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The Best Story Wins

Exec. Prod. Ralph Winter (left) on the set of “The Promise”

by Ralph Winter, Producer (X-Men, Captive, The Promise)

Storytelling—it’s all around us. It’s in a courtroom, it’s in politics, it’s in our business, it’s in religion. It’s history. It’s what we’ve done around the campfires in teaching younger generations about life through stories. It’s cultural. It’s what we do at dinner when we have friends come over. It’s in movies and TV and social media. It’s in Instagram. The power and persuasiveness is front and center—and the best story wins.

Sometimes the kind of things we do are not even on the faith community radar—but Mastermedia is there to support and understand what’s going on. I spend about 8-9 months a year on the road away from my family, and it’s people who pray for me and support me who keep me going. People like Buster Holmes and other friends, like my wife and my church community . . . people who hold me up while I’m doing this at a great distance, trying to make movies that have significance.

That’s one of the reasons to encourage and care for the filmmakers among us who are really “prophets” of the culture. In his book, Culture Care, my friend Makoto Fujimura says that believers who work in media walk in two different cultures—the secular and the faith community. They need encouragement, prayer, and people who understand what they’re going through as they prophetically try to show what the future is about.

In some ways, these filmmakers are like missionaries. They’re learning a new language and a new culture, and their values are different as they walk the border between two cultures. Let’s encourage our filmmakers as they’re doing that and being the prophets for this generation.

On-Screen Inspiration . . . in Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3

Deus ex machina—“god of the machine”—an unexpected power (the hand of god) saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a device in a play.

Toward the end of Toy Story 3, an edge-of-your-seat scene occurs of a thrilling salvation from a hopeless situation—the quintessential “deus ex machina.”

Woody, Buzz, and the gang are trapped in the back of a trash truck. As the truck deposits its load at a landfill, the toys find themselves on a conveyor belt heading for certain death in the flames of the incinerator.

The toys grasp each others’ hands as they resign themselves to their fate . . .

Suddenly, from far above, an industrial claw reaches down and raises them out of the fiery pit.

“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” —Psalm 40:2

Laus Deo. “Praise be to God.”

Actor Chris Pratt, Believer: The Real Deal

Mega-star Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World, Parks and Recreation) is not  your typical “Christian celebrity.” Jesse Carey in Relevant magazine writes, “Pratt’s references to his faith have endeared him to pop-culture loving Christians. But, there’s something different about the way he carries himself and talks about Christianity.

“Pratt has no agenda. His faith seems sincere, because unlike some Hollywood stars turned religious poster-children, Pratt’s faith isn’t political. It’s also not part of his ‘brand.’ It just seems to be a part of who he is.”

Although Chris has been open about his faith for years, he credits prayers for his infant son, born prematurely, with “redefining” his faith. In a 2012 interview with People magazine he described what he and his wife experienced during the month his son was in ICU: “We were scared for a long time. We prayed a lot . . . . It restored my faith in God, not that it needed to be restored, but it really redefined it.” Since that time, he has been referring to faith on social media, even tweeting a prayer for one fan’s young son who was seriously ill.

Chris seems to be like a lot of his Christian fans who are conscientious about living out their faith day by day, despite making mistakes in behavior or moral discernment along the way.

“Faith is part of who [Chris] is, not part of a family-friendly brand based on exhibiting a certain kind of behavior . . . of how Christians are ‘supposed’ to talk or look.” (Relevant)

Our culture needs more of this kind of public persona from Christians in the media spotlight. Fans—believers or not—may not expect Christian celebrities to be perfect . . . but they want them to be authentic.