Friday, November 2, 2012

Hollywood, Worldview and Deicide

Every day we are constantly putting things into predefined categories. For example, when we get home from the grocery store, we automatically unpack our groceries into several categories such as, frozen, refrigerated, pantry, etc. When we see automobiles we think, car, truck, SUV and so forth.

In addition to these fairly mundane product categories, we have moral categories as well. And those moral categories are a product of our worldview. But what separates one worldview from another and what makes for a biblical worldview? In one sense, our worldview is a product of how we categorize things in the world. In other words, worldview is (in part) a product of categorical thinking.

A biblical worldview starts in Genesis with, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…" As we read through Genesis we discover several broad categories such as:
  • God: God is our Creator and sustainer. He alone is God and He transcends creation.
  • Matter: The physical universe created by God.
  • Plant life: Non-conscious life that grows in the soil.
  • Animal life: Flesh and blood creatures on a lower plane than man.
  • Mankind: Uniquely created in the image of God (mankind divides into two subcategories).
    • Male
    • Female
These are the broad categories given to us in Genesis, and they comprise the basic structure for a biblical worldview and moral categories. Along with these categories, God has also given us corresponding roles and behaviors for each category. A rejection of a biblical worldview is essentially a rejection of these categories and the God who made them.

What happens when we reject biblical categories? Here are a few examples.
  • PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals): PETA rejects the idea that there is a fundamental difference between man and animals. In other words, they believe that man and beast belong in the same moral and ontological category. They regard the deaths of 6,000,000 chickens killed by KFC as morally equivalent to the deaths of 6,000,000 Jews killed during the Holocaust. I'm not making that up. They have rejected the moral categories of Scripture, and they have rejected the notion that man is uniquely made in the image of God.
  • The LGBT movement: The homosexual community has rejected the gender categories and roles given in Scripture. They believe that it is evil to categorize the human race into the two genders of male and female. They argue that these are not real categories, but merely artificial social constructs.
  • Pantheism: Pantheism teaches that god and creation are one and the same (a single category). If creation dies, the god of pantheism dies with it. In stark contrast, the Bible teaches that God is omnipotent, self existent and above creation.

This brings me to Hollywood and the movie Cloud Atlas (trailer) which opened last Friday. Cloud Atlas is based on a novel by the same name. It stars Hollywood heavy weights such as Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, and Susan Sarandon among others. It was produced, written and directed by the Wachowski's. The Wachowski's are best known for filming the Matrix Trilogy.

As you can see from the above video, Cloud Atlas appears to be a beautifully made film of epic proportions, and it has been generally praised by critics. But the worldview depicted in this film is flawed to the core. Why? Because, at a fundamental level, it is a complete rejection of biblical categories.

Clout Atlas tells six different stories that span roughly 500 years. Each story is about the same set of people who have been reincarnated six times. And here's the kicker, sometimes they are reincarnated as men, and sometimes as women. The sexuality of the characters ranges from straight, to gay, to bisexual. The film basically depicts the transmigration of genderless souls. Do you see what they've done here? They've used their art to destroy biblical categories. Lastly, for good measure, Christians are portrayed negatively in this film as well. The negative portrayal of Christians is nothing new for the Wachowski's. Their film V for Vendetta (2005) depicts a totalitarian Christian state that is guilty of several crimes against humanity, including the persecution of Muslims and homosexuals. I think Ted Baehr said it best in his review of Vendetta:
"Are we so far removed from 911 that Americans can be asked to stomach a movie in which the hero is a violent terrorist and the victims are Muslims oppressed by a hyper-fundamentalist Christian government? Do they expect Americans to support a movie in which the Koran is described as “beautiful,” homosexuality is glorified and Christian leaders are depicted as lunatics and pedophiles? Perhaps director James McTeigue and the brothers Wachowski suffer from some sort of mental dyslexia, because they seem to have their villains, heroes and victims miserably reversed."
Right about now you might be thinking, Yeah, Hollywood is liberal and hostile to Christianity, blah, blah, blah. What else is new? Next thing you're going to tell me the sky is blue and water is wet.

The reason I wanted to bring your attention to Cloud Atlas is because I think the production of this movie gives us an especially keen insight into the soul of Hollywood. After all, what institutions do you think have the greatest influence over our culture? The Church, our schools, government or Hollywood? It has been said that politics is downstream of culture, and I agree. But I think the problem runs deeper than that. Culture is also having a profound influence in our homes and our churches. In response, we must be sober-minded about the world of art and media. We cannot afford to be unthinking and indiscriminate consumers of culture. But I digress, more on that later.

Getting back to the Wachowski's (and others like them), it is clear that they have more than just a mild disagreement with Christianity, they have a seething hatred towards it. Why? What motivates them? Please turn your attention to this brief video as the Wachowski's discuss their latest project.

