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Outtakes . . .

An excerpt from Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for Our Common Life

Author Makoto Fujimura, Director of Fuller’s Brehm Center, is an artist, writer, and speaker recognized worldwide as a cultural shaper.

As newlyweds, Makoto and his wife, Judy, were struggling to make ends meet. One evening Judy came home with a bouquet of flowers and Mako was upset that she had spent money on flowers when there was rent to pay. She simply said, “We need to feed our souls, too.” Mako reflects on this experience:

Bringing home a small bouquet of flowers created a genesis moment for me. Judy’s small act fed my soul. It renewed my conviction as an artist. It gave me new perspective. It challenged me to deliberately focus on endeavors in which I could truly be an artist of the soul. That moment engendered many more genesis moments in the years that followed, contributing to  decisions small and large that have redefined my life and provided inspiration for myself, my family, and my communities. 

Genesis moments like this often include elements of the great story told in the beginning of the biblical book of Genesis: creativity, growth—and failure. Two of these elements are common in discussions about arts and culture. God creates and calls his creatures to fruitfulness. Adam exercised his own creativity in naming what has been created. But the story also runs into failure and finitude. 

Generative thinking often starts out with a failure, like my failure to think and act like an artist. I have discovered that something is awakened through failure, tragedy, and disappointment. It is a place of learning and potential creativity. 

In such moments you can get lost in despair and denial, or you can recognize the failure and run toward the hope of something new . . . . 

Creativity applied in a moment of weakness and vulnerability can turn failure into enduring conversation, opening new vistas of inspiration and carnation. 

To remember what Judy did, to speak of it to others, to value her care—all this is generative . . . leading to the birth of ideas and actions, artifacts and relationships that would not otherwise have been.

On-Screen Inspiration . . . Beauty and the Beast

Agathe: . . . As punishment, the beautiful enchantress transformed the young prince into a hideous beast, and placed a powerful spell on the castle and all who lived there.

If he could learn to love another and earn their love in return by the time the last petal falls, the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time. As the years passed, he fell into despair and lost all hope. For who could ever learn to love a beast?_______________________________________________

Beast: Your father . . . is a thief!

Belle: Liar!

Beast: He stole a rose.

Belle: [to the Beast] A life sentence for a rose?

Beast: [leaps down to her section of the tower, but remains hidden in the shadows] I received eternal damnation for one. I’m merely locking him away. Now, do you still wish to take your father’s place?

_______________________________________________

[The Beast enters the dining room, sits down and sees another plate set up across from him.]

Beast: You’re making her dinner?

Lumière: Well, if this girl is the one who can break the spell, then maybe you can start by using dinner to charm her.

Beast: That’s the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard. Charm the prisoner.

Lumière: But you must try, Master. With every passing day, we become less human.

Sin has put the entire human race under the curse of existing in their basest, most animalistic nature. Only Christ, by His sacrificial love, can defeat the curse and set us free to be fully human, created in God’s image and restored to be the people He created us to be.

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” —Romans 6:22 (ESV)

Wrestling with Our Core Beliefs

by Terry Botwick

People always act on what they truly believe, not what they say they believe. The Bible is full of stories that are true to the experiences of the people who lived them. Life can be messy, full of mystery and, if I am honest, leaves me with many more questions than answers. In that is the stuff of conflict, which is drama, which is story.

My fear is that what has now been defined as the “Christian market” may confuse a couple of important points. The first is that all our energy should be about evangelism; film must be a tool for conversion. That leads to beginning the story with a superimposed agenda. It’s important to stir up questions that cause us, as humans, to wrestle with core beliefs. But often “Christian” films are answering questions nobody is asking.

The second is that the “culture war” is about morality, and it is easy to confuse wholesome with biblical. The Bible is “R” rated, and faith-related film is not at its core about wholesomeness. Stories must ring true. We should hold ourselves to standards of good taste, not be gratuitous or exploitive, but commit to the truth of our common experience, where we all wrestle with life and what it means to be human. Our morality reflects our values as a community and our values emanate from our core beliefs. Films help us face and confront our core beliefs.

In 2015 I produced Captive with David Oyelowo and Kate Mara. It was based on a true story that took place in Atlanta in 2005, when Brian Nichols broke out of jail during his trial for a rape he claimed he did not do, killed four people, and took Ashley Smith hostage in her apartment for seven hours. Each was confronted with life and death, purpose and forgiveness. It was not squeaky-clean. It was authentic and rough, but in the end, quite powerful. It rang true to the struggle of a single mother fighting drug addiction and a killer who felt like life had victimized him. In that mutual brokenness, they found a connection . . . Ashley found redemption, and Brian decided to live.

My challenge and hope is that we all see movies and TV, laugh together, feel together, hope together, and wrestle with the questions of our common human experience.

Terry Botwick, CEO of 1019 Entertainment, is a producer and former television executive in leadership positions at networks like CBS and The Family Channel. Most recently, he produced “Captive,” starring Kate Mara and David Oyelowo, distribution by Paramount Pictures.