I’ve been doing Renewed Mind Movie Talk for a while now, but I have to admit that I’m not entirely thrilled with the results.
I started this series with two goals: 1) to give Christians better tools for engaging with stories than the usual “moral/immoral” binary and 2) to foster empathy among evangelical Christians by exposing them, through fiction, to new ideas and perspectives.
To catch a wide audience, I tried to keep episodes under 15 minutes long, but I think that’s harmed my goals. Too many of the episodes come off like nifty little “One to Grow On” shorts, giving little attention to anything beyond the movie’s plot.
So, to better meet my goals, I’ve restructured a bit. I’m letting the episodes go longer, in hopes of adding depth to the film analysis and to heighten the conversation between the movie and scripture. Also, I’ll be releasing them on a biweekly basis, to give myself more time for research and script-writing.
I’ve picked for my relaunch subject Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, an important film for me because it was the first time I became aware of “the culture wars.”
I was 10 when the movie came out, and I can remember the furor surrounding it. Publications like Focus on the Family, as well as people in my church and family, talked about how blasphemous it was, how it was another attack by Hollywood on Christian values. As a dutiful child, I followed their lead and stayed away from it.
As a slightly less dutiful teenager/young adult, I finally watched the movie. Obviously, I could see where the movie strayed from Christian orthodoxy, but I could also see that it wasn’t trying to attack Christianity at all. Rather, it was taking its ideas seriously. It was trying to imagine the relationship between a perfect God and a humanity that falls so short of that ideal. It was trying to take seriously the idea that a real live human being could be both God and man, could have all the desires that we have and still choose to sacrifice himself in a brutal fashion.
Sure, it got some things “wrong,” but it brought up so many compelling questions, that it should not be ignored. And it should never be attacked.
So I’m relaunching my series with this movie. I hope I can help people better understand what the movie is trying to do, to not only see where they disagree with the movie, but to actually hear the questions it asks and know where to go for a response, if not an answer.
I hope you’ll check it out. And if you know someone who likes movies, and wouldn’t mind staring at my ugly face for a bit, maybe you’ll share it with them, too.