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Words Words $#K@:R#@ Words

Last week in the Christian fiction book world there was a review of an upcoming book from a well known Christian fiction author that was given a rating of 1/2 a star due to language. There were other issues in the book (such as they couldn’t tell it was a Christian book at all) but that was the main focal point of the review. The reviewer summarized by saying that if this book had been marketed as a general market novel it would have gotten a higher rating but since it’s a Christian book, it was worth only 1/2 a star. There was a rather interested reaction to this review from members of the Christian fiction community. While there were those that agreed with the review, there were others (including authors and readers) who felt the review to be unjust and nitpicky.

What was most interesting to me was that in another Christian fiction book, I found a curse word used AS a curse word and NO ONE has said anything about it yet in all the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads that I’ve read through. That same reviewer in fact gave the book high stars! I don’t get it.

Let me start out by saying two things. One, I realize that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and that this publication has every right to uphold their own beliefs. The second is, I’m a Christian and I curse sometimes yet I feel that my relationship with God is on solid ground.

Cursing is not something I enjoy doing and I actually don’t do it a lot. There are certain words that I really don’t like using/seeing//hearing but it also comes with the intent behind the words. A word is really just a word. It’s all in what you mean behind it. A curse word stripped down is just a bunch of random letters lined up next to each other. It cannot hurt you until you take that word and throw it at someone in a derogatory way. That being said, any word can be used to harm someone. Chicken is word that most use to call an animal or a type of meat. Or it can be used as an insult. I mean even the word “girl” is used as an insult.

Going back to the review, personally I’m looking forward to reading this book. While I enjoy reading a lot of Christian fiction books, I also take issue to books that want to stay in the bubble. I understand that there is and always will be an audience that wants to separate themselves away from the rest of the world and I respect them for it. But at the same time, I also prefer reading books that don’t preach and is able to be enjoyed by ANYONE who picks it up. I have known for years that I’m not the target audience for most Christian fiction and that’s ok. I stated on another blog that I just like author’s who do share my beliefs and are able to tell a good story.

It just irks me when I see authors who do just that get harsh reviews from those that don’t see things that way. Again, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. It’s just funny that Christians want a label stating that it’s not “really” a Christian book, while those who aren’t of the same faith will want a label saying it’s a faith based book. While excessive cursing used as filler in any type of book is unacceptable because it’s sloppy and unimaginative, the opposite is just as bad too.  Too many times have I read novels where it’s very obvious that the writer is trying to avoid using curse words but it comes across as looking completely unrealistic.

I guess the biggest thing for me is that I feel like it shouldn’t even be that big of an issue when there are so many other things that is lacking in that genre. (Diversity for one) I do feel like Christians spend too much time worrying about keeping things clean and trying to make everything safe.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” – The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe

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The Bible on the big screen? BRING IT.

So more fun again with talking about faith and entertainment.

It’s a well known fact that when it comes to translating the Bible into works of art, there is always much debate over how it’s done. Whether it’s in books or movies, when you take the Bible and transfer it to a different medium there are always going to be people who find this offensive and sacrilegious no matter how well it’s done.

Me personally: unless something goes so far off the deep end that it really feels like the author/director is purposely mocking my faith with their work, then I really have no problems with creative license. My faith is strong enough that one movie or book isn’t going to shatter it.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing the movie Noah directed by Darron Aronofsky that’s coming out at the end of March. The story of Noah is well known to anyone and it hasn’t been done SO many times that it’s repetive. The cast list is fantastic (Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson) and Aronofsky is an awesome award winning director. I’m really excited that this is being done as a Hollywood movie because that means that the special effects, acting, and directing will actually be GOOD. Because I’m sorry, 9 times out of a 10, a movie made by Christians just doesn’t have the same artistic value.

In an article posted in The Hollywood Reporter, Aronofsky was quoted as saying:

“We wanted to smash expectations of who Noah is. The first thing I told [star] Russell [Crowe] is, ‘I will never shoot you on a houseboat with two giraffes behind you.’ … You’re going to see Russell Crowe as a superhero, a guy who has this incredibly difficult challenge put in front of him and has to overcome it. … I had no problem completely honoring and respecting everything in the Bible and accepting it as truth. … For people who are very literal-minded, it would be great to communicate that the themes of the film are very much in line with the themes of the Bible—ideas about hope, second chances and family. If they allow that, they’re going to have an incredible experience with the movie. If they don’t allow it, it’s theirs to lose.”

Now for me personally, I’m perfectly fine with his explanation and I’m ready to see what he’ll bring to the table to the story. Because for me, even though the story of Noah is in the Bible, there’s still a whole bunch that’s missing. This is why I like Biblical fiction because you can expound on the lives of the characters that the Bible leaves out. And for me as long as accurate historical research is done (that’s the historian in me), I’m fine with creative licensing to flesh out the characters and make their stories come alive. My only quip would be if they got things historically accurate, and I’m a bit surprised that most of the cast is white, but as long as the story is good, I’m ok with that.

