October 21, 2017

The Insatiable Beast Takes Another Bite

By Chaplain Mike

That wonderful old Christian satire magazine The Wittenberg Door used to have a regular feature called, “Truth Is Stranger than Fiction.” That would be an apt way to describe this story I came across today.

I couldn’t have made this up in a thousand years. And I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. No, come to think of it, hand me a Kleenex.

Here are the facts:

  • A group in Colorado Springs (let us all pause and bow toward our new Mecca) wants to develop and produce a movie in a new genre that is apparently ripe for picking: a “Christian Sex Comedy.”
  • Rich Praytor, co-producer and writer, is doing so because he admires the films of Judd Apatow so much. Apatow has graced us with such fine, thoughtful, edifying films such as “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” and “Knocked Up”—“secular” sex comedies.
  • Now he wants to (and I quote), “take something like that into the Christian arena.”
  • His movie, “The Waiting Game,” tells the story of a man who remains a virgin until his wedding day then struggles with abstinence after his bride-to-be dumps him at the altar.
  • The big laugh of the movie apparently comes when the disheartened guy states his intention to give up on staying pure, telling a friend in a restaurant, “I’m so frustrated. You know what? I’m just going to do what I want to do anyways. It’s not like it’s going to wind up on the front page of the newspaper,” So, guess who overhears their conversation and says, “Hey Buddy, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”? Drum roll, please. Ted Haggard. Ha! I’ll bet Ted’s former parishioners will be rolling in the aisles laughing.
  • The tagline for the movie? “Abstinence never felt SO good.”
  • A comment by the movie’s promoters on the site’s Facebook page says, “We are still raising the money for this movie, but we are aiming for release in 2012–right in the middle of political season! We hope for it to add to the debate on family values and encourage the faithful to stay true to the word. So please keep praying for us.”

(Sigh.) Really?

Of all the ways Christians might “engage the culture” (oh, how I hate that phrase!), this is the best we can do?

Millions of dollars are going to be spent on this. Has anyone done a Kingdom cost-benefit analysis?

Could any example be clearer that today’s believers are “of” the world, but not “in” the world?

Is there no one out there willing to stand up and say “no” to ideas like this?

Are we all prepared to take another punch in gut from the world for our immaturity, tackiness, and the tin ear we have toward the words of our own Bible: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”?

I’ll shut up now. By giving this movie a few moments of attention, I’ve done my part for the Evangelical-Political-Industrial complex today.

Pop culture is an insatiable beast, and it is swallowing American evangelicalism, one large bite at a time. I need to go listen to some Bach or something to try and make this bad dream go away.

Comments

  1. There already is a sex comedy out there that says it’s okay to wait until marriage. It’s called “The 40 Year Old Virgin.” Maybe there should be a comedy about a pregnant teen who carries the baby to term rather than get an abortion! Oh wait, it’s called “Juno.”

    It’s bad enough that pop culture has to be imitated and Christianized for holy consumption. The kicker is that the “sinful” pop culture original often does a better, truer, and more grace-filled job of showing whatever value the Christianized version is hamhandedly trying to push.

    • totally agree.
      why we think we need to somehow sanction “Christianize” what is already well done – both artistically and truthfully – reveals how out of touch with reality we are

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Cheezy sex comedy, slap a few Bible verses on it (and maybe an Altar Call Ending, and don’t forget translating all the dialogue in to Chrisitanese), and PRESTO! It’s CHRISTIAN (TM)! “Just Like Fill-in-the-Blank, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”

        And all the Christians (TM) who are forbidden to watch those Secular Sex Comedies now have a consolation prize the CAN watch and be Edified. “Just like Fill-in-the-Blank, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”

    • Well said.

      • I meant that comment for Michael, but all of the others above are good comments too. 🙂

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The kicker is that the “sinful” pop culture original often does a better, truer, and more grace-filled job of showing whatever value the Christianized version is hamhandedly trying to push.

      I think it’s a question of “creator’s integrity”. The “better, truer, and more grace-filled job” would come from someone who is approaching the character/milieu/situation with integrity. Doing an honest and good job with the story. (Which, however, implies that the Christianese version lacks integrity.)

  2. Rob Grayson says:

    I wish this was some kind of sick joke…

    • It is. It’s also real.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Gotta be real. Too weird to be a hoax. As weird and over-the-top as you can get for a sick joke, there’s always going to be a True Believer even weirder and sicker.

