Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Faith in the Land of Make-Believe

This is an excerpt from a book I just finished called "Faith in the Land of Make-Believe" by Lee Stanley.  Lee Stanley is a film director who tells of his story of helping the criminal and jailed youth through the love of Jesus Christ.  I know this book and excerpt is geared toward a filmmaker, but I think it speaks truth to all artists.  Highly recommend it for the Christian who happens to be an artist. I also recommend it for the artist who happens to be just an artist.

Why is it that when we work under the banner of  “Christian,” we are often forced to dilute the truth and power of the pen or the camera by creating characters who do not exist in real life?

Christian films have the unbridled reputation of being artificial, manipulative, and predictable, with watered-down, one-dimensional characters and unbelievable (notice I did not say supernatural) story lines.  We preach; we point; we judge, and we prance around our blatant theme to suspecting audiences for what purpose--to lead them to Christ.

Too often we are doing more earthly damage than kingdom good.

What are we afraid of?

I believe it is our responsibility as artists to create characters, circumstances, and settings as they really are--as long as those incidents are justifiable and are not used for shock value alone or as a short-circuiting of the creative process.

If we set up watered-down, artificial, phony characters in the beginning of our films or books, audiences will not believe, or even come to realize, the magnitude of their transformation or experience God’s power, forgiveness, and unconditional love.

Christians who watch our films know in their guts that the filmmaker is a born-again Christian.

Nonbelievers consistently ask, “What is it about your productions that are so different, so life changing?”

I always give the same answer.  “You experienced the love and presence of Jesus Christ.  Imagine what he can do in your life, if you only let him.”

I was once introduced on a television talk show as a “Christian filmmaker.”  I respectfully corrected the host and said, “I am a Christian who happens to be a filmmaker.”

Christ made that very clear to me the first time I picked up a camera after becoming born again.

I died for everyone,” He reminded me. “Your work needs to be for everyone I died for.

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