One of my favorite movies as a young teen was a film called The Omega Code. It was one of the many Christian movies about the Apocalypse that came out in the 90’s, and I just thought everything about it was awesome. A few months ago it was on TV, and I decided to watch it again, wondering if it was really all I thought it was when I first saw it. It was not. In fact, there was very little about this movie that was done well.
Sadly, to most people reading this post, this probably comes as no surprise because I stated that this was a “Christian movie.” Christian movies have developed a reputation for being absolutely awful, and, for the most part, the reputation is deserved. Sure, The Passion was done fairly well (though I didn’t really care for it), but the ratio of movies like that to movies like Facing the Giants or Left Behind is skewed in the wrong direction. As I thought about writing a blog on this topic, I realized that I couldn’t come up with a thesis statement – only a thesis question.
What do we do with bad Christian art?
Take Facing the Giants for example. I really admire the thought process behind this movie. Here’s a church with all kinds of money, and instead of using it to put a Starbucks in their narthex they decide to put together a feature film that they believe will turn people to Jesus. On the surface, it sounds really good until you see what a trainwreck the movie was. And that’s the way it is for so many other “faith-based” movies out there. The heart is right, but the execution is awful.
I feel like, as Christians, we should be making some of the best art out there. The story that our faith tells is, in my opinion, the most compelling and moving story in existence. The Christ metaphor is one of the most powerful narrative devices there is. But we’re willing to settle for less simply because something is labeled “Christian.” Not to pick on Facing the Giants any more than it deserves, but who would have seriously gone to see it if it wasn’t a church project?
I’m focusing here on Christian movies, but we see this in the other arts as well. Christian music has come a long way in recent years, but it wasn’t too long ago that “Christian versions” of successful mainstream bands were popping up left and right. They were cheap imitations at best, but they did pretty well in Christian communities simply because they were a Christian alternative to “secular music.”
So what do we do with bad Christian art? Do we boycott shoddy productions and say we won’t settle for anything less than excellence? Do we blindly support all faith-based projects because we have some sort of duty to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to help them achieve mainstream success? I’m not a hundred percent satisfied with either of these options, so there has to be a middle ground somewhere. I’m just not sure where it is.