      “The difference between reality and fiction is fiction has to make some sense.”
      — attributed to Mark Twain

  3. Man…..I was eating lunch when I read this. First I laughed out loud causing people to stare. Then I almost choked because of how hard I was laughing. That would not be good for this agnostic…I’m trying to figure what I believe before death. Leave it to Chaplin Mike to bringing me to the precipice!!! 😉

    BTW how did Colorado Springs become Mecca? I know Focus is there as well as YWAM…. I’d be curious to know. Okay back to my sandwich!! 😛

  4. iMonkey says:

    I disregarded your warning and watched the trailer.

    *sigh* They’ve already made a movie about these people:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0yQunhOaU0

    • I clicked the link (please, admins, don’t take it down) and laughed so hard I scared my wife. Nailed it.

  5. Clay Knick says:

    Dumb. Stupid. Sigh………………………..

  6. Just watched the trailer. It’s like they weren’t even trying. Also, that guy can blame his faith all he wants, but religion is clearly not the only exlpaination for his virginity.

    And like someone already mentioned, the 40 Year Old Virgin was actually kind of sweet, what more do Christians expect?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Bible Quotes and Altar-Call Endings.

    • MelissaTheRagamuffin says:

      The 40 Year Old Virgin wasn’t just sweet. It portrayed being celebate outside of marriage as not just okay but even preferrable. All that guy’s friends were seriously screwed up and dysfunctional, and pre-marital and extra-marital sex was the cause of their problems.

  7. Colorado Springs is the epicenter of conservative (right wing) evangelicalism and all things culture war. I hope to never find myself near there. And as far as this idiotic movie idea, this kind of “evangelicalism” needs to die. Now.

  8. Re Colorado Springs: Focus on the Family also. I think it started back in my yute with the Navigators.

  9. JoanieD says:

    I just watched the trailer for the movie and some of those scenes look kind of funny. But then, I do have a fairly high tolerance for movie foolishness.

  10. Obviously Christians are going the “regular” movies. We don’t need a special class of movies. Especially when “special” can have so many connotations as my 14 year-old just pointed out.

  11. We would be doing so much better to just finance or support secular artistic or media projects that actually ‘say’ something useful than this. It seems to be a common trend to dump anything good right now and focus on the superficial – we certainly need to be pointing to a remedy, not fuelling that fire.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I’m very skeptical about Private Revelations (AKA “God Hath Revealed Unto Me…”), but I heard about one a few years ago that was … INTERESTING:

      Person with said Private Revelation claimed that God was removing his mantle from the Christianese fiction/movie/TV industry (“Mene Mene Tekel Uparshim”) and was placing it on secular moviemakers, fiction writers, etc. Something about Christians had dropped the ball BAD, so now secular movies and novels were going to say what God wanted said.

  12. I loved “has anyone done a Kingdom cost-benefit analysis?”

    • A “Kingdom cost-benefit analysis” would (or should) result in the closing of most of our evangelical churches.

      That pretty much guarantees that such an analysis will not take place.

    • I really liked that phrase also. It captures what should happen if we are really concerned about growing the Kingdom. But I sadly have to agree that it’s unlikely to happen. For one thing it would put an end to the culture war.

    • dumb ox says:

      Let’s see…put a million dollars in my back pocket or defend the integrity of the faith…how long do I get to think about it? 😉

  13. mountainguy says:

    I’ve been thinking about a good movie/adaptation of Job (the biblical book). I’m pretty sure a good director would make wonderful things out of it.

    • Terence Malick, white courtesy phone …

      • mountainguy says:

        Weel, I’m not director, nor I work in film industries, but last year I decided to read the whole book of Job (guess I skipped the last chapters, which I had already read), and found it to be really amusing.

        Saludos!

  14. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t get it. So, a filmmaker is trying to make a movie about the funny side of waiting till marriage, after being jilted. Why is that unholy? Don’t we need laughter and a sense of humor about even those kinds of heartbreaking things?
    I didn’t watch the trailer, but if the filmmakers’ intentions are to encourage people to be faithful to God’s word, AND poke fun at Christian culture at the same time, I personally am OK with it, and have had to learn (as one who has worked in/observed the entertainment industry for some time, not to judge a project by its outer appearance, as I just never know how God will use it to speak to people.

    • It’s not unholy, per se — it’s just a low quality copy of what the world is doing, further confirming to the world that we have nothing really to contribute to their lives.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        As in Cheezy Christianese (TM) imitation of everybody else. “ME, TOO!”

        “Just like 40 Year Old Vrigin, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!!!!!”

