Just Say No!
“Yikes! Nightmares from Hollywood” (June 16) asks, “what are parents to do?” What would be wrong with simply teaching children not to patronize Hollywood’s products? If Christians would stay away from the movie theaters, Hollywood would have a lot less money to produce its filth, and many would have fewer memories of violence and perverted sex defiling their minds.
J. Harold Greenlee
As a “movie buff” and L.A. resident, I am reminded of the observation (I think from Muggeridge) that the heart of the problem of the media is that fictional evil is very appealing, while actual goodness is dull and unappealing.
Rev. Robert Wenz
Covina First Baptist Church
It is reassuring to see Roy Anker and CT focusing on the specific films that should cause us concern. But I lament the fact that Anker made no reference to the study conducted by the National Council of Churches, “Violence and Sexual Violence in Film, Television, Cable and Home Video,” which resulted in a strong statement adopted by the NCC General Board. As chairman of the study committee, I can assure you that one of the major concerns was the impact film is having on the sensibilities of our teenage population. But we also concluded that in a democracy, education and public pressure, rather than boycotts or censorship, are the appropriate means for addressing the problem.
We deplored the careless manner in which video stores allow young people to rent R-rated films; we also noted that the industry’s rating system was designed to cover films in theaters, not the home market. We cautioned the film industry not to ignore the growing concern of parents—one your article expresses quite well—because to do so is to invite the sort of censorship none of us really wants to see in our society. CT is to be commended for presenting this article and alerting readers to a dimension of the current problem of violence and sexual violence in media. Had you included a reference to the NCC study, you would have been able to note that even the so-called mainline churches share in your concern. And that would have united diverse Protestants in a common cause.
James M. Wall
The Christian Century
Fair Warning Needed
I had not seen The Last Emperor when I read “Getting Kids to Watch Good Movies” [June 16], so my husband and I rented the movie. While it’s true the movie did contain “action, romance, drama, and visual spectacle,” there were scenes I did not expect to see. Is this really the type of movie you want to endorse? Stefan Ulstein wants to teach us to use “guidance and encouragement” to help our kids “choose movies for content and approach rather than cheap thrills.” The scenes in question were in no way essential to the movie. I understand your reasons for recommending the movie. My complaint is that you didn’t warn us of the problems.
A “Pivotal Intervention” By God
As an African-American Christian deeply influenced by Martin Luther King, Jr., I was appreciative of the insight and sensitivity shown by Tim Stafford’s review of Taylor Branch’s book, Parting the Waters [Books, June 16]. The average white American Christian knows far too little of the legacy and significance of King. His life and work represented a pivotal intervention by God to save this nation from the worst in its character and move it toward the genuine possibility of ethnic equality rather than racial holocaust.
But Stafford insisted on reminding us that King’s life, although great, was disfigured by sin. What man’s life is not! The review would have had greater impact had it examined the “grand failure” of the evangelical/fundamentalist community to see the signs of the times and support the righteous aims of the civil rights movement.
Rev. Michael P. Williams
No mention was made of the wire taps on King or of his close Communist associates. If you charge he was helped by his association with Graham, then to what degree was he helped by his Communist associates? I wonder whose advice prevailed with King, Graham’s or O’Dell’s.
Rev. Ennio Cugini
The Clayville Church
No. Scituate, R.I.
Holy Cow! He’s Got Dirt in His Eye!
It is common knowledge that, after winning the big game, all professional athletes go straight to Disney World. But many Christian athletes, after winning big—or at least after making the big play—go straight to their knees.
We evangelical insiders realize, of course, they are thanking the Almighty for their success. But the announcers—usually former athletes who seem unable to understand the theological nuances of very public prayer—often proffer a different explanation for the occasional genuflecting in this nation’s sports arenas.
Consider this gem following a touchdown: “Johnson is on his knees in the end zone. He must be out of breath.” Or after a recent shutout: “Roberts is down in front of the mound. He must have something in his eye.” Once one of those shortstops from the Dominican Republic crossed himself before stepping up to the plate and the announcer explained, “There’s Dominguez being pestered by a mosquito again.”
Oh, the perils of public piety! But hey, it’s a witness, right?
Sometimes I wonder, though, why we never see these guys go to their knees after signing a seven-figure contract. Just once, after winning the big game, wouldn’t it be great if they would say, with similar joy, “I’m going to Ethiopia.”
