Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Movies, Mission, & Cultural Discourse

An interesting article on evangelicals and the movies by William Romanowski, who teaches film at Calvin College. Though he speaks of evangelicals, this in many ways mirrors the perspective of many Catholics today as well:

Evangelicals miss the big picture

"Evangelicals can influence Hollywood when they think of the cinema as an arena for cultural discourse but not a place for converting members of that culture to a specific Christian orientation. In other words, evangelicals' goal for the movie industry should be to encourage discourse, not merely evangelizing.

Last year's Oscar winner Million Dollar Baby sparked debate about euthanasia. This year, Crash deals with racism; Good Night, and Good Luck probes the role of the news media in keeping politicians accountable to the people; Syriana touches on geopolitics and oil; A History of Violence explores the potential presence of violence in all of us; Munich the perpetuation of bloodshed. Religious audiences can engage these films by reflecting on the perspective they represent, yet applying their own religious context.

But old habits die hard.

Representatives of evangelical groups said they resisted boycotting Brokeback Mountain only because they did not want to draw attention to the critically acclaimed film about gay love. And evangelicals are divided over End of the Spear, an evangelical production based on a real-life missionary story. Some leaders are encouraging people to see this film about forgiveness, while others are campaigning against it because it stars an openly gay actor.

So what do evangelicals want from Hollywood anyway? Help converting the masses? If so, movies don't seem as if they're the most effective forum. Despite all the evangelistic hype for The Passion, a survey by The Barna Group showed that less than one-tenth of 1% of those who saw the movie accepted Jesus Christ as their savior as a result of seeing the film. Likewise, don't expect a jump in the size of the gay population because of Brokeback Mountain, however much it might foster the national conversation.

Only when evangelicals agree to look at Hollywood not just as an evangelistic tool, or a harmless entertainment provider, but also as an important participant in cultural discourse will they understand that as a major share of the movie market, they are in a position to shape that vital discussion."

read the entire article here.


Blogger Mr. Clio said...

Hey, Mark!

Great blog! I stumbled onto yours when I clicked on "the Jesuits" in my profile. So far you and I are the only folks to put that in our interests.

I've been blogging on post-Katrina New Orleans. I use Mr. Clio in honor of one of the Muses, but I don't try to hide my identity.

Hope all is well. Loyola NOLA is alive!


8:57 AM  

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