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Klavan On The Culture

Eyes Wide Shut: Christians Against Art

June 7th, 2013 - 10:37 am

An excellent article by John Stonestreet at Breakpoint led me to an excellent article by Philip G. Ryken at The Gospel Coalition. Ryken asked Christian artists how the church discouraged them and they gave him some very precise and, I thought, accurate answers. Here’s Stonestreet’s summary:

First, they said, treat the arts as window dressing for the truth rather than the window into reality it’s intended to be. Second, embrace bad art just because it’s “Christian.” Third, value artists only for their artistic gifts, but not for the other contributions they can make as thinkers and servants with a unique perspective. Fourth, demand that artists only give answers in their work, but never raise questions. Fifth, never pay artists for their work—take advantage of them in ways we would never do with plumbers or accountants. And finally, only validate art that has a direct salvation application.

These complaints seemed to be highlighted and exemplified by a well-intentioned but, to my mind, utterly wrong-headed essay by David Gibson of the Religion News Service entitled, “Can A Christian Watch Game of Thrones?” (which happens to be my favorite show at the moment):

Is there anything morally redeeming about “Game of Thrones”? Does the hit HBO series even have a moral vision…?  The appeal of the series seems bound up in the senseless violence and amoral machinations – not to mention the free-wheeling sex – that the writers use to dramatize this brutish world of shifting alliances and dalliances.

I call this wrong-headed not for its description of the show, but for its inherent concept of Christians as delicate flowers who have to be protected from a vision of life as it is. Gibson says GOT may be “depicting how the world would look if Christ had never been born – or what it could look like if Christianity disappeared tomorrow.” But that’s just silly. Does he mean now that Christ has shown up, people live long and prosper in honesty and evil never thrives? Is he demanding to be lied to about the nature of this world?

The very power of Game of Thrones derives from the fact that the author of the source novels, George R. R. Martin (an atheist, I believe) treats his characters as harshly and heartlessly as the real world treats the rest of us. If Christians can’t look at that without losing their faith, they better not watch the news either, or look out their windows, or leave their rooms. 

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All Comments   (19)
All Comments   (19)
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Years before I ever heard of this game of thrones I have entered the thrones in hell as a test . Now I enter the thrones in hell that it is impossible to tame but make truce
The key is to SEE the world around you and Not sin. One needs plenty of angel protection and saint protection to do this and by doing this thrones in hell are conquered
Great tests come but temptation within is not from God but the devil. if you have temptation if you see a naked woman then man let you admit the devil is right in front of your pathway
The Christian sent out to the world to convert the heathen and conquer his sins with the memory of the holy spirit
The Christian know your place in the world if you are always tempted by the flesh of the world. and God know what sins your are hiding in your heart and your flesh that prevent one to approach God's Divine Love
No one should attempt to play this REAL game of thrones I am called to do unless they can hear the voice of God. Pray God reveals his voice to you to conquer the great thrones in hell.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I watch GoT on Sunday nites because there's nothing else to watch, really. Its combination of gore/torture and sex is mostly offputting because it's a sensationalist distraction from a slow, meandering, bloated plot with only one interesting non-cartoon character you give a damn about, the dwarf Tyrion. Everyone else is a faux-medieval cartoon.

PS. Re: "Jesus did not direct his stories at the "church" of His day but rather to the world at large." Not quite. Check the Gospels. He spoke only to his fellow Jews, the "church" of his day. He never initiated contact with Gentiles, only healed them on request and then moved on, never ate with them or maintained relations with them, etc. He was not "inclusive."
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Klavan. When are you going to make another "Klavan On The Culture" video? If nothing else can I have your permission take your articles and make narrative videos of them.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am a Christian (Lutheran) and I have no problem watching Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, but I didn't like Game of Thrones (I only watched the first two episodes).
The problem I had was that I could not suspend my disbelief. The medieval world looked like the medieval world because it was built on centuries (even millenia) of unique history. It was Germanic culture over a layer of Latin and Greek culture. The world of Game of Thrones seemed mediveal but had no equivalent history. It's hard to accept it as a 'real' myth.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
After listing various depravities, Paul warns us: "Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." Romans 1:32

So, being entertained by sinners sinning, is also a sin.

In the storytelling arts, what isn't fundamentally about "unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity"?

I've thought about these things because I watch TV and movies like most people.
I'd like to think I'm mature enough to take the good and not be corrupted, but that's like Christians in Paul's day who attended pagan feasts. They knew they could eat meat sacrificed to false gods, since an idol is really nothing. But Paul tells us to consider the example we're setting for less mature Christians: "And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ." I Corinthians 8:11-12

Instead, "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8

You may be able to say GOT is honest, but it isn't pure.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I believe Saint Paul is writing as a father to his children. A Father knows only half the things his children imagine and see murder in their heart toward the mother and brother or sister but then to see your children grow up and with their own free will choice be on a good road even after they fall come back to the good road what more can a father ask for?
As far as movies in our culture I like this pagan Gannicus Celtic Warrior fella before Christ who stuck with beauty lesbian Saxa who can with her own hands slay 90% of man flesh then she brings all her lesbians to have orgy sex with Gannicus but then Gannicus saves a slave woman Sibyl and he falls in love with the slave woman who looks just like my 26 year old woman I am creating with my own hands her lips dripping with honey mother of three children worthy I great love but I resist Satanic temptation to take her for my own and thrown in hell for great sin against God's will as Satan did to Eve
In the End Gannicus is nailed to the cross and gets a warrors reward in the afterlife not being Jesus who was raised from the dead in the flesh and blood
This love Gannicus had for the slave Sibyl is what makes the coming of Jesus sent by the Father to save the world possible
God so loved the world....God would heal the eyes of the blind Gannicus if not in total in this life in the afterlife


