Why Do Christians Struggle to Make Good Movies?

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director's chair

Christians can make good movies. No doubt about it. Most of us have seen one.

But I think that most of us, even most Christian moviemakers, would say that overall, Christian movies aren’t all they could or should be. We Christians believe we have the greatest story in the world to tell, but sometimes we struggle to tell it. Why?

Adam Holz and I talk about that very subject in our vodcast below. Tune in, won’t you?

 

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Linda Kovacs 5 months ago
FIREPROOF IS AN EXCELLENT MOVIE AND A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF GOOD MOVIE MAKING..... :)
andy_doerksen 4 months ago
Unfortunately, I have to play "bad cop" here by saying that my wife and I started watching this one . . . and turned it off within the first scene, because it was cringe-inducing.
Ben Johnson 5 months ago
I agree that Christian movies can be too sterile. Conflict is almost absent from most Christian films. As an aspiring filmmaker I feel confident that the reason Christian movies often not very good is because they try and make a movie around a message as opposed to telling a story. We get sermons in movie form, which are boring. A good example are secular movies that get really preachy about environmentalism to the point they are unbearable (think Fern Gully). A story can have a message, but it should not be about a message. It has to be about characters struggling and changing. A good example is Les Miserables, a film loaded with Christian messages and themes of grace, but it's not trying to preach to the audience "Grace is amazing, and Jesus is the source of grace!". Instead, it is a film about a man experiencing grace and how it changes him, while his past never goes away. It doesn't preach a sermon about how Jesus is the answer, it shows us a character who encounters God's grace and let's the audience draw its own conclusions. If your goal in creating a film is to drive a message home, you've already lost the battle. In the words of C.S. Lewis “The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.” The same goes for film. A Christian making a secular movie in which his or her faith bleeds through will make a far bigger difference than a devout Christian making a Christian movie for Christians.
Laura Crisp Ketchie 5 months ago
Exactly!
Karissa Rowe 5 months ago
I think there is also the question of production value. Christian movies are getting better at this, but there are still some that come out and feel like they were made on a camcorder and scored on an old keyboard.
bobed 6 months ago
I have an interesting question to pose to those of you who wish to debate. Are the Harry Potter books and films Christian, and/or Christian allegory? They certainly have many Christian themes, with the last film even including the main character dying in sacrifice and rising back to life. But the inclusion of witchcraft poses a major problem. What do you think?
Evan Weisensel 6 months ago
As someone who is currently listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks with my sister, I would say somewhat yes. There are plenty of Biblical illusions and has a tone comparable to that of Narnia in a sort of way in regards of using classical mythological references to tell a semi-allegorical story with a positive message to tell. Plus, JK Rowling has at least a Christian upbringing and one of the HP books was written as a way to help herself come to grips with a struggle of faith she was having at the time. So in way, it is partially a Christian allegory in a similar way to the works of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. But that's just my thoughts on the subject, anyways.
charitysplace 6 months ago
I always saw them as allegorical, long before the final book came out; the setup in the first book (Harry's mother dying to protect him) always hinted that his journey would end with death/resurrection. Rowling also famously said she was relieved, in a sense, that more people did not ask about her faith since "it might give the end away."

I never saw the witchcraft as much of a problem -- since it's all painted in a fantasy light (along with talking gnomes, dragon competitions, etc). The only thing I felt uncomfortable with was Trelawney's prophecy in book three, the creepy presentation (especially on screen) it felt a bit too 'channeling' to me.
Inkfeather1 . 6 months ago
I've never understood why Christians are so against "witchcraft" in stories. The Bible warns against practicing it, not reading/writing about it. And the "witchcraft" in Harry Potter is nothing like how "real" magic is done. Personally, I don't think HP is Christian or allegory. I think it's just a story that has messages/symbolism that sometimes coincides with Christian ones, but are mostly just universal.
Chuck Anziulewicz 5 months ago
It's safe to read fantasy material about witchcraft because it's FICTION. There is no such thing as witchcraft to be practiced. No waving of wands or chanting of spells ever had any effect on objective reality, other than to waste the time of the person doing it.
bobed 5 months ago
Chuck, I have seen your likes commenting on other conservative websites. You seem to like to troll Christian/conservative sites' comment sections to mock, make fun of, and insult us. Why is that? What is the nature of your fixation? Can you answer this question? I personally can tell you I have never, ever felt the urge to troll liberal sites.
milhistorian 5 months ago
They're not Christian allegory at all. They're heavily influenced by Christian ethics, but they're not really Christian.
They also technically don't include witchcraft, since the magic is something you're born with, not something you make a deal with the Devil for.
Steve Carroll 6 months ago
It would be nice if Christian film makers could use morality and virtue and faith   Intertwined to tell an entertaining story.   The problem with Christian films is that the story is  usually about morality and virtue and faith. So yeah… Therefore it's obviously "preachy."   

Take "Cinderella Man" and "Life is Beautiful";  my two favorite movies.  Take out the unnecessary foul language from Cinderella Man, and it's pretty much a Christian film.   A man who loves his family and chooses self-sacrifice.   Same with "Life is beautiful"… A story about a man who loves his wife and makes the ultimate sacrifice for her and their son -  The best love story I've ever seen. 

 Imagine even a movie like "Mission Impossible."   The movie doesn't have to be about God or about a moral message, but what if Ethan Hunt were a Christian who relied on prayer and faith to accomplish the impossible (super natural) missions set before him.  

Almost every single movie, especially the great ones, include Judeo Christian moral elements.  Remove the unnecessary foul language, and over-the-top sexuality, and many of those movies could be  mistaken as  "Christian,"  just by virtue of the message.
bobed 6 months ago
I agree with your words, but I can't imagine Mission Impossible as a Christian movie. There is very little morality, whether good or evil, to be found in those films. They are about as morally neutral as you can get.
andy_doerksen 4 months ago
I believe Christians should have a 2-pronged approach to filmmaking: overtly Christian films for those who want that, and, in a parallel market, what might be called "worldview films."

The problem with what some here are suggesting is that merely highlighting biblical morality in a story doesn't make it "Christian."  Sure, it's consistent with the biblical worldview (and that's good) - but it doesn't by itself reveal _faith in Jesus Christ_.  After all, what makes one a Christian in real life isn't being good, but faith in the Lord, who is Goodness Personified.

And in today's cultural climate it's extremely difficult to include explicit faith in Jesus within a film - even if it's superbly written and produced - and hope to get a mass release with serious cash backing it up.  Such films tend to get the church-going crowds; the serious evangelicals.

But of course that's no excuse for bad filmmaking.

For mass-marketing to unbelievers, however, I'd suggest worldview-oriented movies: telling stories that raise worldview questions, get people thinking about what they believe - and what they ought to question or investigate.  And a helpful (though not always necessary) feature in many such films can be a character who is obviously Christian, and presented in a positive light - but NOT PREACHY.
Alex Clark 6 months ago
Why do Christians struggle to match the quality of Mainstream Hollywood?  I thought about this all morning, and I think i have a simple answer.   Christian Filmmakers struggle to match the quality of mainstream movies because (besides the obvious issue of lack of money and resources) most Christian Filmmakers, and it seems a lot of evangelical protestants in general, view "Storytelling" and "art" primarily as tools for teaching, and any other possible purposes for art and story are treated as distant secondary concerns if acknowledged at all.   This is why the main criticism of christian film is that it's "preachy", because of course it is!!!  That's the intent.  Christian Filmmakers make movies to teach, it's an evangelizing tool to them.  You could use Food as kind of a metaphor; food can be judged based on nutrition and taste.  if a lot of what Hollywood churns out would be considered "junk food", tasting really good but having no nutrition, then christian filmmaking is often more like a big giant bowl of steamed Broccoli, with plain rice on the side.  Nutritious, but probably not exciting to all but a small group of people.  I would say that Christian filmmaking will always be judged as lacking in the quality department compared to mainstream movies for as long as Christian writers and movie makers fail to make films for any other reason than to evangelize.  

