Nine Things I Learned from 40 Days (and Nights) of Christian Media. Yes, it’s over.

Media cloud, VLADGRIN / Shutterstock.com

Media cloud, VLADGRIN / Shutterstock.com

On March 12, I made the decision to consume nothing but Christian media for forty days and to document the experience.  I wasn’t angling for a book deal, or trying to increase revenue by upping clicks on my blog (I make no money off of this blog).  I just wanted to see what would happen if I restricted myself to a steady diet of media created by Christians, for Christians, the kind you could only buy from a Christian bookstore.

Would I grow in some way?  Spiritually?  Physically?  Mentally?  Would it somehow make me into a more sincere and effective Christian?  Would I snap and throw my laptop from my 16th floor balcony?

Well, as of today (due to some international travel that messed up the days a bit) those forty days are finally over, and while I did have to get a new laptop, it was because of catastrophic systems failure in the old one, and not because of a Christian-media-induced mental breakdown.

And that sound you hear is me, breathing.

Deep breaths.

Deep, cleansing, cautious breaths.

My first official non-Christian-made media as I’m coming off the forty days?  Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar soundtrack.

Man, I missed me some Hans Zimmer.

Yesterday, my wife asked me if I’d learned anything over the past forty days, and I’d like to answer her question here, for anyone to see.

LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE 40 DAYS (AND NIGHTS) OF CHRISTIAN MEDIA CHALLENGE

Over the past 40 days…

1.  You take the good, you take the bad…

I have learned that, like with regular media, there are some really good bits of Christian media and there are some incredibly horrid bits.  The incredibly horrid bits are typically the ones that get the most attention and marketing money, and get sold by Christian retailers.  The really good bits are typically harder to find, but it’s worth the effort.

Balaam and the angel, painting from Gustav Jaeger, 1836.

Balaam and the angel, painting from Gustav Jaeger, 1836.

2.  The Balaam’s Donkey Effect

I have learned to my surprise that God even uses the incredibly horrid bits of Christian media to encourage people.  I have no idea why He does this, but I call it The Balaam’s Donkey Effect.

As Rich said, you never know who God is gonna use.

3.  Misuse of The Balaam’s Donkey Effect

I have learned that some Christian media producers take the Balaam’s Donkey Effect to mean that you can produce media with good intentions alone and God will bless it because of those good intentions.

They seem to forget that the Bible has a lot to say about excellence.

4.  The True Salt and Lighters

I have learned that there are Christian producers of media, true “salt and lighters”, working very hard within traditional media companies to produce great work that is not necessarily obviously Christian.

I’ve also learned that these people don’t get near the attention from within the church as do the obvious Christian media producers.

And this is going to be hard to hear, but I think that it needs to be said:  I have concluded that this is really stupid and short-sighted on the part of the church.

Church, pay special attention to the following statement, because it is a message for you: Support Christians working in non-Christian media companies like they are missionaries, because that’s what they are.  

“But my denomination doesn’t send out missionaries to Hollywood or Nashville.  How do we know who they are?”

Easy.  Do some research.  They’re not hard to find.

And once you do find them, support them with prayers and finances.  Have a Sunday School class adopt them, and send them Amazon gift cards.  Remember their kid’s birthdays.  If they live close, invite them out to dinner and let them talk about their projects.  Creatives love talking about the things they are trying to do.  In short, treat them the way you do your missionaries to Africa and Asia and Latin America.  They are in a mission field that is just as challenging in many ways.

And lastly on this point, don’t just find and support the people working in the more visible fields of Christian media (the authors, the singers, the directors, and such), but also the ones who work behind the scenes (the sound engineers, the DPs, the editors, the key grips, and so on).  It’s just as hard to be a Christ-following techie in media as it is to be a celebrity.  Maybe harder.

5.  The Dreaded Christian Bubble

I have learned that our Christian sub-culture bubble is arguably un-Biblical.  We weren’t called to be hermits living in caves.  How can we show we’re not of the culture unless we’re engaged with the culture?

