It’s so insidious, isn’t it?
We live our lives vicariously through movies. Yes, even you.
The ultra-serious chemical engineer with whom you attend church? There are certain movies he watches when he needs an emotional or spiritual booster shot.
The pedantic nerd whom everyone calls “Pastor” or “Reverend?” He can recite all the dialogue in two or three favorite movies, the ones he relies on to refocus when reality begins to erode his sense of self.
Generations ago, young people were cautioned about wasting their time reading novels. “Fiction is not real life. It dissipates the soul.” But no one warns anyone about movies. Oh, certainly, certain types of movies are verboten, at least officially. But to proscribe watching movies in toto would be like requiring ruffled collars and silk knee hose on businessmen. It’s simply not going to be done. By anyone.
Pastors love movies.
I know a pastor who has watched every Daniel Craig James Bond movie ever made. He knows those movies better than he knows the book of Ephesians. I know a pastor who has watched the Narnia movies repeatedly through the years the way Rocky runs up steps or chases chickens (did you enjoy the movie reference?). I know a pastor who confided to me that he considers the Cruise/McGillis love scene in Top Gun to be one of the most beautiful moments in cinematic history. Yes, he really did.
Can you imagine the movies that top the favorites lists of people like Tim Keller, or Doug Wilson, or John Piper? It is to barf.
The thing about movies is that they affect the way we live our lives. Men now see themselves not as individual souls in the battle of life, but rather as the stars of their own live movie. Men see camera angles on themselves. They anticipate plot developments. They see themselves through how other people are looking at them, watching them. They have soundtracks for certain moods, and hissing interior silence for others.
Men do not question or even think about the fact that they have ceded their own lives to some director or directors they’ve never met. Directors they’ll never meet.
Men watch movies and immediately become the protagonist, especially if he’s dangerous or edgy or an antihero. Curiously, they never see themselves as the bit-part player who portrays the janitor or the clerk. No, the guy watching the movie is always the star of his own movie.
Why are movies so easily available but the chance to see a great opera or symphony is a challenge? How many hours in your lifetime have you spent watching movies? Oh, to have those hours back…