But this ultimately begs a particular question, and I would love to hear from christian defenders on art on this subject.  That question is..."is "art for art's sake" actually Biblical?"?  in keeping with the food metaphor is might ask "is it biblical to take "taste" into account at all?"  Maybe the truth is that all we really should be concerned about is "nutrition", and the rest of it is just selfish indulgence?  Should we all be taking a more "utilitarian" approach to movies and media than we do, i.e. the quality of a movie is determined by "does seeing this movie make me a better or worse person?" "Does seeing this movie improve or hinder my christian mission" etc?   Maybe worrying about the "artistic" quality of a film, is actually non-biblical?    My knee jerk reaction is to say "no, its not.  Art for art's sake can be biblical" and I love movie and art and storytelling, but maybe I'm wrong?    
Julienne Dy 6 months ago
Wow!  These are actually good points.  I wonder why no one has replied to this comment yet.  I don't think art in and of itself is unbiblical.  I mean, God knows that physical beauty is a good and admirable thing.  I mean, if God made everything to be purely functional, trees and flowers wouldn't be trees and flowers.  Let me explain.  If plants existed solely as a source of food and oxygen, then an amorphous blob of carbohydrates and dissolved gases could have done a similar job, but God didn't make an amorphous blob of organic material, he made trees, flowers, and plants of all kinds.  I think the problem with movies is that we want to make something that is good and beautiful that points people to God, but at the same time, the world wants to believe that we can find happiness, redemption, and goodness all on our own without God, and they don't like it when Christians go up to them and pretty much shatter that illusion.
Inkfeather1 . 6 months ago
I've already said this, but it's probably buried in the replies so I'll say it again :) First, Christian media is not nutritious because it doesn't portray things realistically. Atheists are all terrible people and if they would just become Christians they would be magically healed of cancer? That's not realistic at all. It's preaching a lie. That's junk food.
Second, Jesus compared Christians to salt. What is the purpose of salt? To flavor things and make them more palatable. Steamed broccoli and rice are nutritious. Steamed broccoli and rice with a bit of salt and herbs is equally nutritious and more likely to be eaten. Which one would you want?
bobed 6 months ago
You raise many good and important points. I have a certain approach to this that is more personal than philosophical. I am very devout when it comes to entertainment choices. I allow myself to watch 'secular' films, but I try my best to avoid movies that include vulgarities, violence and sexuality. 

And even if a movie doesn't include those things, I also look at the message. For example, even though "Sing" was a relatively tame movie, I avoided taking my family to see it because of its constant promotion of values I find distasteful. I try my best to surround myself and my family with Christian entertainment, but even if the movies I watch aren't "Christian," I still try to seek out films that basically align with my values. For another example, The Good Dinosaur was very tame in content, and almost entirely innocuous. Yet, the subtle promotion of the evolutionary theory throughout the movie made it unwatchable for me and my family. And though Pixar's Finding Dory was loved by critics and audiences - and certainly from a secular standpoint I can see that it has artistic value - I take issue with its subtle attempts at indoctrination. (Sorry for all the animated examples - you see a lot of cartoons when you've got kids.) And even if all these movies are the most beautiful, heart-rending, artistically solid films of all time, and even if they are squeaky-clean and inoffensive, they are still made by secular companies, and there will always be an emptiness in them where Christ should be.

So the answer basically is: yes, art for art's sake can be Biblical if it aligns with Biblical values. If a movie does not outrightly profess Christ but displays values that dovetail with His, that movie has some value. But I would very much prefer a Christ-professing movie than an "artistically valuable" movie. I very rarely find that my own views and opinions align with what the secular movie critics are saying. 
Evan Weisensel 6 months ago
Funnily enough, Zootopia actually had a surprisingly Christian message about how the world is broken and inherently flawed. Also, it had an implication that certain characters that were heavily implied to be devout Christians or Catholics. (Which brings up really weird questions about how Jesus got to a wan alternate Earth where humanity never existed in the first place....)
bobed 6 months ago
I notice there is a lot of bashing in these comments of Christian movies and music. Saccharine, unlistenable, unwatchable, unrealistic, boring...all these words thrown around. And frankly I don't understand it. We are to think on whatever is pure and lovely and true. If you want darkness and sorrow, then turn to secular culture. They are lost - we are found. And we are to be joyous in Christ. Why do you desire darkness? Ask yourself this question. I do not desire darkness or sourness. I desire joy and freedom, which I have found in Christ, praise Him! I sing a joyful noise, not a sad one! 
Inkfeather1 . 6 months ago
No one is saying they desire darkness. They are saying they desire quality entertainment, which most Christian movies are not. Everything people are saying about Christian movies here is true, they are unrealistic, boring, etc. You don't have to go dark to become realistic and interesting, something you and Christian film makers just can't seem to understand. Telling a good story should be the goal of any film maker, not just shoving a message down the audience's throats.
bobed 6 months ago
PI, is there a way to block people? Multiple times I've tried to tell this person to stop replying to my posts.
Evan Weisensel 6 months ago
I once heard that this is how you block people on this site:

Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me
I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed
She was looking kind of dumb with her finger and her thumb
In the shape of an "L" on her forehead

Well the years start coming and they don't stop coming
Fed to the rules and I hit the ground running
Didn't make sense not to live for fun
Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb
So much to do, so much to see
So what's wrong with taking the back streets?
You'll never know if you don't go
You'll never shine if you don't glow

Hey now, you're an all-star, get your game on, go play
Hey now, you're a rock star, get the show on, get paid
And all that glitters is gold
Only shooting stars break the mold

It's a cool place and they say it gets colder
You're bundled up now, wait till you get older
But the meteor men beg to differ
Judging by the hole in the satellite picture
The ice we skate is getting pretty thin
The water's getting warm so you might as well swim
My world's on fire, how about yours?
That's the way I like it and I never get bored

Hey now, you're an all-star, get your game on, go play
Hey now, you're a rock star, get the show on, get paid
All that glitters is gold
Only shooting stars break the mold

Hey now, you're an all-star, get your game on, go play
Hey now, you're a rock star, get the show, on get paid
And all that glitters is gold
Only shooting stars

Somebody once asked could I spare some change for gas?
I need to get myself away from this place
I said yep what a concept
I could use a little fuel myself
And we could all use a little change

Well, the years start coming and they don't stop coming
Fed to the rules and I hit the ground running
Didn't make sense not to live for fun
Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb
So much to do, so much to see
So what's wrong with taking the back streets?
You'll never know if you don't go (go!)
You'll never shine if you don't glow

Hey now, you're an all-star, get your game on, go play
Hey now, you're a rock star, get the show on, get paid
And all that glitters is gold
Only shooting stars break the mold

And all that glitters is gold
Only shooting stars break the mold


Hope this advice helps you in all your future Plugged In endeavors. #PapaBless :)


Anonymous 6 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Oh, you Evan make me mad,
Waking me up with a rap that bad!
;)
Evan Weisensel 6 months ago
 At least I found my Dino Car at the local Krispy Kreme! 

