Hollywood. Evangelicals. Running On Empty. Dr. Seuss

Last night I appeared on a panel about “The Passion” with Rabbi Daniel Lapin and film critic Jeffrey Overstreet. It is amazing how film has suddenly become ¢â‚¬Ëœhot’ in Christian circles. Christianity Today featured a discussion about evangelicals’ dicey relationship with Hollywood and just launched a new online movie review site. Publishers are starting to pump out books on faith and film, like Craig Detweiler’s Matrix of Meanings. I just got a review copy of “Praying through the Movies.” TV is focusing on our teens as the “pop culture bellwether.” Hollywood film promoter Jonathan Bock called yesterday and raised a great question: where will Hollywood go next given the extraordinary success of Gibson’s movie? One thing is already clear, they want to market religious films to you and they took out full page ads THIS week for the Chronicles of Narnia to be released in December.

While I am pleased with attention to faith as it relates to culture, personally I am concerned that Christian propagandist’s will see this as an opportunity to ¢â‚¬Ëœexploit’ Hollywood’s interest in this new market niche. Inspired and excelling Artists with a Christian worldview is what we need but our veering from a stance towards culture ranging from combat to conformity has not bred a generation of authentic artists devoted to both Christ and craft. Instead we’ve bred combatants, mindless consumers and imitative wanna-be-artists. We need the creativity of a Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss).

Having spent the last 40 years thinking about faith and popular culture I find myself wanting to go deeper in faith. Fil Anderson just wrote book titled “Running on Empty.” You can read the transcript and listen to (or download) the audio. One thing he said was frightening and too accurate of today’s evangelicals. “I learned in church, if you keep busy people will seldom question your knowledge or effectiveness.” I am reminded of an old Danniebelle Hall song, “busy, busy people, get busy for God!” Before we get busy we should go deep and allow God to direct our steps. I fear Hollywood running on empty is meeting evangelicals running on empty. In our moment of great opportunity we have little to offer.

Remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For now).

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