Our kids have been out of town this week, and so I’ve found
myself in movie theaters more often than in the last eight years. I love movies
– not just popping in a video but going to a theater, gathering with a crowd of
people --alone or with a friend,sitting
in that darkness and letting a story overtake me. My to-do list falls away and
there is nothing but the story, maybe some popcorn, and a visual feast. And
when it’s over, if it’s good people might even applaud.
I’m always astounded, too, by how many people will pay a
fair amount of money for the experience, not just once a year (like me) but
seemingly all the time. And then, when the daylight hits and I’m back to my own
daily existence, I think, my goodness – how can the church possibly compete
Of course there are churches that are trying to compete with
that. Some are creating their own Hollywood
feature length films.Others are trying
to import the big screen and the theater seating to their churches. But I’ve
never seen a church that can hold a candle to the real movie experience – if
we’re judging the experience by Motion Picture Academy standards.Yes, maybe they get a few good pictures in, or pull at your heartstrings with some 3rd world children, but they're not telling a story as well as the big screen.
We are a visual people, whose desires are highly shaped by
what we see.
"When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and
pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took
some and ate it."
We see it. We want it. We gotta have it. And
if “it” is redemption by violence, as most action pictures give us, is it any
wonder we are at war? And if “it” is romantic love at first sight, is it any
wonder our culture settles for serial monogamy instead of lifelong faithfulness?If “it” is comedy that invites us to laugh at
the expense of the weak, or the fat, or the old, is it any wonder that our
sense of respect for the other is eroded?
Before I start to sound like a culture-bashing “Hollywood liberals are the problem” conservative, let me
point out that I’m not. I like movies (some of them). I’m not opposed to
stories that show the breadth of our human experience. But I despair at the
idea that the church can beat our media culture at its own desire-inducing
We think we need to see something in order to want it. We
love something, therefore we treasure it. But Jesus reverses that order. “Where
your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”First we treasure it, then our heart follows.
First we treasure it. We treat it with dignity. We put it in
a place of honor. We pay attention to it. We protect it. And then, we discover
that our hearts have followed. That it is our treasure.
It's been a month since our mission trip to southwest Minnesota. A couple thoughts since then:
Jeff Reed, a fellow blogger from outstate, responded this way to my last post:
"I must be honest
though that I was a bit disappointed with your last entry. You mentioned
the wind, something that has driven those of us that live on the prairie crazy
since the beginning of time. You also mentioned that it was a reminder that
there isn't much between us and the Rocky Mountains. I realize that
you're speaking about the wind, but unfortunately that's also the prevailing
attitude with regard to the land and the people that live here.
Statements like that perpetuate the myth that there isn't anything here of
value, that the land and the people don't really matter. I believe it is
precisely because of that myth that our agricultural system is what it is
today; we can do anything we want to the land and the people of the plains
because after all it is "fly over" territory. Ironically I
think that's what your trip was to demonstrate that it isn't just "fly
over" terrritory, that the people here and the land do indeed
To which I can only say, "yes!" I in no way intended to say that there's not much of value between the prairie and the Rockies -- only that the wind's strength points out how flat the landscape is. Is it valuable? Absolutely! You don't see the Rocky Mountains providing lots of food, do you? So, my apologies for any unintended slight to the wonderful inhabitants of these wide open spaces.
Secondly, I've heard back from a number of parents about the impact of this mission trip, which was the closest and cheapest that our congregation has conducted for some time. I'm hearing reports of label-reading at the grocery store and lots of thought going into where our food comes from. You don't have to go far to learn a lot. Thanks again to everyone at Shalom Hill!