This is part of a series on Christian media, so you might want to work your way up to this one. Start here, otherwise you could just keep reading; I don’t know, do whatever you want.
I have spent most of this time trying to examine certain aspects in the world of art that make things good, while subtly hinting at the fact that it is those exact things that modern Christian art lacks.
I started saying it and I’ll say it again to reiterate.
Christian art is trash.
And the worst part is that the community of Christian media has no excuse.
We have the talent. Everyone is gifted in different ways; Christians didn’t get skipped when it came to having the capacity to edit film decently; they didn’t get a double-dose of bad acting at birth; and they certainly didn’t skimp when it came to being musically inclined. So it’s not an issue of capacity, we’ve seen Christians succeed.
Say what you will, Tim Tebow (Yes, I realize Tim Tebow isn’t an artist. I had a thought and I ran with it) was still a good enough athlete to compete in college and at least get into the Pros. In the hit Broadway Musical Wicked, Kristin Chenoweth sings her heart out as Galinda, and in my opinion, no one else has yet to top her performance of that character. Anne Rice and John Grisham both succeeded as accomplished authors. So why O’ why do we think that being a Christian effects our performance? No body wants to settle for the poor quality version of something, but Christian media does nothing but that.
So, on a human level, we are physically capable of acting, singing, painting, etc. But perhaps it is because of a lack of education. Except it isn’t. There are Christian colleges that have accomplished Media arts programs. Check out Regent University in Virginia.
So maybe it’s because they can’t afford the education or equipment? Again, nope. Now more than ever it is easy to find tutorials on anything and everything on the internet. Many of these tutorials are free, professional-grade material that offers anyone with an internet connection the opportunity to learn what they want to know. There are even sites to ask questions and receive tip, tricks, and answers from others in those fields of study.
With technology these days, the equipment it takes to shoot a professional looking YouTube video is a decent DSLR camera, a computer, and the editing software. That’s it. More than anything else, its time (which we have lots of), effort (which is put in), and knowing what to do correctly (which you can learn).
So if it’s not the talent or technology, what is it?
Is it the Secular media trying to keep Christians constantly oppressed and ignored? I feel like the movie Hacksaw Ridge did pretty well, despite it being directed by Mel Gibson (An alleged Christian), and the main character of the story being a devout Believer portrayed as standing up for his beliefs despite everyone telling him to give in. So why couldn’t War Room do as well?
I don’t believe its a matter of the Secular trying to keep Christian media out, its that Christians won’t let anyone else in.
I think it’s trying to remain “Christian”; Separate; Taking no part in the “Secular Media”. And it’s done nothing but poison itself. The term inbreeding comes to mind. The Christian community has spent so much time investing in its own Industry that it fails to recognize that it has become weak and absent from the world around it. Sure, you can invite someone to watch God’s Not Dead but anyone who is outside of the Christian media community can look at it and say that its a poor quality movie, regardless of the subject matter. If you are inside the Christian media community, then God’s Not Dead is a pinnacle of achievement: It’s the best quality film that Christian directors have yet to produce and espouses all of the fundamental theology you hold dear, in a plot that finds the Christian triumph in a reasonably logical, yet unreasonably miraculous win over Worldly Science, and morally corrupt minds.
If you aren’t a Christian, you aren’t going to watch this movie. Not only because it is unappealing on an aesthetic level, but because it also blatantly portrays anyone who isn’t a Christian as the villain. So, if no one else is watching these horrors of media, who is?
Christians. Only Christians. Not even all Christians, because there are enough with good taste to not support the making of bad films. The only people who are ever going to see Christian films are the people who get shang-hied into watching one at a friends house.
So what’s the excuse for making them? As evangelistic tools? I’m sure there is someone out there, but I don’t see how any Christian movie is effectual in the slightest for transforming a life, especially when it seems that its main goal is to do nothing more than reinforce the lifestyle of the Christian who watches it. It doesn’t challenge faith, it justifies it, poorly.
I have heard it boldly proclaimed that at the end of the day, the Church is a business. In part, yes. The Western Church does like to keep itself in buildings by paying rent, giving a salary to its pastors, and so on. But while I personally enjoy reaping the benefits of capitalism, it has effected the Church with a nasty disease.
Christian media is a self-feeding loop. If you are a true Christian, you purchase Christian books; this Christian book will show you how to be a true Christian. Replace the product with whatever you want, but the end result is the same. It just keeps going. If you feed it, it will live. So the reason bad Christian movies keep getting made, is that Christians keep buying them! And what alternative do Christians have? If they don’t buy Christian things, then they aren’t supporting Christian artists, so they aren’t helping out a brother or sister in Christ. That’s not very Christian is it? So you get guilt-tripped into going to the Christian bookstore and buying another book about everything you already believe. Sure, it may present new ideas to you, but you already believed those ideas, you just didn’t have them in words. What you didn’t get was something that presented new beliefs.
It’s the tribal mentality. Either you support the tribe of Christianity, or you are thought of as less, for not helping out other tribe members. But what if your tribe members just don’t do good? As a Christian, that’s where we are at. We have an inbred media culture that wants to isolate itself from any outside influences.
So what can you do if you are stuck as conscientious objector to Christian media?
For one, you can be a producer instead of just a consumer. Western society is a consumer culture. All of us watch, read, listen, and eat, but very few of us create, make, design, or grow. For every movie you have watched, how many have you made? For every book you have read, how many have you written? I’m obviously not expecting everyone to write a book, but think about the amount of material you produce as opposed to how much you consume.
The second thing I am really starting to practice now, is to encourage good behavior. If someone writes a good book, buy a good book. If it was bad, return it and ask for your money back. In the capitalist society, that’s how quality can be controlled. Your money will talk, and maybe one day the Christian media community will get its act together.
Third: Don’t by “Christian” things just because it’s labeled “Christian”. Look for the sacred things in the secular.
P.S.- Still not done yet with this subject.