What I failed to mention earlier is that the Wachowski's were once known as the "Wachowski Brothers". That lady in the video with pink hair, that's Lana Wachowski. Lana used to be Larry, but he is currently in the process of "gender reassignment". I think that explains a great deal. Larry is confused about his gender, so they made a movie to help us understand that the idea of male and female genders are false categories forced on us by outdated and bigoted religions (i.e., Christianity).

Why does the Hollywood assembly line constantly produce things like Glee, The New Normal, Modern Family, etc.? Because it is an attempt at self-justification. Just about every film and television script with a gay character is first vetted by GLAAD (The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) before it is approved by a major studio. The LGBT community does not just want acceptance, they want to be celebrated. They don't want to be seen as merely equal, they want to be seen as superior. Once again, I am not making that up or using hyperbole. There are gay academicians who actually believe that the homosexual lifestyle is superior to that of heterosexuals. They have constructed their own worldview with their own moral categories and Hollywood has signed on to their agenda whole-heartedly.

The media loves to sight polls, especially when they confirm their presuppositions. But there is one poll they were not very eager to report. In fact, I would be surprised if you've even heard about it. A recent Gallup Poll (10/18/12) surveyed a massive sample of over 120,000 Americans, and it was the largest survey of its kind. (By way of comparison, most election polls sample in the neighborhood of 800 to 1,200 people, give or take). Gallup found that only 3.4% of the population self-identifies as lesbian, gay, transgender, or bisexual.

What's interesting is that another recent Gallup Poll (5/8/11) indicated most Americans believe that about 25% of the country is gay. If that were true, the gay population would be about double that of African Americans. Think about what that means; it means that most Americans are walking around with a grossly distorted perception of reality. How did that happen? How is it that the gay community has amassed so much political and corporate influence? Might I suggest that the media has created this false perception with its music, television, and movies. They have created an imaginary world that most Americans believe to be true. A closer look at the numbers also indicates that younger people have the most distorted view of reality. Furthermore, it appears that a higher percentage of young people now identify as homosexual (6.4% among the college age) when compared to the general population. Is it a coincidence that the key demographic for most media also skews toward the young?

Whenever we attempt to construct our own worldview with our own moral categories, we are basically playing God; and that takes us right back to Genesis and the Garden of Eden, where we first tried to play God. When we try to take God's place, we are essentially wishing for the death of God because we do not want Him to reign over us. The end result is this: either we kill God in our hearts by pretending that He doesn't exist, or we create a god in our own image, thus creating an idol. As fallen creatures, we do not just have a mild disagreement with God, we have a seething hatred towards Him that is usually masked beneath a thin veneer of civility.

How do I know this? Just ask yourself, what would mankind do if he could get his hands on God? We need look no further than the Incarnation. When God became a man, we did not bow before Him as Lord and King; we screamed for His death and killed Him in the most violent and bloody fashion imaginable. We crucified Him. At the cross we see man's hatred of God and love of sin on full display. But thankfully, at the cross, we also see God's love for man and His hatred of sin on full display as well. It all intersects and collides at the cross of Christ.

How could it be that man, in all of his pride and grasping, tries to become a god; but God, in perfect love and humility, condescended to become a man.

I've spoken here a great deal about the LGBT activists agenda, but of course, the influence of culture goes far beyond that particular sin. Ultimately it is an issue of what the culture holds up as valuable and worthy of praise. And what the world values is summed up in Scripture; the lust of flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). We will go to any length to reject Biblical truth and devise our own moral categories. But my purpose here is not to just rant about the culture; my hope is that, as Christians, we would think more soberly about the media we consume, how it impacts us, and how it impacts those we love. After all, can a man hold fire to his chest without getting burned (Proverbs 6:27)?

I especially hope that we would take the time to help young people see through this cultural mirage and think more biblically as they navigate the bright and shiny objects of this world. But at the end of day, a list of rules won't work. Unless the heart has been truly captivated by the person and work of Christ, the culture will always eclipse the Son. But remember, a solar eclipse is caused by the shadow of the moon -- an object that is infinitely smaller than the sun. And so it is with us when we allow the world to eclipse Christ. We become fascinated by the tiny dark speck of culture, and fail to see the radiant glory of Christ.

I will end on this note: When I see the corrupting influences in our world, it makes me angry; and there is a proper place for righteous indignation (Ephesians 4:26). But I must never forget that those who are in the world are not my enemies, they are the mission field. I must never forget that the Larry Wachowskis of the world desperately need Christ. Because I too was once an enemy of Christ, and were it not for His unmerited grace, I would still be lost and loving my sin. As one man said, "I'm just a beggar telling another beggar where to find bread." If I fail to remember that, I've become just another self-righteous Pharisee.