Last night I had the opportunity to view The Riot and the Dance, a nature documentary directed by one of my favorite writers, N. D. Wilson. I’d known of the documentary’s existence for a while, but didn’t think it would screen in Honolulu. When I found out (the day before) that it was screening, I thought I should show my support.
It was, overall, an interesting experience for me. The movie was enjoyable. Lots of cool images and clips of animals doing creaturely things. Not a big fan of the simple “leech” scene. And the extended look at snakes brought out the inner-Indiana in me, for sure. The most interesting thing was watching a movie produced with an obvious Christian worldview. I don’t see very many movies like that. The movie lined up with the idea of “stewardship” as an essential ingredient to the question of the nature of the world around us, though. Much was made of both the goodness and fallenness of creation. And, as awkward as it sometimes sounds, the language of mankind’s dominion is scattered throughout. So it’s interesting to see things you talk about in class put into practice by others.
The other interesting part of the experience involved the advertisements before the show. Even though it was a Fathom event, the company knew that most of their viewers would be Christians of a certain kind. So I smiled when a slide thanking “Classical Conversations” popped up on screen and the family three rows in front of me cheered a little. The commercial I liked the most was an advertisement for New Saint Andrews College, where the narrator of the movie teaches and where Wilson graduated. It’s interesting both artistically and philosophically.
It’s an interesting blend of Old Testament language and (post)-modern mindset. And it definitely speaks to a certain audience.
It also speaks to a way of understanding how Christians can or should live in the world. Questions concerning “levels of engagement” always arise when the dividing lines are made clearer (and rightly so). The concept of formation is vital, and the stakes feel like they keep getting higher.
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Last week I had the opportunity to listen to David Kinnaman talk more about You Lost Me. While the book has been around for a while now, the picture he and the Barna Group paint about the current church/cultural landscape are pretty daunting (and a good reminder that I’m not crazy). He mentioned a framework that has also been brought into his most recent work, GenZ. He spoke briefly of our cultural move from a “Jerusalem” to a “Babylon” context: from having some kind of “home team advantage” to always being the visiting team. I think he’s right: it is the new normal. And admitting that is something that many of us find difficult to do. It requires a completely new disposition from us. But it is one as rooted in the Bible as the more “Jerusalem” approach so many of us assumed for so long.