Why Can’t Christian [i.e., Evangelical Protestant] Films Be Better? by Fr. Bryce Sibley

Recently I’ve found myself having to defend to parishioners and friends the fact that I could not stand the movie Courageous. There seems to be almost an expectation that, as a Catholic priest, I should love explicitly Christian films. While I certainly think that the message of fatherly responsibility was good, and I would support, and maybe even encourage people to watch it, I still didn’t like the film. Granted, I am an admitted film snob, but just because I did not like the movie, know that I don’t think those who did like the movie are cinematic philistines.



I liked the content of the movie, but it is true that the quality of the film making & acting isn’t up to par with other movies like the Passion.

I haven’t seen the movie or even heard about it previously, but I think he hits the nail on the head as why there are no good Christian movies - they are too focused on being Christian first, rather than a good story that just happens to have a Christian message.

Personally, when I hear “Christian movie” I start out prejudiced to think it is going to be bad - even though there are Christian themed movies that I love.

Agreed. An example of a great movie that has a Christian message is Bella.

My husband and I are not really big on Christian movies. We haven’t seen ‘Courageous’ and have no intention too. We have seen ‘Facing the Giants’ which everyone raved over like it was the best thing ever and we watched it once and sold the DVD. Horrible acting and way too predictable scenarios left nothing to be desired.
‘Fireproof’…, eh… at least Kirk Cameron is a good actor. We no longer have that DVD either though :slight_smile:
And we have seen the ‘Left Behind’ series. Needless to say those are no longer in our collection as well. :wink:
I did like a movie called ‘The Last Sin Eater’…but not enough to buy it for our collection. :stuck_out_tongue:
Now for me personally, I enjoy the ‘Love Comes Softly’ series. Also enjoy ‘Amish Grace’, ‘The Shunning’, movies based on Christian books. Also LOVE 'Little House on the Prairie.
Love ‘Passion of the Christ’ as well. It was very well made and with great actors.

I think the best test of a good Christian movie is you can show it to an Atheist and he/she won’t scoff at it. :slight_smile:

I think we’re seeing just a tad bit of artistic snobbery in the priest’s article.

All of us are in a different place when it comes to “the arts,” and that’s OK.

E.g., I very seldom watch movies. I dislike the genre because I have a hard time connecting the 60-90 scenes in a movie. To me, it’s like Sesame Street–too jumpy. Please note that this is my personal opinion, and I realize that others DO like films–that’s why filmmaking is a huge, successful business! If everyone were like me, Hollywood would be a ghost town!

A few weeks ago, I went to see the Dark Shadows movie because I was one of those kids who loved the show back in the 1970s.

I absolutely loved it. I can’t wait to see it again!

But most of the critics and many members of the public (at least, the ones who go online) hated it. I suspect that the reason for this is that many of these people attend a LOT of movies, and are much more expert at knowing whether a movie is “good” or “bad,” whereas to a film yayhoo like me, ANY movie with Barnabas Collins is “GOOD!”

Another example–American Idol. I play piano and do a lot of accompanying work. So I know good music and good singing. Certain AI singers drive me crazy because they can’t stay on pitch. A few seasons ago, there was a physically beautiful contestant named Pia–everyone at work loved her and thought she was a great singer. I couldn’t stand listening to her because she consistently went sharp! Ouch! Others couldn’t hear it, but I could, and cringed. She was voted off fairly early, and I was very glad that apparently others recognized her deficiencies. (Same problem with Jessica Sanchez this season–she went sharp so often, and I think she needs to work with a voice coach to learn how to stay on pitch.)

So when it comes to music, I consider myself somewhat expert, definitely not a yayhoo.

Visual art is another medium where I am a complete yayhoo! I have no knowledge of visual art, and to me, any art that doesn’t look like a real photo is icky! Thankfully others DO know art, and that’s why we have all kinds of abstract art around the world!

So when it comes to Christian films, novels, music, etc., I think we have to realize and ACCEPT that there are a lot of people who really don’t care about the “art” quality. They’re interested in the “message” of the story more than they are in the story itself, or the presentation of the story.

Yes, I’ve read some really bad Christian novels, so poorly written that I actually get jealous wondering how these people get published. (Simple answer–as long as people buy their novels, the publishing company will publish them, and look the other way when it comes to grammar. It’s a question of staying in business and making a profit. Christian novels are kind of like McDonald’s food–not real nutritious or high-quality, but it sure sells well!)

I’ll be honest–I’ve tried reading some of the “high art” Christian writers that some of the posters have listed above. Frankly, I couldn’t get past the first few chapters, and when I did manage to actually finish their works, I felt that their stories were so bleak and so full of despair and angst that I was depressed for a week and ate a lot of sugar to try to medicate myself back into happiness again. Yucko.

I don’t want to read stuff like that! So call me a literary hillbilly, but I would much rather read a slightly contrived and badly-written, but good rollicking fun exciting story with a lot of kissing and romance and music/dancing, and explosions and car chases and probably a ghost or monster, and a really hateful villain who hoards calico cats and has a trapdoor in his living room, and travel to a place I’ve never been, and meet children (especially if they are figure skaters!), and solve a mystery and cry over a lot of sentimentality–and of course, the whole novel is saturated with a God-centered worldview, preferably Catholic, with a Rosary and a Mass.

:slight_smile: So in short, we have high and low art, and both forms can be appreciated by Christians. We shouldn’t be snobs. Live and let live.

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