March 24, 2009
Christian films short on Christian substance
So says the AFN about two new church-produced movies
The One Lamb and C Me Dance, two new films made by churches and hoping to follow in the footsteps of church-produced box-office hits Fireproof and Facing the Giants, both fall short in delivering the goods, according to a recent story by American Family News.
AFN says it "appreciates the efforts of these films but believes both fall far short of fulfilling what a film can do to illustrate the gospel to a non-believer and at the same time be family-friendly for Christian viewers. Both goals can be accomplished, as illustrated by films from Sherwood Productions [the production arm of the Georgia Baptist church that made Fireproof and Facing the Giants].
AFN notes that The One Lamb, unrated by the MPAA, "is flawed primarily by its frequent profanity. In the first 30 minutes, God’s name is used in vain twice and nine other profanities occur. Occasional profanities occur throughout the rest of the film."
FWIW, I personally don't have much of a problem with profanity in a film IF it's realistic in its portrayal. If a character isn't a Christian and has a foul mouth, I would expect him/her to be portrayed that way; of all people, Christians -- including Christian filmmakers -- should tell the truth, even in depicting reality. If that makes the film less "family-friendly," so be it. But the truth should be told.
Now, I haven't seen The One Lamb (I saw the trailer and wasn't impressed), but the profanity criticism alone wouldn't "disqualify" it for me. But the AFN goes on to say, "One other questionable scene, clearly intended as comic relief, has a group of African-American women at a Bible study at Earl’s kitchen table. They ogle, leer, and make suggestive remarks to a shirtless Jack, begging him to take it all off. It is an unfortunate, disrespectful caricature of the African-American Christian."
Wow. That's astounding, and totally uncalled for. The fact that the film was made in the South -- at a church in Charlotte, NC -- won't help when critics note this instance of what can certainly be perceived as racism.
Meanwhile, C Me Dance, made by a church in Pennsylvania, has serious theological issues, according to the AFN. The film is about Sheri, a "Christian teen who wants to reach her friends and community with the gospel after she is diagnosed with terminal cancer. The only problem is that she doesn’t actually preach the gospel, which raises theological concerns.
"While Sheri is said to have been granted special powers by God for winning the lost, the manifestation of that power seems akin to occult practices. Standing behind the pulpit, she communicates by telepathy with the congregation; then, people are shown apparently coming to Christ."
The story goes on to note that Sheri "is also able to communicate the reality of the crucifixion of Jesus merely by touching people on the hand, at which time they see an image of Christ being nailed to the cross. In at least one instance, Sheri merely stares into the eyes of hostile classmates and causes them to leave her alone. . . . [Evangelism] must somehow articulate the message of the gospel clearly. And it certainly cannot be done by means that approach the forbidden line of the occult."
From where I sit, such concerns sound legit.