Lying Liars and the Lies They Lie


lying.JPGI’m still ruminating over The Invention of Lying, Ricky Gervais’ new comedy. I saw it last night and it was, um, not quite what I expected.

Let me just say this up front: I like Gervais. I think he’s one of the funniest guys in show business. He’s also an outspoken, committed atheist, and Lying (which he co-wrote) suggests religion is the biggest lie of them all. That made the film pretty hard for me to watch at times, and in fact I thought it was a far more serious assault on religion in general (and Christianity in particular) because it’s–well, funny.

Once the movie officially released, you can check out my review on our main site to get the full low-down. But in this space, I just wanted to offer this:

We Christians often say that our beliefs and values aren’t fairly represented in the films we see. And that’s true. Frankly, filmmakers have often been reluctant to take on religion at all–fearing a backlash at the box office, if nothing else. But as our nation slowly grows both more pluralistic and more secular, we may see more and more films like Lying–films that more fully express a filmmaker’s own belief structure and outlook on life. And, as those films find acceptance, movie studios will be more apt to fund such projects and put them on screen.

While I’m unlikely to be a fan of such movies, I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with moviemakers making movies that are important to them. It’s their right to make them (or not), just as it’s our right to see them (or not). But it does underline the need, in my mind, to encourage and foster a new generation of talented, Christian filmmakers — filmmakers with all the gifts, skills and savvy to compete in this highly competitive world: Filmmakers who don’t just make movies for Christians, but for movie-lovers, too. One day, I’d love to see a film with a smashmouth screenplay fronted by a gifted comedian that tells us–all of us–that Christianity might not be such a lie, after all.

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.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Paul_Asay:

Great thoughts, JTW ... and really, who can quibble with Lewis?

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  JTW:

C. S. Lewis already had a few thoughts this matter:

There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of “Heaven” ridiculous by saying they do not want “to spend eternity playing harps.” The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them…

A child saying a child’s prayer looks simple. And if you are content to stop there, well and good. But if you are not–and the modern world usually is not–if you want to go on and ask what is really happening–then you must be prepared for something difficult. If we ask for something more than simplicity, it is silly then to complain that the something more is not simple. Very often, however, this silly procedure is adopted by people who are not silly, but who, consciously or unconsciously, want to destroy Christianity. Such people put up a version of Christianity suitable for a child of six and make that the object of their attack.

Gervais has not invented something new, just a retread. Lies are persistent but only Truth endures.