Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Rock & Roll, etc... Movies & Ratings

It's been an insightful walk across contemporary entertainment and Christianity with theologians Dr. Glenn Kreider and John Adair. Our series concludes today. I want to thank our awesome contributors for their investment of time and thought in both the interview and follow-up comments. Thanks so much to all who joined the dialogue, as well!


When my son was in first grade, he came home from school one day and told us about the "dark and scary" video his teacher showed the class. It was The Nutcracker! Todd and I had a good laugh... then questioned whether or not we were wise to shelter our children to that degree. On the flip side, if you turn on the Disney Channel, you'll get an eye full of little girls in lipstick dancing suggestively to some pretty mature songs. I've heard people say Christian parents should shelter their kids from secular media as long as they can. I know other people believe in serving up reality early on. Any thoughts on this?

Dr. Kreider:

Parents need to make decisions like this all the time. I believe we need discernment and wisdom to make such decisions and to teach our children wisdom and discernment. Complete isolation and protection is impossible. Total immersion in everything “out there” is dangerous and deadly. Some children can “handle the truth” at an earlier age than others.


Is it OK for Christians to go to R-rated movies?

Dr. Kreider:

The rating is not the sole issue. Some Christians can do so in faith and others cannot. Some people have a conscientious objection to watching films with a particular rating. Follow your conscience.


That’s right. It depends on their conscience. Romans 14-15 seem to indicate a great deal of freedom on a variety of issues. Interestingly, Paul seems to indicate that whatever we decide should be kept to ourselves (14:22). This isn’t about broadcasting to the world seeing R movies or not. Rather, we should examine our consciences on these issues and quietly, humbly go on our way.

Further, I’m not sure R-ratings are what we as Christians want to be making our determinations by anyway. There isn’t anything biblical about the divide between R vs. PG-13. Have you seen some of the recent PG-13 movies out there? Ratings are set when a bunch of (anonymous) people get together in a room and decide based on certain guidelines; guidelines, I might add, that are ever changing. Bringing a work of art into dialogue with the Philippians 4:8 guideline (as I noted in an earlier post) seems a much better direction to head.


Say I have a friend named "Sally" who is a brand new Christian. Do I steer Sally away from the secular music/film scene and encourage her to explore Christian entertainment? Why or why not?

Dr. Kreider:

It depends on “Sally” and her experiences and sensitivities and convictions and weaknesses and . . .


Maybe Sally would benefit from some time focused on explicit teaching about the Lord from reliable sources (church teaching, a book recommendation by a friend, etc.) and thus would do well to leave off her normal routine. On the other hand, maybe it wouldn’t matter. Yet, while it would depend on Sally’s conscience, I would tend to think if she moved away from it for a time, one could think of it more as a fast than as a final break from the “secular” world. I think fasting can be helpful in all kinds of venues, and while it is normally thought of in relation to food, I wonder if a few more of us, “mature” believers or not, could use a time where all the noise of life is turned way down.


That’s a wrap! Thank you both so much. Great interview! Before I let you go... one last question. Beginning with Dr. Kreider... inquiring minds want to know... what's on your I-Pod?

Dr. Kreider:

In my regulation rotation...

Anything by U2, especially “Where the Streets Have no Name” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”

Switchfoot, my new favorite is “Awakening,” with the line, “I wanna live like I know what I’m leaving”

Andrew Peterson, especially “The Far Country”

Dixie Chicks, “Not Ready to Make Nice”

The most recent additions to my ipod (albums):

Glen Phillips, “Mr. Lemons”
Borne, “Loss of Signal”
Will Kimbrough, “Americanitis”
REM, “Automatic for the People”
Live, “V”


Pretty eclectic... thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed the integration of relevant music into your lectures at DTS. I still remember a heart-wrenching Johnny Cash song you played once... and how powerfully it reinforced your teaching. You've given us a lot to ponder. I, for one, am taking a much more scrutinous look at lyrics and themes and messages... and growing and learning in ways that are, frankly, surprising. Thanks, Dr. Kreider!

