I finally watched _Casablanca_ last week. I have this phobia of “important movies.” I usually don’t understand them or what the hubbub is. Sometimes, they’re so ingrained in the culture and so often parodied that I pretty much already knew everything important about them coming in, which was the case when I watched _Citizen Kane_. I recently watched _2001_ for the third or fourth time, and still didn’t understand it–but reading the Wikipedia articles on it and the various sequels Arthur C. Clarke wrote was far more edifying than the movie itself.
So I always resisted _Casablanca_, but I really did enjoy it. And I watched it with my daughter during homeschooling time, and kept annoying her by pausing the movie to explain various things and make it educational, but I think it was a great experience for both of us, and the movie is a fantastic story of sacrificial love. However, what struck me was how there were casual references to God and prayer–references that are almost totally absent from today’s movies. Today, they’re replaced by references to yoga, karma and the like.
Whatever Barack Obama and his followers who booed God at the Democratic National Convention might think, the majority of Americans (including many liberals) still claim to believe in some kind of God, still claim to believe in Christianity in some form or another–so why is Christianity so taboo in the public sphere?
It’s not just that movies are afraid to acknowledge that God exists, or that Jesus Christ is the Savior–it’s that movies are afraid to acknowledge that *CHRISTIANITY* exists, even when they’re set in a past time.
A Facebook friend recently posited the notion of a “steampunk” story with a Cardinal Newman type character. That inspired a cool discussion, but part of her point is that she enjoys reading “steampunk” fiction, yet it strikes her how these stories hardly ever mention Christianity or mention *Christians*, churches, clerics, etc. Steampunk, if you aren’t familiar with the term, is the term for contemporary science fiction set in the 19th Century–stories where technology that later existed is depicted in a science fiction manner as being developed a few decades early, usually powered by steam engines (hence the term). The Robert Downey, Jr., _Sherlock Holmes_ movies might be qualified as steampunk, or most definitely _The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen_. She was pointing out how steampunk novels take place in the Victorian era, yet they go out of their way to avoid suggesting that the characters are Christians, or that they live in a time when people were predominantly Christian.
Yes, I’ve had arguments with people online who insist that movies and TV shows still presume most Americans are Christians, and that’s why they *don’t* explicitly mention anything remotely Christian, except at weddings or funerals, but that doesn’t make sense.
What struck me about _Casablanca_, though, was that it was all taken for *granted* in a true sense, the way that Flannery O’Connor talks about. If _Casablanca_ were made today, with the same exact story and dialogue, people would make a big deal about how it was a “Christian” movie, and it would be marketed to “Christians,” and secularists would shun it, etc., because the characters talk about God a few times and are shown having basic Christian morals. A few months ago, I watched _Soul Surfer_, which I knew had been promoted as a “Christian film,” and while it was good, and while the characters were clearly people of faith and all that, I questioned the use of the term “Christian film” for this very reason–if this movie had been made in the 1950s, no one would have thought to qualify it as “Christian.” Given the frequency of girls in bikinis, it probably would have been labelled the opposite back then.
Much as Cervantes injected his own faith development into the second part of _Don Quixote_, when Sylvester Stallone revisited both of his trademark characters a few years back, he emphasized that the Catholic faith he has rediscovered in recent years was an essential element of _Rocky Balboa_ and _Rambo_. For _Rocky Balboa_, Stallone used the same marketing strategies as _The Passion of the Christ_ and _The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe_ and I think the same marketing firm as _The Passion_. Yet again, neither film was a “Christian film” in the sense of explicitly promoting Christian theology or spirituality. They’re Christian in a subtle way that Flannery O’Connor would approve of, and that’s a good thing in its own right, but I really don’t see why those movies or _Soul Surfer_ or some others in recent years should be separated into a distinct genre called “Christian,” as in “secularists, stay away! God is mentioned herein!”
They call us homophobes for saying that homosexual behavior is a sin. They call us misogynists for saying that contraception, fornication and adultery are sins.
Well, they’re Deophobes. They’re totally scared to death of God. That’s why they booed God at their convention. The Secularists, the Hollywood people, the “mainstream media,” the liberal elites are nothing else if not deophobes. They will not allow any reference to God, church, ministers or even people-who-are Christians because they hate and fear Christianity. They insist, when Christians are depicted, on depicting Christians as ignorant bigots and hateful people *precisely* because they hate Christians.
Meanwhile, we’re so starved for any Christianity in popular culture that we jump at what used to be considered baseline, or even controversial, and say, “Hey! It’s something Christian!” So movies about ordinary decent people who happen to read the Bible and pray and talk about God, doing ordinary decent things, are helped up as being in the same genre as great Christian classics like _Ben Hur_, _Going My Way_ or _Come to the Stable_.
Even Kirk Cameron’s _Fireproof_ is basically a Hallmark Channel movie where the characters have a couple religious discussions–and most Hallmark Channel movies have some conversations about God or the Bible.
We need to stop kowtowing to the Deophobes, and start calling their bluff.