Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Dark Knight

Last week my family and I – because we truly enjoyed the movie “Batman Begins” - went to see the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight.” While the movie was well done, we all left feeling somewhat emotionally empty and bruised in spirit. We tend to watch movies looking either for qualities that reflect God-centered values or themes that are redemptive in nature. It was hard to find either one in this movie.

Personally I am shocked that the movie is so popular. The best theme that came to mind as I watched pointed to nothing more than having faith in people in times of pain and struggle. Yet the unrestrained corruption and evil of the fallen human heart the film reveals does not allow for such a faith – which followers of Jesus Christ already know to be true. While the film could be used as a springboard for discussing total depravity (which is clear in this movie) – it’s hard to see beyond that. I initially thought about seeing the movie again, to try again to see if I missed something. Yet I’m not sure it’s even worth the price of a ticket to do so. If I want to see that kind of depravity, I can just turn on my television and watch the news. Here are a few blog thoughts from others on this issue:
Ray Ortland, Pastor of Immanuel Church in White Pike, Nashville:

Last night, on a whim, Jani and I went to a late-night showing of the new Batman film. Some of my favorite people in all the world liked it. But I left vowing not to go back to the movies for the foreseeable future. . . .

Then the movie itself. Visually stimulating. Technologically impressive. Hollywood has fast-forwarded a gazillion years since my favorite films by Steve McQueen and John Wayne. But peel off the layers of glittering presentation, and what's actually there? A ripping good yarn. I grant that. But not much else. In fact, it comes down to a lie of human idealization being passed off on the public because they're supposed to be better off thinking the lie. That violates everything I believe. I learned nothing. I was not enriched in any way.

Immanuel Church cannot compete with Hollywood in terms of raw momentary impact. No church can. But that's one of the great things about church. It can be real. It can be entry-level discovery, for anyone, of the Lovely One who will amaze us forever.
I'm weary with the world's disappointing stimulants. I want more of Christ.
Michael Spencer, missional communicator and writer, who lives in southeastern Kentucky:
I have begun to suspect that we can’t see the entertainment idolatry in our own lives. We’ve decided to talk about “how to relate Christ to movies” and so on, which I don’t deny is a worthwhile pursuit, and I believe the glory and truth of God shines through all kinds of cultural windows.

But there’s just a lot- a LOT- of garbage out there. A lot of lies. Distortion. A lot of very bad story telling. A lot of poorly executed entertainment. A lot of humor and excitement drummed up from the lowest common denominators: sex, violence, greed. A lot of wasted minutes, hours and days.

I know Christian young people who live- live- in the world of movies, tv and games. And when I’ve suggested they might be wasting chunks of their lives with what wasn’t worthy of their thoughts, I’ve been pooh-poohed.

Don’t get me wrong. I want Christians engaging art and entertainment. I want Christians making good art and entertainment.

But when we are supposedly deeply moved by something that, at its core, isn’t deeply moving, isn’t redemptive, isn’t part of the grand story, but is just a vast, pretentious, technologically overwhelming retelling of the worst kind of human story, I want to have the backbone to say so.

Ortlund did. Good for him.

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