maybe we should take a long look at the "christian" genre7:00 AM
And maybe it's pretty problematic.
*cue horrified gasping*
Hi, I'm a Christian, and I have serious problems with the "Christian" genre. Christian fiction, Christian movies, and yeah, even a lot of Christian music. In fact, I'm avidly against most of it.
On the surface, as a vague idea, there's not a lot to dislike. Good, clean media that shares your values, keeps the focus on God, makes you feel all good and spiritual, and did we mention that it's clean unlike "secular" culture today?!?!
Read a Christian fiction book.
Watch a Christian movie.
Listen to some modern-day Christian songs, the ones they play on the radio, all that good ol' T-Mac and Chris Tomlin and Hillsong and whatever else is going down there.
Really consider what you're reading/watching/listening to. Really think about it. You're not stupid; people in general are able to tell quality, aren't we? We're able to judge if something is meaningful, if it's truly well-done.
More often than not, if you're really paying attention, I can promise you you're going to come away from this feeling...bland. Maybe feeling warm and fuzzy, but is that really...a good thing? Is it a good thing to come away from art only ever feeling warm and fuzzy and ready to go ~evangelize~? (Except, like, going on a youth group trip, or something, and staying in a nice hotel, and taking lots of instagram pictures, and meeting Matthew West and all that jazz.)
I have lots of issues and lots of thoughts, and I'm going to address a few of them here as briefly as I can for the sake of coherence.
Look, I get it. I really do. As a Christian you have to spend your life being bombarded by media that's pushing things you don't approve of at you, that's glorifying sin, that's making everything you despise into something heroic and dragging your beliefs through the dirt. It's refreshing to see things from the point of view of someone who agrees with you. And I won't argue that we shouldn't consume things from a Christian point of view, that we should just suck it up all the time. It's good to keep your eyes on what's pure and good and holy; in fact, that's what we're told to do!
But...is Christian media fulfilling that? Really? And is it really more helpful than harmful? Spoiler alert: I think not.
It's very easy to slap a "Christian" label on a book or a movie or an album. It's easy to name-drop Jesus, and quote from some youth pastor's blog post, and have the sinners saved by the end and everybody singing Newsboys and it's all good times. But just because something supposedly shares your values, just because it's "Christian", doesn't mean it's right. That doesn't mean it tells the exact truth. That doesn't mean it's theologically sound. That doesn't mean it's worthy of being held up to some high standard of art and praised without criticism because how could you possibly find something wrong with something Christian.
And you shouldn't turn your brain off just because something supposedly contains your values and that means it can't hurt you. In fact, it might hurt you more than things that you know are "secular".
It's no surprise that Christian media is...well, a bit low-grade as media goes. A little less funded. A little more niche. A little cheesier. And part of that can't be avoided; it's not mainstream media that makes billions of dollars, and when Christians are content to support all of these low-quality stories in the name of Christian media, they're only showing people that they'll settle for poorly-done regurgitated plots that have the Newsboys in them. And that's what we're going to get.
Once again, just because something's "Christian", doesn't mean it's good. And I have a problem with the idea that I should support and praise something just because it supposedly matches my beliefs.
You know what? I don't believe lazy, poorly-done stories glorify God. I don't believe they're automatically holy. I don't believe they're automatically good. Seriously. Y'all. God is the creator of the universe. He is the ultimate Storyteller. And he loves things that are beautiful and good; in fact, beautiful and good and well-done things in which we honor our gifts please him more than anything, I think. And when we settle for less, shrug our shoulders and churn out or pay for things with a Christian label on them even though they're poorly-done and cheesy, we're saying that that's enough. That we don't need to produce quality things in God's name. That, essentially, he is not worthy of the best we have, and not just another ripoff.
Almost as importantly, we're building a reputation for cheesy, poorly-done stories, and what does that say to people looking in from the outside?
3. "but it's clean, Aimee! it's hard to find clean media!"
I saved this one to be my last main point for a good reason: mainly that I could write essays on this, and I wanted to give it a good section of writing. I'll try not to drag this out.
because you totally didn't know how i felt about this already.
Once again, and forever and always, I'll say it: SOMETHING IS NOT GOOD JUST BECAUSE IT'S "CLEAN". AND "NOT CLEAN" DOES NOT EQUAL BAD.
|i'm sorry i just found this gif and it amuses me|
Because there's a difference between truth and filth for the sake of sensationalism.
The world is a "dirty" place. The world is full of sin. It's full of violence and sex and words we don't like and people doing things we don't like. Oftentimes, it turns your stomach. We've turned away from God, and as a result, humanity is swarming with sin and excuses for sin and yeah, lots of filth. And when you try to scrub that clean, get rid of all of it, make everything sparkly...you're going to water everything down to the point of being unrecognizable. You don't have to write about filth to write about the truth.
And yes, there's a certain amount of uncomfortableness that comes with truth. You don't have to be explicit to get at truth. You don't have to use swear words in every line of dialogue, or show every vile act in full detail. You don't have to write stories about the underbelly of humanity. But you do have to be honest, and you do have to be able to admit that just because something contains content you don't agree with, it is not any less valuable. And with the same logic, something is not good because it's "clean" and none of it offends you. Value is not determined by content levels.
Does that mean you should suck it up and read allll the things even if they bother you and make you uncomfortable? Does that mean you should get over it? No. (although I would argue that there's certain value in reading things that disgust you and make you way uncomfortable sometimes.) I think it's just as wrong to consistently delve into things that make you feel gross or take you away from God or put sinful/tempting thoughts into your head. That doesn't help you. And as I've said, you should keep your eyes on the good. The main problem I want to address is the holding up of Christian media as always good and superior when, in fact...90% of it kinda sucks.
That's really most of what I have to say on the matter.
Essentially it comes down to this, to me, pleading you to use your brain. Think for yourself. Support the Christ-centered media (and it's out there) that is valuable and truly well-done. If you're gifted in an artistic way, you can use your talents to create things that are well-done and take effort and honor God truly. And...I would almost encourage you to think long and hard about whether or not the Christian genre is a good thing at all.
That all depends on what we want to accomplish with it. Are we using it to hole up and hide from the world because the secular people have control of the media and we don't want to be part of what they're pumping out? Do we want to hide in our little communities and create our own little safe space of things that don't make us feel icky and make us feel like good Christians and better people? I think that's exactly what we're doing with that.
And I wholeheartedly protest.
Don't give up on the culture. If we believe that the current mainstream media is wrong, that it's pushing more and more harmful things by the day, why don't we try to get our own voices in there and take it back? Why are we content to hide from the world when we should be diving right into it and shining our light? And what, really, is "Christian" fiction? What is the point of the label?
In this broken person's humble opinion, if you're writing truth, Christ is going to come through. And that's going to be a thousand times more powerful than any cliche.