Sunday, October 14, 2007

I'm Writing a Speech....

...that I will be giving soon to a Christian women's group. The title is "Living as a Disciple in the Media Age" and I have been wracking my brain to try and put some kind of new spin on this title, which has been my speaking bread and butter for the better part of eight years. Basically because I loathe and fear repetition, I've been all over this topic hundreds of different ways from hundreds of different podiums (and one covered garbage can in Baton Rouge....but I digress). But I think I am running dry because all I keep coming up with to say is, with exhaustion, "Oh, D*mnit. Just send a check here."

The folks at one recent talk asked me to prepare in advance a list of "contact information for people to complain to networks and studios." I told them I didn't have one of those lists, and that that really wasn't my message anyway. I think encouraging people to send protest messages is possibly an important message, and the r'aison d'etre of groups like this. But it isn't my message. First and foremost, because I don't think protesting is any kind of cultural strategy.

I said this at an event in Wichita this past summer, and a young woman came up to me cradling a child in her arms and kind of got in my face (with all the "You've clearly been poisoned working in Sodom, I bet you receive Communion in the hand" subtext) and said, "You don't have children, do you?" As though, the having of children would also spawn the conviction that cultural endeavors are exclusively for the damned. (I wanted to say to this young chicken something to the effect that, "Actually, at last count I have about 700," but it occurred to me that the appeal to the notion of spiritual childhood would just be way too Apostolicam Actuositatem for her.)

Just so somebody can get the wording right for my obituary, the reason I don't get behind the "Protest as Culture" parade is that it won't produce even one beautiful "Thank you!" to be sent back at the Cosmos. Which is the only reason to labor at art that makes any sense at all to me. (Actually, the wording of that was really dreadful. Please somebody, do tidy it up for my obituary.)

And if we want to get all pragmatic about "winning the culture war" (and I do think what's going on is a war, but hardly a new one... ref. the only and ever war) there is only one thing that is going to bring alternative (ie. better) product to the screens of the world. (And it isn't churches in Georgia and Minnesota turning into film production companies). We won't see alternative movies and television until we have alternative hearts and minds in Hollywood which is the center of global movie and television production.

So, we have only two real options for profoundly changing the channels (and literally changing the channels isn't one of them):

1) Create a new missionary imperative to recruit, form, support and commission for Hollywood a whole new generation of well-catechized, loving, merciful, prayerful, self-sacrificing, talented and professionally trained writers, directors, cinematographers, executives, producers, agents, attorneys, managers, publicists, editors, lighting designers, production designers, musicians, animators, and I suppose we must have some actors too.

2) Convert through prayer, sacrifice, patience and intentionality, the writers, directors, cinematographers, etc. who are already here.

Every other initiative to impact culture is ultimately straw.

And it is "straw" because it is not pleasing to God, who wants us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. And He also wants us to tell "all creation" the Good News. He just isn't that wrapped up in us making mediocre, low-budget pep-rally projects for the disciples who are cowering in caves wishing the non-believers would either go away, or at least entertain us without sex, language and violence.

Any questions? Good. So, help us out already, huh?

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