;)
Dan Haynes 6 months ago
Hahahahaha...we got Smashmouth-rolled.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Whatever is "pure and lovely and true" is certainly a fantastic ideal, and one we are to live up to - but portraying a world in movies or music where everything is "pure and lovely and true" is indeed saccharine, un-listenable, unwatchable, unrealistic, and boring. Where's the lesson to take away from that? Where's the struggle against darkness that everyone can identify with ("Yeah, I've gone through that the same way; I know exactly what this character/person is feeling right now. They got help or encouragement from God, though...and that gives me hope.")?

That's not darkness. That's not secular. The joy comes from working through those struggles. The freedom and hope come from overcoming the sorrows of this world. Nobody here is suggesting we do away with all Christian messages and just wallow about in hopelessness and sadness and slavery. What they're suggesting, and rightly so, is that Christian films portray an ideal that's simply too perfect to achieve here on earth. It's unrealistic because nobody is perfect. We're not saints in Heaven. Yes, we should strive to focus on whatever is pure and lovely and true, but that's not the reality we live in. The world throws struggle after setback after trial at us; our joy and salvation - and the realistic message Christian movies/music should send - is that we have a blessed hope. Nothing is perfect now, but one day it will be. But to get there, we have to jump all the hurdles the world sets out for us.

What's wrong with wanting Christian movies/music to reflect that?

- Lionsong
Anonymous 6 months ago
By CbinJ
The problem is that nobody is asking the big question. What is the purpose of movies/ storybooks/ tv shows? Some people say that stories are to teach. Some say stories are to entertain. Some say stories are to remember. Some say stories are a waste of time. Etc. Only once we decide/ agree upon what stories are for can this discussion about what kind of stories to make be fruitful. I think there is a decent argument to be made for and against each of the views regarding a story's purpose. But it seems to me nobody is making them. And that is why we can't agree on "what makes a good Christian movie". That's just my two cents.
By CbinJ
Inkfeather1 . 6 months ago
I would highly suggest not asking that question. Or at least never agree to write a paper on it. I stupidly decided to write two papers on the topic "what is art" in college and it was not fun :D The reason I say this is because the two are very similar. Art is whatever you see as art. And the purpose of a story is whatever it means to you. Entertainment, enlightenment, people go to stories for very different reasons. It's incredibly difficult to come at these topics from an objective definition because they are subjective by definition.

I feel like Christian movies fail on the basic level of storytelling. For instance, suspension of disbelief. People can go into even fantastical stories and get involved in the characters and world (like Lord of the Rings) because it's written in such a way that our minds can suspend disbelief and believe in it for a while. But if you start making contradictions, or make your world/characters behave illogically (or unrealistically in a world that is clearly supposed to be ours) then that suspension is broken and we come out of the story. I feel that's what happens in these movies. It's hard to get invested in a story when you keep getting rudely jolted out of it because of stupid/illogical things happening.

There's a lot more reasons why they fail, but that's one I've thought of recently.
milhistorian 5 months ago
"If you want darkness and sorrow, then turn to secular culture."

Or read Lamentations. That also works. 
Matt McLeod 6 months ago
It's an interesting subject and it shows that at Plugged in there is an attempt at intellectual honesty - recognizing the difference between quality art and moral quality. 

It begs a question that I have always wondered: Why do your reviews only carry one rating?

There are other Christian entertainment review sights (e.g. Christian Spotlight on Entertainment) that make use of both a morality rating and a moviemaking quality rating, and it's a system that is far more helpful than using a simple uniform rating.

I have zero clue how to parse out what is a brilliant film artistically versus what is mediocre film with a great Christian message from a single rating. 

I appreciate your service, but you guys literally gave the Kirk Cameron movie "Saving Christmas" a 4.5 star (or plug) review. Keep in mind this is a film that sits at No. 2 on the IMDB bottom 100 - making it ostensibly the second worst movie ever made, according not to snooty film critics (who also savaged it), but to everyday people who spent good money to watch it.

If I'm a Christian moviegoer and I shell out 50 bucks to take my family to go see that, I'm struggling to turn the other cheek. Most people don't have the time to wade through 1,000 words to get an idea of what is is good art and what is a redeeming message.

Do I want to go see a good Christian movie or a very Christian movie that happens to be no good. It's like attending a church with an excellent pastor versus one with someone who has yet to discover God's true calling for his life. Both are well-intentioned, that doesn't make them equal.

The same could be said in favor of the pursuit of intellectual honesty when it comes to the other side of the coin.

There are is no way on earth that a typical Martin Scorcese film like "The Wolf of Wall Street" would ever get a star or a plug, and I'm not arguing on any level that it should, but I'd at least like to have an idea of whether it was because it was morally bankrupt or morally bankrupt and awful as a movie, if only for curiosity sake. When recent films like "It" and "Baby Driver" are hovering in 90 percent range on Rotten Tomatoes, it's puzzling to come across a plug or a half-plug rating. 

Why not institute a double rating system? It's far less confusing, far more honest, far more helpful and it would save readers and, on some level, reviewers, a whole lot of time.

Philo Kennedy 6 months ago
This is an excellent point and something I too have always wondered. Moral rating and movie rating are two different things.

I remember reading the dark knight review here before I had actually seen the movie and I was like saying to myself did this guy actually see the same movie I did bc fair enough it's not family friendly and actually didn't get a terrible review but the guy who wrote it never once mentioned it was so gripping and the Heath ledger performance which to me is all time best ever put on screen. Now we see a million Marvel movies in production and it is clear that the franchise and specifically dark knight crushed box office and changed film industry and the review guy talking about it's dark and the joker is mean so it's not a good movie. 

A five star movie rating and a one and a half moral Christan rating would have solved that.

As far as the vlog question it's a valid question. I highly doubt it will ever change bc we as Christians feel guilty about putting sin on screen whether it is flattering the sin or not. There is a big difference of course but you will never see an Evangelical movie show any gritty content.

If you wrote a Christian movie where bad guys talked how bad guys really talked Paul Asay would still count the swear words and list them in the review with an asterisk so that we adults don't have too see them "10 d*mns and 1 cr*p" and nobody would pay to see the movie.

We as Christians are told that sex between a man and his wife is a sacred gift from God and that heterosexuality is beautiful and natural just as homosexuality is a huge sin, but can you imagine ever seeing a sex scene in an Evangelical movie? If you so much as imply sex you will get blasted by Christians. 

Violence is iffy definitely not encouraged but Mel Gibson gets a pass as long as it's for a good cause. Language will get you in hot water very, very quickly, but anything remotely sexual and your career as a Christian filmmaker is over.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Yes Christians do stigmatize sex very badly but this is because in reality the new testament is very clear that sex is not a gift from God but is basically a weakness. 

Name one positive verse about sex in the new testament. It doesn't exist. Paul is very clear the sex and marriage are for the spiritually weak. In 1 Corinthians 7:8 he says to unmarried Christians DO NOT GET MARRIED. In verse 1 he says it is good to never have sex. Jesus also himself said he wished all people would be eunichs for the kingdom of heaven as he is in Matthew 19, but if you believe what the new testament says, and remember it is the new covenant not the old ways of bull sacrifices and song of Solomon in the old testament, than you cannot condone glorifying sex even between a man and a wife as Paul clearly says it is for the weak.

