40 Days (and Nights) of Christian Media • Day 4

Logo_FFThis is going to be a short report tonight.  To put it lightly, day four was tough.  I’m just ten percent of the way into the 40 Days (and Nights) of Christian Media Challenge, and today I hit a wall.  For the first time, I felt like I couldn’t do this – just limit myself to the things produced by Christians for Christians, because the options were just so limited (especially living overseas) and so often poorly made.

I know that yesterday I was finding the positives in the situation, saying something like “at least there are Christians who are creating,” but today I’m over that.  Today, I’m thinking that just creating isn’t enough.

We need to be creating better and better things.

This is especially an issue for those Christians out there who don’t see the big deal in what I’m doing because they only consume Christian media every day anyway.  There are three problems I see with creating such a bubble for yourself.  First, this isn’t what we were called to do.  “Go out into the world”, remember?  How can we do that if we spend all our time in our Christian sub-culture bubble?  Second, people in the bubble tend to get used to slapping the “Christian” label on everything, thinking that the label alone gives something value.  But slapping a “Christian” or “faith-based” label on something doesn’t automatically make that thing good.  Usually, it just sullies the label.   Third, dealing specifically with filmmakers living in the bubble, I know of a few Christian filmmakers who never watch secular movies.  My question for them is – if you don’t watch good films, how can you hope to create good films?  I just don’t get that.

The thing that saddens me about all of this is that I know that there are so many talented Christian artists who could be making great media, great art, but they’re forced to tailor their work for those Christians living in the bubble, Christians who aren’t interested in being challenged by what they consume.  Their audience wants to grow spiritually, but they only want it to happen by having their beliefs reinforced.  They want to be told that their interpretation of the Bible is the right one, that the idea they have about God is without error, and they’re uncomfortable with the idea of exposing themselves to alternative notions – or even looking at their own ideas in alternative ways.  This means they aren’t necessarily experiencing growth of any kind, but more likely just entrenchment.

And that depresses me on this, the fourth day.

So, with all this in mind, I feel like I’m having to push through this day like I’m ensconsed in some bizarre alien membrane.  I’m trapped, trying to push my way out.

Today, Christian media is not making me feel free, but entrapped.

I’m hoping tomorrow will be a better day.

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6 thoughts on “40 Days (and Nights) of Christian Media • Day 4

  1. Hey there…

    I feel your pain. But I feel it in two ways.

    One, most of the stuff in the “Christian media world” is exactly what you have described: written for Christians to reinforce their belief system, and help them feel good about themselves.

    Two, most of the stuff in the secular world doesn’t make me feel good about anything (such as 50 shades of gray and most horror films and a lot of other things), so I don’t want to have anything to do with those things, because they are depressing or unsettling to me.

    I don’t like most of Kirk Cameron’s stuff, except for the historical value of what he did in that first film about the monument up north. Right now, I can’t remember the name of the film or even where the monument is at. However, as soon as I can make a trip to see this monument, I plan on doing so, probably this summer. Our national heritage is important to me.

    Today you are hurting. And I don’t like that, even though you and I don’t know each other at all. But you are supposed to be focusing on Christian media today, so even though I would love to talk to you about secular movies and such, I don’t want to lead you into something that would cause you to break your commitment to this task. However, what can one sister in the Lord do to help you out on this journey? I’m not a walking database of the best Christian material out there, but I will help if I can.

    What did Skye’s devotional have to say this morning? You know he is on Phil Vischer’s podcasts. You can download those through iTunes.

    Let me know how I can walk with you through this journey, if that would help.

    Blessings to you.

    • Thanks so much, Michelle. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I am hurting, but it’s just tough to not do the things you are accustomed doing. It’s like fasting, it’s not necessarily that you are really hungry, it’s more that you’re used to eating and miss the action.

      I think one thing I’m learning in the five short days I’ve been doing this, is that you have to learn to practice discernment no matter what you are consuming! Even with Christian media, there’s a lot not worth taking in.

      I do know the K. Cameron film you’re referencing, called “Monument”, and it’s actually on my list – it’s apparently free on Netflix right now.

