Last week, our book on engaging story, movies, image-bearing and our Creator published and is availableÂ hereÂ and onÂ Amazon.comÂ inÂ printÂ andÂ KindleÂ editions. We’ll be posting an excerpt from each chapter to give a little taste of what you can expect (to start with the chapter one excerpt,Â click here).
Act 2: Redefining Entertainment
or â€œhow â€˜mindlessâ€™ is just code for not minding Godâ€
Scene 2: Maximus Returns Home
I had that new believer zeal (the spiritual equivalent of new car smell) and found myself bursting with enthusiasm when I visited the old church Iâ€™d attended in high school. I had occasion to chat up the pastor, and I asked him if heâ€™d seen The Matrix, with all itâ€™s amazing moments of metaphor and allegory. His response:
His response:Â â€œWhat do you mean?â€
Without thinking (did he really not know? Was he testing me?) I simply launched into a sweeping proclamation of the story similarities, a verbal rapid-fire to match Neo and Trinityâ€™s cinematic shootout in the lobby, though lacking the artistic poetry and probably so overeager that I canâ€™t promise it was intelligible. After flailing through the two-hour movie in about two-minutes like Shia LeBeouf on crack, I stopped to breathlessly await a reply from my childhood spiritual leader. Looking perplexed, nonplussed, and patronizing, he scratched his head and asserted:
â€œHuh. Well, I just watch movies for entertainment.â€
Suddenly I was Frodo Baggins, watching helplessly as Gandalf slipped out of sight with the Balrog, into the abyss. The crumpled body of Bambiâ€™s mother lay next to him at the bottom along with the charred corpses of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. I was Superman circa 1979, staring at the crushed and filthy body of Lois Lane, holding her helplessly on a dusty road. I was Luke Skywalker finding out his true parentage. I was George Taylor on the beach, beating the ground and cursing beneath the shadow of Lady Liberty that they â€œblew it all upâ€.
Impotent, powerless, all my spiritual vitality and passion had just been rendered useless, inert. I wanted to tip back my head and cry out with an agony that would echo around the world. Better yet, I wanted my fervor to erupt through my clothes with the fury of a hulking green monster that would smash that pastor’s statement forever.
Ultimately, lacking Supermanâ€™s booming voice or orbit-shifting powers, I simply limped away. In my head, a thousand voices cried out in terrorâ€¦ and refused to be silenced. I knew there were about a million things inherently flawed in the pastorâ€™s wordsâ€”it sounded wrong, felt wrong, smelled wrongâ€”but I lacked the words to call it out. A still voice in the back of my head told me to spend the rest of my life explaining how horrifically short-sighted, dichotomous, and dangerous his statement was, the cancer and poison it represented to his listeners: a T-Virus from Resident Evil in the bodies, minds, and souls of Christians and non-Christians alike.
I donâ€™t feel malice toward the pastor in question; if I had a flux capacitor and a predictable way to generate 1.21 jigawatts, Iâ€™d Marty McFly my way back to that moment and strike up a meaningful conversation with him, leaping Sam Beckett style to set right what once went wrong. Iâ€™d need to go further back than this, however, as the comment is endemic to culture and Christendom…