Boycott Hell

Not AshamedNo, I am not talking about the Newsboys song. I am talking about all the boycotting that Christians feel that they need to do. There was a time when I used to agree with boycotting everything and anything that a Christian leader feels I need to boycott. I have received emails telling me not to go see certain movies, read certain books, etc. And honestly in some ways it makes me want to see them/read them all the more. I want to personally know why it may or may not be bad, not just take someone’s word for it.

Before you go any further, I really want to encourage you take your time and read this. Stop and pray to calm yourself if necessary. I know that as I typed this I did that, because I didn’t want any of it to come out angry or spiteful. Thanks.

There are some things that I obviously do not need to discover for myself that is clearly bad. Like pornography. I know it is bad and I have heard countless testimonies from people who were in the industry and people who were addicted to porn. You can check out some of these testimonies yourself over at xxxchurch.com, they have several because that is their ministry.

I have heard the cries to boycott Harry Potter, and in the interest of full disclosure I was one of those, but then I decided to do the educated thing and actually read them for myself and see the movies. To my surprise I didn’t find them to be evil or even something that would cause someone to fall into witchcraft, because it supposedly taught it. I can even remember having a discussion with a youth pastor about it who gave all kinds of arguments about how he heard this and that, so I let him know that those things were not true at all. He then added that he heard that in the next book, which was going to be Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (this one ended up being my favorite in the series), that Harry was going to have sex. I kind of laughed and said that I would find that extremely hard to believe because it would be a total departure from where the story was going. And I was right.

Golden CompassNow comes the newest thing that Christians are crying for us to boycott. It is the movie and book, The Golden Compass, from the series His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. I have never read the books and I was only aware of them in the last few months or so, even though they have been out since 1995. But I am intrigued to read them because I would like to know what it is that the hub-bub is all about and so that I can do my best to intellectually talk with people about them. I do plan on going to see the movie when it comes out and would love to go with a group of people so that we can discuss it afterwards and weigh Pullman’s world view against our world views as Christ-followers. But before I go any further I want to talk about the word boycott.

I looked up the definition on dictionary.com and this was the first entry, which what I believe Christians are meaning when they call for the boycott of this and other movies, books, etc.

…to combine in abstaining from, or preventing dealings with, as a means of intimidation or coercion.

So when people are crying for the boycott of The Golden Compass they are hoping to intimidate or coerce movie studios from producing more movies of this kind. I am not so sure that it actually happens. When Christians made a big stink about movies like The Last Temptation of Christ (yeah, that is going old school) or The Da Vinci Code, to name a couple, have they actually hurt those movies? According to box office reports, no. I would even say that the cries for boycotts gave the movie even more publicity, and free at that, causing more people to go and see it. I read the reviews of these movies after they came out and the critics panned them, but they were box office successes because people wanted to go see them to see why Christians were so mad (and maybe even just to piss off Christians). I believe these movies would have bombed if there wasn’t the public cry for a boycott.

I totally understand people making personal decisions based on their own convictions to not go and see The Golden Compass. I can respect that. Paul even talks about how some people can eat certain foods and other can’t in 1 Corinthians 8. And I think it applies here, because some people can handle the material in these books and movie while others can not.

And I know that someone will comment and say, “But this is reading evil, satanic literature and as Christians we should not do that.” Well, before you do let me also point out that in Acts 17:28, Paul uses one of the Greek poets when he is speaking to the people in Athens. So you see Paul studied their literature so that he could more effectively speak with the people there. I believe that we as Christ-followers should do the same thing.

I only want to read the books and see the movie, because I may encounter someone who has read them and come to the same conclusion as Philip Pullman and so then I can maybe speak to them more effectively.

But besides all of that, I am really getting sick of the Church constantly letting the world know what it is that we are against and I do not hear the Church showing what it is we are for enough. I was just reading today in Colossians and chapter 3, verse 12-15 hit me….

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

We need to really think about if our boycotting movies, books, etc. is doing these things. Not to mention that, but how are we responding with fellow Christ-followers who may or may not want to see these things. The world is watching and everything we do and say sends a message, but the question is what message is it sending?

I do not know anything about Philip Pullman or his books other than things I have read online or heard from friends. But I ran across this blog and was impressed with his take on it and on Philip himself, it is a long read but well written, in my opinion. It led me to wonder if Philip Pullman and his desire to “kill God” is not rooted more in wanting to kill the image he has been given of God courtesy of the Church, rather than God Himself. From what I have read about the books (remember I have not had the opportunity to read them myself yet) it appears that his anger is more towards the Church. And, honestly, I have to agree with him on some points. I think that the Church has failed miserably in showing God’s love to this world and we really need to change that. I think that Philip would find Dan Kimball’s book I Like Jesus but Not the Church: Following Jesus Without Following Organized Religion a very interesting read and he probably would agree with much of it. Maybe I will send Philip Pullman a copy of it.

IntimidationI decided to do a Google image search for “intimidate” and the picture to the left was the first one to pop up. Is that the image Jesus gave or that we should be giving?

Just some thoughts. That is my $.02. Who wants change?

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Kim, father to Hannah & Caleb, and the connections pastor at The River Church. The thoughts expressed here are my own and not The River Church's.

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