Taking theology to the movie hall
Contemporary Christians face the challenge of Multiplexes, Media, Money and Machines. The growing multiplexes assault life’s “meaning and purpose”. Media assault our imagination. Money assaults our perception of value. Machines assault our identity and personhood. All these four challenges converge in our movie experience. We cannot isolate or insulate ourselves from the movie experience. Can we stay away from the movie experience? Today, the movie experience is a way of fostering friendships,having a goodtime and a get-away solution. We may not frequent a movie hall but we are no strangers to the movie experience. Gadgets make it possible for us to experience “movies” in the comfort of our homes.
Movies provide good entertainment. But, there is more to it than just entertainment.When we are watching a movie we are encountering philosophy. A philosophy of life is unfolded through a storyline and we get absorbed into the story.Donald Drew writes, ” Films are made not only to affect the senses but to grip the imagination, which then sets up an attitude of the mind and in turn produces certain emotions leading to certain conduct. To the popular mind,cinema is all about endless formulaic storyline, song-and-dance routine, and predictable girl-meets-boy romantic tales. However, even a dumb movie promotes a philosophy of life. Movies shapes our thots, lifestyle, values and worldview. Afterall there is no such thing as neutral medium or neutral response. Movies powerfully present and promote philosophy through ideas, information and images. The danger point is that these ” fill-o-sophies” by pass the will of the spectator.
Cinema is on the cutting edge of culture. Todd kappelman contends,literature is no longer the dominant form of expression, scriptwriters, directors, and actors do more to shape the culture which we live in than do the giants of literature or philosophy. Movies exert a powerful influence on life. Therefore, it is important that we bring our theology to bear on what we watch. As followers of Jesus, we must enter the movie experience with a solid grasp of GOODNESS, BEAUTY and TRUTH. All images, information and ideas must pass through a christian grid so that we “test everything and hold fast to what is good”. Donal Drew encourages Christians to ” establish a specifically christian critique over and above that admitted by the non-christian world”.
We must focus on we take into the movie-going experience more than what we take out of the movie-experience. What we look for is what we get and therefore, we must nurture a healthy understanding of goodness, beauty and truth. very often we are so focussed about taking “popcorn” to the movie hall rather than focus on the christian framework. We can make a difference in the cultural arena through our choice of movies, concern for the issues raised and courage to stand-up against evil that is both presented and promoted through movies.
The question is not: TO go or not to go. Rather, the question is, ” how can I bring God’s goodness, beauty and truth to bear on contemporary culture? If you take your theology along with popcorn to the movie hall, I can assure you that you can find God in the story. You will be able to find “evil” that plagues our humanness and also be able to resist it. Next time, you go out to watch a movie with your friends make sure you take your theology to the movie hall. It will guide your choices and help you watch the movie “christianly”.