Recently I was involved in a discussion with a somewhat well-known Christian filmmaker, who stunned me when he said that he’d not actually watched any non-Christian movies in his life.

In. His. Life.

Not even the “safe” non-Christian movies.  He didn’t see any need to expose himself to the films of the world, and didn’t think that it affected his own filmmaking abilities.

Romans 14 tells me that I have to respect this man’s convictions on watching films, and so I do, from a brother-in-Christ point of view.  From a filmmaking point of view, I will be really surprised if he ever actually makes an all-around decent movie.  The odds are stacked against him, since he’s cut himself off from the professional influence of people who really know how to make films.

And we see Christians encasing themselves in bubbles all over the place.  We need to pop those bubbles.

6.  The Need for Christian Media for Christians

I have learned to respect the need for Christian-made media that is made specifically for Christians.  It’s quite nice that we can watch television and surf the internet and listen to music, just like non-Christians do, and grow in the faith.

But I do wish a couple of things would happen with this media:

First, I wish that the ones making media for the Christian subculture would just acknowledge they are making media for Christians rather than pretending that their work is making any substantial positive impact on the wider culture.  The Balaam’s Donkey Effect notwithstanding, I’m talking about being honest and open about the demographics you honestly think you will reach.  The majority of non-Christians in the world have a very low opinion of our music, our movies, and our books.  We need to face that fact.

Second, I wish the ones making media for the Christian subculture would challenge the Christian subculture more, and not just hit all the right beats to make it suitably digestible.  Doesn’t 2 Timothy say something about itching ears?

family7.  Family Friendly ≠ Faith Based

I have learned that we should – for once and for all – draw a big fat line between “family-friendly” and “faith-based”.  I’ve made this point on the blog before, but over the last forty days I found myself longing for a faith-based film that was willing to plumb the depths of the human condition as well as explore the heights, and only found it with The Song.  Faith-based films should be allowed to go mature and dark in order to truly show the light.

Where is the Christian-made Calvary?  Where is the Christian-made Shawshank Redemption?  Unforgiven?  Schindler’s List?  For that matter, why did we need Angelina Jolie to make a decent (if incomplete) version of Unbroken?

The problem is that we’ve shackled family-friendly and faith-based together, and in the process we’ve cut ourselves off from being able to make really good drama.  Only a non-Christian can really tell our stories well, and then we get upset when they don’t tell them the way we want them to be told.

8.  Fear Not

If I can judge the state of the 21st American Christian church by the state of her media, I’ve learned that we Christians seem to be afraid.  Of all sorts of things.

We’re afraid of homosexuals, Muslim radicals, bad parenting, Hollywood, video games, illegal immigrants, the dark side of the internet, atheist filmmakers making Bible epics, the other side of the political aisle gaining political power, magic, public education, higher education, and losing our American freedoms and rights.  To name just a few things.

6a00d8341bffb053ef0133ed1fe566970b-450wiDon’t get me wrong.  Of course we should be concerned about the issues.  Of course we should learn what’s going on so that we can pray about things.

But we shouldn’t be afraid.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

If we truly believe that God is sovereign, then we should live with hopeful anticipation about what He is doing in the world, not in fear that He’s somehow losing control.

9.  The Heart of the Matter

Finally, the most important thing I’ve learned over the past forty days is the importance of starting the day in God’s Word.  I’ve mentioned a couple of times over these past 40 days that I’ve been utilizing the daily devotional written by Skye Jethani, and I highly recommend it.

If you are a Christian who – like me – loves secular media, I strongly urge you to make it a point to start your day in the presence of your heavenly Father.  This will better enable you to meet the challenges found in trying to swim in the tsunami of secular media, and will infuse you with the grace to step into the stream of Christian-made media with understanding and patience.

There are plenty of Christians around the world for whom the Bible is literally the only Christian media they have exposure to, and guess what?

They survive.

And in my opinion, they’re probably a lot better off than the rest of us.