Remember Jesus was born of a virgin and not only this but there is a very strange verse at the very end of Matthew 1 that tells us that Joseph refused to even touch Mary until Jesus was born. Why would you say that is? Clearly the new testament says sex is not to be celebrated. 

This is why as an Evangelical I respect the Catholic tradition of priests keeping their vows of celebacy and I refuse to attend a church with a married pastor. If the pastor doesn't have enough conviction to deny his sinful sexual urges then why would I waste my time?


If you were really a Christian you would not be advocating for putting filth like married sex on screen. Sex is NOT a gift from God or I guess that you are saying apostle Paul is not speaking the word of God?
Anonymous 6 months ago
What are you even say?!?!? Of course sex is a gift from God. Genesis 2:18a ESV says: Then the LORD God said, "It is NOT GOOD that the man should be alone;" (emphasis mine) and Genesis 2:24 ESV says: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." The garden of Eden was the world as it was suppose to be, and God said it was NOT GOOD for a Man to be without a partner. There are many, MANY, other verses that declare sex is a gift from God. The WHOLE BIBLE is from God so we need to believe all of it, not just the red words.
Anonymous 6 months ago
By CbinJ
You write like a troll, but here is a serious response. Your specifics are right, but you're conclusions are wrong. I hold to the view that indeed Genesis arguments from Christians about marriage and sex (e.g. "be fruitful and multiply") are not just neutralized by the Corinthians passage you cite, but also by The Fall. However, The Bible doesn't just deal in commandments, it deals in basic reality. Just because something is not advised (like marriage) doesn't mean it is not acceptable or real. The Bible--especially the New Testament--deals in spiritual matters first and foremost, so it advises on spirituality, whilst taking for granted the physical state of nature and man. Humans can't help but do the same (i.e. take into account the physical world around them), which is exactly why the Bible is written the way it is. So, is it wrong to portray marriage in stories? Of course not! The Bible uses marriage as an illustration of the relationship between Christ and the Church. (It's a "if you can't beat 'em, use examples they can understand to teach them" philosophy.)  
Then, we get to the second question: Is realistically protraying sex in stories to make "Christian movies better" moral? I think the answer is pretty clearly "no" based on the limitations commanded in the Bible: namely that sex is a private and personal act between a married couple. Nowadays, people don't live as souls, so sex is some physical thing that everybody (including Christians) loves to talk about. Whereas if we did live as thinking, feeling people, we'd understand and give weight to the terms "personal" and "private". 
By CbinJ
charitysplace 6 months ago
This smells like a really excellent trolling post to me, but I have nothing else to do, so I'll counter it. ;)

Paul urged people not to marry IN THAT TIME PERIOD, because he knew it would be extremely difficult if the Christians had to flee to pack up a wife and kids and entire household, much harder than a man (yes, a man) alone.

Joseph did not sleep with Mary until after the child's birth so no one could claim Jesus was his son.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Also, have you ever read Song of Solomon? That's part of the Bible.
jimboa25 6 months ago
Sex is not filth if it is in a marital context. If it were, then Paul would have made it clear that sex is something to be avoided at all costs. God does not compromise. A sin is a sin is a sin, and if sex within the bounds of marriage is not sinful (which Paul NEVER claims it is), then it is not a sin. And yes, sex is God-given. Who do you think designed the human body? Who do you think gave us the biological drive to have sex and enjoy it? If you seriously are about to say "Satan," then I name you a heretic.

Also, Joseph did not touch Mary while Mary was pregnant because according to Jewish customs, it would have been "unclean" to do so until some time after she gave birth.
Inkfeather1 . 6 months ago
I kind of feel like PluggedIn isn't really a review site. They don't review technical things like story, characters, cinematography, etc. And they don't really review whether a movie is good, evil, something you shouldn't watch as a Christian, etc. They're really more of a list of things that might concern people with a quick opinion at the end. And that's why I keep coming back to them over every other site. I can quickly find out whether a movie has anything that would make me uncomfortable, and then make up my own mind about seeing it. They let you think for yourself, and I appreciate that :)
Anonymous 6 months ago
By CbinJ
I agree with your analysis of the purpose and scope of PIO. However, as a loyal reader for over ten years, I finally put my finger on why people get upset with the reviews on this website. This realization has caused me to take things with a grain of salt. The answer: it's the use of snark, it's the tinge of cynicism adding a weight to the reviews. And it's the refusal to consistently give the slightest hint of the big picture themes and tones. 
Just take the review of Cinderella (as I came to this realization while rereading it) as one of many examples: 
"...And parents of would-be princesses should carefully calculate the body-image and modesty issues raised by the quite low-cut costumes and painfully corseted torsos. (What does this say about the female form and girls' intrinsic worth, after all?) Certainly Downton Abbey star Lily James is a vision of radiant beauty as Ella...." 
They take a jab at the fact that Lily James is pretty. That a quasi-period piece uses period clothing. They aren't even criticizing too much skin or something like that, they took a beautiful story of forgiveness and boiled it down to "well, I guess, at least, her beautiful appearance is matched with a kind heart." As if body image is the core message here? The fact that this story serves as a very clear concise allegory (as explained by Bishop Robert Barron) just gets no mention.

Then, there is the negative example, I decided to see Spider-Man Homecoming despite the vulgar language. But because PluggedIn, (unlike Movieguide for example) doesn't take into account big picture stuff, I ended up supporting a movie that mixes progressive social justice messages into what should be a fun popcorn muncher. 
Nowadays, I don't just take PluggedIn's word for it. I've varied my sources after missing many a good movie in theaters due to the tonal style blowing certain negative elements out of proportion and the limited scope ignoring big picture thematic elements. 

By CbinJ

If you want to further see what I mean about how tone is the problem, compare that cyclical review of Cinderella, to the review conclusion of the new It movie.
Evan Weisensel 6 months ago
Wait... How did Homecoming mix Social Justice themes into its narrative? I thought they just wen with a diverse cast because that's what a modern New York school looks like nowadays.
Anonymous 6 months ago
By CbinJ
I wasn't talking about the diverse cast. (If I was going to be offended by that, why would I need the PluggedIn review?) I mean things like the moment MJ refused to go into the Washington Monument because "it was built by slaves", an idea that even Slate says has no solid historical evidence. There are several moments like that in the film that are just obnoxious and unnecessary. There's also an article in The Federalist about the more general progressive bent (Spider-Man Potrays the Ideal American Millennial.) But anyway, dissecting Spuder-Man wasn't my main point.
By CbinJ
Evan Weisensel 6 months ago
Ooohhh. That type of progressive messaging. I still haven't seen the film yet (got Marvel burnout :[) so I guess I'll judge it when I do get around to watching it.
bobed 6 months ago
I cannot stand films that push their agenda like that. I guess this'll be another Marvel movie I'll be avoiding. Oh, wait, I already avoid them all.
Anonymous 6 months ago
By CbinJ
I have Marvel burn out too, honestly. Though Spider-Man Homecomig is pretty light and fun. Tom Holland's Peter Parker is charming enough. But, like I said, it's got this punk-lite element to it that can be as obnoxious as Zendya's MJ. And that end credits scene....
By CbinJ
Inkfeather1 . 6 months ago
This is true. I've had that problem with them too. I usually just roll my eyes and see the movie anyway :) Again though, I feel like they are trying to cover every angle possible in their reviews. They aren't part of a denomination (that I know of?) and so they have to cover everything that could make a family concerned about allowing their children to see a film. Which is why I usually just read their "violence" section. I'm a wuss when it comes to blood and gore xD anything else I can handle.
charitysplace 6 months ago
I've given this a lot of thought, also as pertains to the book publishing industry as well as discussed it with other writers -- and I have a theory that the aggressive Protestantism push against involvement in 'the arts' that began after the Reformation (because anything artistic / symbolic / allegorical was too much like Catholicism) has resulted in Protestantism being somewhat devoid of 'the arts' on the level that secular or Catholic artists can excel at. I know my Protestant parents grew up believing movies were bad / don't go to them. I still see this attitude among Protestant churches -- oh, you can't become an actor / work in Hollywood, it'll compromise your values. Be that as it may, this is why there's so few Protestants IN Hollywood. You'll notice a ton of Catholics, and ex-Catholics, in the arts -- comic book authors, writers, filmmakers, etc. There's also a large number of Jewish filmmakers, many of whom go for rich symbolism. This is how you wind up with rich symbolic 'art' (films) by 'secular' artists to compare with 'Christian' films, which often tend toward preachy-ness.

