The tragedy in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater in 2012 shook us, but, in addition, there is a more subtle concern that is related to movies, which is also sobering.
I have been distressed while reading some popular Christian writers and noticing that they can hardly write a paragraph without referring to some movie. It dawned on me that our point of reference, as an entire culture, has actually shifted from the Book of Proverbs to sit-coms and movies. We now tether off of the movie for our conversations and analogies, instead of the Bible. Recently while skimming some of the works of these popular Christian writers, I jotted down a few of the titles of the movies they referred to as I read, and afterwards looked them up on Amazon to get their ratings and to view a few short clips. I was appalled at what I saw.
When one considers what is portrayed in these movies, it becomes apparent that our culture is clearly in a deep state of "warpia." We think we are just in for a nice entertaining evening “swim,” but the water is growing noy for us mentally. The hour is hot. [And sometimes, as in the tragic situation inside the Batman-showing movie theater in Aurora, the actual environment is deadly.] We are not mentally where we once were. We are at sea, with no moral shoreline in sight. Modern films are saturated with arrogant, saucy attitudes, self-indulge entitlement thinking, outrageous unkindness and/or violence to others, vices galore, and ridicule of God. Yet we have to use these vehicles as a point of reference to communicate about ideas? What has happened to us?
Having to refer to modern films, many of which are dripping with occultism and altered realities, is a spiritually crushing state of affairs indeed. All too often, the realities in these films are not God's realities. They are born of witchcraft and defiance against the heavenly order, both in what a being is created for (e.g., a homosexual couple can't produce a child) and in what righteous authority was designed to be—endlessly making fun of fathers and clergymen. In these filmed new realities, good and bad are often redefined; the person using devious means wins. Real life with one's real neighbor, real economics, my brother's real need is of no real concern; we are nightly wrapped in a raucous digital life that means nothing.
Let's add it up: occultism, altered realities, defiant re-ordering of created beings, and casting off of divine government—i.e. preferring rebellion to worship—these are what we need to communicate? Movies are the source of the life-sized posters on the walls of some children's bedrooms. These characters are their examples. Where is the symbolic picture of the Good Shepherd on the wall? It is in the trash. Vile "scenes" are now the reference points—and these are not in the trash.
Pastors and professors are increasingly using movie clips to make a point. The pastor of a mainline church near us used Walt Disney scenes to define the gospel for his audience. All that did was entice the young mind to want to see the entirety of those films, he having whetted the appetite in a baptized holy setting—surely it must be all right. The supposed "godly insight" that was gained was lost on the way home from church (or on the way out the door).
What happened to using the Book of Proverbs as our moral reference point? How about the memorization of the entire Book of Proverbs? What about reading the Proverb of the day (i.e., this is the 28th, so today it's Proverbs chapter 28)? What if two people stood before you—one addicted to movies, the other addicted to Proverbs (i.e. one who conscientiously meditates upon that timeless wisdom and attempts to live by them, sorrowful when he falls even slightly from its precepts). Which person would you want to choose for your boss? your business partner? Which one would you want to be the President? Which one of them your car mechanic, or the producer of your food? Your Governor, Chief Justice, or accountant? The violent and morally shady material with which the mind has habitually hobnobbed slam-dunk produces a disturbed individual—and a disturbed culture. Be aware of this shift from the Bible to movies—at least where your own children are concerned and while you still have influence. The hour is short and the battle is insidious.
For more on this topic, read our eBook on TV Watching Out of Control.