Christian Media

The Worldwide Reputation of Bad Christian Movies

So I’m talking with my friend and filmmaker Brad Knull, who’s been working on a documentary project in a third world country dealing with a person that grew up with no written language in an obscure part of the world. Upon finding out Brad and his team were all Christians her first question about the project was, “Is this film going to be Christian or is it going to be good?”

So somehow halfway around the planet, a person considered “backward” in a culture that is third world by most western definitions knew that “Christian” was code for “crap” when it came to creating a film.  As Christians our reputation has proceeded us, and not in a good way – even among the least sophisticated media consumers on the planet. Fortunately, Brad’s a terrific filmmaker, so in this case, she wasn’t disapointed.

But how did we get to this place?

It’s a documentary in Thailand. The subject is Orphans affected by HIV and AIDS.  These kids are from a group of people known as the “Hill Tribe People”  the have no written language, no home country and they are often exploited because of their lack of Thai citizenship which prevents them from receiving an education, medical care or other opportunities afforded Thai citizens.  The “second in command” at the orphanage was also a “Hill Tribe Person.”  For more info on the film go to houseoflovethemovie.com.

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15 Comments

  1. Phil,

    You are rightly fascinated by asking the question: Why do Christian films have a bad reputation?  Here is my understanding:

    In the beginning… was a story, the story of creation.

    Therefore, God our Creator highly esteems a story.  It is HOW God delivers truth:  Through a story.

    Therein is your answer.

    The best example of bad Christian movies would be those that somehow try to promulgate a story that is not backed up with essence of parabolic truth.

    That’s a mouthful, so let me explain:  Question: Is rapture a lie?  Answer: Are rapture movies dung?  (Ask that question about any C-movie with suspicious doctrine!)

    And so, if Christian movies promote wrong doctrine, they cannot but be dung.  Even if the doctrine is widely accepted by the Bible belt!  By the big broadcast ministries.  Etc., etc.

    It is God’s mystic way of enabling those with “eyes to see” to confirm they have “eyes to see.”

    Also, note that most movies about the life of Jesus… are pretty good. 

    Hm… By the above calculus, this proves the basic story around Jesus’ life and death is… true.

    But how about another “Taken” movie on rapture?  Well, any way to short that stock?

  2. Hey, smart guy, one of your phrases is, “By the above calculus…” I can see you pontificating and saying to yourself in academese language, “Oh, I’m such a smart boy.”

    Let me ask you something, sharpee, do you understand the real Calculus, i.e., the one developed by Liebnitz and Newton? I teach it, by the way, and also understand.

    So when you use one of your standard pat liberal phrases which makes you oh feel so smart, those PTA cliches, and ACLU cliches, and leftward Kinsian Education phrases that have left us in so messed up a culture, what is Jesus going to think of you when He sees you ashamed of stories that are unashamed of His Gospel?

  3. Dean,

    “Ye know not what spirit you are of.”  Ever heard that?  Something the Greatest Teacher might have said… check it out.

    And… had you checked my website, I’m conservative.  Yup, yessereesir.

    But you are right.  I don’t know real calculus, but then I never said I did… Did I.  Nope.

    I borrowed the phrase from following Victor Davis Hanson, a conservative teacher of the history of war.  His website is http://www.victorhanson.com.  By studying it you might learn critical thinking.  I know Hanson has helped me.  And Lord knows, we all need help, right?

    I apologize for making an original post that was not clear to you.

  4. Dean,

    Here’s my point:  Right now, Walmart is selling the 60th anniversay edition of The Wizard of Oz.  We still buy and watch a film made in 1939, for Christ’s sake (pun intended.)

    Why?  The parabolic story above the movie is this:  Behold, Christ comes quickly… NOW!  Not, I repeat, in the rapture… or in some future time, even over the rainbow… right?

    Heaven can come, and the God-head can manifest in us… if we have the right doctrines enabling us to be wise, tender-hearted and brave… IOW in God NOW!  (Not later!)

    We see John 14:20 all over the movie.  The scarecrow thinks he doesn’t have a brain, but he is the one with the plan to get into the witch’s castle.  He is the one with the poignant observations.  Likewise, the Tin Man thinks he doesn’t have a heart, but he tears up all the time with love, compassion and concern for others.  The Lion thinks he isn’t brave, but he does more than vote present.  Dorothy wants to go home (i.e. find herself) but in getting lost in the Oz adventure, she discovers who she is… a precocious, lovely Miss who helps her companions in life and sticks up ferociously for them… even her dog, Toto.  She is the antipode to the anti-christ Wicked Witch and her parallel on earth: the bitchy neighbor lady.  Dorothy is, in fact: wise, heart-felt and brave… and brings these manifestations OUT into the NOW in her three companions.  The wizard knows this, and helps them manifest this… that they might teach and run Oz this messge… later.

    Thus, rapture, I maintain is one of the BIGGEST LIES of broadcast ministry.  No rapture movie is beloved over time, because its story message is simply a lie.  It refutes John 14:20, and when you refute the gospel… the story cannot sustain popularity over time.

