Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Guest Post: Christopher of There and Blog Again



Well, here we have our winner of December's Script-A-Month! Christopher was kind enough to write a guest post for us, on the subject of what, as a Christian, makes a book or movie something he would want to recommend. 


[Note: the views expressed are his, not necessarily mine. But they are very wise, nevertheless!]


Again, please welcome Christopher! And read on :]

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When you're looking at various books, or movies, it's hard to lay down hard and fast rules about what you can and can't watch. Obviously, there are some movies that aren't age-appropriate, but is following the ratings always the way to go? I'm 13, and I've seen The King's Speech, an R rated movie. I've seen Super 8, which should have gotten an R rating, but yet I still like those two movies. I've read things that contain words, beliefs, or actions that I don't agree with. Percy Jackson and Harry Potter are just two. But should I read and watch those things?

Like I said before, it's not the best idea, in my view, to set down hard and fast rules. This wouldn't work because, if I have a rule that says that if there are 3 curse words in a book I'm going to put it down, what if a very good book comes along, one that shows good vs. evil, but yet has flawed characters? Do I read it?

Here are a couple of verses to keep in mind as you are reading this post.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5

"I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless." Psalm 101:2

"As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand."

"One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's." Romans 14: 1-8

Just as a little note, I myself am only beginning to look at this vast subject. The following is where I am now, but my views may change. Right now, though, this is my conclusion. I'm not going to deal with individual issues, but look at deciding as a whole.

I should add here, how important it is to have your parents help you in these matters. They are older than any of you, and they have seen so much more than you have. They've watched you grow up, and they know what's best. Maybe you might think a book is alright to read, but they know it's not. Always submit to them. The Proverbs constantly talk about how the old have wisdom. Take advantage of that, and learn from it. And if your parents say "no" to a book, know that it's for a reason; you may not understand that reason now, but someday you will, and you will thank your parents for saying that.

First off you and your parents need to decide if what you're reading has anything redeeming about it. Is it a book filled with bad writing, stock plot and characters? Even if there isn't anything "wrong" with it morally, that still may be setting worthless things in front of your eyes. So let's assume for the moment that the book you're considering does have good in it, or so you've heard. But you've also heard that there's some bad language, and a good bit of violence. Do you read it?

The answer is: it depends. Here's how I judge a book or movie: If the book shows forth Christ's redeeming power in sinners, or if the book displays characters that seek to do right; if I can see Christ's perfection in some form through this book, then I will begin to consider it. Say this book has some Language. I'll ask the question, is the language so frequent that it drowns out the good of the book? For violence, I tweak the question a little bit. I ask, is the violence in the book necessary, and if not, is the violence over the top? What is over the top? Again, it depends.

Maybe you're starting to see a pattern. I'll say it right now. Each book, for me, is a judgement call. Personally, I believe that if God hasn't forbidden it, or directed us away from it, than we are allowed to do it. I believe that I could, if I was mature enough (which I'm not) read Twilight. Would I, though? Probably not. But here's the thing. There's good in Twilight. There's good in Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, and all those books. There is good in them. How do I know? Because it's impossible for there not to be.

This world belongs to God, and he is the ruler of everyone and everything. He sustains and upholds the universe. Therefore, in everything his perfection will be shown forth.

Let's take a book like Eragon. I believe this book is an absolute, and complete exercise in plagiarism, and is not a good book in the least sense of the word. I read Eragon almost completely unawares as to what it contained. I had gotten some information from trusted friends and they told me that there wasn't anything overtly "bad" about it. And they were right. Ethically speaking they were right; but that's not the point. The point is that if I had known what was coming I probably wouldn't have read it. While morally it was alright (for the most part, there were still some very questionable things in there), writing wise, and value wise it was hardly worth it. Yet I would read it again. Not willingly, but I would. Because even in Eragon I saw Christ. I see him more in something like Lord of the Rings. But I still saw him in Eragon–and that's why I'm not sad that I read it.

The point I'm trying to make here is simple. In this corrupted, evil, dark world that we live in there are going to be bad things. You and I are going to hear and see things as we grow older that are horrendous and completely sinful. We can't escape that. But we don't have to. I recently reviewed Lois Lowry's The Giver on my blog. In it, the main character is shielded from everything around him, and the entire community in which he lives is hiding in fear from what is outside. They are hiding from sin. But we, as Christians, with the promise that we will never be forsaken, don't have to hide. "There is good in this world, and it's worth fighting for," Sam says in The Two Towers. That scene always hits home with me. When Frodo and Sam are surrounded by the wreckage that is Osgiliath, and there seems to be no hope, Sam realizes that "It's only a passing thing, this Shadow. Even darkness must pass, and when it does the light will shine out the clearer."

We are guarded, and protected and we are called to go into the world and spread the light of the Gospel. And one of the ways you can do that is to respond to what is in the world. Don't hide from it; don't cower in the dark like there's not light. Confront the darkness in this world and in the things this world produces. But find the light, and point that out. You can be taught by many things. Maybe a wizard with a wand can teach someone something. Courage, honor, valor, and the power of love. I see all of these and more in Harry Potter. That's why I like it. Do those characters do things I don't agree with? Of course! So does the world. What are you going to do? Build a bubble around yourself and hide from everything? Is that confronting the evil that is in this world, and overcoming it?

You and I and the rest of the 7 billion other people on this planet sin. We "have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." But as Christians we don't have to fear that sin. We can go forward and confront this sin, and we can fight it. We can take the good things in the popular literature and media of the day and amplify it. Whenever I'm at school and I engage in a discussion about Harry Potter I always try and bring up one of the true, or noble, or honorable things in it. But this is just so that I can help people see the greater story in who's shadow Harry Potter lives. The ultimate novel. The novel being written write now, this second.

The novel that all other stories are mere reflections of.

Want to know what Harry Potter, Twilight, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, and any other book, movie, TV show, game, and anything else that you can think of all have in common?

They all live under the same shadow.

They all reside, under the beautiful, redeeming, powerful, and life-changing shadow of the cross.

And so do we.

Note: Like I said at the beginning, this a vast and difficult subject to study through. I am only beginning to scratch the surface myself, and am constantly looking for ways to improve my views, and come to more fully understand how we discern as Christians what we do or do not read and watch. Your comments and questions are appreciated, as they will help me see other views, and shape mine as I learn more. 



***


Thank you again so much, Christopher!


You can visit him at http://thereandblogagain.com

3 comments:

Hannah Joy said...

Awesome post, Chris. It definitely is food for thought. Phillipians 4:8 is a good one to look at, and the one I usually turn to when it comes to thought or what we are putting into our heads. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

Farjag said...

Excellent post, Master Christopher! I would definitely agree.

And I have to ditto your verse, Hannah, that's one of my favorites.

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