The Beauty All Around Us

The Preamble

“…excellence reflects God far more powerfully than blatant preachiness.” ~ Jeffrey Overstreet

“Beauty will save the world.” ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

Eureka: A cry of joy or satisfaction when one finds or discovers something.

Eureka 13

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (Mark 4:9)

“‘Creation’ as applied to human authorship seems to me to be an entirely misleading term. We re-arrange elements He has provided. And that is surely why our works never mean to others quite what we intended; because we are recombining elements made by Him and already containing His meanings. Because of those divine meanings in our materials it is impossible that we should ever know the whole meaning of our works and the meaning we never intended may be the best and truest one.” ~ C.S. Lewis

There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile

The Body

Christian movie makers are so focused on the message that they neglect how that message is delivered.

War Room2

For example: From the Federalist:

…the Kendricks ended up standardizing a series of literary devices, or “tropes,” in the Christian film industry. These include:

Preaching to the protagonist and audience: Kendrick films seem to be written more as a cinematic sermon than a fully fleshed-out story. Certain Christian characters take a significant amount of time to present the main character and audience with an argument for either the Gospel or a moral lesson about marriage, parenthood, sexuality, etc. In “War Room,” all the protagonists’ problems are fixed after A) accepting Christ and B) setting up a prayer closet. While this is clearly the end goal of the film, it ends up causing the non-teaching parts of the film to not resonate with an audience that may not agree.

Simplistic character archetypes: These films tend to write protagonists in a very one-note fashion. Either the protagonist is a Christian with few character flaws whom God helps get through his struggle, or he’s a non-Christian whose conversion helps him conquer everything without the potential for future struggle. In the same way, non-Christian characters are either openly antagonistic to the expression of faith, there to be converted by the believers, comedy or realism relief, or all of the above.

Telling, not showing: Instead of taking time to show a character’s backstory or problems through visual representation, the films tend to rely on characters explaining their problems to the audience.

Keeping it excessively clean: While the Kendrick brothers clearly want to deal with issues like fatherhood and marriage, they seem to go out of their way to avoid certain “thematic elements” in order to maintain a family-friendly standard. The most notable example of this in the Kendrick brothers’ work is “Fireproof,” where the main couple (played by Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea) spend a lot of time talking about the husband’s problem with pornography. However, the film never takes time to A) actually show the husband using it, and B) never uses the word pornography!

The Conclusion

The point of writing this post was for me to say:

When it comes to art made by Christians, excellence reflects God, and this imperfect world we live in, more than preaching to the choir does.

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Also:

If anyone comments with something along the lines of “You just like worldly, R-rated movies,” my favorite movie is a G-rated anime where the violent content consists of a scene where a boy grabs a girl’s arm, the sexual content consists of a scene where a boy and a girl hold hands, the only drinking/drug use is a scene where a man smokes a cigarette before being told by his wife to put it out, and the most graphic language is “Jerk!”

Whisper of the Heart29

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