Thanks to all who joined me in this forty day adventure in odyssey.  Come back for my next challenge, The 40 Days (and Nights) of Star Wars Media Challenge.

screen-shot-2014-08-25-at-12-30-30-pm

I’ve got a bad feeling about this…

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36 thoughts on “Nine Things I Learned from 40 Days (and Nights) of Christian Media. Yes, it’s over.

    • Am I a better person? If so, it’s maybe because I’ve got a bit more respect and empathy for what makers of Christian media are trying to do. Focusing on their work for forty days made me realize that I have cut them some slack in some ways, but I also concluded that they have to be willing to take hard criticism given in love (thinking of certain David and Goliath directors here).

      Spiritually? Not so much. It was sort of like fasting, where you can’t really focus on God because all you can think about is hamburgers. The good of the discipline is sort of ruined when you can’t get your focus in the right place. For me, I was so tempted to watch certain movies, or go to certain websites, that I probably didn’t really enjoy the Christian ones I was making myself visit.

      I’ll probably enjoy them more now, since I found them, and don’t “have” to go to them anymore. 🙂

  1. Just found your blog, brother, and kudos! I couldn’t do it…

    Loved your points and agree with all of them; especially the fear. I was raised in a near-fundamentalist environment, and when I finally came to Christ at 21, the thing that struck me most strongly about the New Testament (that I seemed to finally understand for the first time) was the LACK of fear in the apostles and early Christians in the face of virulent hatred, persecution and death. A settled assurance that God had won the war and that the victory is His. Where’d that go?

    At least you’re back in time for The Avengers! 😉

    • Thanks so much! And true enough about the Avengers. The thing that really stinks is that it opened in Hong Kong on the 23rd, but my work had my passport, and so I couldn’t go see it! I’ll get my passport back tomorrow, and so I might try this weekend. Hong Kong’s only an hour away by bus.

      And true words on fear. I can understand feeling fearful, because we’re human. What I can’t understand is Christian media that perpetuates fear. It’s no better than the secular media guys who sell fear to get clicks on their websites.

      Blessings!
      Nate

  2. I like and agree with much of what you say here, especially the part about supporting true salt-and-lighters as missionaries. Re: “How can we show we’re not of the culture unless we’re engaged with the culture?” (Referring to Christians in general, not those in the media industry) Wigglesworth refused to read a newspaper, go to the theater, or consume any media except the Bible. He engaged with the culture by healing the sick, raising the dead, and sharing the Good News with the poor. I haven’t reached that extreme yet but as a youth pastor who started out saturated in the latest songs, TV shows, etc. to be more relatable – and now barely have time to read Hollywood headlines – find that I’m less able to make small talk with the teens, but far more effective in showing them Jesus and how to follow Him.

  3. Interesting as Christian filmmaker I very much appreciate this article, I don’t think we realize that we have to learn the excellence of the craft from the professionals to communicate better, that’s why when they make the movies it reaches so many, because they understand rules & principles of using the craft to communicate their messages to the audience.

    • Very true, Jamaine. The funny thing is this – if a Christian wants to become a doctor, they go to a good medical school. If a Christian wants to become an engineer, they go to a good engineering school. While they might seek out professionals who are believers to help act as guide and mentor, they try to gain their education from the best possible sources.

      Christian artists should do the same thing.

      Blessings,
      Nate

  4. Great post. I disagree with the idea that we should support Christians in the mainstream media financially as “missionaries”. Support with prayer, absolutely. Buy their work if I like it, of course. But it has to be good enough to stand on its own and be successful financially. Otherwise, we are just throwing money at it because it’s “Christian” instead of because it actually warrants success. If it’s good enough it will make money and won’t need financial support.

