Tag: culture

Compassionate Responses to Harmful Worldviews

   arts3-this-one  Artists are often the barometers of society, and by analyzing the worldviews embedded in their works we can learn a great deal about how to address the modern mind more effectively . . . . When the only form of cultural commentary Christians offer is moral condemnation, no wonder we come across to non-believers as angry and scolding.

     Our first response to the great works of human culture—whether in art or technology or economic productivity—should be to celebrate them as reflections of God’s own creativity.

     And even when we analyze where they go wrong, it should be in a spirit of love . . . [Francis] Schaeffer . . . even when raising serious criticisms . . . expressed a burning compassion for people caught in the trap of false and harmful worldviews. When describing the pessimism and nihilism expressed in so many movies, paintings, and popular songs, he demonstrated profound empathy for those actually living in such despair.

     These works of art “are the expression of men who are struggling with their appalling lostness,” he wrote. “Dare we laugh at such things? Dare we feel superior when we view their tortured expressions in their art?” The men and women who produce these things “are dying while they live; yet where is our compassion for them?”          

     Today, Christian activists are quick to organize a boycott or pressure a politician to de-fund some artistic group, and these strategies have their place. But how many reach out to the artists with compassion? How many do the hard work of crafting real answers to the questions they are raising? How many cry to God on behalf of people struggling in the coils of false worldviews?

[Crossway Books, p. 57]

 

Outtakes . . . from “iGods”

Excerpt from the book iGods: How Technology Shapes our Spiritual and Social Lives
by Craig Detweiler, Ph.D., Professor of Communication, Pepperdine University

The triumph of Google raises key questions of authority. Who decides what matters? Will God still serve as a norm when our questions are answered by “Googling”?

Arguments about facts can be sorted out at the touch of a button. Does “I saw it on Google” become a twenty-first century equivalent to “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it”?

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” —Matthew 7:7

Seeking has always been an essential (and costly) part of the Christian journey. But search engines make seeking seem like such a quick and immediate process because the complexities are completely hidden.

So how might the surrender of our search function alter our hearts and minds? If Google seems to give us what we want, will we build in enough time and perspective to even consider what we need?

I wonder what happens when we outsource searching. How do we decide what matters and what to pay attention to?

How do you decide? Share your approach at feedback@mastermediaintl.org.

Can Films Appeal to Faith and Non-Faith Audiences?

160712 emedian miracles from heaven_photo

Kylie Rogers and Jennifer Garner in “Miracles from Heaven”

“For some filmgoers, hearing a movie described as ‘faith-based’ makes it a must-see. But just as many others find the term a turn-off,” suggests Associated Press entertainment writer Sandy Cohen.

Sandy observes that to reach beyond the Christian audience, “. . . some producers of faith-based films are ramping up the star power and tamping down the evangelical messages.”

Hollywood has a long history of biblical blockbusters—classic films like Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, Mel Gibson’s 2004 epic drama, The Passion of the Christ, and the current Affirm release, Risen, to name just a few.

But some of the more recent faith-based films seek to engage more than just the Christian audience. The Blindside, starring Oscar-winner Sandra Bullock, Paramount’s Captive, released last fall with David Oyelowo, and the 2016 spring release Miracles from Heaven, starring Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah, are all based on true stories and include a faith perspective, but are not “religious.”

“Audiences flock to well-made films that deal with stories of optimism and renewal, even if there is suffering and there is loss,” says Maria Elena de las Carreras, a professor of international cinema at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. “That was true in classic Hollywood cinema and it’s true today.”

Professor de las Carreras recognizes that marketing a film as faith-based means nothing if the content doesn’t speak to religious audiences. “It’s a label, but it’s not magical. It doesn’t guarantee box-office turnout,” she said, citing Paramount’s 2014 big-budget biblical film, Noah.

Alex Ben Block (BlockandTackle.biz) shares Ms. de las Carreras’ view, noting that producers who want to see their faith-based fare appeal to broader audiences can’t obscure religious themes too much “because as soon as you try to make it more viable, you alienate the core audience.”

The challenge for filmmakers seeking to reach the “faith market” is finding the balance between engaging nonbelieving moviegoers without alienating believers.