Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Here We Are Now, Entertain Us (Part 1)

A dichotomy has arisen in the last few decades among the moral majority, and as a result many among us have missed out on some of the greatest storytelling in generations. Nakedness, alcohol, drugs, swearing, sex, violence, wizardry and homosexuality are all frowned upon by the Christian elite. Keep it out of their movies and TV shows, off the streets and billboards, but for Christ's sake, leave it in the Bible. As defined by the Urban Dictionary the Bible is "an ancient novel full of murder, corruption, homosexuality, bestiality, incest and cruelty. It is often read to children on Sunday."

You wouldn't believe the lengths that the Christians have gone to in order to keep the very stuff they object to in Hollywood, right smack dab in the middle of the Bible. Scribe after scribe, council after council, crusade after crusade, martyr after martyr, philandering televangelist after philandering televangelist, all of these folks, seriously vigilant about making sure the story of King David's harems (2 Samuel 5:13) and Samuel's genocide (I Samuel 15) is told with gusto. Sordid affairs involving prostitution and incest (Genesis 19), detailed portrayals of violence involving a disemboweling (2 Samuel 20:9-10) and some beheadings (Matthew 14:3-12), and one amazing story of angels having sex with women to create a giant race of humans called Nephalim (Genesis 6:1-4). All of this and more is part of every Christian's heritage. Don't mess. Seriously, don't mess with the Bible, unless you want to go to hell. Haha. just kidding, sort of (Revelation 22:19).

Here in lies the dichotomy: Rejecting the function of immorality in storytelling, but accepting it within our spiritual heritage.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) puts a rating on almost every movie we watch in the theaters. Movie promoters live and die by these ratings, because one extra curse word could push a "PG-13" to an "R" and drop the expected revenue by 50%. By this logic, one could argue that Christians shot themselves in the foot when it came to marketing their famous book. If there were a movie made that encompassed ever story in the Bible, I'm confident that it would receive a worse rating than NC-17. They would have to make up a rating like 40-EGA-21 (Elderly Guidance for Adults: No admittance to anyone under 21 and those over 21 must be accompanied by someone over 40). The Bible may be God's Word, but try bringing the movie version to Sunday School. Eat that scroll, Enid Strict!

Who doesn't love a good story, whether its from the Bible or the theater or a good book. There are some mind-blowing stories out there in our world. Several come to our minds immediately, and everyone has a favorite, Treasure Island, The Conversion of Saul, Ben Hur, The Matrix, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. Most of those favorites include some realistic curse words, violence, or even some nudity.  I would argue that these are variables within each story that actually make it great.

Who appreciates the beauty of the outdoors more than the man in a solitary confinement? Who appreciates riches more than the man who grew up poor? Who appreciates life more than the man who almost died? Exactly. Sometimes you have to see hell to appreciate the beauty on the other side. Story-tellers take us through these hellish situations to help us appreciate the final outcome. The End. Denouement. Resolution. Catastrophe. I call it "The Payoff". That's when you know if the journey that the story took you on was worth it or not. Did it payoff well or not so well? Speaking of the Bible, again, it wouldn't be worth it's weight in shekels if it wasn't for the payoff at the end.

Do you think that people working on a movie with a superbly gory scene are bloodthirsty heathens? No. They are wholesome people with families and kids and Sunday school classes just like you and me, that are part of putting together a good story. Do you think the author who vividly describes a rape scene to his reader is a closet sexual deviant? No. He's telling a story, building up the emotion to bring it all home for a great read. Do you think the people who wrote those disturbing stories in the Bible were creepy lunatics? No. They were normal people for their day and age, putting together the greatest story ever told.

To him who has an ear let him hear, the morality portrayed in a story should not be relegated to a single line or even a single scene but the art as a whole, except, of course if it is blatantly obscene or pornographic.* So, don't give up on a story, based on a few bad words or some splattering blood. It might just be the Bible.


*(Legal definition of obscene: an act, utterance, or item tending to corrupt the public morals by its indecency or lewdness.)


  1. Entertainment vs. instruction is more the issue to me. I read the Bible for instruction, i watch movies for entertainment. A lot of the stories in the Bible were written to record events that happened, not just to give people chills around a campfire. I don't think a debate on the historical accuracy of the Bible is in order, but it's intent is still instruction. You approach an educational situation with a different mindset than you do an entertainment situation.

    1. you bring up a valid point. instruction is the primary roll of the bible. it would be so boring, without all those stories though, if only it had pictures. I like reading the books with pictures the most.