As a modern Christian I feel I am often straddling some arbitrary line set in the sand by a number of extremists on both sides.
On one side there are the traditional Christians who have held the same beliefs their entire lives and then on the other side is simply the modern world who believes these traditional ways to be archaic at best.
As a geek, I love the modern world. I love technology, good movies and TV shows, and reading books (including the Bible) on a Kindle or phone.
Of course, as a Christian whom was raised in a Southern Baptist household I have respect for the traditional ways.
Where do I align myself?
It’s been a long time thinking of this post. I have started a number of times but stopped not having the exact words I need to complete it. While I am a ‘Jesus Freak’ I tend to keep my posts clean of bad language and direct talk of Christianity as I’d like to appeal to a large audience. But ignoring my faith doesn’t help much either.
I wrote a book that was definitely given to me thanks to God but I knew in it, the same as here, I didn’t want to shove my beliefs down anyone’s throat. I speak of prayer and struggling with accepting God and I talk about segregation and racism but its all in a light-heated way that anyone could read and get through. And that’s what I wanted. That was my teenage years and that’s where that came from.
We live in a time where Christians are being divided between ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ and the traditional churches say we should hold to the traditional values and modern churches saying we should follow the world. We should go out into the world where the needy are and preach to them in their own language.
This is the battle ground, as it were.
One of the biggest and most obvious parts of this battle is in music. Traditional worship is just that, it conjures up visions of choirs and reading from hymnals and songs that were written many many many years ago. Modern worship is characterized by ‘bands’ playing modern songs.
If the words Christian Rap, Christian Rock, Christian Metal, Christian Emo, or Christian Punk at all seem oxymoronic to you I say you are not alone. As a fan of these genres I have run across this a lot. People who love traditional metal music say “How can metal be Christian?” The way that can happen is that Metal is a style and lyrics and passion for Christ make it Christian.
Why should this be OK? Why should Christians be allowed to play modern music? To understand why the modern churches are OK with this is to look at where those original hymnal songs came from.
A long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, Churches were trying to get people into the seats. (Sounds familiar right?) At that time, most people just enjoyed going to the local pub and drinking. (Still sounds pretty familiar.) At the pubs there were no jukeboxes so they would sing. They would sing tavern songs.
To make their services more appealing to these people leaving the pubs they borrowed the tunes of tavern songs and added words that made hymns that anyone could walk in and sing because hey, they already knew the tune.
At some point the churches hit a stall and kept those same hymns for many many years while the musical world around them evolved. It is obvious to see where this hurt Christianity as now churches struggle to catch up.
The same thing is coming in droves of people flocking to popular movies.
When you have an uber popular film like Lord of the Rings, and you are trying to get people into the church, and those people like Lord of the Rings, one way to get them to stop coming is to tell them to not watch Lord of the Rings.
This isn’t to say, if you have a murderer coming to your church you should tolerate murder. But let’s look at the reasons that some Christians (Note: SOME, I know plenty of Christians who are OK with LOTR besides myself) say you shouldn’t watch or read this saga.
The biggest and most prominent reason is because of the use of magic, both black and white, good and bad.
There is talk in the books about a paganistic viewpoint that there is more than one God or that at the very least there are minor Gods.
And there is also talk about drinking and smoking.
That is a lot, right there. So how could a Christian read these books or watch these movies and still be Christian?
It should first be pointed out that there is, of course, nothing in the Bible about not watching movies. There are verses about not aligning oneself with the occult and there are verses about not filling your eyes and ears with profanity and people who take the Lords name in vain.
Basically, bad in equals bad out. Honestly, some of the nicest people I’ve known, some of the most GODLY people I’ve known, cursed and watched R rated movies all the time. But they drew a line. While this may at first sound like Hypocrisy, real Christian hypocrisy comes from those who judge the ones around them. From people who don’t spend their time using their talents to serve the Lord in the way He wants them to. By being negative all the time towards those around them and always saying hateful things.
Serving, is what God calls Christians to do. Take your abilities and serve others. If money is what you have and all you can give then that’s great but it doesn’t mean money is all God really calls of us.
Where, besides the Bible, can we see examples of such things? Hey, what about in LOTR? In LOTR, a group of people who aren’t typically seen together are called to serve the land they love as a group. They each have to use their talents to help a good cause. Apply this in your life, and then when asked, ‘so why are you here doing this, anyway?’ you can use that as your opportunity to say, ‘Well, God called me to do this.’
You can be a successful business man and make money, but what will you do with that money?
You can be a writer and write. But what will you write about?
You can be a musician and play music. What kind of music will you play.
So what about all the occult magic in LOTR? It’s important as a person, let alone a Christian, to make sure you understand the difference between fantasy and reality. If you start believing you can control the world through magic, you have been led astray. But if you are just enjoying a good story, you have not ‘practiced in the occult’.
Even Cos-Players and LARPers can understand the difference between fantasy and reality. And these are great people to have in your church? Why would having people who enjoy dressing up as Elves and Dwarves and playing out some fantasy script help your church? These people are passionate and playful. You need to put on a play in your church? This group is going to be the first to volunteer to create a fresh and relevant live content piece for your service.
And LOTR simply has good moral stories in it. Of movies you could be watching there are many worse ones out there that would leave your mind in a more negative state than before watching.
There are things you could be doing to make your life, your soul, your family, and the world a better place. And then there are things you could be doing which is not making you grow as a person.
I’m not going to judge anyone for what they do, that is not for us to do and just makes for a very negative place. Lets all just help each other. Help each other grow, build each other up, and be better to each other every day and that is how the world will get better.