John... this question's for you: top ten films?


1. Decalogue (1988, Kieslowski)*
2. Winter Light (1961, Bergman)
3. Diary of a Country Priest (1950, Bresson)
4. Ikiru (1952, Kurosawa)*
5. Ordet (1954, Dreyer)
6. The Third Man (1949, Reed)*
7. The Night of the Hunter (1955, Laughton)*
8. Late Spring (1949, Ozu)
9. M (1931, Lang)*
10. Notorious (1946, Hitchcock)*

* Indicates those movies my “popular” movie loving wife enjoys. :)


Hmmm... I've seen a grand total of NONE of those... I think I will take your wife's lead and start with the asteriks! Hey, John, thanks so much for all your great insights. Now I'd best let you get back to grading papers!

(By the way... John has a wonderful movie review blog. Check it out at:

(Photo by Bizzy Girl; see for restrictions.)


della said...

I will miss this discussion. Borne is a recent favorite. Enjoy Andrew Peterson as well. Plan to investigate some of the other songs - and movies, too.

Imagine God saying to us, "Well done, you played it safe, you kept your kids safe, and you taught them to stay safe." My 17 year old daughter has a friend who has confided in her that he is gay. Last night she was talking to me about right and wrong ways to relate to him. If there are easy answers, they didn't come to me. I told her, love him. Be kind to him, but guard your mind so that you don't reach a place where you are comfortable with sin.

In our real world, what does being a friend of sinners really look like? I doubt there is any sinner Jesus would have overlooked or avoided, so is there any person we should disassociate ourselves with? Is one's "conscience" applicable here, with regard to people?

Sarah Onderdonk said...

i'm going to miss it, too. somehow the organic spinach dip recipe i was going to run just seems like a very weak follow-up...

della, seems to me you handled the situation with your daughter with good care and compassion... and parental caution.

re. "conscience" as it relates to people... i know this series was themed around entertainment... but what I got out of it, personally, was a heightened sense of compassion for those beyond the Christian "bubble."

i kind of feel like i just woke up.

"I'm singing... amen... I'm alive..."

--"If Everyone Cared"

Kreider said...

I too think you handled the conversation with your daughter quite well. I want my children to be known by their love, what they are for, not what they are against. There are enough unloving people in the world.

You raise a great question about being a friend of sinners. Any simple answer is simplistic, at best. Every time I think I have it figured out, I think WWJD and my answers are blown out of the water.

We do need to guard our hearts and minds, maintain an appropriate distance from sin, but it would seem that the goal cannot be self-protection and self-preservation (at least not if we want to be like Jesus). I also keep coming back to that verse which is often ripped out of its context (1 Cor 15:33). Paul's warning about corruption is in the context of those who are denying the resurrection. In 1 Cor 5 he writes to correct the Corinthians' misunderstanding of a previous letter. They thought that when he was telling them to separate from sexually immoral people that he wanted them to have no contact with unbelievers. No, Paul says, I meant that you should not associate with professing believers who are behaving in an immoral fashion.

Perhaps it is more dangerous for us and for our children to hang around with judgmental, cruel, unloving, critical, harsh professing Christians than with non-Christians. Perhaps we are to take the light into the darkness instead of hiding it within the Christian bubble. Is that really what I want my children to do? No, quite frankly, I want them to be safe. And I am wrong.

So, I guess the beginning of an answer to your question is to say that it is not a matter of conscience. We ought to love our enemies, do good to/for those who are unable to repay, help the poor and the oppressed, turn the other cheek . . . maybe we ought to look at Jesus as the example of how we ought to live. But, is this really what I want to tell my 15 year old son? Quite frankly, it is not, perhaps because I am afraid . . .

Bizzy Girl said...

Hi Sarah,

Just stopped in to see the blog and the photo you chose. Thanks for using it and tracking it back to my site!