The Problem With Christian Entertainment

Why do we not impact people in the entertainment industry? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook, and whether it was sarcastic or not, I don’t know, about why Christians shouldn’t watch The Office. Now I have never seen an episode of the show. The most I know about it is I understand a lot of memes on Facebook are from it and I know about the Owlkitty video of it. That’s it.

This led me to thinking about something else. I know we all realize it, but for the most part, Christian entertainment sucks. It’s often just boring and preachy. There are some exceptions, but it’s nothing the world wants to see. I remember when Fifty Shades of Grey came out that the same day, a counterpart movie called Old-Fashioned came out. You might have never even heard of it. There’s no way it could compete with Fifty Shades.

If there is one clear exception to this, it is the Chronicles of Narnia. Yet do you see Christianity explicitly spelled out in that? No. There’s a lot of symbolism in the books of course that points to Christ and so there is also in the rest of Lewis’s fiction, but many atheists can even enjoy reading C.S. Lewis.

Christians don’t have anything in the way of entertainment. We think you have to spell it out explicitly. It’s not fun. If we make something for the purposes of entertaining, our aim should be that the product is actually entertaining. That doesn’t negate we do it for Jesus, but people won’t want to watch Christian entertainment or play Christian video games or read Christian books for fun if they are not, well, fun.

Back in the days of the NES, I remember getting the Bible games from Wisdom Tree. They were alright games, but the only reason I got them was that they were Bible games. That’s it. They honestly hardly even worked on the NES at times. Bible video games are often some of the worst games that they are.

Many of us who are Christians don’t like it when we see a series and the politics is out there in front and everyone knows it. We think we are being preached to, and in essence, we are probably right. I know a lot of people have complained about the newest Star Trek series thinking that it’s going on. They could be right. If we don’t like it, why think unbelievers will like it?

What would be good is if we had a series come out on TV that was actually entertaining or a movie at the theater that was actually entertaining or a book or a video game or whatever it is and people wanted to play it and then find out later on that it was a Christian series. I know some of you will disagree, but on my podcast I have had John Granger on to discuss the Harry Potter series as a Christian series from a Christian viewpoint. Even if you don’t agree with that, if it is true, that is something powerful. That is having it done right.

When we think things have to be explicit, we also assume our audience is stupid. We assume that they have to state it outright or else no one will get it. That insults our audience. No one wants to be assumed to be an idiot.

I don’t know if you should watch the Office or not, but I know the reason we debate this is because we don’t have our own entertainment that’s good. You may enjoy watching Pureflix, but how many people do you know who are non-Christians who are buying it? This is not to knock them at all, but if we are wanting to reach people, it doesn’t help that goal if people aren’t interested in our method of outreach.

God gives us all things richly for our enjoyment as is said in 1 Tim. 6:17. Shouldn’t we do something for the enjoyment of our fellow neighbor? If we want to show Christianity to them in a way that is something they will want, shouldn’t we show them something they would want to have and something they can actually enjoy? This isn’t to say fun is the main goal of the Christian life, but fun is the goal of entertainment. If you sit down to watch the Office, you likely aren’t doing it to study theology or philosophy. Rightly or wrongly, you’re doing it to have fun.

We’re also meant to be creative people in the footsteps of the creator. Our creator created some very fun things for us here. I’ve seen our cat running around here playing some tonight. The animal kingdom is a testimony to the fun of the creator in many ways. Yes, nature is red in tooth and claw at times, but it’s also very fun in many other ways. Shouldn’t we be creative that way? Shouldn’t we make music and TV and movies and video games and books that unbelievers even will want to live?

Let’s do better.

Then maybe we won’t have to debate the Office because not only will we be watching our own great material, but so will everyone else.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I Affirm The Virgin Birth.)

Opening Thoughts On God and Play

Does God play? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Just a couple of nights ago, I went to bed wondering why it is that I, like so many of us out there I am sure, have a tendency to not do things I should be doing and instead spend more time on secondary things. Why is it that so many times God doesn’t seem as enjoyable as other things? Why is it that many of us don’t really think of Bible reading as something done for joy?

We all know we need to be about the work of the kingdom, but we don’t have much about the joy and the fun of the kingdom. If anything, many in our culture view God as a killjoy. This is especially true when it comes to sexual taboos. Some people speculate that a lot of Christians and God Himself live with this great concern that somewhere out there someone might be enjoying themselves.

What if we have it backwards, which I think we do? What if instead of being a killjoy, God is out there trying to optimize the joy that we have? The sexual rules, many of us know, aren’t to hold us back from fun. They’re to preserve a deeper level of joy than would be thought before and to keep us from just using random people for our own enjoyment. We might get some joy out of such an activity, but it is a wrong way to get joy since it treats people like objects.