John Akers asks: “Where are the creative men and women—the writers, the artists, the filmmakers—who will capture the imagination of our confused world in the name of Christ?” [June 16]. I suspect many talented people are paralyzed by a view of spirituality that suggests the imagination and its fruits be either ignored or denied. They still ask, “What does Jerusalem have to do with Athens?” and are still answered, “Nothing at all.” Is it any surprise, then, that Christian contributions to the arts remain minimal and that the cultural values that dominate our generation are shaped more by men like Rushdie and Kazantzakis than by Jesus and Paul?
Bowling Green, Ky.
Akers is a lonely voice in his call for Christians to enter Christ’s service in the secular creative environment. (When did you last hear a prayer from the pulpit asking God to move in the hearts of young people to consider this field? Contrast that with the number of times you’ve heard petitions for ministers of the gospel.) Perhaps part of the reason they are not there is because we have not challenged them to be.
The problem is not a scarcity of Christian writers willing to “expose by their work the vanities and contradictions of our age.” The real problem is that you are not an author until you are published, and it is next to impossible to get published unless you are a recognized author.
Edith S. Weigand
The Lewis “Hoax”
Thank you for your continuing coverage of the controversy and issues raised by The C. S. Lewis Hoax [News, June 16]. It seeems that more and more modern scholars are committed to “consensus” truth. The Mattson panel had an admirable goal in trying to responsd to Lindskoog’s book in a clear manner, but ill-chosen means only muddy the waters. Even more sadly, they have added to the modern confusion that scholarship can be based on majority or consensus vote rather than on careful, detailed analysis on a point-by-point basis.
Kathryn Lindskoog did not ever claim to have proved her charges [in The C. S. Lewis Hoax]. She presented what she considered to be fair questions with a certain amount of supporting evidence, knowing that it would require intense investigation to prove or disprove them, if indeed proof or disproof is possible since so many of those who might testify are dead. The real point is that Lindskoog’s book, being published, cannot be swept away, as some would like to do. The questions are hanging in the air. They won’t go away. Lewis scholars will have to take them into account. Only a powerful apologia from Walter Hooper—or possibly a magisterial statement from Owen Barfield—would be likely to alter the “not proved—and not disproved either.” Truth is not established by votes.
Readers might assume J. Stanley Mattson is a Lewis scholar. Rather, he is a professional fund raiser and public-relations specialist. Furthermore, the “expert in document forgery” he appointed to authenticate fishy manuscripts (which Hooper keeps locked away) is a friend of Hooper’s who is no more a forgery expert than an astronaut. What next!
Two Sides To Disabilities Act
It is unfortunate that your article on the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1989 [News, June 16] did not fairly depict both sides of the question. In fact, it implied that the Christian position was one of opposition, when I believe it ought to be one of support. William Bentley Ball defends the specific interests of the industry he represents, and I sympathize with his concerns.
My perspective is different from his. Sometimes I am embarrassed when churches find it so difficult to accept and accommodate people who are disabled, the very people Christ went out of his way to reach. Why should it take government sanctions to force us to do what we ought to do? This act may not be perfect. If a religious exemption clause is what it takes to get the ADA passed, then so be it. But I would rather see churches and Christian schools leading the way, providing a model of compassion and tolerance for the world to follow.
Joni Eareckson Tada
Agoura Hills, Calif.
Reasons For Becoming A Catholic
As a practicing and devout Roman Catholic for over 30 years, I take grave exception to the column by your senior editor J. I. Packer, “Mistaking Rome for Heaven” [May 12]. I’d love to sit down with him and have a discussion. Or, better yet, have him talk to some converts who attend my parish church; I’m sure he’d find they are there for far more important reasons than the one he listed.
Laurel A. Lane
St. Louis, Mo.
There is hardly any natural attraction that could draw an Episcopalian to the Catholic church: not liturgy, not music, not architecture, not style, not status, rarely preaching. Muggeridge is a dear but exceptional person. For the other Protestant converts to the Catholic church whom I have met over the past five years, the move has been a sacrifice, not an indulgence of “feeling” as over against truth.
Probably most of the people who have thought, prayed, obeyed their way into the Catholic church from evangelical Protestantism have ceased to read CT with its strong anti-Catholic bias, but I wish you could hear from “the trickle” what has really caused them to undertake such a daunting move. I am not one of these, but I respect the mind that believes, the heart that trusts, the will that decides, the body that obeys for Christians to leave a warm, smug haven to do what they are convinced is the will of God for them.
Lovelace O. (Mrs. Thomas) Howard
Beverly Farms, Mass.
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