The Subtle Sovereign (3)

The third line of thought concerning worldliness came from a recent Wednesday night with our youth group. A friend of mine is the youth pastor at the church I attend up here, and I occasionally get to help him with teaching and whatnot. One night a few weeks back we began to discuss movies and what makes a movie good or bad. Some of the responses were typical: a movie is bad because it has bad content. Others were interesting in how they played with this idea… “movies are bad because they have bad content, and that means I can’t watch them!” This was the general consensus among the youth group.

Our point in teaching was this: does a movie convey ideas? My friend began to talk about Pirates of the Caribbean. The three movies from the franchise are (in my opinion) some of the funniest movies in recent memory; of course, the more Jonny Depp is on the screen, the more entertaining the movie is. But very few of us will actively think that Captain Jack Sparrow depends on his own version of situational ethics to win the day. Nor do we think that what he’s doing is really wrong; he does what he must, and the audience is trained to accept that. The ends justify the means in most Hollywood movies, and this idea is scattered throughout Pirates.

Think of the recent blockbuster, The Dark Knight. In just about every way the movie was excellent cinema. But did you notice what the movie had to say about truth? In the end, truth was slighted and a lie was enshrined so that the city wouldn’t succomb to anarchy. The audience is trained throughout to think that Batman is the “Dark Knight”, the hero, one who is willing to sacrifice and take the blame for atrocities committed by another. But in doing so, he must lie, and must bind others to lie with him. This is a breach of morality in some sense, and yet the viewer is compelled to think of it as a moral choice on the part of the protagonist. 

Someone would say “yes, but it’s just a movie. It’s just a story.”

In many ways, this is true. But bundled up in those stories are many ideas that compose what we call a worldview: the outlook of the writer on the world. Far more often than not, those worldviews reflect the Great Stereopticon, the world system that belongs to darkness. And it is those worldviews that Christians should recognize. We should recognize where they come from. We should recognize where they’re leading those who hold them. We should recognize where they’ll lead us if we aren’t discerning. We should recognize where they are already influencing our lives.

It does not mean we cannot enjoy good entertainment, but it does mean that we should be discerning so as not to lose what Christ has given and entrusted to us… our minds and His Gospel.


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