>Christian Movies not made by Christians

Posted: 06/02/2010 in Movies

>This blog is on the curtails of Glenn Peoples’ Berreta Cast. In one pod cast (“stop being a Christian, and starting being a person”), Glenn the wise criticized “Christian Ghetto” thinking. People who love the Christian Ghetto believe that a work of entertainment, scholarship, or literature is better because it is labeled “Christian” and produced by Christians and sold to you by your local temple money changer …umm… I mean Christian bookstore.

I need not repeat what Glenn has already said about the Christian Ghetto thinking. His podcast speaks for itself. Instead, I will point out a few great movies that have strong Christian themes, believable Christian characters, and –dare I say it- and presentation of the Christian message. How do these compare to the movies produced by the Christian Ghetto? Who cares! This is a positive case of where God is seen in film, whether or not it was produced by the approved sub-culture. After this I’ll ask some random questions about the Christian Ghetto.

Saved!. In Saved Jena Malone plays Mary Cummings, a perfect Christian girl at a perfect Christian high school with perfect Christian friends. There is a minority of heathens at the school, who Mary knows to steer clear from. The conflict takes off when Mary, in an effort to help her boyfriend overcome homosexuality, has sex with him. Then she gets pregnant.

I have already written a blog for this movie elsewhere in this blog. To summarize, this movie chastises evangelicalism like Jesus chastised the Levites and Pharisees in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Dramatically, this movie further shows how much evangelicalism has failed in the area of sexuality. The party policy fails in all its degrees: from silly neuroticisms to blatant judgmental hypocrisy. This movie is self-criticism for Evangelicals, if we can take the medicine.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose This movie begins with the death of Emily Rose, played by Jennifer Carpenter. She is dead from malnutrition and physical trauma. The priest, who was charged with her care, is arrested and charged with negligent homicide. The majority of the movie takes place in a courtroom. The important question is not whether the priest is guilty or innocent, but whether or not Emily was possessed by a demon or suffered from some psychiatric disorder.

The Christian themes of the movie are pretty obvious, and it is hard for me to expound on them without ruining the story, so I won’t. The themes can be listed at least. This movie presents what it might mean to imitate Christ in his death, very vividly and rather literally. It also addresses political issues, such as the role religion is p;ays in the public square. The courtroom setting also dramatizes the philosophical debate between religious reasoning and secular reasoning. It’s the enlightenment versus the middle ages all over again!

Finally, this movie is important for the same reason the Dexter series is. Jennifer Carpenter is hot.

The Mission I have only recently seen this movie, but it is my current favorite of the Christian movies not made by Christians. The film is set in 18th century South America. Jeremy Irons (who makes any movie better) plays Father Gabriel, a Jesuit priest. Robert De Niro plays the swashbuckling Rodrigo who joins the Jesuits to assuage a guilty conscience. The two work peacefully in a Mission to make Christians of the natives, but the empires of Spain and Portugal are at odds with the Church over territory, as well as access to abundant and affordable labor.

As things grow worse and worse for the mission, the movie asks “where is God?” The empires of Spain and Portugal eventually descend upon the peaceful mission. The church’s representative from Rome did nothing to stop this, even after visiting the mission. Throughout the siege, Father Gabriel confidently leads a mass and which ends with him carrying the monstrance. His brown-skinned flock follows him into a hail a musket fire. What is happening here is more than symbolic. The Eurcharist, inside the monstrance, is the presence of God for Father Gabriel and his flock.

“Where is God?” The answer is the same as the Gospel: among those who are abused by the empires and neglected by an indifferent and corrupt religious hierarchy. Like Jesus and the disciples in the first century, Father Gabriel and the native converts choose to die with Christ. Such is the only choice for them when the Kingdom of the World decides that the Kingdom of God has gotten in the way.

All three of these movies show something about Jesus. They all have believable Christian characters, many of whom are believably flawed. The themes of this movie, especially the Mission, present the facets of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God.

Yet, none of these movies where produced or written by the Christian Ghetto. None of them are likely found at the Christian bookstores. In fact, I think the Christian Ghetto may not like these movies, most of all, Saved.

But do we really need the Christian Ghetto when it comes to movies? What exactly is the purpose of the Christian film industry? Has it produced anything on par with movies listed here? Is there something that “Christian Movies” do for Christianity that these movies do not?

Thanks for Thinking.

  1. Q says:

    >You forgot the Last Temptation of Christ. Though Scorcese is technically Catholic, so I guess that still counts as a Christian movie made by a Christian.

  2. Jin-roh says:

    >I need to see that! Evangelicals hated it for some reason. Even that book "Jesus made in America" criticized it.

  3. Q says:

    >It's been banned in a lot of countries. Bulgaria is one I know for sure. It's controversial. I haven't seen it, but from my understanding, it emphasizes Jesus' humanity and a lot of Christians think it's emphasized to a fault.

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