  5. The Wizard of Oz is a wonderful movie, I agree, with loads of interesting moral/spiritual food for thought.

    However, just because rapture movies are crap (so far), doesn’t mean that the rapture won’t happen. There aren’t decent versions of other excellent Bible stories (The Apostle Paul, David and Esther for instance have all been badly adapted). Does that mean they aren’t true?

    By the way, check out TV series Flashforward, which has a rapture-esque premise and is done fairly well.

  6. What if we were to live in the present and get God’s revelations for us in the present and tell people what is happening in the present time in their lives instead of projecting the future that hasn’t come yet? 

  7. I’m with Angie!

    What’s this obsession w/ the rapture?

    Great stories by today’s christians are being lived out

    right now! Drama, comedy, doc., etc.

    By the way, if you have one, let me know.

    Former filmmaker, looking to get back into it,

    and tell a great story, visually!

    -Ken        kitchken@gmail.com

  8. You know what we used to say in SF litfandom some 20 years ago?

    “It’s gotta be Christian — look how shoddy it is!”

    “It’s gotta be good — all the Christians are denouncing it!”

     

  9. “What’s this obsession with The Rapture?”

    Because Christians gave up.  After the trauma of World War One, Christians retreated from Post-Mil optimism to Pre-Mil fear, from Building a Christian Civilization to peeing their pants hiding while they waited for God’s airlift out.  And distancing themselves from a Social Gospel without personal salvation to a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation.

    Christians signed the Future — that “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” from Disneyland’s Carousel of Progress — over to The Antichrist and Destruction.

    Then between the First and Second 1960s, mainstream culture joined them with the Dark Future and The End Is Nigh Zeitgeist.  And instead of hope when secular hopes collapsed into pessimism and dystopia, they just joined the bandwagon with a Christian coat of paint — “Beam Me Up, Jesus!  There’s No Righteous Life Here!”

    I saw Dark Future — dystopia after dystopia — take over from Bright Future in the science fiction of the Seventies.  And No Future — fleeing into alternate history or forward-into-the-past time travel — take over from Dark Future around Y2K.  No Hope, No Future, We’re All Gonna Die, Nothing Anybody Can Do About It, It’s All Over But The Screaming.  From “Boldly Going Where No Man Has Gone Before” to breathing shallow (to minimize carbon footprint) while watching documentary series about How The Planet Will Heal Herself Once The Cancer of Humanity Is Extinct interspersed with ads for 2012.  What a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow You Want To Live To See.

    And Pin-the-Tail-on-The-Antichrist (and the resulting Rapture book/movie/happy meal craze) is just the Christian version of this No Future/No Hope Zeitgeist.  Thank you John Nelson Darby.  Thank you Hal Lindsay.  Thank you Rayford Steele LaHaye and Buck Jenkins.  I really want to live to see a Tomorrow where God destroys everything (including me) with maximum cruelty after beaming out his Court Favorites and Pets (like you) to gloat from your season ticket boxes in Heaven.  What a Hope to Look Forward To.

    You know why Obama got elected and deified?  He was saying “Hope” and we weren’t!

  10. Just how the hell did John Nelson Darby’s “Secret Rapture” become the Only Future Christians are Permitted to Have?

    Seven years of Antichrist Dystopia, followed by The End.

    Dark Future (no, DARKER!) followed by No Future.

    Topped with lip-smacking Grinning Apocalyptism.

    “Sometimes I don’t know why we don’t all just hold hands and walk into a chopper blade.”  — Hawkeye Pierce, 4077th MASH

    CAN’T WE GIVE PEOPLE SOME HOPE OTHER THAN THE END OF THE WORLD?  WHAT ABOUT ALL THE LITTLE EUCATASTROPHES ON THE WAY TO THAT GREAT EUCATASTROPHE?

     

  11. Not that I’m eager to get knee deep in all this “pontification” on all things Christian, but may I point out that most “Christian movies” are not “bad” because Christians suck, but rather because they lack the budget to get a really great movie off the ground.  There are lots of entertaining Christian movies and it’d be wonderful if we could make more than just “end times” films.  But let’s not forget that when Hollywood hears the name of Jesus they run screaming the other way!  Why then are so many surprised when the movies Christians ended up making aren’t “Hollywood” material?  So what does this mean for the Christian movie making world?  Instead of taking arms against each other, let’s get together, get some talented writers, actors, directors, and producers, and raise the budget and generate the Hollywood interest that it takes to make a great film.  If filmmakers like Ed Wood can make crap and people watch it anyway, surely if we stop dividing and starting joining forces, something great can be done to forever change Christian media as we know it.

  12. Robert,

    I would have to disagree with your proposition in your first message.  I don’t think the problem is that poorly made Christian films (especially the Rapture films) are based on a lie.  I think the problem is that they are poorly told, and agenda-driven.  Case in point – Hollywood has done the End Times fairly well.  It’s been quite a while since I saw “The Seventh Sign”, but I seem to recall that it was a decent popcorn flick.  

    Not only that, but on the other side, Hollywood is masterful at telling stories that are based on lies, and telling those stories very well – or at least in an entertaining way.

    The bottom line, Christians need to learn how to tell a good story with Truth as the foundation.  We have to be willing to show the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And Christians need to learn to do the work of filmmaking and storytelling to the best of our ability.  

    We should, by all rights, be the best filmmakers and storytellers out there.

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