NPR recently ran a story about the (supposedly) exciting new “Christian movie industry.”

The story contained this quote:

“I think we’re going to see significant production houses that will be funding $200 million films done by Christians,” he predicts. “We’re going to have our own Steven Spielbergs. We’re going to have our own filmmakers that can tell great stories, produce tremendous films, but they’re going to be doing it with a Christian world view, and they’re not going to be embarrassed about that.”

I read this, and promptly burst into tears, then suffered a seizure, and was rushed to the hospital, as I watched the hard work of so many artistically gifted Christians being flushed down the toilet in the name of “branding.”

Fortunately, Mark Moring at Christianity Today was willing to raise the question: Wait… do we really need a Christian film industry?

Read his response here, and the comments as well (where I had “few” words to say myself).

If you combine *that* report with the preposterous, easily de-bunked articles by the Movieguide “culture warriors” in The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek and The Washington Post, (not to mention their response to the Oscars) you can see why I have been suffering nightmares about a bleak and discouraging future for Christians in the arts. (CT also responded to those here, and so did Brett McCracken… thank goodness.)

When the loudest “Christian voices” in the media consistently embarrass those that actually have something of merit to contribute… when they manipulate statistics and pretend that all America wants are cute, safe, Christian stories with pre-packaged morals at the end… how can we hope to have any meaningful engagement in culture, or appreciate the riches of the stories and movies that others have to share?

If anybody reading this wonders, “What’s the big deal? Why not have a Christian movie industry?” I encourage you to read the first three chapters of Through a Screen Darkly. That’s where I shared stories from my own life about the awful consequences that can come from such good intentions, and I also shared examples of what is possible when Christian cast of “branding” and instead glorify God with quiet excellence. If we stop focusing on creating “Christian Spielbergs” we may realize that God is already revealing himself through Spielberg himself, and that by working in the world rather than separating ourselves from it, we follow Christ’s own example.

UPDATE: Hey… how many of you have been following Looking Closer, or Christianity Today’s movie coverage, long enough to remember this?

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