Why Are Christian Movies So Awful?

Just read an article at Salon.com called Why Are Christian Movies So Awful? It’s a review of the new movie Soul Surfer, which apparently is based on the true story of a young Christian surfer who lost her arm, but was gutted of any theology by the producers.

One line from the review stuck out to me:

At the risk of offending many people in many different directions, Christian cinema reminds me of gay cinema. If, that is, gay cinema were permanently stuck in 1986, with a self-ghettoizing mandate to present positive role models for youth and tell an anodyne but uplifting story that sends a message of hope.

On the face of it, this is a curious turn of events. Whatever you want to say about Christianity as a system of thought or a force in history, you’ll have to admit that it has a pretty impressive record as a source of inspiration for artists and writers. But when we use the buzzword “Christian” in contemporary American society, we’re talking about a distinctively modern cultural and demographic phenomenon that has almost no connection to the spiritual and intellectual tradition that fueled Dante and Milton and Leonardo and Bach.

Christian movies will continue to be awful so long as Christian theology continues to be awful and shallow, as it has become in contemporary American Christianity. If Christians continue to be obsessed with “culture war” and are content with “a self-ghettoizing mandate to present positive role models and tell an anodyne but uplifting story that sends a message of hope” as a means of getting a leg up in that war, rather than making art that proclaims God as He is revealed in Scripture, then we will never see great art like Bach’s on the big screen.

At least those were the thoughts kicking around in my head during the awards ceremony for 168 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_nrNDSMRos

I echo O’Hehir’s closing line:

If I really had any faith in American pluralism and in my fellow human beings, I guess I would predict that someday soon Christian filmmakers will ramp up their craft and make much better movies than “Soul Surfer.” Does the Lord really want to be glorified by way of something that looks like an especially tame episode of “Baywatch”?

One thought on “Why Are Christian Movies So Awful?

  1. Ben Buskey

    Very well put. It often seems that the movies that are not scared of offending people are the ones that have serious actors, producers, etc, etc. and turn out to be very well done, as well as entertaining. I cant even count how many times I have said “that was a great movie aside from the obvious point they were trying to make about this or that political camp, against christians, complementarianism…etc.


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