How’s that for a headline? (Update: Be sure to read on to the next post.)
Krista and I went to see The Dark Knight on Saturday. It was an impressive film; we really enjoyed it on a number of levels—the production values were exceptional, Heath Ledger’s performance was amazing, and the characterizations and plot offered plenty of food for thought. (BTW, is Batman really Bruce Wayne, or is Bruce Wayne really Batman?)
But to tell you the truth, by Sunday morning I had pretty much moved on.
Then, this morning, I read this commentary by Ray Ortlund:
Visually stimulating. Technologically impressive. Hollywood has fast-forwarded a gazillion years since my favorite films by Steve McQueen and John Wayne. But peel off the layers of glittering presentation, and what’s actually there? A ripping good yarn. I grant that. But not much else. In fact, it comes down to a lie of human idealization being passed off on the public because they’re supposed to be better off thinking the lie. That violates everything I believe. I learned nothing. I was not enriched in any way.
Immanuel Church cannot compete with Hollywood in terms of raw momentary impact. No church can. But that’s one of the great things about church. It can be real. It can be entry-level discovery, for anyone, of the Lovely One who will amaze us forever.
I’m weary with the world’s disappointing stimulants. I want more of Christ.
Ouch. But wait a second… is this hyperbole? Is this a John-Piper-Don’t-Waste-Your-Life, kick in the pants overstatement? Michael Spencer writes:
I’m not in John Piper mode here, but I want to send Rev. Ortlund the beverage of his choice at the BHT for saying something while he was saying something.
I have begun to suspect that we can’t see the entertainment idolatry in our own lives.
We’ve decided to talk about “how to relate Christ to movies” and so on, which I don’t deny is a worthwhile pursuit, and I believe the glory and truth of God shines through all kinds of cultural windows.
But there’s just a lot- a LOT- of garbage out there. A lot of lies. Distortion. A lot of very bad story telling. A lot of poorly executed entertainment. A lot of humor and excitement drummed up from the lowest common denominators: sex, violence, greed. A lot of wasted minutes, hours and days.
(As an aside, I’ll be teaching a class this fall in which I plan to use movie clips as conversation starters for the Gospel, so I’m glad he threw me a bone… but now I’ve got some more thinking to do!)
Anyway… answer for yourself: what do you make of this? Now answer again, but this time pretend you’re a radical, sold-out, dead-to-the-world follower of Christ. (Gotcha.) Is your answer any different?