Watched Serenity again the other night. (Orson Scott Card agrees with me that it’s the finest sci-fi film ever made. Hate it when he copies me…) There’s no way to over-state Joss Whedon’s skills. Plot, character, action, pace… the film’s a benchmark for shiny sci-fi goodness. The dialogue alone has some of the best one-liners ever uttered, and the scene with the Reaver ships confronting the Alliance in the skies over Mr. Universe’s planet is pure epic.
Watched it last night with a buddy who’d never had the pleasure of seeing it before, and after acknowledging its obvious awesomeness, he said “The guy (J.W.) knows the Bible but doesn’t seem to like Christianity very much. It’s the whole sub-text.”
It’s not my purpose here to dissect the film’s themes with its notions of creating a ‘world without sin’ and faith in faith. I’d be happy to discuss them some other time. Between the hullabaloo over at deCompose on Labeling Christian fiction and my friend’s comment, I was reminded of the obvious fact there’s a worldview driving every bit of media. It’s never really ‘just of movie/song/show/novel….”
“All art is propaganda. It is universally and inescapably propaganda; sometimes unconsciously, but often deliberately, propaganda.”
— Upton Sinclair
I’m not shocked to find that others hold different or opposing worldviews, neither am I sniveled that they would construct and infuse their creations with their perspectives. I expect it. I also hold to the conviction Christian artists shouldn’t use ‘bait and switch’ tactics trying to be clever.
What I do find odd are the shrill accusations of ‘proselytizing’ that come whenever certain folks encounter a novel/art with Christian themes, or the strident calls for warning labels on the same like those on gansta rap cds or household chemicals. Star Wars, Serenity, Avatar, Childhood’s End, Caprica or the new BSG, or (insert your own title) don’t feature lead-ins with “This film contains elements of secular humanism/re-constituted pagan belief systems, and was made in a facility known to hold condescending/denigrating attitudes towards traditional Judeo/Christian values.”
What’s ridiculous* (see below) is the double-standard employed, as if Christians aren’t entitled to the same integrated creative expression as other artists. When I was shopping Running Black around, one editor strongly suggested I lose the ‘definite world-view statement’ (read “Christianity”) to make it more marketable. Apparently, a child going to Heaven is offensive to some people.
As an adult functioning in the Open Marketplace of Ideas, I’m fair game. I’m expected to sort out different truth claims when I meet them, generally without the benefit of a warning shot across my bow. Being a free moral agent in a free society means I encounter those who have made different choices and engage in conduct I disagree with. That’s the burden and benefit of maturity and liberty.
Atheism insists it holds the intellectual high ground; that religious folks lack a chromosome or a matching pair of brain cells, or some equally debilitating condition, but isn’t what’s good for the goose also good for the gander? Don’t like my perspective? Deal with it… Deal with it the same way I deal with yours. Like an adult.
But given the hue and cry, the scorn often heaped on Christians, I’d say those folks are acting in the very manner they accuse believers of: myopia, fear, and shallow conditioned ignorance.
* In the film, the safeword phrase that Simon uses to shut River down, “Eta kuram na smekh”, is a Russian expression (“Это курам на смех”). Literally, it means, “That’s for chickens to laugh at” — a Russian idiom for “That’s ridiculous”.