      Thanks for pointing me towards the Phil Vischer podcast – it’s actually one of my favorites. I’d love to find more like it!

      Anyway, not much you can do to help, but I appreciate the comment! It’s nice to know that people are with me on the journey.

      Blessings!
      Nate

      • Thanks for the reply! I totally relate to the fasting analogy, since I participated in a very long fast (39 days) about five years back. It was eye opening, but the first four days were complete murder, since my stomach was “missing the action” as you put it.

        Yeah…. when it comes to movies, there’s just not a whole lot out there that is deeply heart stirring. I want to watch “The Song” since you’ve mentioned it, but I have to admit that most of the Christian films that I’ve seen have been only enough to make me feel good about God and say “yeah!” to what I already believe. Now, Facing The Giants spoke to me in a lot of ways, but I think that was because it resonated with some things I was going through at the time.

        But as for the rest, hmm. I can’t say I totally support all Christian films. Just can’t. But then, I can watch an episode of Star Trek, and the Lord will point something out to me that is related to His Word and His Will.

        On the other hand…. Heaven is for Real. Now, that one I liked, but not because of the fact that some little kid went to Heaven. Granted, nice little story, and I’ve known someone else who was afforded the blessing of seeing Heaven, so I know there are some who actually get that chance (wouldn’t that be awesome?). But the reason I liked the movie so much was the conflict in the father’s heart over the whole thing. I think they could have done more with that, but at least they showed him actually struggling with the idea that his son really went there.

        Have you checked out Amazon’s ebook section? You can purchase books in Kindle form, and read them on a Kindle app (Kindle cloud reader) on your computer.

        If you want more interesting things to read, not necessarily entertaining things to read, check out Hebrew for Christians, which is, for me, a very fascinating site, Also, Jewish studies for Christians, which was started by a professor at Hebrew University. The links to these two sites are here:

        http://www.hebrew4christians.com/ (look on the left side of the home page for “Articles”)

        http://jewishstudies.eteacherbiblical.com/
        (currently, Dr. Eli is going through Revelation, but he has completed a series of articles on the book of John, which was very good. Link to that is here:
        http://jewishstudies.eteacherbiblical.com/category/eli-media/eli-articles/
        (it’s under “Public Library/NT Studies by Dr. Eli/Gospel of John” at the top of the front page).

        The days are counting down, and I know you will emerge from this and have many interesting things to share. Forward, ho! 🙂

  2. Could it be that Christian visual media is bad because Christians are more literary? I could rattle off a number of Christian books that are worth reading, but very few movies.Or maybe because there are just very few Christians in the visual arts occupations? I’d image it’s hard to be a Christian in theater. Or Hollywood. I mean, I’m sure networking can be difficult in those fields if you have a moral standard to uphold. Just some thoughts…

    • Hi Brynn,

      I think that’s a big part of it – at least with Protestants. In fact, I was just thinking this yesterday, when someone was discussing The Shack and being very critical because of some of the choices the writer made in that book. I haven’t read The Shack (I have a daughter, and the idea of reading it makes me nervous), but I don’t think the writer was writing literally. But, we have trouble with metaphor, and allegory. Do You Believe? will probably be very popular because it will be very on-the-nose, and that’s what 21st century American evangelical Christians enjoy.

      And you’re right about Christians working in Hollywood have some real struggles. But, thankfully, there are more and more heading that direction every year, and more and more opportunities for community, fellowship, and encouragement.

      Thanks, Brynn!
      Cheers,
      Nate

  3. I hear ya. Mind you, I listen pretty much exclusively to Christian music, but there’s a pretty decent selection out there and some very talented artists. As far as movies and TV are concerned, however, I agree that there isn’t a whole lot out there worth watching. Granted, there are plenty of secular duds out there too: out of the hundreds of movies that come out every year, only a handful ever seem even remotely appealing to me. Still, it’s sad to see Christians producing sub-par work when we should be setting the standards for excellence.
    And like you said, there’s a lot we can learn from “secular” film and TV as well. Have you read Through a Screen Darkly by Jeffrey Overstreet? He has some really great insights into that.

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