        Though this may be an indicator of Things Good; usually when the Cheezy Christianese (TM) Imitations start hitting the Jesus Junk Store market, that means whatever they’re knocking off is on its way out.

        • I’m not opposed to a film that would examine why Christianity values chastity, and given that most audiences would not pay to go and watch a sermon, I suppose it would have to be a comedy, but I’m not so sure this is the film that’s going to do it.

          If abstinence is portrayed as ‘constant state of frustration until I can persuade someone, anyone, to walk me up the aisle and then we have exactly the same attitudes to sex as secular society teaches’, then forget it. If, on the other hand, this film could end up with ‘okay, maybe I’m not going to get married soon – or even ever. That’s not to say that my life will be lacking, since chastity is a positive, not a negative.’

          However, I have the feeling this film will end with the guy getting a knock-out gorgeous Christian lady who will be happy to go at it like bunnies with him, and the moral will be “Reward for waiting = getting to eat your cake and have it, too”.

          • Did you see the clip on You-Tube? I doubt that he will be getting together with the butt-ugly accountant from the next cubicle–that would just play too much havoc with the audience’s expectations. Hmm. do you suppose his heaven-fated romance could be with the rosy-cheeked lass who is helping set him up on dates?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            If abstinence is portrayed as ‘constant state of frustration until I can persuade someone, anyone, to walk me up the aisle and then we have exactly the same attitudes to sex as secular society teaches’, then forget it. … I have the feeling this film will end with the guy getting a knock-out gorgeous Christian lady who will be happy to go at it like bunnies with him, and the moral will be “Reward for waiting = getting to eat your cake and have it, too”.

            Martha from Ireland, you have just summarized the Conventional Christianese trope on sex and marriage in general! In many ways, “Marriage (TM)” is just Christianese for “Getting Laid”. Instead of boy-crazy girls, you have marriage-crazy Christianese girls filling Bible Colleges for their MRS degree — “Ring by Spring or It’s Too Late”. You have end-of-the-world Rapture scares triggering mass weddings to beat the date, as in “I Don’t Wanna Die A Virgin!”

            A year or two ago on Slacktivist, there was a comment thread about an attempted (emphasis on attempted) romance scene in Left Behind. One of the commenters said that in Chrisitanese, the ONLY reason to get two opposite-sex characters in the same scene is to fast-track them into marriage. Just as general Christianese story plotting is to frog-march the main character down the aisle for the Altar Call Ending, so Christianese “relationship” plotting is to frog-march the two main characters down the aisle for the Perfect Christian Wedding. All else must support that. “In addition, add another part of the audience who are parsing everything word-for-word to find anything sexual just so they can get into a big snit about it, and the writer finds himself in an impossible situation.”

          • A romance scene in a “Left Behind” film.

            That is truly terrifying to contemplate.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            A romance scene in a “Left Behind” film.

            That is truly terrifying to contemplate.

            It’s called “Synchronized Cookie Snarfing.” I really don’t understand the sexual symbolism of eating cookies in sync “when you see me eat the cookie on TV…”

            But then the Romance (TM) is between one of the Author Self-Inserts and the newly-converted daughter of the other Author Self-Insert. Said daughter after Saying The Magic Words seems to be nothing other than “What is Thy will, My Lord Husband? How might I better Submit?”

      • dumb ox says:

        C’mon. Christian hedonism is so much more fulfilling. 😛

        • Yeah, gives you that smug glow of superior virtue on top of a better love life – because everyone can find the perfect partner if they just try hard enough and pray hard enough, unlike the ungodly secular types 🙂

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Don’t you know, Martha?

            God hath picked out Your Perfect Christian Spouse, and the only reason you’re still single and alone is You’re Out Of His Will. When you’re Really Christian (like ME), Your Wife will appear magically on your doorstep. (Just like the new truck and pregnancy in Facing the Giants.) Just Study SCRIPTURE more, Pray More, and Let Christ Into Your Heart (TM) FOR REAL THIS TIME. (i.e. “Five Fast PRAISE-THE-LOORDS every morning will solve EVERYTHING!”)

            And speaking as a 55-year-old virgin AND ex-Kid Genius (and pretty sure the two are connected), the portrayal of virginity in this movie will probably be as accurate as Wesley Crusher and Doogie Houser MD were portaying the Kid Genius.

            As in “Wesley Crusher and Doogie Houser are the Fantasy. Dallas Egbert III is more the Reality.”

    • Maybe you should watch the trailer.

