Discernment

When it comes to finding good entertainment (amusing muses), there is something we need to consider as Christians.

We Christians are often too eager to adopt a “black and white” approach to entertainment. This is due to the misleading notion that there is a sacred/secular divide in society, leaving us to broadly categorize everything we view, even though all of life is sacred.

The Bible doesn’t specifically address the do’s and don’t’s of 21st Century viewing pleasure, but it does give a standard for the beauty and artistry that we seek in entertainment.

Philippians-4-8-web-nlt

Certain things in Paul’s time were “black and white,” like the bathhouses and the gladiators, where there are clear biblical principles that disapprove of such things (in the same way as sexual immorality and over-the-top violence in film). But most art we view is a lot more grey. That is why we should ask ourselves when we view something:

  • Is it truthful to what we know about God and have experienced/witnessed in life?
  • Is it of noble aim and purpose?
  • Is it right and correct in what it depicts?
  • Is it morally pure and does it keep our minds that way?
  • Is it lovely, something we can fondly return to over time?
  • Is it something we can admire and speak highly of to others?

Let’s use an example and apply this to the Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed Dark Knight Trilogy.

The character arc and story themes in the Dark Knight Trilogy.
The character arc and story themes in the Dark Knight Trilogy.
  • Is it truthful? Yes and No. Yes we do live in a world of psychopaths and gangs, and we long for a hero. That is a very real desire in us. Now obviously we don’t have billionaires running around dressed as bats and scaring people, it is a work of fiction. But nonetheless, the themes of good vs. evil and justice are relevant and equivocal to what we see and long for in our world. We also long for redemption, like Bruce Wayne. And even though his path starts with rugged individualism, it ends with noble Christ-like sacrifice. There is an absence of God, but that’s merely a reflection of the culture we live in. It is respectable to see a character that originally encompassed a Nietzsche worldview being given Jesus-like attributes.
  • Is it honorable? Yes, it tells an entertaining comic book movie based on 75 years of publication history while maintaining relevance to our Post-9/11 world.
  • Is it right? Yes. Although it does ask difficult questions concerning morality and relativism, it ultimately upholds an objective morality where evil is not celebrated but rather viewed as a perversion of good.
  • Is it pure? Mostly yes. It’s one of the few films that doesn’t rely on any sexual material, and on the contrary has a high view of women. Language is also much cleaner than most films. It is quite violent, and even though I am not bothered by it, I know many others are sensitive to it, and I can understand if someone cannot handle it.
  • Is it lovely? In an odd way, yes. Seeing good triumph over such a real threat of evil is very encouraging in the times we live in.
  • Is it admirable? Yes. As a work of art, it succeeds in being an amusing muse.

Conclusion: Although there are mixed philosophies of individualism and sacrifice, the Dark Knight Trilogy manages to tell a complete story arc of one city’s triumph over evil through the help of their flawed but admirable savior.

This is how we can determine if something is worthy of our time and praise. By practicing discernment, we can learn how to keep our thinking sober and pleasing to God’s perfect will.

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