Oscar Omission: What Would Schaeffer Think?
But on the night of the Academy Awards, I find myself realizing that I am not much like Schaeffer in one respect: I ignore much of popular culture. I don't attend movies. (Of course, I don't watch television.) I have perhaps seen three movies in the past decade. They repulse me, by and large; and I have better things to do. This was not the case in the 70s and 80s. I would often attend films, try to discern their worldview, reflection on how they were shaping the culture, and try to give a Christian response--just as Schaeffer did. But in the late 1980s something radically changed. North American films became horribly garish and offensive, by and large. My wife and I stopped attending.
It is true that theater culture is diminishing. Miniaturization strikes again. We have "the home theater." Many people watch films on DVDs at home. They subscribe to NetFlicks, and so on. My wife watches very old movies she tapes off of TV. I don't. That's it.
Have I betrayed my mentor, or has culture changed so radically that abstention is better than interaction? I honestly don't know. Sometimes after rereading a Schaeffer book, I want to view a film just to analyze its worldview commitments and understand what many people are exposing themselves to on a regular basis. Then again, I remember all the unread books, the music to listen to, the bike rides to take, and so on. (The other day, I illustrated nihilism with a scene from "Annie Hall" by Woody Allen. Most of my students were not born when it came out...)
I hear there are philosophically significant foreign films and perhaps a few North American ones as well. But I am far out of the loop.
Dear Francis, what would you think of me? I am committed to the Lordship of Christ, to Reformation Theology, to outthinking the world for Christ, for showing that Christianity is true, rational, and pertinent. That will not change. But I have changed, and culture has changed.