      • Elizabeth says:

        I did watch the trailer. I’m not dying to go out and buy a ticket, nor do I think Ted Haggard’s appearance is in good taste, but…
        Making low-quality copies of other people’s work is how a lot of people find their feet in any craft.
        I don’t think Christians should set out to do that, by any means, but filmmaking is extremely difficult, and pulling it off at all is quite a feat.

        • “Making low-quality copies of other people’s work is how a lot of people find their feet in any craft.

          Then why, after 30+ years, haven’t we gotten any better at it? From what I understand Fireproof is as good as it has managed to get. And from what I understand (haven’t seen it), that’s still fairly amateurish by any reasonable standards.

          The problem is, we really aren’t developing decent craftsmen in any field of “Christian” art. Much of our music is knock-offs of what was popular in the secular culture a year or 2 ago, our fiction is abysmal, and even with 3 or more decades behind us we still can’t put together movies that are more than an excuse to present the 4 spiritual laws and get someone saved.

          Unfortunately we’ve got a culture in the evangelical ghetto that will accept just about anything as long as it presents the gospel message and gives an altar call at the end. And while that might go over well as long as we’re preaching to the choir, as craft it’s abysmal. It was abysmal 30 years ago, and continues to be abysmal today.

          • Damaris says:

            James — Where does your 30+ years come from? What’s your starting date? Because of course, for the last almost 2000 years, most of the great art was Christian. It would be interesting to consider when and why secular artists achieved cultural dominance and Christians were left playing catch-up. Part of both Christian artists’ fall and the appalling quality of “Christian” “art” today is a pervasive anti-intellectualism, anti-aestheticism, and escapism — a refusal to “rub their noses in the quiddity of things,” as I think C.S. Lewis put it.

          • That 30+ years, actually going back as far as the classic A Thief in the Night, is just how long I’ve been a participant/observer in the evangelical circus.

            Because of what Michael called wretched urgency it seems that all that matters is that the message goes out, and hang the quality. It was bad when A Thief in the Night came out, and while Fireproof reportedly wasn’t quite so abysmal, for the most part it’s still pretty bad today.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            There’s also one more factor at work, James.

            Due to Christianese Enclaving, Christians (TM) are forbidden from doing anything Secular (TM). Including watching the Heathen’s movies, reading their novels, participating in that Heathen (TM) Pop Culture. Yet they still want pop culture — after all, they come from the same culture they’re trying to separate from.

            So they do “Just like Fill-in-the-Blank, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!” knockoffs of every facet of pop culture. Now they can have pop culture “like everyone else” without ever having to associate with Those Heathens (TM). It’s a consolation prize, and you know how valuable consolation prizes are.

          • I’m still savoring the irony of the question of why we “haven’t gotten any better at” making “low-quality copies.”

          • Damaris, I just saved your quote to my “Quotes” file, and you’re in good company, I assure you.

            You’d be interested in Chaim Potok’s book, My Name is Asher Lev. I just finished reading it for, I don’t know, the fifth time. The protagonist Asher Lev is an artistic genius, born into a Hasidic (ultra-orthodox) Jewish family in Brooklyn. His father, and his culture largely, suffer from what Asher comes to call “aesthetic blindness” as he explores such art forms as the nude, the crucifix, and “Picassoid forms” (that was an inside joke in the book). None of these were available to him as a Hasid, and for much of the same reasons that secular art is no longer available to Evangelical Christian artists.

            The sequel, The Gift of Asher Lev, with him as an adult, is equally great. And Chaplain Mike is a fan. Perhaps he could lend you copies.

          • Damaris says:

            I’ve read “Asher Lev” and several other books by Potok. I love them, especially “My Name is Asher Lev,” but I’ve never read the sequel — thanks for suggesting it. My read list for summer is filling up nicely.

          • Damaris says:

            Should be reading list. I can’t type and eat a popsicle at the same time.

          • I should have known you’d read Potok. You were echoing Asher Lev.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            The problem is, we really aren’t developing decent craftsmen in any field of “Christian” art. Much of our music is knock-offs of what was popular in the secular culture a year or 2 ago, our fiction is abysmal, and even with 3 or more decades behind us we still can’t put together movies that are more than an excuse to present the 4 spiritual laws and get someone saved.

            Another factor is that in a milieu like that, anyone who IS a decent craftsman or genuinely creative gets driven out. Chickens pecking the defective to death in the barnyard.

            Unfortunately we’ve got a culture in the evangelical ghetto that will accept just about anything as long as it presents the gospel message and gives an altar call at the end.

            You know what they call such mandatory scenes in the porn industry? “Money Shots”. Because that’s what the audience pays money to see. Bible Quotes, Four Spiritual Laws lectures, and Altar Call Endings are just Christianese Money Shots.