In short: the Protestant Church is about 900 years behind in artistic development; and Christian 'artists' are often pushed by the Christian community to produce art only centered around God, as if He will only honor or bless their artistic efforts if they in some way tell the salvation story, rather than to use art to celebrate the gifts and imagination God has given them. You need creativity of thought, symbolism, and intellectual depth to create genuine art -- and when you do that, it's not a propaganda piece, but a deep reflection of the artist's belief systems. If you want great art from Protestants, urge them to be intellectually creative and create for the joy of good storytelling, rather than with an agenda of evangelism -- produce Tolkiens and Lewis's, who told a good story, underpinned by an intense internal belief system core.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Because Christians are a cult, living in their little bubble, railing against the big, bad world.  So they make crappy little movies for each other, and to their eternal surprise, find the big bad world is laughing at them.  Like they were parakeets preening at their reflection in a mirror.  If Christians GREW UP LIKE NORMAL ADULTS they might have some world experience, but they are like 10 year olds who are afraid to be naughty.
bobed 6 months ago
You are here on a website for people you despise, screaming in all caps and acting like a baby, and you tell others to grow up?  Forgive me for questioning your logic.
Anonymous 6 months ago
You're probably not a Christian, going by the way you've written your comment - but you *do* have a point. In some Christian movies, everyone is either so perfect even flecks of dirt are afraid to smudge their visages, or so eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil that it's a wonder they don't have a neon sign over their heads proclaiming their morality to the world. Both sets of characters don't have much in the way of actual personalities, but are instead idealized versions of "good vs. evil." Well, when you look at it like that - yeah, is it any wonder the world keeps laughing at us Christians? That's part of what makes evil...well, evil: nuances. Subtleties, not being so blatant a blind, deaf earthworm could recognize the badness coming from ten miles away. (Satan didn't tempt Eve by saying "And if you eat this apple, I'll take over the world and make your life a misery just for the heck of it! Mwahahaha! Now go on, do it.") And that's part of what makes heroic characters heroic: struggling with their flaws and imperfections and eventually overcoming them - NOT having no temptations whatsoever because they're just THAT pure.

"Living in [a] little bubble" is an accurate, if pointed, description. Some Christian movies are so far out of reality that it comes off as stilted, contrived, and downright insulting at times.

- Lionsong.
Inkfeather1 . 6 months ago
You need to calm down. Stereotyping Christians is no better than when they stereotype atheists. It doesn't win anyone to your side and only makes you look immature and not worth listening to. Try presenting a rational argument in a respectful manner.
seraph_unsung 6 months ago
In my case I enjoy these movies more when they know they have other business besides catering to a pre-established audience (I would imagine the story in "The Passion of the Christ" would be hard to follow if you knew nothing about the Bible accounts, but it manages to be engrossing through its special effects).  "Amazing Grace" is one of the best movies I've seen in the genre, with quality production values, an easy-to-follow story (albeit with some language and violence that make the film unsuitable for younger viewers), and a clear demonstration of how Christian faith exists not just for its own sake but also to make the world a better place.  "Hacksaw Ridge," despite its horrific violence, was a story about how a man used his faith and his skills and knowledge to save dozens upon dozens of lives in an environment cruelly and unapologetically unsuited to life and living.  "God's Not Dead" was a horribly stereotypical portrayal of Muslims (not all of whom, I imagine, violently kick their daughters out of their houses for studying the Bible), atheists (not all of whom go on screaming tirades about how they "hate God"), and academics (not all of whom *slam students up against a wall* and threaten to fail those who don't turn away from Christ -- a ridiculous situation that would likely rouse the ire of the ACLU).  Faith in that story existed for no sake and no reason except its own, and most of the Christian characters in the film were also jerks or otherwise unlikable ("you can't disprove God" is a logical fallacy despite being one of the very first things said in the movie's central existence-of-God debate), doing the Gospel of Jesus Christ no favors.  I enjoyed "The Robe," though, especially in how it didn't shy away from the realities of martyrdom but focused, somehow, on the joys of God and Heaven.

Some of the most interesting if unusual discussions I've seen come from movies and stories that court controversy as they don't fit into a traditional or theologically orthodox "Christian" mold, like "The Last Temptation of Christ" and Darren Aronofsky's "Noah," both of which I enjoyed despite the latter having some emotionally brutal moments.  Both of them blatantly wanted to experiment with their own "what-if" divergences from the Biblical accounts, which in itself didn't bother me--the former was even honest enough to announce its intentions up front, though I think the latter's tendency to genre-hop from road movie to epic fantasy to action to horror made the overall package rather strange.  "Silence," as I mentioned below, was a powerful portrayal of a real-life context where Christians could not take freedom of worship for granted--who needs to act as though American Christians are being persecuted in large numbers when we can simply look back at the pages of history and see a real time and place where that did happen?  I think those movies could perhaps be a sort of insight into the spiritual struggles of the directors, and before anyone says, "It's not that hard, just pick up a Bible," they have to understand that sometimes spiritual struggles don't become resolved so easily or so quickly, especially for people struggling with issues that might be treated negatively or otherwise not get mentioned by the church, sometimes pertaining to some sort of sexuality.

