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May 27, 2009

'Dogma,' 'Life of Brian': Best Movies for Christians!

At least that's what one online list would have you believe

If you were making a list titled "100 All-Time Best Movies for Christians," where would you start?

Probably not with the blasphemous Dogma, in which one character, a woman working at an abortion clinic, is allegedly the last living descendant of Christ. And probably not with the scathingly satirical (some would say heretical) Life of Brian.

And yet ChristianColleges.com has posted a list with those two films--and many more head-scratchers--at its site. The posting goes on to say that its list includes movies that "are a great way to affirm faith," going so far as to call the films in its list "Christian movies."

Huh? Dead Poet's Society, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and The Last Temptation of Christ are "Christian movies"? Yowza.

Check out the whole list here.

Comments

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While I agree, I wouldn't call them "Christian" movies (literally, movies that are "like Christ"), I agree that they ARE movies that all Christians should see in order to, if nothing else, exegete what the REST of the world views as "Christian". "Last Temptation of Christ", decried as blasphemous by numerous evangelical groups at the time of it's release, is actually a VERY good portrayal of Christ as "fully human". We have a tendency, in evangelical circles, to stress Jesus attribute of "fully God" but we are uncomfortable with the idea that Christ was tempted in EVERY way we were. As Michael Hardin, a recent speaker at our church put it, it's the difference between "Jesus was not able to sin" versus "Jesus was able not to sin."

A fully human AND fully divine Jesus was "able NOT to sin". A partially human Jesus is "not able to sin". The point of Jesus as the full revelation of God is NOT that he was physically incapable of sinning, but that, because of having that fully divine nature, his fully human nature was able to completely resist sin. Fully tempted, but able to refrain from sinful acts. "Last Temptation" emphasizes this in a VERY uncomfortable way... but at the same time it is comforting to recognize that, if we strive to be like Christ, even in the WORST temptation, we too can be "able not to sin."

Actually, I would argue that one of the main problems with The Last Temptation of Christ is that it doesn't understand what it means to be "fully human". As film scholar Lloyd Baugh puts it, Scorsese represents Jesus "not only with a low christology, but with a very low anthropology, so low that he almost ceases to be normally human."

As for Monty Python's Life of Brian (one of my ten favorite movies of all time, incidentally), one person who would definitely call it "heretical" is director Terry Jones; on the DVD's audio commentary, he says the film is not "blasphemous" but it is "heretical", because it does not mock or attack Jesus, but it does subvert traditional beliefs about him.

While I can't recommed seeing all of "Life of Brian", there is much in it for Christians to think about. One of my favorite scenes is where the crowd is chasing Brian and he loses his shoe. Those who are chasing him grab the shoe and seeing it as a sign from God call themselves the "Shoeites", others disagree that it is a sandle and separate into a new denomination of "Sandleites". So often we have chased after the wrong things and missed the Real Christ. Monty Python is here using the same method that Jesus used to question the religious practices of His day.

I've yet to see Life of Brian or even Fireproof, yet I'm still trying to figure out how the rather unwatchable "The Omega Code" is both on the list and listed as "Historical."

Have evangelicals ever made a good movie? The Left Behind movies were trash, never mind the fact that they dramatize the heretical Rapture doctrine. Fireproof was nauseating. I can't think of a good evangelical movie.

I agree that this list is disagreeable, but where's yours? I'd love to see a long list of worthwhile Christian films (films with Christian themes?) from the CT staff.

I find the incomparable "Babette's Feast" painfully absent from the list. Even though the original story was penned by a woman raised Unitarian it presents the liberating power of grace in a way that is incredibly touching and also presents the entrapment of legalism as I have never viewed in any other film. I also feel the ending of "Places in the Heart" makes it a must for all those who wish to delve further into the subject of grace.

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