    • It’s also really nice to see someone like Ted Haggard making a joke out of the sinful situation that brought shame upon the whole Christian community and hurt multitudes of people in his own family and church. How he has the gall to show his face in a movie like this and make light of what happened is abominable.

      • David Cornwell says:

        The times I’ve seen Ted Haggard on television since this unholy affair he seems flippant in his attitude. I’d be very afraid…

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          He’s packing Benny Hinn’s Holy Ghost Machine Gun.

          “TOUCH NOT GOD’S ANOINTED! DO MY PROPHET NO HARM!”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        How he has the gall to show his face in a movie like this and make light of what happened is abominable.

        Isn’t there something somewhere in Proverbs or Ecclesiastices about “the harlot wipes her mouth and says ‘I Have Not Sinned'”?

        • Proverbs 30:20. It’s “adulteress” but it’ll work.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Ted Haggard was married, wasn’t he? (Probably. Have to have that Perfect Wife to be a REAL God’s Anointed.) Does getting caught doing meth with a male prostitute on your dime qualify as Adultery?

  15. I hope Harold Camping is right this time, and the world really does end before this thing comes out.

  16. This is wrong on so many levels that I can’t begin to explain it, but here’s one of the main things: If Christian “art” is consistently bad and often a lame and unoriginal knockoff like this film clearly is, how long is it before people start viewing all of Christianity as bad and lame and an unoriginal knockoff. I would say that’s already happening and films like this will only make the situation worse.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I belong to two Christian Fiction writers’ Yahoogroups.

      On both of them, I have been a vocal proponent of Mainstreaming — putting your works out on the Mainstream Market, not the Jesus Junk Store one.

      THIS movie is the type example of why.

  17. So, I don’t even want to get into how ridiculous this is, or how right or wrong it is. I just want to say that I tried to watch the trailer, and the acting was so bad, I couldn’t finish it. Shouldn’t we stick to things we can actually do well? That sounds like a good idea to me. Ugh.

    • Or maybe just try to do things well, rather than cheap knock-offs made “Christian” by adding a few Bible verses and an altar call? Accepting “Crap for Jesus,” just because “it has a Christian message,” just don’t cut it!

      • Totally agree!!! It’s no wonder people think Christians are a joke. I would say this is joke-worthy on all counts…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        In local Eighties litfandom, I heard the following saying several times:

        “It’s gotta be Christian! Look how crappy it is!”

  18. thanks, Mike… you ruined my weekend… I am so choked… only in America!!!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Wait until the inevitable sequel comes out:

      “Just like Hangover II, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”

  19. in my opinion, the movies that make the most impact from a counter-cultural perspective are those that do so within the farmework of the culture and not so apparently opposed to it. Take the movie ‘Bella’ as an example… as it is the best pro-life movie I have ever seen and it does so in a subversive way – never using pro-life terminology to make it’s case.

    Jesus was a master of subversion. Many modern Christian storytellers are not.

  20. As a Colo Spgs resident, please do not judge all of us harshly based on this one episode. Many (most?) of us have a spirituality that actually appreciates most things iMonk… I watched the trailer and found it simply unbelievable…

  21. Chaplain Mike: As brain bleach, I highly recommend Tallis’ Spem in Alium. Nothing like it to clear out bad imagery.

  22. moment of silence please…

    [bow head]

    cry… 🙁

  23. (I watched the trailer. That was one of the single most painful experiences of my life. I think my heart is crying. Nothing has ever made abstinence look more LAME than this film) It makes me genuinely furious to see this kind of ametuerish “anyone can have a go” attitude from some Christians. I agree, 40 year old virgin is a better advertisement for abstinence. It has it’s dirty parts, but it’s simply telling the truth, and shows that even in this crude and often perverse reality, abstinence is an honourable option for ANYONE. It’s like if you have a crap product, there’s always room for it in the “Christian market”. They’ll take your crappy greeting card designs, movies, music, Tshirts ugghhh. This isn’t using your gifts for the glory of God. It’s utter embarrasment.

  24. Danielle says:

    Watched the trailer, which was not as bad as I feared from some of the comments made. My main impression a rather unsensationalistic “meh.” It is not very good; but its not the worst thing I’ve ever seen. The plot looked rather formulaic and predictable, and the writing average. In all, this feels typical of the steady diet of really so-so, knock-off art so central to modern evangelicalism.

