Excerpts from “Meaning at the Movies” by Grant Horner
September 10, 2012 § Leave a comment
“The Lord God has created almost innumerable elements of this world for us to experience, and he has also given us minds sensitive to his fingerprints, which are everywhere visible throughout his creation (Romans 1:19-20). Making man in his own image, as a being who is intelligent, emotional, creative, and capable of perception, memory, imagination, and anticipation shows a particular aspect of God’s will for us: he wants us to experience things. He wants us to think, to feel, to create, to enjoy, to remember, imagine, and hope. He wants us to do all these things within the boundaries of his care, his holiness, and his will (1 Corinthians 10:23-33). His goal is not simply for us to have experiences, but to choose experiences and to respond to experiences in such a way that we grow more and more obedient to him (Philippians 4:8). He desires for us to desire to live lives that please and glorify him, and thus to edify ourselves and each other—which will in turn bring us the pleasure of obedience. Obedience to God is the greatest pleasure there is. He wants us to make right choices by acknowledging his rule in our hearts and his will for our lives.
So what do Christians “do” with movies? Should we act the same about movies as those who do not know the God of the universe?
Like everything else in human life, a radically different approach to film is necessary for believers. Non-Christians will generally have as primary motivations for film-watching entertainment, pleasure, vicarious living, an event to share with friends or loved ones, and so forth. For the believer, every moment is is an important decision; some of these decisions will please God, and others will please only ourselves. We need to increasingly choose the former over the latter. Our primary goal should be to please God; and if God is what he claims to be, then the same decisions will result in our pleasure as well as his. Every scrap of our experience needs to be rooted in a consciousness of the presence of God. We do not move through one existential moment to another, seeking meaning only in ourselves. Those who love God are eternal beings, and every decision makes a mark on eternity.” pg. 59
“Some Christians fear all art and creativity, but without biblical warrant. We should avoid sin, not beauty and thoughtfulness, design and craft; we must resist evil, not every form of pleasure or enjoyment. Contrary to what some Christians think, there is not a bizarre kind of virtue in ugliness! How many churches have you been in that were tacky, ugly, or featured some lowbrow aesthetic? Or made every attempt to eliminate anything that might engage the sense, which God made? God does not expect or desire that you leave anything at the church door but your rebellion. He wants your mind, your body, your personality, your emotions, and yes—your aesthetic capability.
A basic thesis of this book is that for effective interpretation and discernment, the viewer must be able to decode a film’s worldview—it’s controlling philosophical position. Film, like all art, is open to varying interpretation. It is an untenable argument to claim that any film or other work of art has only one single valid level and range of meaning. Experiencing art is clearly a subjective event, and the very process of interpretation, which for the Christian should involve worldview analysis and discernment, is an opportunity for the Christian to exercise God-honoring discernment.” pg.60-61
This book was written by my college professor and family friend, Grant Horner. I highly recommend it, particularly to young people, their parents, and people my age!