The 40 Days (and Nights) of Christian Media Challenge is on Day 7, and I’ve been pleased by some aspects of this journey (starting a daily devotional habit, discovering some interesting music, connecting with lots of fun people), and disappointed in others (that Christians have this weird fascination with copying the world’s fads, that the big players in Christian media like perpetuating a pretty myopic view of the world, that if our stories don’t have specific “come to Jesus” moments, the Christian media marketers won’t touch them).
Ultimately, I’m finding that I don’t like or appreciate the various machines that exist in Christian media, but I don’t doubt that each machine represents lots of people who are doing their best to live faithful lives for Jesus.
One happy surprise I found was that Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken is sold by Christian retailers. This surprised me, because it was a film made by a filmmaker who doesn’t appear to be a Christian, and (spoiler alert) it lacks a conversion sequence. My family sat down to watch the film last night, and like so many, we were touched by Louie Zamperini’s amazing life experiences, and the strength that he exhibited time and time again. The film handles issues of faith carefully and respectfully, which throws a bit of cold water on the idea that the movers and shakers in Hollywood have it out for Christians.
After the past week, I’d say that it’s more likely that the movers and shakers in Hollywood have it out for the corporate, industrialized, politicized Christianity that is so prevalent in America these days. And with good reason. Corporate Christianity can be irritating, holier-than-thou, out-of-touch, unintentionally and imminently mockable. Corporate Christianity (like it’s secular brothers and sisters) loves to stir up controversy, to sensationalize for profit, and they love that the vast bulk of the faithful will eagerly swallow whatever pills they ship out to the neighborhood Christian bookstores.
The problem I have with the corporate side of my faith is that it runs so counter to the faith we’re called to in the Scriptures. Christianity is supposed to be relational, but Corporate Christianity is driven by profit – not people. Christianity is supposed to be about humility, but Corporate Christianity is about putting our stars up on pedestals to be loved and admired. Christianity is about loving your enemies, but Corporate Christianity is about building bubbles so that we don’t have to interact with those who believe differently than we do.
Keep in mind, once again, I’m talking about the machine, not most of the people behind the machine. My interaction this past week with some of the people behind the machine is that they are doing their best to follow Jesus. Many of them are incredibly creative, and are just looking for ways to express that creativity. They are intelligent, passionate, and concerned for those people outside of the Christian faith in a sincere and loving way.
But back to Unbroken… watching Jolie’s film got me thinking, what if some film company that produces films for the typical Christian audience had gotten their hands on Louie Zamperini’s story? A version that would have pleased the machine?
Just for kicks and giggles, I decided to imagine how that faith-based version of Unbroken might have ended.
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