Christian viewers, yet as long as it thinks of those viewers as another market slice, a demo, it may end up pandering to them with cautious and stultifying reverence. The Nativity Story is a film of tame picture-book sincerity, but that’s not the same thing as devotion. The movie is too tepid to feel, or see, the light.”,6115,1564208_1_0_,00.html

“The Passion of the Christ was sadistic but at least it was visionary. The Nativity Story is also insulting, but it’s not our morals it attacks, only our intelligence. Cutting back and forth between Mary and Joseph’s domestic and spiritual trials with the twirling-mustachery of Herod (Ciaran Hinds) over in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the journey of the Three Wise Men—all, ostensibly, stand-up comedians—to witness the birth of Christ, the film suggests a corny high school production of The Nativity.”

This is all very depressing. Christian films are being made because The Passion made a lot of money, but The Passion was made because of Gibson’s conviction, not because it would sell. It opened up a chance for more films dealing with Christianity (not just biblical epics) to be made, but that opening has been filled with terrible films (most recently, One Night with the King). Fortunately and unfortunately the films have drawn an audience. Unfortunately because they are terrible and the only reason people go is because its about the bible. Fortunately because it means producers will be willing to make more. Hopefully the sham of films about Christians is not exposed before a decent one can be made.

Once again, people with a taste for movies criticize The Nativity Story while conservative Christians rally around it as a battle won in the culture war. Doesn’t anyone think that the story of Christ’s birth should be told by a Christian? Neither writer, director, or actor (who actually is pregnant and unwed at 16) are Christians. Does anyone consider 1 Corinthians 2:14 relevant?

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

If Christians are going to rally around the making of Christian films, they should at least insist that the storytellers be Christian.

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