There is nothing wrong with good, wholesome entertainment.
This week my girls and I watched the movie Love Comes Softly, based on Janette Oke’s book. My daughter has read all of Oke’s books in the last two years and loves them.
We liked the movie, and it was a lovely way to pass the time. I knitted, the girls crocheted, I shed a few tears. It was sweet.
So I’m not against entertainment! We all need things to read, and watch, which are God affirming, touching, and funny. And stories, when they’re told well, can touch your heart and change you.
My worry is that the Christian world is increasingly becoming entertainment based, rather than God based. Take the whole Jon and Kate controversy. I don’t want to comment on their parenting abilities because quite frankly we have no idea how much is true, or what is really going on in their hearts. I think we should leave them alone.
What I want to comment on, instead, is this compunction in the Christian publishing industry to glorify those who have public personas, rather than look solely at whether there is “any there there”, if you know what I mean. I was walking through my Christian bookstore recently and saw a big hardcover book featuring Jon and Kate, obviously written a while ago, talking about how God is the centre of their family and how their church has helped them.
Now I don’t know whether they’re Christians or not. But I know tons of Christian parents who have so much wisdom to offer because they have actually parented for a while. At the point where this book came out, Jon and Kate hadn’t. They were simply famous.
But that is the book that the publisher put out because they thought it would sell. We Christians tend to buy fluff. And we want to know that public personas are Christians. We’re so excited when we find out they are, whether it’s Jon and Kate or Carrie Prejean. But why?
Even if no celebrities were Christian, would it matter? Do we need celebrities to validate our faith? And what does it do to the faith of people when we start holding up people as Christian role models simply because they’re famous? The really wise people I know, who have so much to offer, aren’t famous and will never get a book contract. But our Christian community would be better off reading stuff written by them–if it was well-written–then written by these “celebrity” Christians.
Now, please, understand what I’m saying. I’m not trying to say that these people AREN’T Christians. I have no idea. I just don’t like elevating people not based on their faith but based on their celebrity status. I don’t think it’s good for them, because it puts so much pressure on them in the Christian realm, and I don’t think it’s good for us, because it feeds into a celebrity culture that tends to be shallow rather than into something that tends to be meaty.
And many books today in the Christian realm lack meat. I get a little sad when I see these best-selling authors churning out five books a year–basically the same book five times, with just a little bit changed–so that they can sell more books. Is that who we really want to become?
I find this with a lot of Christian ministry that I see lately. So much of women’s ministry is flashy–we have great music, and high powered speakers, and big banners and great conference centres, but do we have meat? Do we have anything that lasts beyond a weekend, or are we just trying to give women a fun day?
I’m not saying all retreats are lousy from a spiritual point of view. I’m typing this at a break where I’m speaking at one right now, and we talked about some difficult issues today. We’re going to get into some meatier ones tonight. But if we simply become a Christian community that wants to be entertained with fluffy books, and fluffy retreats, and fluffy church services, then we’re in trouble.
Perhaps I’m being a fuddy-duddy. And not all “meat” is boring. One of the most fun experiences and rewarding times I had last summer was reading through some of C.S. Lewis’ books, Surprised by Joy. Definitely no fluff, but so fun. And meaningful.
So share with me, what’s your favourite fluff? I do like a lot of novels, and not all of them ARE fluff. Randy Alcorn is wonderful and makes me think of heaven in a whole new way. And what’s your favourite meat? What do you love that does make you think? Maybe I’ll put a summer reading list together!