The following is a comment on my earlier post on Christian moviemaking and a response to it. My response to Erika’s comment was getting quite lengthy so I just decided to post the entire response as it’s own entry. Enjoy…
I’m curious. I saw the man’s crucifixion as the final action that not only confirmed all his preaching as relevant & true, but was the final action that spoke much louder than words (particularly seen in the camp leader fleeing from the sight in some sort of fear). What action could speak louder? I am curious also, since the film is based on actual events, if the crucifixion actually took place? If it did, we could hardly call it blasphemous.
What do you mean by action? What specifically are we missing? What more action would you like to see than Batman fighting for justice, and one man making the ultimate sacrifice for another who did not deserve it?
I agree that the action of Christ himself was an action that spoke louder than words(in fact the loudest) which incidentally is exactly why I was uncomfortable with the mimicking of it in the movie. Perhaps the reason I find it so uncomfortable is because they are simplifying the death that Christ died. Christ not only endured the Cross but physical and verbal torture prior to it. He endured the sins of the world being placed on him and utter humiliation. He was the only true example of injustice. When we have someone else dying by crucifixion in some sort of similar sacrificial motif, it is making a parody of it, whether it is serious or not. Simply, the man in the movie was no better ultimately speaking than one of the thieves on the crosses next to Christ. Both were sinful human beings just like the movie character. Would you consider elevating one of them(the thieves) as the ultimate example of sacrifice as blasphemous? I have no problem with him being a good guy, but simply put, I want to say ‘You are not the Son of God and so you aren’t worthy to die like the Son of God.’. Even if he was the preacher guy in the movie, he is no better off than the thieves on the cross. He was just as much in need of the grace of God than either one of them. As to whether or not it actually happened, I don’t know. However, I don’t understand how that would effect whether or not it was blasphemous. Peter obviously had some concern about it. And let me be clear, I am not making an argument against martyrs. I am however, trying to make a distinction between being Christ-like and being Christ. The definition of Christian is ‘little-Christ’ and no matter how far we are in our sanctification and no matter how much we do for the Kingdom of God, we are still as unworthy of the grace of God. The more I think about it, the more I think it should have and perhaps could have been a much more sinful but forgiven character which sacrificed himself. The martyrs throughout history have been painfully aware of their humanity and sinful flesh, something that was troublingly absent from the preacher character.
As far as specifics of what is missing, let me give you some Flannery O’Connor quotes. She speaks in reference to the Christian novelist, but I think a good bit of what she is saying can also apply to the philosophy of moviemaking. She says, “The sorry religious novel comes about when the writer supposes that because of his belief, he is somehow dispensed from the obligation to penetrate concrete reality.” She goes on to say, “His feeling about this may have made more definite by one of those Manichean-type theologies which sees the natural world as unworthy of penetration. But the real novelist, the one with an instinct for what he is about, knows that he cannot approach the infinite directly, that he must penetrate the natural human world as it is. The more sacramental his theology, the more encouragement he will get from it to do just that.” Christian movies have tended to shirk away from the grotesque of reality and instead have preferred a whitewashed ‘Leave it to Beaver’ character somehow experiencing a ‘radical’ conversion which instead comes off as tacky, preachy, and least of all subtle. Perhaps I simply think that Christians need to work on being a little more subtle in their moviemaking. It’s time the pagans get a little taste of their own medicine.