Monday, May 13, 2013

Christianity and Entertainment

As Christians, what are we allowed to enjoy? It’s a complex question that many theologians have tried to answer… with little agreement. In my mind, this is not really an esoteric theological question, but a question of practical everyday living. The question of what entertainment is biblical encompasses movies, music, video games, books, and really anything that you do to unwind and relax.

Well, as someone who has had a background as a skeptic, I’m always suspicious when a brother in Christ tells me that I shouldn’t be looking at something. As a child of the Enlightenment, I try to acquire new information about our world and different ways of looking at things. Now, I still have a Christian worldview, but if we’re afraid of challenging ideas, then how can we say that Christianity is really true in the first place?

It’s with this in mind that I suggest that any piece of entertainment, if it has an ultimate moral message, is worth taking in. I don’t think it has to be explicitly Christian, as long as the message helps you better yourself as a person, even if it’s in a small way. Now ideally, all our entertainment would be Christian based, but I really don’t believe this is feasible anymore, if it ever was. Just look at the state of the Christian movie industry today, it’s terrible. I can count on one hand how many recent movies explicitly based on Jesus have been legitimately great films. Honestly, you have to go back to the 50’s to get good movies on faith like Ben-Hur and get away from Kirk Cameron.

Christian books of fiction are in a similar position. Remember works like Paradise Lost and Lord of the Rings? Yeah, well don’t hold your breath for more like that. Christian writers today seem to be content on writing about 90 minutes in Heaven or 23 minutes in Hell. I can’t wait for the novel on what Jesus’ favorite color is.

Or you could look at Christian video games. Really, just play any game made by Wisdom Tree, one of which puts you in control of Noah as you calm upset animals on the ark in what looks like a Doom clone. Seriously, stuff like this is why Christians get laughed at.

So, after examining all that, secular media doesn’t look so bad anymore, does it? Now, I still believe we need to be careful at what we look at, otherwise we’re just gazing upon pornography, but I think everyone has the capability to know when something goes too far. Something that crosses the line for me would be A Clockwork Orange. Women are raped by the main character in the movie, and at no point is there even a moral message at all. In fact, evil actually triumphs in the ending of that film, which is even more disconcerting. I actually love 2001: A Space Odyssey by the same director, but I couldn’t give the thumbs up for A Clockwork Orange to a Christian. 

An example of something secular that I could recommend would be Dragon Ball Z. It’s an anime that features a lot of martial arts fighting but has a story that reveres all of the great Christian virtues. The hero Goku, is a figure that is very reminiscent of Jesus in that he always saves the weak from the forces of evil. He loves his friends and family, and only fights when he must. Even some of the bad guys convert to being good after Goku’s kindness is shown to them. It’s a show that has been sadly misunderstood by parents who only focused on the fights and not the morals.

As Christians we must be open to entertainment that may not be perfect, but still has something to offer us.