    The really surprising aspect is Ted Haggard. I can’t figure out what they were thinking with that one. Missed the irony? Trying to make fun of themselves? If the latter, are they totally missing the fact that Ted Haggart’s story actually challenges the current conventions of evangelical thinking on the topic of sex?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The really surprising aspect is Ted Haggard. I can’t figure out what they were thinking with that one.

      *CELEBRITY* Cameo?

      And the *CELEBRITIES* everyone simply must name-drop these days are the Train Wrecks — Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen… How is Ted Haggard any different from “Just Like a Celebrity Train Wreck (TM), Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

  25. dumb ox says:

    Bach wasn’t without his critics for borrowing from the style of Italian concertos. Scandalous.

    • Yeah, well…

    • I’m a regular listener to With Heart and Voice, and I know some Bach might work to make this bad dream go away. But instead of the vacuous, two-dimensional drivel that the Christian Industrial Complex tries to pretend is art, a much better piece to listen to is John Cage’s 4′33″, where the performer sits without playing the piano and there is silence for almost 5 minutes. That silence would be more acceptable to me than even 5 minutes of this white noise.

  26. dumb ox says:

    I think of Thesis 28 from Luther’s Disputation of the Theology of the Cross: “The love of God does not first discover but creates what is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through attraction to what pleases it.”

    God is not a consumer; God is a creator. The larger context of the thesis is that God doesn’t seek out nice people to like but justifies broken, tainted sinners and makes them into children of God.

    But to take this a little further, evangelicals, in their attempts to “redeem” culture become just another part of it: becoming consumers rather than creators. It creates films and art which people consume rather than which inspire and transport. Chesterton argues that the middle ages were anything but dark; gothic architecture was no imitation – nothing like it had existed before. Perhaps we need a gothic renaissance, as amusing as that sounds.

    But the second problem which makes evangelical art and even its message so trite is the cancer of pragmatism. Evangelicalism has become fixed upon the horizontal plane of “having”, rather than the vertical plane of “being”. The entire message of evangelicalism is about having: have the best sex; have the best marriage; have the best family; have the most wealth; have the best health. God and heaven become additional trophies on the shelf of possession. Evangelicalism doesn’t find meaning above the horizontal plane nor a higher vision to transform how we approach existence on the horizontal plane. To Peggy Lee’s question, “Is That All there Is?”, evangelicals answer, “Well, yes, but we make it better!”

    Sex does not ultimately fulfill – even if you are married. Larry Crabb’s “Marriage Builders” is one of the best books on marriage I have read (after Mike Mason’s “Mystery of Marriage”). Crabb makes it clear that if our fulfillment does not come from Christ, we will have nothing to give to our spouses. But evangelicals seem to believe that abstinence and marriage have some magical power to make sex into something it was never meant to be: a path to ultimate fulfillment. Several evangelicals teach that husbands who have more sex are more successful in business. Sex becomes a drug which releases the essential daily doses of endorphins, which reduces ones spouse into a drug dispenser. That is why evangelicals should not make movies about sex, because they are so dead wrong, wrong, wrong when it comes to that subject.

    • dumb ox says:

      But it is equally wrong to go back to a puritanical notion that sex is only for procreation, where any pleasure derived from sex is sinful.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And both turn male-female interaction into meat-in-meat. Just turned one-eighty from each other, like Communism begetting Objectivism.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      That is why evangelicals should not make movies about sex, because they are so dead wrong, wrong, wrong when it comes to that subject.

      It has long been my thesis that Evangelicals are just as screwed-up sexually as everybody else today, just in a completely-different (often completely-opposite) direction.

  27. When are we going to get our eyes off of what other people are doing and focus entirely on God? I have learned that I don’t have enough information to judge anyone–I only can see a minute part of the whole story. God alone has the perspective to make righteous judgements, so my prayer is that God will work everything out for everyone’s good. And, I hold on to the promise of Isaiah 25:6-8 and believe that in the end, God’s absolute love will prevail!

    • With all due respect, that is pretty idealistic. If we don’t ever critique what people do in the name of Christ, especially when they do it publicly, for all the world to see, we are not living honestly or acting in love. I encourage you to read Michael Spencer’s post, “Talk Hard (On the role of the critic)”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      When are we going to get our eyes off of what other people are doing and focus entirely on God?

      You may be a Completely Spiritual Being Focused Entirely on God like Dante’s Beatific Rose, but the rest of us are meat living in meatspace. We have to eat, sleep, pee, and poop. And 2000 years ago, there was this big-G God who for 30-odd years had to do the same.

