Christian films are, by and large, terrible. The writing is terrible, the dialogue is terrible, and the special effects, if any, are cheap and minimal. They try to hard to be “hip” and “with it,” causing them to fail spectacularly. There is no sense of self-awareness or any desire to answer difficult questions, so many ventures boil down to flimsy affirmations and comforting pity parties over supposed religious persecution, all because they can’t force all children to pray in schools. If you’re drinking, take a sip for all of these being present in a film, and one extra if there is at least one jerk “atheist” character.
I say “atheist” in air quotes because oftentimes, it’s a character who does in fact believe in God, but is mad at him for some reason. Note to the writers: that’s not atheism. That’s called misotheism.
C Me Dance, God’s Not Dead, Left Behind, I’m Not Ashamed. They remind me of environmental movies. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, we were inundated with film after film about man destroying the planet, with humans fitting into one of three categories: man who has “seen the light,” man who has yet to “see the light,” and evil man. Misguided humans had a chance of redemption, but otherwise, you were either with nature or actively fighting against it. No shades of grey, and no subtlety.
It’s a shame to me to see this happen to Christian films. I was raised as an Episcopalian, and the strongest lesson in my memory has always been “love thy neighbor as thyself.” My church focused less on “repent ye sinners” and more on the idea of being kind to one another, encouraging us to make the Earth a loving place on par with Heaven itself.
I have also seen some very good and interesting movies based on Bible stories, such as The Prince of Egypt and The Ten Commandments. Comparing the effort that was put into those films with the slog of awful, cheap pandering films that have come out in recent years feels like comparing a fillet mignon steak with a Hungry Man T.V. dinner.
Even something like Oh God was less preachy and demonizing, mostly because it could be genuinely funny. And God was just so likable!
It made suggestions for interpreting God’s motivations and laws, and didn’t paint its skeptical lead character too harshly, or too positively after he started to really believe. Its tone was curious and wondering, seeking to understand what a massive, enigmatic figure might be thinking about His creations, whereas Pure Flix movies and their ilk want you to never question God.
As someone who still considers herself a Christian, I don’t want weaksauce pandering. I don’t want to see wimpy arguments and enemies being straw-manned just to make myself feel superior. I actually like difficult questions and being made to think about what I am being given, though I am sure that is not to everyone’s taste. But still, could we maybe try a little harder? Make an actually compelling argument, outside of “Christianity good, everything else bad because we say so”?
Really, these movies are prime wish-fulfillment. The makers and their audiences want to believe that they are the good guys, and that anyone who opposes them is just bitter and Devil-enabled, trying to block their righteous path. They see the world as an awful place full of sin and temptation; you know, violent video games and sexually-charged media and the like. They want wholesome, family entertainment, but hey, maybe they’ll find a Christian rock band to throw in there to give it the barest facsimile of “coolness.” That way they can draw in the kiddies, and pretend that they aren’t completely out-of-touch with the world they fear so much.
On some level, I get it. I understand that times and standards are constantly changing, and that can be scary. But it also speaks of a level of selfishness, wanting things to stay exactly the way they are, and only wanting their own religious beliefs to be catered to and validated. My biggest issue with modern Christianity is how many of its practitioners seek to control people and stamp out any dissent, any questioning of authority or text. Some of them also use their faith as a status symbol, propelling them above the rest of their fellow men because they are “God’s chosen people.” That is not what I was raised to value, and when I see how much actual persecution occurs in the name of Christianity, it makes me sick and angers me deep down in my core.
Christian movies are bad now because they’re hypocritical. They attack science as if it’s some kind of faith that people blindly follow, instead of replicable, established series of theories and experiments. They attack atheists and non-believers for being rude and mean without a word about how many Christians snub those outside of their circles. They want to be able to preach in schools, but God help you if someone of Muslim or Hindu faith requested the same privilege. These films don’t understand basic laws or structures, put in place just as much to protect them as to limit them. They just want to cry persecution and smirk smugly when their characters win in the end.
What was once a decent enough sub-genre is now a ghetto of thought and creativity. There are also some pretty unsettling ideas about gender roles in there too, as you might imagine.
In my opinion, tested faith is stronger and more substantial than blind faith. Conversion by well-reasoned arguments is so much better than that by threats of death and hellfire. If you really want to convert more people, think of how to appeal to their curiosity, and the critical side of their brain.
Well, that, and don’t be a pompous jerk about it.