That's another topic I was going to mention--as Michael Leaser mentioned below, I don't usually see Christian movies that are willing to maturely deal with adult issues without merely dismissing them as "worldly" temptations that Christians either don't deal with or find no beauty in (especially if they're sexually related, because for the sake of our married couples and our single individuals who are seeking to marry and be married, we can't just let that be a forbidden, "taboo," or dirty subject that the world has the last word on, and we can't just treat it as a cliche forbidden fruit or as a sterile duty that married Christians are to take no joy in).  @Plugged In, you mentioned the upcoming film "Generational Sins" a few months ago, and I'm intrigued to see that, as it sounds like it acknowledges the dark realities of our world without reveling in them or cheaply exploiting them.  Likewise, our society may benefit from more films and stories that choose to walk the fine line of upholding Christian convictions while showing desperately needed love to LGBT people, as I think all too often the Church and Christianity get a bad rap for hating or neglecting these people in ways that go far beyond simply opposing their wishes on Biblical grounds.  For anyone thinking of impulsively responding with anti-LGBT verses, as I've seen it from some people in this community before, my point isn't that I haven't read them, or that those passages are "wrong," or that we need to ignore them or throw them out.  We don't, and I don't think it would do us any good to do so, especially not when dealing with outsiders who are well familiar with these and other necessary but oft uncomfortable portions of Scripture, who would then have an occasion to wonder why we were choosing to ignore or downplay those difficult areas.  Talking about this reminds me of when I was young, listening to people argue over whether Christians should watch R-rated movies but also seeing people attend The Passion of the Christ in droves.  And I think it will do the Church no favors to try, beyond reason, to protect young but spiritually mature people from the realities of the world that exists outside--and, regrettably, sometimes inside--its walls.

My point is that I think we as the Church will endear ourselves to outsiders far more if we do acknowledge the depths of their needs--and of our own, regardless of our circumstances or past successes or failures--and seek to use God's provision to fill any emotional voids left by others' or our own decisions to turn away from sin, even at cost, for the sake of God and of his kingdom.  But we as the Church do need to be honest about its controversies, even as I think we can't all be held individually responsible for them.  I doubt any of us here were in a place to do anything about the sexual crimes and exploitation covered in "Spotlight" (a good film, neither Christian nor blatantly anti-Christian but very religiously relevant due to its authoritarian context), or the unusual treatment of similar subject matter in "Doubt" (which then turns into an examination of obsessive accusation without evidence).  But I think the Church still gets stereotyped as being guilty of these things, whether fairly or no, and I see this as an opportunity for the Church to be honest--including through film--about who it is and what it should be today, without kowtowing to or downplaying other pseudo-Christian conspiracies and controversies like white supremacists, and without catering to opposing forces that want to see the Church's influence diminished or negated.
bobed 6 months ago
LGBT people need our love, just like fornicators and adulterers and all other manner of sinner. However, we need to let them know that the wages of their sin is death. You're right, there is a fine line.
jimboa25 6 months ago
I think that it's difficult to make a great movie if you sanitize it. Look at the Bible, and all the great stories from it. The Bible is full of graphic, brutal violence, heavy and depraved sexuality, awful villains, flawed heroes, you name it. If you were to make a faithful, honest, unflinching movie out of most of the stories in the Bible, it would likely get a (well-deserved) NC-17 rating. My point is that, our own sacred text is not all light, uplifting reading. Filmmakers making a Christian story should not be afraid to depict things that are not G-rated or squeaky clean.

Also, subtlety is an important tool in writing. Audiences don't like to feel like they are being talked down to or blatantly being preached at. But at the same time, a Christian movie should promote Jesus and praise His name, or at the very least convey the basic gospel truth boiled down to its purest, simplest form in John 3:16. So how do you find the balance? I'm not sure I know. But movies like God's Not Dead and War Room, while they may be a smash hit with believers and people who already know Jesus, will never cross over into the mainstream audience and win over souls. That is a problem.
bobed 6 months ago
"Audiences don't like to feel like they are being talked down to or blatantly being preached at." 

No, you're right. People don't like meat and potatoes. They prefer sweets and sugar. But if we only feed them a diet of sweets, they will lack nutrition. We Christians MUST "blatantly preach." That is our job. We cannot itch their ears.

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears..."
"
Anonymous 6 months ago
Pretend for a moment that you're not a Christian, bobed. You've just seen a movie that, for two hours, rails against the unsaved and condemns them all to Hell for their lack of belief. It had a poorly-disguised sermon as a plot, characters that exist solely as plot devices to further that same sermon, and bad production values. You sat through it because you were curious, but now you've seen it and can form an opinion on it. You walk out of the movie theater and.......... What's your reaction?

a) "Wow, these people I know nothing about are telling me I'm evil, wrong, terrible, bad, a filthy cruel inhuman being, and I'm going to a place of agonizing torment for all eternity because I don't believe in a God I've never heard of/a God I don't believe in. They must be right! I want to know more about this!"
b) "Well THAT was ridiculous. No, I don't believe in their God and they're telling me I'm going to Hell for that? Why? I don't have a reason to believe in God, and after THAT - if there's a God who condemns people to agony for the rest of forever because they don't believe in him - I don't think I want to! If Christianity is like this, where people practically spit on the unbelievers, I don't want any part of that."

If I wasn't a Christian... I think the second reaction would be more along the lines of what I'd think.

I'm not saying that Christians *shouldn't* preach at all. No, they should. But dropping anvils of morality on audiences' heads leaves a feeling of "Sure, you're right, but what a condescending way to say it." What's wrong with subtlety? Don't get rid of Christian messages, of course, but don't hammer them in with all the grace of a baseball bat whacking someone's skull.

- Lionsong
bobed 6 months ago
I'm not sure exactly what you're talking about, but I have never seen a Christian film that directly told audiences they were filthy inhuman beings who were going to hell. But maybe they should. We are required and urgently need to tell people - warn people - of the dangers of hell. It is the most important thing you or I will ever do. We cannot sugarcoat it. If they will not listen, we pray that the Lord will open their ears. Hell is a reality. We cannot "approach softly" or "subtly." Hell is a literal eternity of torture and torment, of fiery horror and eternal separation from God and all goodness. It is the worst thing that will ever happen to anyone, and it lasts FOREVER and cannot end. We cannot beat around the bush. 
Evan Weisensel 6 months ago
Most Christian films are sugar sweets, not meat and potatoes. They lack depth and nuance. 
bobed 6 months ago
What do you mean by this? Evidence, examples?
Evan Weisensel 6 months ago
I had a comment explaining what I meant by that, but it got deleted. Why? It didn't really break any rules.
Evan Weisensel 6 months ago
Let's see.. 

God's not Dead and most of PureFlix's output is just "Le Evil Athiest are out to hurt da perfect Christians, We must resist and pray to David AR White that God delivers karmic vengeance upon them!"

Facing the Giants and most of the Kendrick Bros films are just shallow prosperity gospel 101. (Seriously, go back and watch it yourself.)

And the(Shake) Shack was... whatever the (Nut) Shack was.

There are defiantly far more examples I could list, but we'd be here all day. (As long as they don't delete this one, too.)
Inkfeather1 . 6 months ago
Steak and potatoes are bland and disgusting. Now, if you add salt and seasoning to them, they become quite tasty. Basically, it's not what you say, it's how you say it. Maybe at their hearts some Christian movies have good messages, but they are presented in such an unpalatable way that few wish to consume it. Jesus even warned about this. Salt that loses it's flavor is worthless.
jimboa25 6 months ago
You can convey a message through subtlety and without insulting your audience, bobed. If all you do is rant and preach in front of people. the only thing you will ever accomplish is shutting them out. Saving souls and converting people means REACHING them, not PREACHING AT them. You need to get past their defenses and speak to their heart, and there is no better way to do so than through story and film. There is a reason that Jesus taught through parables - you can speak louder, more profoundly, and more powerfully through story than simply and bluntly walking up to someone and saying your point. Do you really believe that the best way to save someone's soul is to walk up to them, telling them to their face they will die and go to hell and the only way to not go to hell is to accept Jesus as their personal savior? If you do, please don't ever be a pastor or missionary. People feel like they're being attacked when you do that, and they shut everything else out. You have to find a better, gentler way to convey your message. If you have the subtlety of a sledgehammer, not only will you NOT convert any souls, but you will probably shut them out from all other approaches anyone else might make.
bobed 6 months ago
"Do you really believe that the best way to save someone's soul is to walk up to them, telling them to their face they will die and go to hell and the only way to not go to hell is to accept Jesus as their personal savior?"