  28. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I need to go listen to some Bach or something to try and make this bad dream go away.

    CM, I’m using massive doses of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic to do the same. (A trick I learned from my writing partner, a Brony from way back.) I advise you to try some.

    • But Headless, what do I use to wipe the “My Little Pony” stuff out of my head? 😉

      I’m probably prejudiced because I’m remembering the 80s when the airwaves were chock-full of stuff like the Gummi Bears and the Care Bears and more sparkly, rainbow, sugary tripe than you could wave a unicorn’s horn at. On the other hand, things like “Dangermouse”, which were tongue-in-cheek – that I can recommend wholeheartedly.

      “Season 7 / Episode 4: – Where There’s a Well There’s a Way

      Isambard Sinclair, narrator: [narrating] London, a city rich with the homes of the famous. Buckingham Palace, home of royalty. Ten Downing Street, home of the PM. 221B Baker Street, residence of Sherlock Holmes. And only a stone’s throw away: the world’s most famous pillarbox, home of… Danger Mouse.
      Penfold: [a loud clang] Cor, I do wish that Dr. Watson would stop throwing stones at our pillar box.
      Danger Mouse: He’s only jealous, Penfold. He’s only Sherlock Holmes’ assistant.
      Penfold: Oh yes, I hadn’t thought of that.”

      Penfold, shush! 🙂

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I’m probably prejudiced because I’m remembering the 80s when the airwaves were chock-full of stuff like the Gummi Bears and the Care Bears and more sparkly, rainbow, sugary tripe than you could wave a unicorn’s horn at.

        The current incarnation of My Little Pony is surprisingly well-written. Done by Lauren Faust, who couldn’t stomach the sparkly, rainbow, sugary tripe (with daily Tea Parties) of girls’ cartoons when she was growing up in the Eighties. When she played with her My Little Ponies, she sent them on adventures to save the world. And this series (which she had decent creative control over) reflects that. Like classic cartoons, it appeals to all ages, hence the Brony phenomenon of adult fans. (And only two tea parties in the first season — the first was a reception for a visiting VIP and the second was the suggestion of one painfully shy pegasus who wanted something quiet.) The season capper is a hilarious deconstruction of the entire Disney Princess Cinderella Romance, taking every shtick and turning it on its head as the Mane Cast attend a high-society party they’ve been fantasizing about since they got the tickets early in the season and find the hard way their fantasies about it crash into reality. (To the point that when one drops her glass slipper fleeing at the end, she goes back and hoof-stomps it into powder to make sure that snob of a prince she had to put up with can’t find her.)

        I don’t know about you, but I’ll take this generation of My Little Pony over any Christianese knockoff sex comedy.

        • Caitlin says:

          Headless, that cartoon is of the devil. It’s just another piece of propaganda glorifying a godless secular lifestyle where Christ is never mentioned. Lots of gender-role confusion (Rainbow Dash) and subliminal heathenism, with symbols of astrology and homosexuality constantly being paraded around.

          Friendship Report: Beware, lest you find yourself serving Twilight Sparkle (the real meaning of “Lucifer”) and being branded with his Cutie Mark of the Beast.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Caitlin, I hope that was a joke. (With previous experience with Evangelical Activist, I literally cannot tell. After you hear Aslan of Narnia denounced as Antichrist, nothing is too far out.)

            Because previous generations of My Little Pony HAVE been denounced from the pulpit as occult and Satanic. For serious. You’ve heard about the scream of a dying horse, have you? I have no desire to hear that scream coming from Rarity’s and Fluttershy’s throats as they burn at the stake for Witchcraft.

    • Keith Q. says:

      You are a sick, sick man. Get help.

  29. Give me ” Lord Of The Rings” trilogy and I’ll be happy. A little “Chariots Of Fire” or ” Tender Mercies” and I’ll have all the spiritual messages I need for now.

  30. As I’ve been reading through the comments, I’ve also been watching “Murder On The Orient Express” the Agatha Christie story as rendered by PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery. A little background for a second, the person who plays the main character (Hercule Poirot) is David Suchet. It happens that the pastor of my church knows Suchet and knows him to be a believer.

    This particular version of “Murder On The Orient Express” has a slightly different ending than even the original novel with Poirot discussing how justice needs to be served. I don’t want to give away too much since I think it would be a good view for anyone.

    My point is that as Christians we can have influence without making everything into an altar call. We might have to accept that the heroes will not always become Christians (if they aren’t already) and everything turns out for the best. All good people are rewarded, all bad people are punished. Ambiguity is not allowed That’s not real life. .

