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Monday, January 15, 2007

Dark and Depressing Books and Films

Sometimes people ask me why I "like" books and movies that most people consider dark and depressing. I'm sure there is a sophisticated psychological reason, but my response is more theological.

I appreciate some books and films that examine disturbing subject matter. Occasionally, someone will quote St. Paul to me: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4)." The apostle directs us to fill our minds with thoughts that are lovely, noble, pure and admirable. Indeed. But first he says, think on things which are true. And the truth is not always pretty or pleasant or uplifting. The truth can be gory and upsetting and awful.

I believe that just about all serious novels and films are theological in nature. Everyone is a theologian and a philosopher because everyone expresses views about the ultimate questions. Questions about God, life, death, right, wrong, relationships, love, damnation, etc.

This is not to say that all serious books and films express good theology or correct theology. There is a lot of false doctrine out there, to be sure. However, even a blind pig uproots an acorn once in a while. Artists - even unbelievers - frequently tap into holy truths, either intentionally or not.

Movies that deal with horrible scenarios, despicable people, and upsetting subject matter can do a lot of good in our society I believe. They can be effective preaching of the law. Everything is totally screwed up. People are basically screwed up. And there's nothing we can do about it. Not that I revel in the accusations and condemnations of the law. But in a culture that generally rejects the need for divine intervention, I think a little "dark" can prepare people for the gospel.

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4 comments:

The Heresy Hunter said...

If you like depressing, rejoice! 24 is back on, and from what I've read, nuclear weapons will be used this season. (In reality, it's one of my favorite programs).

Peter said...

I gotta give you credit. Your cheery personality flies in the face of your movie tastes. And, 24 is not depressing! It's a pure shot of adrenaline. A drug that makes you feel good . . . even the next day!

VirginiaLutherans said...

I agree that the biggest atheist will espouse some truths. But I have found a lot of the dark movies entail some sort of "self redemption." I would pose the question- how does that prepare anyone for the Gospel?

Where is the fine line between a hobby/entertainment and something that feeds the Old Adam? I find that too many "impure" things can feed the "beast." This is something all men must decide for themselves with great caution.

As a disclaimer, I do enjoy action movies, "24", sci-fi, and country and rock music (both music genres are not pure or admirable).

And, having just watched the Monday 2 hour installment... Heresy Hunter is correct. The scary thing is that it could happen... for real.

Carlray said...

VirginiaLutherans,
Of course, the Lord said the world will end in fire, so maybe a nuclear holocaust will be the "tool" He uses for the end of human history. It really does not matter, for, as the writer of Hebrews reminds us:
"...here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come." (13:14)

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