I never said that - not in so many words, anyhow. But yes, I do believe that. That is the way it has been done for centuries. Would you like to confront the many street preachers on the front lines delivering the gospel, and tell them that what they are doing is wrong? Maybe I'll introduce you to my friends Dave and Liza, a husband and wife team who have been preaching on street corners and warning people of the dangers of hell for 30+ years. I'd like you to tell them their courageous work is pointless and has not converted anyone. Maybe you can also tell the approximately 1,000 estimated people they have brought to Christ during their careers. Maybe you can also tell the multiple thousands of people who have been given Bibles by my friends. Sometimes having a message with "subtlety of a jackhammer" WORKS, when lost souls who desperately want to listen to a saving message of hope hear it. 
Inkfeather1 . 6 months ago
Street preachers are doing it wrong. Their efforts result in people being driven away, the opposite of what they want. Therefore: doing it wrong.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Yes but bobed would you date a girl who told you she loved you on the first date and said it once every 30 minutes? You have to make the message attractive and palatable and not come on too strong. The world doesn't work like that.

People don't respond to shoving a message down their throat. That's great to be always spreading the word but you have to play the game with smarts.

If you want to convert a non believer then if you have a conversation about faith, if you aren't going to be open minded and actually consider what they have to say then at least pretend to do so.

The same goes for Christian movies. Make the film real and interesting and then drop nuggets. You wouldnt last 10 seconds trying to sell a vacuum at my front door amigo.
bobed 6 months ago
Dating a girl and saving someone's soul from eternal death are very different concepts, my friend, and one is far more important and vital than the other.
Inkfeather1 . 6 months ago
Precisely why it should be done with care. You have to consider the way you are preaching to people. The way Christian movies do it now is actually driving people away rather than bringing them in. Do you actually think Jesus is ok with that? That he will commend those people at the last days?
bobed 6 months ago
Yes, I do. Stop replying to me.
Anonymous 6 months ago
It's like contemporary Christian music. I like the message but how can anyone listen to it? It's awful, constantly upbeat, repetitive, cheesy and sounds like John Tesh produced it. The sweet is never as sweet without the sour as the poet Blake alluded to.
bobed 6 months ago
I can listen to it. I don't know what you like, but Christian hip-hop and metal have always made me want to throw my radio out the window - but I never insult those who like it or question their taste (however much I might want to). Why can't you do the same for CCM? Haters of CCM seem to love to hate.
Anonymous 6 months ago
By CbinJ
Here's the thing though, reading a graphic story (or even watching a play of a graphic story) is much different than seeing and hearing graphic depictions in realistic high definition and surround sound. People think the Bible is full of stories, but it is not. The Bible is full of historical events and life philosophies. Even Jesus didn't go around telling stories, he simply illustrated his points by using a psychological memory device called a parable. Parables were used in oral cultures and traditions for the very specific purpose of recalling the lesson. Stories are a different animal than what we read in the Bible. We need to decide what exactly stories are for before we decide what kind of stories to make. What does the Bible say about acting, watching, hearing, and indulging in entertainment? I am more inclined to agree with bobed, it is more likely to be governed by the Christian standards of morality, plus Philippians 4:8, plus the fruit of the Spirit. All of those things combined, I think, would look closer to PG, than NC-17. Real life has all the graphic horrors you will ever need. The true purpose of storytelling is not to add more evil to the universe. 

With regards to the state of Christian movies today: I don't like War Room at all and God's Not Dead certainly doesn't break into my Top 50 must see movies. Maybe the answer is better movies, not more explicit movies.
By CbinJ
bobed 6 months ago
Christians do not struggle to make good movies, or successful ones. Christians only struggle to break into the mainstream market. God's Not Dead was good. War Room was good. The Case for Christ was great. Do You Believe was great. The Passion of the Christ, October Baby, Narnia, Son of God, Beyond the Mask, Woodlawn, Gavin Stone, Hacksaw Ridge (nominated for an Oscar - though I didn't like it for its violence), Courageous, I'm Not Ashamed... 
Anonymous 6 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Wait a minute. Didn't you say in a reply to one of my comments back in February that you thought the Narnia movies were more Harry Potter-ish than Christian-ish?
Anonymous 6 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Your comment from "Why Do Christian Films Bomb? (No, really?)" on February 9th, 2017 went like this.

bobed
"Is Narnia really a "Christian" movie? It was a fantasy series with vaguely Christian undertones. More Harry Potter-ish than Christian-ish. The books were more heavy-handed with allegory; the film series seemed to attempt to wipe all the allegory away."
bobed 6 months ago
It is a Christian film series with allegorical undertones and a clear parallel to Jesus, based off a book series written by perhaps the most famous Christian apologist of all time, and it is also well made, popular and successful. I do not feel that it is entirely successful in what it sets out to do, but it is still perhaps the most successful example of a Christian franchise. Why have you dug up a quite from many months ago? It is irrelevant to our conversation.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

It may not be relevant to this conversation, but so what?

I remember the last time Plugged In talked about this sort of subject in their blog, and when I saw you say that Narnia is a Christian movie, I was surprised as to why you may have been contradicting yourself.
bobed 6 months ago
You have a habit of picking out my past posts and using them to "discredit" me. You have done it before. How would you like a taste of your own medicine? Not very much, I'd imagine. Please stop bringing up vestiges of the past into unrelated conversations. Opinions have nuance, and one post may not necessarily contradict another.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Whether or not Narnia movies are Christian as is debated below is up for interpretation but Narnia movies are not good that much is clear. At least not nearly as good as they should have been considering the cs Lewis books were all time greats and best sellers. I almost cried I was so disappointed in the theater especially since the first came out a year after return of the King and it was clear Narnia movies were no LOTR.

Best selling books of all time should not translate into a series that is cancelled after 3 movies, with Disney backing no less.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Actually, the first Narnia movie came out two years after Return of the King. RotK came out in December 2003; the first Narnia came out December 2005.
bobed 6 months ago
I would like to know where you get your information that the Narnia books are some of the best-selling books ever. I can find no evidence to back this up.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Wikipedia has the Narnia series selling 120 million copies. There are only 22 series that have sold more copies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_books
bobed 6 months ago
Yes, I see that now. Thank you for providing sources. However, I must disagree with you on the idea that the film series was a critical and commercial failure.

The first film was 2005's third most successful movie, grossing almost a billion, won an Oscar, and so forth. (76% on Rotten Tomatoes - far be it from me to bow to the opinion of critics, but you can't say they hated this movie). The second film grossed far less but you can't call $419 million a failure, and 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, again, isn't that bad. As for the third movie, it grossed $415 million, which, again, isn't bad, even though the critics disliked it.