    • In my case, I’m an aforementioned “creative.” I don’t have much of a story yet, but I’ll tell you about someone else who is a great Christian and artist role model.
      Berenice Rarig is a pastor’s wife in a very poor area of Australia, where they eek out a small living and give everything else to the homeless, mentally ill, and addicts that are their ministry. She began her artist career late in life, her 40’s or so, and unexpectedly exploded with potential, drive, and awesomeness. She has fought the culture of Australia, that is very hostile toward anything Christian, with pure honesty and vulnerability about her spiritual life in her art, and continuously blows away the most severe critics. It is undoubtable that she is both a missionary and an artist, and she would be able to do neither without support from others. She has made a huge impact on her society, but I don’t think she has sold much, as it is maybe not appropriate to sell, transport, or display out of its environment. (Sorry, unavoidable art theory left half-explained.)
      My point is that yes, you need drive, skill, and experience to be good, and yes, you need to be a very deep Christian to have deeply spiritual work, but you also need support. If we showed our artists that they can focus on deeply and authentically expressing spirituality without needing to worry about making shallow work that would sell easier, we would have better art made by Christians.
      This is my opinion, and is just something to consider.

  5. There is a songwriter named Ross King who wrote a song called “An Open Letter to the Christian Subculture.” It’s fairly old, but still as solid today as when it was sung the first time. He agrees with some of your ideas in the song.

    • That’s the first time I’ve heard of the song, and the first time I’ve heard of Ross King. I like his prophetic voice – reminds me a bit of the kind of thing that Rich Mullins might have written if he were still around today.

      Thanks for sharing it, Joshua!

      Blessings,
      Nate

  6. I really appreciate your honest attempt to focus on Christian media for this amount of time. I can’t remember how I stumbled onto your blog. I think I googled something about the state of Christian film-making and you were on the first page of results. I was searching for a broader and deeper spectrum of movies than Fireproof, Unconditional and October Baby, which I had just purchased over Easter. And I’ve enjoyed the journey you have taken me on.

    The thing I tend to focus on when enjoying a movie is how it moves my heart. There have to be points in the movie where it strikes a chord with the human condition. There has to be beauty and the beauty that generally moves me is soul-beauty. The beauty of weakness. Its the beauty that makes you laugh with joy at the imperfections of children. The beauty that makes your heart break with empathy at the real struggles of another human being and it is the beauty that makes you cry with joy when a character is able to achieve an act of pure love, I have been moved in the secular media by many of these moments. And this is my great hope for Christian media, because this should be native territory for us. We should know all about weakness and struggle and joy and love, in many, many different ways. We should be able to see the victory in defeat, and the strength in the broken, much more acutely than people in secular culture. From the little Christian media I have consumed, I have been able to see brief glimpses of this beauty. It is not as well developed as what I would like, but even in some of the most hard to sit through films I have seen these glimpses. Even in Fireproof, which starts off with the most insane reason for marital trouble (because the protagonist doesn’t think he gets enough “respect” from his wife) his eventual extreme selfless generosity was something that spoke to me as beautiful and true, because God is the fount of this beautiful, selfless generosity and love. Even though I saw it coming, they did a pretty good job of trying to hide it until the right time.

    Last night I watched “Safety not Guaranteed” for the first time. That’s the kind of movie I hope that the Christian movie industry can make. The depth of the characters was revealed in the film. After watching it, I noted that Mark Duplass grew up Catholic. I’m not sure how this has affected his movie making. I’m not sure how I feel about the ending. I think the movie ended in a typically Hollywood way, in victory and maybe you can see glimpses of the joy of the resurrection in such an ending, but you have to completely suspend your disbelief. The revealed character did not seem capable of such an ending. Neither did Jesus for that matter but Jesus achieved victory through seemingly absolute defeat, a true paradox, whereas Hollywood likes to portray victory through struggle and “doing your best” and “believing in yourself”. I think they could have taken the character further into humiliation before revealing a surprising victory. But Rotten Tomatoes loves it with 91% approval.

