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April 09, 2007


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Troy Miller

We had just watched _Stranger Than Fiction_ a week or so ago, and I thought of it many times during this sermon, mainly because the theme is almost exactly the same. In that movie, the main character all of a sudden finds out he is in the middle of a larger story, and, spurred by the revelation that this story includes his untimely demise, sets about to find out what the story was, what his role in it was, and if he could change it. I won't give away the ending on a public board, but it also fit quite well with the theme of the message, I thought.

I also was reminded of the part when the Dustin Hoffman character tells him that the first thing he should try to find out is whether he was in a "comedy" or a "tragedy." I definitely find myself wondering what sort of theme my life will ultimately fit into sometimes.

Henry Williams

Troy: I've seen it and wanted to reference it since it fit so perfectly, but I decided against it in the interest of time and because I didn't think I needed any more movie references. Lois pretty much hated the film. I enjoyed it. Did you like it?

Kari Ennulat

Here is some feedback for you on this movie trailer - - - I don't watch these types of movies so I don't get it. It is hard for me to tell if these scenes are all from one movie or several. The movie images are dark to me. (what are the ratings on these movies that you are featuring / promoting each week?)

Henry Williams

Kari: Thanks for the feedback. The movies we used are featured in the book, Epic, and have a variety of ratings. Many are for mature audiences only and not for definitely not for everybody. The movie clips I used in the message came from Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, Gladiator and The Matrix.

I think think that the costuming and filming style creates enough contrast to tell that they are more than one movie. As with most montages, it's most fun if you've seen the movies. But one dad told me that while his fifth grade son had not seen most of the movies, he started coming up with choice points by some of his heroes in some of his favorite kids movies. I hope it had that result in most people, but it's bound to leave some scratching their heads.

Your question offers an opportunity to address a very important issue. It may or not be related to your feedback and question. I'm just going to segue into it (steam of thinking stuff...)

Discernment is required in choosing what movies a person feels they can or should watch. Same applies to books, recreational choices, music, talk radio, clothing, shopping... In other words, I know people that can't golf or shop without sinning, so they stay away from golf courses or shopping malls for the most part. Some people find that they can't listen to talk radio without becoming mean-spirited, hyper-critical, negative or despondent (e.g., losing faith in God's eventual victory). I could go on with other examples.

What I'm getting at is that showing a movie clip is not an endorsement for everyone to go see the movie. I will say that I don't show clips of movies I couldn't endorse for anyone to see (at least without a strong disclaimer), but I don't think a disclaimer is necessary every time I show a film or TV clip, especially from movies or TV shows that I know a lot of people in our church, including me, have seen.

I'm pretty picky about what I see. For example, I don't go to slasher movies or sex comedies. Some people are amazed at the number of movies I haven't seen that they and everyone they know have seen. Even so, I have seen and valued some movies that included violent scenes or sexual situations that would not be appropriate for just anyone to see. And I also realize that what one person goes to see without a problem may not be suitable for me.

For example, I haven't seen a Bond film since the mid-70's until the most recent one. I know people in our church that have the whole collection and are not bothered by it. I, on the other hand, find the whole Bond women thing to be unhelpful to me. On the other hand, I saw the most recent one because I read up on it and found that it was different. I loved it. But some of the Bond fans may find that the gritty violence and reality based nature of the latest installment is not helpful for them. That's discernment coming into play. (For another whole group of people, they may avoid all movies altogether for discernment reasons.)

Another example. I don't use profanity and I never have in my entire life. But hearing profanity doesn't upset me. Hearing "pagans" use God's name in vain doesn't upset me because I expect pagans to live like pagans and I find that most of their lives are in vain anyway.:) (No offense to my pagan readers. You know I'm right anyway and if you know me, you know I like you and you know my lack of offense is refreshing.) I know some believers who have really struggled with profanity, seeking to reflect Scriptural admonitions not to use profanity. When they hear it in movies or TV shows, it really bothers them and it tends to get those words back into their heads, so they avoid movies with profanity (something that's really hard to do these days). I can honestly say that I'm not tempted to use it or think it and that movies don't cause me to struggle with it or offend me.

I have thought that maybe I should include a disclaimer regarding movie clips in the Worship Program, but it has occurred to me that if I did, maybe I would need to start putting disclaimers in for everything (everyday illustrations, expensive clothing or jewelry worn on stage, personal references in sermons or faith stories, etc.) that might hint that something that may be detrimental to some people is being endorsed (e.g., materialism or bad stewardship of our time or lack of care for the earth, etc.). Maybe I think too much. :) But I have a hard time with simply doing things and accepting things just because my sub-culture thinks and acts a certain way. And a lot of our folks come out of a sub-culture that condemns anything out of Hollywood but fails to see problems with Madison Avenue. They make a big deal out of movies or other art forms, but they're blind to their materialism, their unconcern for the poor, etc. So they're very selective on their disclaimers.

For now, I'd just like to avoid disclaimers altogether and let people figure some of this stuff out for themselves, in the context of relationships with other believers, their walk with God and their reading of Scripture.

Kari Ennulat

I have the Epic book. This book references many movies including Little Women(PG), Sense and Sensibility(PG), Sound of Music(PG),Sleepless in Seattle(PG), Gone with the Wind(G), Rocky(PG), Top Gun(PG), & Apollo 13(PG). The ratings for the movies that are included in the Epic series movie clips are PG, PG-13, R, R, & R. I believe with all my heart that God can and will use this series even though those movie clips are hard for me to watch.

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  • I'm the lead pastor of Five Oaks Church in Woodbury, MN where we seek to help people CONNECT with others and God, DEEPEN their relationship with Christ and IMPACT the world for Christ.

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