Show, don’t tell: Tolkein versus LaHaye/Jenkins
18 November 2010 2 Comments
A link via Opus to a SkyeBox blog entry that responds to a recent Relevant article asking why Christian movies are so bad. The SkyeBox author believes — and I with him — the Relevant writer missed a crucial point.
He believes that our modernist Evangelical theology prevents us from non-literal thinking, from using our imagination and accepting the reality of mystery.
American evangelicalism, for the most part, has rejected a sacramental understanding of creation. Unlike Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and some other high-church traditions, evangelicalism is rooted in modernity and a literalist vision of the world. The bread is just bread. The wine is just wine (sorry, grape juice) . . . Our brand of theology tends not to feed or cultivate the imagination.
A sacramental theology, on the other hand, requires one to see on multiple layers at once. A thing may carry multiple meanings simultaneously. Symbols dominate space and teaching. Mystery is embraced, and the imagination encouraged . . .
Is it possible that creative story-telling, like the kind necessary to produce great films, is particularly difficult for evangelicals because our instinct is to come directly at a something? . . . Rather than create a fantasy world like Middle-Earth to speak about the dangers of industrialization, a task that requires imagination and comfort with ambiguity, we’d rather just create a film about the dangers of industrialization.
The Left Behind books/films are an example of this direct communication style. Clearly LeHaye and Jankins [sic] created the series to teach their particular end times theology.
The SkyeBox writer goes on to describe a Van Gogh work painted in response to pieces by his friends Gauguin and Bernard. He thought his friends’ depictions of Christ in the Garden of Olives were too literal and responded with his own painting of Christ in the Garden where there was no visual depiction of Jesus.
I’ve been wondering if my own work has been too literal recently, although I understand that part of the reason for that has been an attempt to further my craft. In some ways it’s all a moot point though: I just haven’t had the time or a consistent enough schedule to properly iterate in my sculpture.
I’m eager to get to a point where my imagination becomes a greater part of my current sculptural work, where my ideas shine through my craft in a way that communicates with depth. I am moving in that direction, just not as quickly as I’d like.