    Surprisingly, in following your journey through Christian media, I did learn something, and it is not something that I expected. It’s interesting that some of the greatest works of art created by the industrial complex are stories about achieving freedom from the industrial complex. This is a paradox worth mulling over. Why are we so eager find this nourishment about freedom from the teat of the monster itself? Forgive me this comment seems insensitive by using one of your blog posts to make a point, but it seems tome from reading your blog over the last month, that one of the greatest experiences in your life, one of the most stirringly beautiful and heartfelt, was when you personally met Rich Mullins in an intimate, unexpected setting. This is real experience, and as you said, the movie could not live up to the man. Entertainment only provides glimpses of the beauty that exists all around us in real life. The ones that really hit us to the core are the personal experiences, not the voyeuristic ones.

    So I think its important not to take “entertainment” out of its proper context. I think it is meant to be glimpses that stir the soul, maybe feed the soul, for a moment so that you can experience real moments of beauty in you personal life. But it shouldn’t be entertainment, whether secular or Christian, to provide the real food for the journey. That’s what I got out of it anyway. Thanks for taking me for the ride.

  7. hey there, thanks for a great post about your daring journey. i would have a hard time doing an experiment like that. as a musician and writer, who also happens to be a Christian, I have long struggled navigating the Christian-media scene, as well as where I fit in somewhere on the outskirts. i appreciated your thoughts on family-friendly vs. christian… i have a hard time stomaching a lot of Christian media, and have many Christian friends who share these frustrations because the music and the stories just aren’t honest and true to life, not to mention they are so often Christianese versions of something “secular”… there are some i appreciate but few… in my writing I have wrestled through being honest and letting my characters be real and flawed without making it gratuitous or glorifying sin… to be honest i wish we would stop using Christian as an adjective label of media, and instead i wish that more Christians would produce outstanding, ground-breaking content that is honest, but that also impacts pop-culture in a positive way… thanks for sharing!

    • There were some extremely tough moments, believe me. And I did slip up once or twice (I had to watch the episode 7 trailer), but for the most part kept to the course.

      The best thing that happened was that after initially powering my way through the “popular” (read: insufferable) Christian media, I did enjoy finding the little treasures here and there. In the end, I was impressed by much of the quality of the work I happened upon.

      And it sounds like you’re heading in the right direction with your writing. Blessings to you as you continue down that road! I can completely empathize with you on the struggles of being a Christian and being a writer, and wanting to tell authentic stories that hit beyond the subculture.

      Keep at it, my friend!
      Nate

  8. You said you wanted to see a Christian movie, but that plumbed the darkest depths. Try watching Nefarious: Merchant of Souls. It challenged and changed my life, and it has a really deep message, nowhere near Hallmark.

  9. By the way, I’m one of those professionally-creative Christians that is currently struggling with how to make art for the Creator, while not falling into the shallow Christian subculture. Some of my professors are advising that I desert meaning and focus on the material, thus avoiding the whole issue until I become experienced enough to correctly infuse meaning in my work. Meanwhile, my other professors are encouraging me to use my “creativeness” to teach art classes and do (somewhat pitiful and distantly) art-related missions work. The first group of people consider most art teachers to be the scum of the earth, as they don’t actually create anything good and teach useless, empty formulas without theory. The second group doesn’t consider me a professional artist, education, experience, resolve, and God-given-desire entirely disregarded.
    Just to say, I’d appreciate any prayer for me and others like me. God has given us “creatives” our “gifts” and such for a reason, and we appreciate and struggle with that, so please don’t expect us to paint Jesus all day long. We may just want to make sculptures of people turned inside out, and certainly, God can speak through that too. I don’t know about this blog or its readers, but I believe that everything I make is in God’s plan, and He will use it for His purposes, no matter how odd the art piece or incomprehensible its usefulness is to me. (No, I don’t want to get into conversation about Godliness in actions, including art, all possible Balaam’s Donkeys, or being a stumbling block. Its always on my mind.)

    • Thanks, Rachel.

      I will say this about using your gifts in a missional way. I spent over 14 years in Kazakhstan, where I started and ran an English language theater company, and was amazed by what God did (and continues to do) with that enterprise. We produced commercially popular theater, not some sort of “missionary theater”, and the theater has had an enormous impact on the lives of the people involved.

