One of the things that really struck me from the movie “End of the Spear” was that in the Waodani language, there is no word for forgiveness. The concept was so foreign to that culture that no word had ever been coined. In our Christian culture we have the word but we too often lack the ability to apply it. One of the joys of writing these daily ramblings is hearing from readers who are blessed or challenged by something I have written. Occasionally someone takes time out of their busy schedule to tell me I am an idiot. Isn’t it a waste of time to tell an idiot that he is an idiot? How can an idiot comprehend that? But I digress. The communications that are really hard for me are the ones from people who have been wounded by other people in the church or by church leaders. Those break my heart and such messages arrive far too often. Today was such a day.
Any article entitled “Evangelicals Miss the Big Picture” will get my attention. So I delved into the piece in USA Today with great interest. The writer is William Romanowski, a film studies professor at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Romanowski surmised that ”evangelicals can influence Hollywood, but their efforts would be more effective and better received if they focused on cultural discourse, not religious conversion.” Hmmm. Discuss.
Here are some excerpts from Professor Romanowski’s essay. My commentary is italicized.
The Passion’s numbers were an eye-opener for Hollywood. Now, movies with clear religious themes such as Constantine, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and even those without any sort of explicit Christian connection, such as Cinderella Man or The Greatest Game Ever Played, are being pitched by studios to reach the “Christian” market. More specifically, the target is those evangelicals who embraced The Passion with such enthusiasm. Consumers are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on religious books and Christian-themed music. The film industry wants to cultivate this market. The problem Hollywood faces as it seeks to maximize this potential audience is that “evangelical” Christians are not easy to define.
I feel your pain. The term Evangelical broadly categorizes Christians with vastly different philosophies but, in theory at least, the same distinct theology. It is our inability to unify over the core beliefs that confuses our message.
A recent MarketCast study co-sponsored by Variety magazine found religious and non-religious people “nearly indistinguishable in their attitudes” about moviegoing, according to a Variety article reporting the results. In fact, these religious folks seem to have a penchant for the sentimental, the melodramatic and the violent (of course that puts them pretty much in the mainstream of American taste in entertainment).
Anyone who has criticized George Barna’s research should send him an apology today. This is what Mr.Barna has been preaching for years. Our faith is making little difference in our day to day existence so our message falls on disinterested ears. Jesus should make a difference. When we show that others will listen.
A simple new test is designed to calculate the odds for me being alive in four years. That’s right. I can tally my score for the twelve predictive categories and decide if that five year bond is really a good idea. So I took the test and the results are in.
I suppose that most writers perceive themselves as wordsmiths. But most of us merely arrange previously coined words. What a thrill it must be to actually create a word and see it become a part of the lexicon. The Seinfeld television show was known for inventing new words and phrases that are now in common usage. I was reminded of that this week when I read a survey about the phenomenon of regifting. Regift is a verb and means “to give an unwanted gift to someone else; to give as a gift something one previously received as a gift.” (dictionary.com) That term, as well as the noun regifter, were first used in a Seinfeld episode from 1995 called The Label Maker. Seinfeldians will recall this dialogue…
I recently posted a rather fanciful look at how “man’s best friend” could teach Christians a lot about evangelism. I was heartened and bit surprised at the level of response to that article (Canine School of Evangelism). Apparently there are a lot of dog lovers embedded into the Evangelical community and that gives me hope for the church!
The star of the most recent post featured our rescued lab/mix Hannah. This is not a posed photo. At any given time around our household Hannah will come waltzing up with the three tennis balls in her big mouth and download them one by one onto your lap for playtime.
My first reaction to the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) yesterday was to start brainstorming ideas to help. For example, if Christian television preachers and hosts/hostesses voluntarily switched from hairspray to gel I think that would make a big difference in the size of the ozone hole. Maybe the megachurches could start a hybrid bus ministry to save precious fossil fuel for the people that drive over twenty miles to go to their churches instead of local churches. Perhaps the biggest contribution the evangelical community can make is to reduce the volume of hot air generated over philosophical issues that are not critical to essential message of Christianity.
To all of my Christian brothers and sisters…
I love you all like, well, brothers and sisters. But it is time for us to have a family conference. Next time you are really concerned about my health, hard drive, or soul could I request that you just pray for me instead of forwarding dire e-mail warnings? I don’t want to appear ungrateful but I have to agree with this note I received recently from my friends C&C.