I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m going to say it again. I’m a big fan of Jon Acuff. That’s why I asked him to write an article for us on the power of story and using movies to share the Gospel. Jon has taught me a lot about the power of voice. The basic concept is that each of us has a voice and we reach people when we authentically use OUR voice to share.
In the last year or so, I’ve learned a lot about my voice. I’ve learned that my voice is pretty direct – not in a mean or judgmental way, but in a “here’s an issue so let’s talk about it straight” or ”here’s what’s on my heart and I’d like to share it with you” kind of way. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you might have picked up on this. You can see what I’m talking about in my post about Living with Regret or the Lasting Impressions from End of the Spear.
Today, I’d like to talk about subtlety.
I’ll just start off with this statement: Subtle is not a word I’d use to describe most of the faith-based movies that I’ve seen. I think, as Christians, we tend to think we need to be really obvious about our message because we want to show TRUTH. We don’t want people to misinterpret what we mean or say. We want people to know the truth of the Gospel and who God is.
So, I think the lack of subtly comes from a good place. However, with that being said, sometimes the message is so obvious it almost hits you over the head. You walk away from the film reeling a little bit – sort of like you’ve been gut punched. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
However, I like subtlety. A subtle story sticks with you in a different way. It kind of hangs out in the back of your mind and then comes out connected to other thoughts and ideas that cause you to reevaluate your thoughts and worldview.
I really like ideas that are subtle.
This makes me think of INCEPTION (no, I wasn’t planning to mention this movie in this post, but hey, I work with movies… connecting ideas to films is an occupational hazard). If you haven’t watched the movie, I think you should (but you shouldn’t take this to mean that Outreach is endorsing this film or that we think you should show it at your church). In it, the main character says “What is the most resilient parasite? A bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm?… An idea. Resilient, highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate.”
I think this kind of subtle idea that takes over your mind is why Jesus used parables. Some of the parables blow my mind. Like the parable of the Shrewd Manager. Every time I read it, I think, “huh?” Even after watching a really good teaching on it (which is part of a short film collection that I LOVE!), I’m still puzzled by Jesus’ illustration of a guy who did something that seems dishonest.
I hope you don’t think I’m bashing on the majority of Christian films. I’m not. I’m passionate about equipping churches to use them to share the Gospel because even when the production or acting leaves something to be desired, these films still touch lives in a powerful way. They have value and meaning because God chooses to speak to people through things that we do even when those things aren’t perfect or the best. God uses who and what he chooses to use. Which is why the Gospel is so amazing.
And to clarify: I think even some of the most overt movies have really powerful subtleties to them – underlying messages that stick with you even more than some of the more overt ones.
So, I’m wondering… what are some films that have had subtle messages that have really stuck with you?