But not everyone agrees with me. I’ve been reading comments where people are already planning on boycotting because they feel that nothing should be added to the story. And how it’s sacrilegious to bring this on the screen. Many of these comments are from Christians, who from what I can tell seem to be VERY conservative in their thinking and to me seem a little close minded. They don’t want to give it a chance. The comments then becoming judgemental and honestly a little ignorant and the legalism in these folks makes me want to keep slamming my head on a desk.

Which then frustrates me because these are the same people that complain that Hollywood will not ever cater to those who are Christians. Yet here again is Hollywood putting out a movie by a well known and respected director who is saying that he DOES accept the Bible as truth, and Christians immediately want to boycott without seeing anything. And you wonder why Hollywood doesn’t put out faith based movies? Because when they test the waters, YOU RUN AWAY FROM IT.

Here’s the other thing. The story of Noah is from the Old Testament which is really the Torah which is of course the Jewish holy book. Aronofsky was raised Jewish so he knows the stories. I think some Christians tend to forget that what is in the Bible isn’t 100% just for Christians. While I’m not denying at all that what is in the Bible isn’t truth and God’s word, there’s also a lot more that happened in those stories that we just don’t know because we weren’t there. I don’t believe it’s “adding to the word of God” anymore than I felt The Da Vinci Code did. I’m strong enough in my faith to not believe that one movie or story is going to wreck it.

And that’s why I’m looking forward to this movie and any other Biblical adaption that’s coming out this year. For me personally, these things will always be a good discussion starter. I don’t come out of any movie automatically believing what I’ve seen is true. I am not the person that instantly believes everything I hear or see. And if this movie can bring this story to life and eventually change lives, I’m all for it. If it’s just entertainment to me, I’m still all for it. I’m just not going to immediately boycott something BEFORE it even comes out because it may or may not be what I want it to be.

So while there will probably be a lot of Christians that refuse to see this movie, you can count on this one Christian that’s going to be there. At the Alamo Drafthouse. Eating endless bowls of popcorn with butter. Anyone want to join me?

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Faith + Entertainment = ?

If you’ve been reading my blog for any good amount of time or you know me in real life, then you are fully aware of both my strong faith and love in entertainment. While I’m pretty conservative on some things, I guess you can say I’m pretty liberal in my entertainment choices. I basically like everything or at least will give it a chance.

I fully respect your right to not want to watch, read, or participate in something because it conflicts with your beliefs whatever that may end up being. You are perfectly in your rights to not want to do something that you are uncomfortable with or that you feel may cause some sort of harm to you.

What I don’t understand is why there are so many Christians that are so judgmental of others for their entertainment choices or the fact how negatively vocal they are when it comes to things they don’t like.

I was reading the Facebook page of a Christian based entertainment review site. Now I normally have no trouble with the actual reviews themselves. The reviewers cover pretty much everything in movies, TV shows, video games, and music and usually give a fair review of the content. Their target audience is quite conservative so they tend to give more of play-by-play of content IN their review (ie. sexual content, language, violence) vs their overall opinion. Sometimes it can be a little too broken down for me (ie. sexual content = characters hold hands) but I still appreciate the fact that they will still go review rated R movies or play video games rated mature M. Why? Just because someone is a Christian doesn’t mean they are going to stop doing these things plus what may not be appropriate for one person doesn’t mean another person isn’t going to enjoy it.

But even though these reviewers understand it, apparently sometimes their audience does not. And that is what frustrates me. The attitude that some Christians can have towards other people who don’t share specifically what they believe in. The Facebook comments from the entertainment site wanted to make me punch a hole through a wall because I could just feel the close mindedness and judgmental attitudes of some people.

Like banning books. I never can understand the practice of this especially when I find out that the parents wanting to uphold the ban have NEVER READ the books they want to ban. You don’t want your kid to read it? Fine. But who are you to say that no one else can?

Growing up there were some things that my parents didn’t want to expose us to because they felt it wasn’t appropriate at our age. And that was fine. Whether or not we actually were, we were still minors living at home so they had every right to impose that on us. But did they ever try to force their particular rules on other people? Nope. Did they condemn others for not sharing their same opinion? Nope. Did they judge other Christians for letting their kids do what they wouldn’t allow us? Nope.

It just amazes me how quick to judge some Christians can be and how they don’t seem to realize how callous and judgmental they look. If the point of our faith is to show the rest of the world that how different we are from those that don’t share our beliefs, being the stereotype that drives away those who we would like to reach out to, is NOT the way to do it.

I could go on about this for a long time and I may write more posts about this in the future regarding certain types of media or how just because something is Christian doesn’t mean it’s artistically something I want to support. I have issues with legalism because it goes against everything that I believe about what my faith really stands for. So consider this just a warm up post for posts later to come.