Chesterton said years ago that God has no problem with what we call the monotonous. The sun rises every morning because God is like a small child who sees it rise and then says, “Do it again!” “Do it again!” “Do it again!” All daisies look alike because God has never got bored with making one of them.

Jesus says in John 5 that He is working and His Father is always working. What if we replaced it with playing? What if part of the reason God does all He does is for joy? After all, there was no need for creation. God was not lacking anything. There was nothing wrong with God or no task He was assigned. Why create? For joy.

What if it is as Lewis said years ago? Our desires are not too strong. They are too weak. We are far too easily pleased. What if we actually hold notions that God doesn’t want us to enjoy our own lives?

This isn’t far-fetched. For my senior sermon when I was in Bible College, I preached on wonder and someone told me about the cover of Moody magazine from a recent issue. “Is It Right To Enjoy My Life?” It’s a sad commentary on Christian culture where such a question has to be asked.

While we are to delight in God, He also gave us other things. Paul tells us in 1 Tim. 6:17 that God gives us all things richly for our enjoyment. This is also talking about material possessions. Nothing wrong with enjoying them. The reason we work also is so we won’t have to work. We look forward to that time of leisure. Play is something that is done just for its own sake.

There is much to play with. Chesterton once said he would answer skeptics on the problem of pain if they would answer on the problem of pleasure. Why does the world have multiple colors? God could have created a world without them easily. We are made to have to eat and drink, but that doesn’t mean food and drink had to taste good. We are made that the species has to reproduce, but that doesn’t mean that reproduction had to be turned into a fun event.

Perhaps we Christians need to be people of more joy. We have earned a reputation of being Puritans with regard to pleasure. (Which is indeed a false notion. The Puritans were really a very fun-loving people.) If anyone is having joy in this life, it should be the Christian. Why aren’t we?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

And Then They Came For My Fun

Do we have our priorities out of whack? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Over the weekend there was a church shooting in Tennessee. You might not have heard about this. The media gave it some lip service and then it went to the big story. What’s the big story? Football players kneeling during the National Anthem.

It’s not to say that this isn’t worthy of discussion. For what it’s worth, I find it deplorable that so many players are doing this, but at the same time, I don’t really care. My attitude towards most sports has always been that I don’t care. When the Super Bowl comes on here, Allie watches the game. I put down my book and watch during the commercials. If the NFL dies over this, it won’t affect me one bit.

Yet I do notice something. Americans don’t tend to get excited about a topic unless it affects their entertainment. You might say that Christians are not like that. Oh no. Sadly, Christians in America are just like that. Go after everything else in the world and that’s fine, but focus in on their fun and it’s time for war.

A few years ago, there was a major controversy when Duck Dynasty was pulled from the air. Why? Because one of the main characters had said something against homosexual practice. A&E pulled the show and before too long, there was a Facebook page set up with a million members and protests as people had their cable disconnected. Cracker Barrel in an amazing suicide stunt decided to join in and received the same attention. Eventually, A&E and Cracker Barrel relented.

So there you have it. Christians across this nation won a great victory because they stood up and spoke. They got their TV show back and after this great victory, they did what is the next obvious step.

That’s right. Absolutely nothing.

What about Chick-Fil-A? Now this is something that I can have some interest in as I do like their waffle fries, but other than that, I’m not a chicken fan. So then we have the media go after Chick-Fil-A and then we go after that by having Chick-Fil-A Day. It’s a rousing success. Chick-Fil-A shatters business records that day. People waited in long lines just to have something at Chick-Fil-A. After this great success, Christians again who saw what a difference their voice can make when they speak did the obvious thing with a great victory.

That’s right. Absolutely nothing.

So what do I gather from this?

We in America, and Christians are not an exception, care about an issue when it interferes with our fun. Other than that, it doesn’t affect us supposedly so leave it alone. Sure, the homosexual left has been going after marriage for awhile, but who cares about defending that? Just don’t let them go after Chick-Fil-A! That’s when we stand up and say we will not accept this!

There are many issues we can talk about in our country, but obviously what needs to be fixed first is the NFL issue. Again, it’s not saying we absolutely avoid talking about it, but we ask based on how much time we spend discussing things what our priorities are. If we are willing to stand up for Chick-Fil-A, and not saying we shouldn’t, but we aren’t standing up for marriage, then what are we to say? Do Christians value Chick-Fil-A more than marriage? Sadly, I think we do.

The solution to this I think is to raise greater awareness. Why should we defend marriage? Should we care about things greater than our entertainment? This won’t be an easy task because too many of us think “Unless it affects my life, I just don’t care.” If you don’t care enough about a problem to do something about it though, you have to ask if you really care about it at all.

So what do we care about?

In Christ,
Nick Peters