Friday, May 28, 2004

Abu Ghraib

     If you haven't had it up to here with Abu Ghraib I recommend you read this piece by Joel Belz. Belz writes that although the soldiers who performed those perverse, sordid, and terribly stupid acts are not representative of the American military, there's a good chance that they will become more so in the not too distant future. The disgusting photos from Abu Ghraib, Belz suggests, are the predictable spawn of a pornographic culture.

Key quote: We've been building a culture that asserts its right to goof around playfully with the kinds of things that, when seen now in the context of the Iraqi jails, horrify us. The violence, the sexual slavery, the domination, the bizarreall these are the stock in trade of America's music industry, of cable TV, of video stores, of the internet, and of newsstands in grocery stores. We like to kid ourselves into thinking that we're just playing games with all this stuff. But then when a few young but morally rudderless Americans are transported halfway around the world, made to think they are on the side of virtue, and asked suddenly to act responsibly, we're surprised that they can't.

     You'll want to read the whole thing. Thanks to Byron Borger at Hearts and Minds Bookstore for the link.


     Apparently the amazing success of The Passion of the Christ has triggered an epiphany of sorts in Hollywood film studios. Filmmakers and screen writers have perhaps been granted a vision of a land with long skeins of moviegoers eagerly queueing up outside theaters to see any film that might be even remotely Christian. What evidently hasn't been revealed to them, though, is that the films they market should portray Christianity and Christians honestly or else they'll likely play to empty houses.

     Hollywood, however, is not above preferring a wretched cinematic loser that makes religious believers look like characters out of American Beauty rather than proffering an honest portrayal of the truth about Christianity. So this month we're being served something called Saved!. According to reviewer Ted Baehr, Saved! sounds like another in a long list of execrable efforts at discrediting Christian belief and practice going back to Inherit the Wind (1960). Like others of the genre it appears to be filled with phony stereotypes, hypocritical believers, and anti-Christian heroes.

     This isn't exactly the formula Mel Gibson followed to pack 'em in, but an industry that insists upon churning out productions like Dogma believing that such awful fare might appeal to a Christian audience can't be expected to understand the convictions and sensibilities of those who went to see The Passion two or three times.

     Here's a news report on Baehr's review: Hollywood, Calif. - Ted Baehr, world-renowned media scholar and founder of the Christian Film & Television CommissionTM ministry, says the new Hollywood movie, SAVED!, to be released May 28 by MGM, is a sad, bigoted, anti-Christian movie that mocks the Christian faith. He urged other religious leaders, including Jewish and Moslem leaders, to warn their constituents about the "bigoted" movie, which stars Mandy Moore and Macaulay Culkin in a story about self-righteous Christian youths, set in an uptight Christian school. "SAVED! is a hateful, politically correct movie," Dr. Baehr declared. "The movie is being heavily marketed to the community it mocks to lead Christian youth astray and make them hate their faith." "The one character who tries to preach the Gospel in the movie," he noted, "is actually the villain in the movie. The heroine, Mary, played by Jena Malone, is told in a vision by Jesus to fornicate with the school hunk in order to save him from homosexuality." "At the end, Mary learns that her true friends are a rebellious Jewish girl who claims to have been a stripper and the villain's brother, who denies being a Christian and lusts after the so-called stripper." Dr. Baehr asks, "Imagine if this movie were set in a Jewish school with the faithful Jewish children cast as the villains and the Christian as the heroine who exposes their legalism. Or, what if it were set in an Islamic school, with the faithful Muslims cast as the villains and a Jewish girl as the heroine?" "The outcry in the press would be tremendous!"