Gannicus and Sibyl

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weOOCc2h6gk
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Waxwing01: I want to party with you, dude.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I love to dance
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
The greater the temptations the greater the saint becomes who resists the temptations
and if he or she falls into temptation the blood and living flesh of Jesus can make the saint as white as snow sinless again I believe
A good father is ALWAYS waiting for his back sliding child to turn away from sin
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
footnote
What a day yesterday! This is the Lilith weekend here and for the very first time in my life I saw a Faerie. To make a long story short ,years ago I brought three nuns into my 2nd heaven which was a very dangerous thing to do a miracle I escape with my life then I was warned NEver to go into the land of the faerie and I obey.
But something great happen since Mary release Lilith from her prison and the faerie appear at the 5th angel sanctuary with all the human faces where the holy river is that is a miracle that appear from no where years ago and north is the Holy Mary Mother of god sanctuary in this great enchanted forest.The 5th angel forever I have thought of as the protector of the earth angel.The river was over flowing and in the near south was the faerie .
Someone had created a beauty pathway through my 3rd heaven into the Jesus sanctaury straight into faerie land and I took this pathway which brought me into the Saint Hildegaaard veiled woman sanctuary with all the human faces.WOW!
I got the feeling the faerie read my feelings and also feel my ancestors and I believe some of them never saw a tree they could not hellp to lust to cut down so this maybe why I was banned from entering the faerie land although I got lost once a few months ago and found myself there but just had a spooked feeling
But what a day both the faerie and I were very pleased
Then I find this video of beauty woman who looks like my 26 year old woman I create who has 3 children but this woman in video maybe 15 years older than my creation and she talks about faeries in the video.
My 26 year old is creating a nice garden at here house and now i tell her about aging gracefully like this women in video so she can age gracefully and she is now becoming so ver beautiful I could see the day I come to believe 98% of the men are not worthy of being her husband in my husband hunt for this young woman with her beauty lips dripping with honey

Faerie video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BtbaenajGs
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the Klavan & Whittle segment "Is TV Worth Watching," Andrew said that "you have to choose what you like" because most of the shows on cable television are loaded with unnecessary nudity and sex scenes.

It's OKAY to avoid or not like Game of Thrones (as well as countless other shows) for that reason. Even Andrew has admitted that the sexuality in Game of Thrones is over the top, and some people just don't like to be bombarded with it every ten minutes. If I did, then I would just subscribe to Playboy.

http://www.gotquestions.org/sin-movies.html
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
"An artist’s job — even if he’s a Christian artist — is not to sell Jesus, it’s to depict life truly."

I agree with that with the proviso that a storyteller can exercise the option of inserting a happy ending in a world with precious few of them. The reason why I believe that that is not dishonest is that the great redeeming fact of Christianity is the ultimate victory promised in the Bible when even Death gets tossed into the lake of fire. With the exemption of Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love, and a few other scattered examples, I stay far away from Christina fiction because it mostly sucks from the standpoint of good prose and clever storytelling.

And GOT? Stunning. What a work. I used it just yesterday to tell a young English student of mine about the real logic of a Christian world view in a comfortable and natural way.

I love this stuff. Keep it up, bro, even though you're a bit of a voice in the wilderness. I'm an Evangelical and these guys drive me nuts with their stupid legalism in the guise of separating themselves from the world. I have a brother who reads only the King James Bible (for the wrong reason), and never let his daughters wear pants because of OT restrictions on women wearing men's garments. How weird is that? And does he have a positive effect on his environment for the savior of the world? Of course not. He just looks out of touch and insular. I love him, but I pity him as well. Anyway, well done.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
The reason I've stayed far away from GOT is precisely the many accusations of gratuitous sex scenes -- frankly, porn -- coming from people without any great moralizing agenda. Jonah Goldberg and John Podhoretz come to mind; they've made many jokes about it, including use of nudity in the background to spice up otherwise boring expository scenes. Oh, then there was the description (was it in Slate? Or Salon?) of the brave young actress who walked off the set when asked to do something that crossed a line for her.

In a world of finite time, these descriptions made my decision easy. I've spent my viewing time on other things. If what I have been told was wrong, I'd love to know. Is it possible the show has cleaned up its act over time?

I don't enjoy being one of about 17 people in the entire U.S. who does not know what's going on. But Andrew, I don't think you really addressed this reason for avoiding the show.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
RE "If Christians can’t look at that without losing their faith, they better not watch the news either, or look out their windows, or leave their rooms."

Personally, I prefer not to watch/read art that presents the harsher negativities of life, because my own perceptions of the world around me tend to be negative. I want someone to give me a vision of how life should (could) be, so I can carry on - a FURTHER reminder that what I see every day isn't all there is.


45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some time ago a guy named Kaven, Kloven, something like that, wrote the best definition of 'ART' I've ever come across. To paraphrase:
Art is a message to the future. Saying, "This is who we were. This is what we did. And this is what it was like."
Though we should also remember that lots (maybe most) of art is simply pleasantly decorative. Or entertaining (as one musicologist called Rock n'Roll, 'Ritual Dance Music). And there is nothing wrong with either concept.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
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