Friday, January 20, 2006

End of the Spear, Redux

Al Mohler writes a very balanced piece this morning on the Chad-Allen-as-Nate-Saint controversy. In my opinion, Dr. Mohler and Tim Challies have both modeled thoughtful, discerning, cultural engagement on this issue.

I initially said I had a hard time seeing the "big deal." But as I made clear in an early comment to Steve Camp, I was making a distinction (in my own mind) between the issue of acting per se and the platform that actors are given. If the issues are able to be separated in the abstract, then I still have a hard time seeing a coherent, persuasive argument for why a homosexual cannot accurately portray a Christian on film.

But I'm now persuaded that those two facets--performance and platform--cannot be separated in a movie of this nature. The difference between End of the Spear and films like Chariots of Fire and Lord of the Rings is that the latter films did not provide an avenue for the homosexual actors to offer a revisionist account of sexuality and spirituality. Although it's true that the messenger is not the message (as I argued in my initial post), the sad fact is that in our celebrity-saturated culture, the messenger often becomes the message for many viewers. (For example, there are tens of thousands of people throughout the whole world investigating Scientology due to the influence of Tom Cruise!)

I mentioned in my original post the title of Laura Ingraham's book, Shut Up and Sing. That continues to be my attitude toward Hollywood. I often feel like saying: "Listen, you do a great job at memorizing and make believe. That's what I pay money to watch. But I don't care to hear your unlearned opinion about foreign policy." But the fact is, too many people do want to hear everything that celebrities say, do, and think. And in the case of The End of the Spear, we see that Chad Allen is now being given a national stage upon which to express his views on Christianity and homosexuality.

Again, I commend to you Dr. Mohler's piece. At the end of his post he includes a number of links so that you can see more of the blogospheric debate.