Last week, our book on engaging story, movies, image-bearing and our Creator published and is available here and on Amazon.com in print and Kindle 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, click here).
Act 2: Redefining Entertainment
or “how ‘mindless’ is just code for not minding God”
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 I’d attended in high school. I had occasion to chat up the pastor, and I asked him if he’d seen The Matrix, with all it’s amazing moments of metaphor and allegory. His response:
His response: “What do you mean?”
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 Trinity’s cinematic shootout in the lobby, though lacking the artistic poetry and probably so overeager that I can’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:
“Huh. Well, I just watch movies for entertainment.”
Suddenly I was Frodo Baggins, watching helplessly as Gandalf slipped out of sight with the Balrog, into the abyss. The crumpled body of Bambi’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 “blew it all up”.
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 Superman’s booming voice or orbit-shifting powers, I simply limped away. In my head, a thousand voices cried out in terror… and refused to be silenced. I knew there were about a million things inherently flawed in the pastor’s words—it sounded wrong, felt wrong, smelled wrong—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 don’t feel malice toward the pastor in question; if I had a flux capacitor and a predictable way to generate 1.21 jigawatts, I’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. I’d need to go further back than this, however, as the comment is endemic to culture and Christendom…