      You’d be amazed how you can be used in unusual settings when you are a person with creative gifts. After all, our God is the best at being creative and surprising with the avenues He opens up!

      Just be open to anything, and He’ll take you places you never imagined.

      Blessings,
      Nate

  10. Christian Art. I really kind of hate this moniker. It is not only incomplete but it is wrong and shallow. Christians that make art. That is a much better way to go. Christians that make art that is respected. That depends on who you talk to. I think that in all actual fact, we need better audiences. Yep. I’m going after them.

    If the audience would actually tolerate seeing doubt, sin and fear without running away from it then maybe “Christian Art” would have a chance to be really good. But “Christians” don’t buy that kind of art. They buy “safe” art which SHOULD be an oxymoron. Art incites the heart, mind and soul if it is any good and this particular state of being has been removed from the Christian experience in America. I mean, look at the movies that make the big bucks with the “safe” Christian label. Egad…they are not art at all but a either a sermon or “Christian Porn.” I know. That word upsets people but it is the truth. Like HGTV is “house porn” so Christians make a shallow story held together by a string of predictable acts (the conversion scene, for example) full of only subtext and short on substance. Porn. And the audience LOVES that stuff. Well, the paying audience loves that stuff. Live in the bubble, folks and be the pew potato! Do not impact anyone and keep “safe.”

    And to the person that doesn’t want to support artists, you don’t get it. The problem with the money is you, dear. You aren’t buying their superior artistic expression because it challenges you and makes you uncomfortable. Support it anyway. Financially, that is and allow them to mature and grow.

    Well, I’m sure I have made some folks upset, so I will go away. Looking forward to not doing Christian media for a while. After years of it, I want to live my life and make my art without a blindfold and my hands being tied. Heck, I’ll even get the respect of Christians when I become a secular success because I will be making money, finally.

  11. I appreciate your thoughtful approach to this. It would have been incredibly easy (and snarky, and frankly fun) to make a joke of the experience. Too many people laugh it off without really reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of Christian media – and it’s potential for impacting – or not impacting – culture. Thanks for the honest look.

    • Thanks so much, Phil. I’m a big fan of your work, so I really appreciate the encouragement.

      There were definitely times when I thought my wrap-up post would be snarky – especially when I was in the middle of it, and it seemed like an unending proposition – but I’m actually grateful for the experience, because I think it did lead me to a balanced view of the big beast (no end times metaphor meant there) of Christian media.

      Cheers,
      Nate

  12. I want to make you aware of two films. The first is titled “The Record Keeper.” Made by Christians for a non-Christian audience. The makers of ”The Record Keeper” feel much as you do about Christian media. This film is their response.

    Originally conceived as a series delivered via the web, TRK was recut as a theatrical film following the sudden removal of backing (days before its release) by the Christian denomination who had commissioned the project.

    This is the IMDb page for “The Record Keeper”: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3918056/

    The second is “ANOMALY.” A unique telling of a the Nativity story.

    This is the link to “ANOMALY” on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/115329271

    Forgive me if you’ve seen either of these films. I thoroughly enjoyed your essay. I think your assessment is quite accurate and your conclusions sound. Kudos for going the full forty days.

  13. Must have been difficult. I agree, especially dividing family friendly from faith based. Breaking Bad is a very moral story, it’s just a tragedy.
    And if people want to support Christians in Hollywood, there are starving ministries everywhere. Try Epiphany Space for example.

