I went with a friend to see ‘Soul Surfer’ about a month ago. I went to the movie really wanting to like it, but I had a nagging suspicion that it wasn’t going to be a movie I could like. And my suspicion proved to be true. My friend came out loving the movie; one of her top 3 favorites, she says. I came out feeling disappointed and strongly disliking it. I only shared my feelings for the movie with my older sister; someone I knew would understand my dislike. I didn’t share my feelings with anyone else because, frankly, I thought my opinion would be dismissed as heretical. You can’t diss a Christian movie and be a good Christian.
I honestly contemplated the thought that maybe I wasn’t as devoted a Christian as I had thought I was. Maybe I was harboring heretical cynicism and hanging on to worldly desires. I perused several movie reviews to see if anyone else shared my views. To my condemnation, all the Christian reviews that I found praised the movie and the only movie reviews that I found that held the movie in a negative light were in the secular press.
One of the other reasons I didn’t speak to anyone about my dislike of the movie (save my sister), was the fact that I couldn’t clearly explain my dislike. It was at first just an intuitive feeling. When I started to examine the reasons behind the feelings of dislike, I realized that my reasons, although maybe not shared by other Christians, are valid. Recently I found this article (Bad Christian Art) that speaks of many of the misgivings I have about the movie, albeit in general terms. Go and read it; it is well worth the time. In the end, Soul Surfer seems to have more Christian overtones than undertones, and speaks more of easy grace than actual grace.
This, finally, is what especially worries me, that bad Christian art is a problem of demand rather than supply. What if a reinvigorated Church were to embed genuine faith in the artist’s psyche and soul, such that he need no longer wear it on his sleeve, such that he bear to see and tell the world in its brokenness and beauty?