Cider House Stinks

I watched Cider House Rules tonight and it’s raised a lot of interesting questions. Like how did this movie win an academy award? And that question has nothing to do with the politics of the movie. It was simply not a high quality film. The plot line was predictable and shied away from the really difficult questions. Dig into the movie’s political agenda (abortion), and you have all kind of difficulties. It certainly raises some valid points and makes you think, but couldn’t they have done it in a better way? They made no attempt to hide their bias, no attempt to fairly address the issue, no attempt to do anything more than push their pro-choice agenda. I realize that every movie and every piece of writing has it’s bias. They all have their own agenda. But there are ways to be more subtle about it. There are ways to be more effective. Don’t manipulate me for the sake of your political agenda. If you have a story to tell, then tell it. If you have an agenda to cram down my throat, go find some other sap.

The sad thing is that this criticism desperately needs to be heard by Christians. We’re often guilty of putting our agenda before anything else. And most Christians won’t see anything wrong with that. Jesus himself gave us this agenda, therefore it’s okay. That may be true, but then don’t expect anything you do in the name of Christ’s agenda to go beyond a Christian subcategory. If you put your propaganda first, it’s bound to ruin the medium–be it film, music, or writing. This is why Christian novels sell poorly. This is why Christian music is relegated to Christian radio stations. This is why Christian movies don’t make it to the box office.

Instead try telling a story, writing a song, or making a movie in a way that lets your Christianity shine through without overriding the genre. Don’t sit down to make something Christian. Sit down to make something. Christ will find a way to shine through. Just ask U2 or Toni Morrison or Flannery O’Connor.

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