    • The Singular Observer says:

      Steve – apparently David Suchet came to Christ as a result of reading Romans 8 in a hotel bible. One of his parents was Jewish, the other Anglican, but his upbringing was not religious. But soon after the hotel episode he was baptised into the Anglican Church.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      We might have to accept that the heroes will not always become Christians (if they aren’t already) and everything turns out for the best. All good people are rewarded, all bad people are punished. Ambiguity is not allowed That’s not real life.

      As Dr Morden put it in his essay, “That’s Fantasy Christianity.”

      (Too bad IMonk isn’t supporting links. The essay is online, titled “Sex, Death, and Christian Fiction” by Simon Morden, and deals with exactly this subject.)

  31. Just goes to show both the content and the production of Christianese movies haven’t progressed since the days of the The Gospel Blimp.

  32. Keith Q. says:

    Maybe they could do a Christian version of “The Hangover.” How would that work…?

    The best Christian comedy is unintentional, like “Jesus Camp” or “The Omega Code.”

    • dumb ox says:

      I hear Ted Haggard makes an appearance in “Jesus Camp”, too.

      I think an evangelical version of the “Hangover” would be great. The plot could be an ex-evangelical who wakes up from his religious stupor to realize the unmentionable things the cultural warriors did to him while in his opiate-induced state. Lots of laughs.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Are they going to include the “Tranny Sex Surprise” jokes from Hangover II?

  33. conanthepunctual says:

    I think creativity is the key point here. Someone mentioned that imitation is how people start and then improve from there. That’s fine and dandy if you’re making it for your friends and family to see so you can practice and learn before you make a film you expect to be appreciated by the public. Think of all the amazing first publicly shown films many current directors produced. Smith’s Clerks and Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense come to mind as examples of intense creativity without having to rip off someone else’s work to get the ball rolling. Surely that’s the standard for good film making regardless of your religious bent.

    (For that matter in Christian label music Jars of Clay’s first album was great without sounding like anyone else.)

  34. dumb ox says:

    I think about other movies, like the recent one on the life of John Wesley, struggled for publicity, funding and theaters; then I realize that this one has enough connection to the cultural war that not funding it will be viewed as conceding to the liberal agenda. Therefore, it will be in a theater near you. Doesn’t seem fair.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      …this one has enough connection to the cultural war that not funding it will be viewed as conceding to the liberal agenda.

      Which means it is your Christian duty to go and see it. (Just like listening to Carmen and reading Left Behind.) If you don’t, you’re an Apostate if not Heathen. “God Commands It!”

      Just like under Communism where everything was for the Revolution.

  35. dumb ox says:

    The recent movie, “Jumping the Broom” is a Bishop T.D. Jakes production. It has a lot of adult content. This may be the future of “religious” films.

    • dumb ox says:

      So, on one hand are the cheesy altar-call ending religious movies, or on the opposite extreme the gospel according to Oprah. None of the above, please?

      There still appears to be room for great tales of redemption. Maybe the problem with “religious” films is that we in our moralism (good triumphing over evil) have drifted so far from the gospel message that we can’t see the whiteness of the fields, that deep in the human condition is the need for forgiveness, repentance, restoration, adoption, and new life.

  36. To paraphrase Lewis, we don’t need more Christian writers, directors, artists, etc. (I’d take it a step further & say that’s the last thing we need!) We need more writers, directors, artists who are Christians. Big difference.

  37. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    A comment by the movie’s promoters on the site’s Facebook page says, “We are still raising the money for this movie, but we are aiming for release in 2012–right in the middle of political season! We hope for it to add to the debate on family values and encourage the faithful to stay true to the word. So please keep praying for us.”

    Let me get this straight. They’re going to release it “right in the middle of the political season” in an election year as some sort of Political Statement about Family Values.

    Did I just go crazy, or did they?

    • You’re not crazy, HUG. You’re one of the sanest people I know.

      As if we haven’t made fools enough of ourselves . . .

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Every time I phone up my writing partner for a reality check, I always ask “Did we go crazy, or did everybody else?”

        So far, he’s always answered “It’s everybody else.”

        You’re not crazy, HUG. You’re one of the sanest people I know.

        Now that IS scary. Because I know I’m not wrapped all that tight to begin with.

  38. MelissaTheRagamuffin says:

    Headless Unicorn said: “And speaking as a 55-year-old virgin AND ex-Kid Genius (and pretty sure the two are connected),”

    My dream guy! Will you marry me?

  39. With ‘comedy’ like this, who needs tragedies?