You may have your opinion on Narnia, as do I, but I don't think this series was a failure, and I still think it is the most successful Christian film series - if not, then point out the one that's more successful, because I don't see it. And your statement that the series was cancelled after 3 movies is incorrect. A fourth one is in development, and a director was recently announced.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Actually, I am the "anonymous" who just gave you the source, not the one that said the Narnia films weren't successful. The first film was actually the second highest grossing domestic film released in 2005, behind Star Wars 3. It made $291 million domestically and $745 million worldwide on a $180 million budget. It was very successful. Disney and Walden took a bath on Caspian, though. Yes, it made $419 million worldwide, but the budget had increased to $225 million, and it only took in $141 million domestically. When looking at box office numbers, one needs to keep in mind that studios take in much more with domestic box office than they do with international box office. That's just the nature of the distribution deals that are set up with international distributors. Also keep in mind that whatever the production cost of a film is, a good rule of thumb is that the marketing costs are about as much. If you consider the two factors above, Disney and Walden lost quite a bit of money on Caspian. That was at least part of the reason Disney decided not to distribute any more Narnia films. Fox decided to do the third film with Walden. Now it helped that Dawn Treader's budget was quite a bit less at $155 million. Even with the reduced budget, though, it only made $104 million domestically and about $415 million worldwide, which means it basically broke even. 

The series was put on extended hiatus because Walden Media and the C.S. Lewis company weren't able to get on the same page creatively for the next film. The C.S. Lewis company decided not to do another film with Walden, but Walden's contract with the C.S. Lewis company prevented the company from releasing a non-Walden Narnia for about seven years. 

Creatively, I would agree that the third film was a major disappointment. Maybe the first film could have been a little bit better, but I don't think it could have been that much better than it was, and it could have been much worse. All things considered, I was most impressed with what they did with Caspian, since it is arguably the weakest of all seven books and a difficult book to adapt, especially with its extended story within a story structure. 
Anonymous 6 months ago
Unwillingness to portray or view material that shows people's honest struggles is certainly an issue we Christians often have difficulty with. Honestly, a bigger concern, which also gets to your question "Why Do Christians Struggle to Make Good Movies?" is that frankly many Christian filmmakers are more concerned about message than they are about story, or as Adam discussed, building conflict and drama. If you don't have a good story, then your message often gets lost to all but those who are most inclined to hear the message. The sad reality is many Christian viewers will support less than mediocre faith-based films just because of the message, and the occasional example that catches the message wave like God's Not Dead unfortunately subjects all of us to films like God's Not Dead 2 and God's Not Dead 3 and reinforces the impression of any non-Christian with an artistic bone in his or her body that Christian films are very poorly made. Even the message of a film like that is problematic: your professor who says he doesn't believe in God is really just angry at God. It's a straw man argument that strives to build up Christian college students to fight for their faith but ill-prepares them for the sophisticated assaults they will face from actual atheists. And was any non-Christian actually led to Christ through God's Not Dead? If so, I haven't heard of it. 

Christian viewers need to demand better storytelling from Christian filmmakers, and critics like you all have the privilege and the obligation to point out good examples, like The Passion of the Christ or Heaven Is for Real or the first two Narnia films, along with poor examples. I would hold up any of the three films my company Cave Pictures was involved with as strong examples of faith-informed films that put more emphasis on story than message and ended up conveying some effective messaging. Wildflower is on Netflix, The Ticket came to Amazon Prime last month, and Silence is available to rent or purchase through most streaming avenues along with retailers like Walmart. Here's to better Christian films!--Michael Leaser
bobed 6 months ago
You are citing Silence as a "better Christian film"? Silence is heretical and directly opposed to Christ. I have googled The Ticket and I am unsure how it can be seen as a Christian film. As for "Wildflower," I can't find anything about this film. I take issue with your classification of Silence as a Christian film. Silence is anti-Christ.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I never said The Ticket was a Christian film, and neither is Wildflower. I said they were "faith informed." I apologize for not being more clear. Our aspiration at Cave Pictures was not to make Christian films per se, but films that had Christian elements that were also good, true, and beautiful: good for the soul's consumption, true to the human condition, and beautiful in craftsmanship, and I believe we succeeded in that. As for Silence, it is a complicated story with characters who exhibit heresy, but to say the story is directly opposed to Christ is patently false. If it were directly opposed to Christ, then every freshman at Wheaton College would not have been assigned the book to read this past school year. And there wouldn't be this collection of positive reflections on Silence from figures like Os Guinness, Philip Yancey, Carl Moeller, David Neff, Michael Oh, Philip Ryken (president of Wheaton College) and a few dozen others: https://us.macmillan.com/static/picador/silence/silence-reflections.pdf. I would also direct your attention to Makoto Fujimura's Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith in Suffering, published last year by InterVarsity Press: https://www.ivpress.com/silence-and-beauty.
seraph_unsung 6 months ago
Thank you for citing your sources.  I verily appreciate it.
seraph_unsung 6 months ago
I'm curious and frankly confused as to how Silence would be perceived as being "anti-Christ."  The story's depiction of people turning away from Jesus couldn't reasonably be read as an endorsement.
bobed 6 months ago
Read the Pluggedin article about this film. They list its many spiritual issues.

Made by a secular director, with secular stars snd a secular company behind it... Have we forgotten that the man who directed this movie is also famous (should I say notorious) for having directed the "film" with the highest proliferation of foul language, of all time? Why should we expect this man to deliver Christ-honoring content??
Anonymous 6 months ago
Actually, Paramount was only the distributor. They didn't contribute a dime to the production costs. Were it not for two production companies who invested in the film, Moriah Media and Fabrica de Cine, the former headed by evangelicals and the latter by Catholics, the film would not have been made. The Green family (Hobby Lobby) invested in the film as well. Bottom line: if it weren't for Christians who believed in the potential Kingdom value of this film, it wouldn't have been made, at least not yet. 
Evan Weisensel 6 months ago
You do realize that Martin Scorsese is Catholic, right? Also, I had a friend who was a missionary in Japan who was very excited for this movie and said it was an excellent Christian movie.

Also he has an adorable Schnauzer named Pickles who likes to eat cucumbers, but that's beside the point. :)
bobed 6 months ago
His filthy and profane movies speak for themselves.
seraph_unsung 6 months ago
With all due respect: Why should I rely on the Plugged In article about the film (which, if I recall correctly, was one of the things that made me want to go see the movie) when I already saw the film, loved it, and read part of the book (written by a Japanese Christian Catholic, no less--you don't hear that every day!) ?
jimboa25 6 months ago
Risen is another example of a better-quality faith based movie, in my opinion. It got a lot of positive reviews even from non-Christian sites and reviewers.
seraph_unsung 6 months ago
It did.  I haven't seen it, but I heard a lot of good things about it.
Laura Pooley 6 months ago
Yep, pretty good. Some of the characters were a little bit strange (I think it was Nathaniel who sounded like a hippie and it kind of threw the timeline off). Haha!
Anonymous 6 months ago
Posted by the Other Anonymous

Risen is my favorite Christian movie, hands down.  I do wish people made more films like that.  I bought a ticket, popcorn, and soda for Risen, and I would be happy to spend more money on similar movies.  It got the entertaining adventure, captivating story, and even the most important message of all: God's not dead.  And it accomplished those things far better than PureFlix :)
Amazing Grace is another fantastic example, but I think the Christian community takes too much credit for it :)
Evan Weisensel 6 months ago
I haven't seen it, but I really want to. I still get a chuckle whenever I hear the fact that they named Tom Felton's character Lucius.