I'll note that I don't presume to have the training or credentials to be brash in Jamie Smith's manner. Any of you are welcome to hold me accountable to writing/thinking/speaking as a brother coming alongside others. Let me know if my tone becomes patronizing. There is much to be learned about healthy internet discourse.
Two responses below: first on the question of nudity in film, the second in defense of the mission of 'art ministry." Both flow out of responses from other people to videos posted by The Gospel Coalition of DT presenting at a church planting conference.
In this video David is offering pastors a few recommendations on novels and films they might benefit from. David put the video it on his blog and a few people had trouble with his recommendation of P.T. Anderson's Magnolia especially because of the nudity (very brief yet graphic). I'm looking forward to David's response.
This is truly a David Taylor kind of forum discussion! Love it.In this other video David is talking about arts ministry at large. Here on The Gospel Coalition's site several people expressed grave skepticism about the purpose and merit of ministering to artists. These comments cut deep, yet in my response I'm truly attempting to build bridges. We'll see.
My (unsolicited) 2 cents:
* I'd warn against any black and white on the topic of nudity. The Bible gives us wisdom but it will lead us each to various convictions. Insert here Paul's dictum used in 1 Corinthians, "all things are lawful but not all things are profitable." This is a scary thing for Christian brothers and sisters to accept, that what I am called to you may not be called to.
*I'd also caution against an overuse of the Incarnation to defend this issue or the arts in general willy nilly. I'm not saying the Incarnation doesn't have bearing here. Yet we have to be careful in how quick we ascribe something true about God (becoming human) to what we believe to be true about humanity. We have to maintain a distinction between us and God. See J. Begbie edited collection of essays, Beholding the Glory: Incarnation and the Arts.
*We also need to be careful in our viewing/reading/art imbibing habits. While some of us might find merit in a movie like Magnolia, I don't think it should be part of our regular 'diet.' Yes, I believe God can speak through such things, but he can speak much more plainly through the Scriptures.
*While Magnolia is a favorite of mine, I don't recommend it to people unless I know them well. In the video David is recommending the film for pastors and lay leaders who are wanting to broaden their understanding of culture and art. For a film like this to be 'profitable,' the viewer needs the maturity and training to discern the film carefully. Such a film requires not just the discernment of one person or pastor, but a good dialogue like the one here on this blog between all you good people.
*I'd also suggest that the issue of the body is much more of a poignant issue in dance than in film. Those of us working to discern such things need a theology of our bodies. Film is too close and loaded for most of us. A theology 'through the art' of dance would freshen and better frame and therefore inform questions about the body as depicted in film.
*Personally, I am more concerned about our lack of discernment in the area of violence in film. For example, why don't more Christians show concern about Peter Jackson's embellishments of war in his adaptations of the Tolkien books? My review of Showtime's Dexter is here: http://www.valpo.edu/cresset/2010/Lent/Banner_L10.html
*I watch most films with my wife. She is pretty good at helping me in the moment discern what parts of the body I shouldn't see...with her hand over my eyes!