  14. Excellent insights. I’ve found that Christians are especially guilty of creating Baalam’s Donkeys here in France: what little original work they make is often of pretty poor quality. Last weekend was a refreshing change: I went to see a French Christian pop/worship band called Glorious in concert and it was GOOD. They sang nearly all original compositions, which were really good, lyrically and musically, and the sound and light crew did a fantastic job. Sadly, they’re pretty much the only French Christian band of that caliber at the moment. There are a few other artists that produce decent quality music, but they’re very rare. And not all of them write a lot of original songs: at least half of what you’ll find on a given French worship album will be translations (and not always good ones). The same goes for books, fiction and otherwise (actually, this isn’t limited to Christian literature – I’ve noticed a lot of translated books in secular bookstores too).
    I have noticed that there are more and more Christians calling for more excellence in the arts, so hope is not lost. We still have a ways to go, though.

    • Thanks Stephanie,

      Wow, what a point of view you bring to this, from France. I’m glad to hear about Glorious, and enjoyed a few of their videos after your recommendation.

      My understanding of France is that the population – while largely identifying as Christian – rarely attend any sort of church services, and many also identify as Atheist. (I did a quick Google search and found this: http://www.timmitchell.fr/blog/2012/05/04/christianity-in-france/)

      I’d love to hear more about your thoughts as a part of the “minority” in France. The challenges facing believers there, as artists in particular, but as a part of the society in general.

      Blessings,
      Nate

      • Thanks for the link. It sums up the situation here pretty accurately: most French people identify as Christian to some degree, but for many it’s more of a family/cultural tradition than an actual relationship with God. The article did fail to mention the long-standing Catholic vs. Protestant feud/divide, though those bridges are slowly being mended. Glorious is actually helping with that: the founding members are Catholic, but they have a lot of non-Catholic fans and are big advocates of Christian unity (the concert I attended was actually organized by an Evangelical church).
        As far as challenges faced by Christians, there’s not much in the way of overt persecution (the whole separation of church and state thing is taken much more seriously and applied much more strictly than in the United States). However, there are those who will look at you funny, and many churches (mainly evangelical/charismatic) have faced accusations of being cults (some from other denominations). I guess the biggest challenge is simply being taken seriously. I think artists have the hardest time, simply because, as I’ve said, there aren’t that many that are actually any good – at least, not many that have managed to make a splash. I’m not entirely sure why that is; part of it is probably simply the church not encouraging enough excellence in the arts, and possibly also discouraging people from learning from secular artists as you mentioned in your posts. There’s a real “us vs. the world” mentality in a lot of churches, and it’s likely held a lot of artists back.

  15. Yes yes yes to the family-friendly not equaling faith-based. I recently finished reading Les Miserables which touches on so many rough, filthy subjects but at the same time is so beautifully filled with God throughout. And that is exactly the kind of art that needs to be created! Our generation craves the authentic, but the majority of Christian filmmakers skirt the real issues in order to make the film PG. What a short-sighted trade off. Especially when it is possible to depict real issues tastefully – The Song being a great example.

  16. Could you have listened to the score/soundtrack to “Prince of Egypt” by Hans Zimmer during your 40 days? It’s up in my list of favorites, especially when it comes to movies about religious topics.

    • My “test” was to look an item up at a big online Christian retailer, and if it was sold there, I could watch it. This was why I could watch episodes of Andy Griffith (I was also jonesing for sitcoms), because it’s sold at Lifeway. I didn’t think about looking up the POE soundtrack, but that would have been a lifesaver for me. I listen almost exclusively to movie soundtracks, and there really aren’t any good ones for faith-based films.

      Thanks!
      Nate

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  18. Point #7. YES

    Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes

    This bothers me so much. For years.

    I think I first thought about this when Family Christian Bookstore expanded their product line to include that which is “family friendly” … I don’t have a problem with having a family-friendly bookstore, but please remove “Christian” from your name. There are things that, by in large, are family friendly, but I wouldn’t recommend them as a “Christian” products. Secular media that is family friendly doesn’t mean your child can watch it without any parental input. There are books and movies I would say are family friendly…with particular discussion points. (Course the same can be said for the straight up “Christian” stuff too)

    This distinction needs to be honestly and thoughtfully made. A lot of Christian media is painful, but broadening our scope to include “family friendly” things cart blanche in hopes of improving our image or reach, well, I think that can send the wrong message.

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