If anyone knows me, they know that there are few things I love more than getting lost in a story. Whether it's a silly tale I write myself, a classic novel beloved by many, or a TV series that I get hooked on from Netflix, the enjoyment is unbeatable.
Story, no matter the medium, can become a work of art that captures our attention in a unique way.
Sheltered from story
I've dedicated my life this past year in full pursuit of story. I started my journey as a student learning the art of filmmaking in Australia, with a Christian organisation, and I was unsure of what to expect. I knew I wanted to write fictional scripts, of which wouldn't end in an altar call.
As I was in the application process, I nervously tiptoed around some of the questions, afraid to offend my brothers and sisters in Christ. I fudged some of my answers as to what movies I'd recently seen, since they didn't look like God's Not Dead or War Room but more like the latest blockbusters to hit theatres.
And yet, after my acceptance, I was sent a long list of films to view before arriving to the course. To my shock, most were rated R (for ages 18 and up), and contained content that most Christians, (including myself) had sheltered themselves from, such as nudity, violence, drugs, language, you name it.
Upon arriving to the course, it felt extremely foreign to me to be watching graphic content among a group of Christians, and yet I found myself enjoying so many of the films I viewed, and the stories that would sometimes contain surprisingly redemptive messages by the end. I was shocked to find God in secular stories that the general public would watch. These were movies I otherwise never would have considered watching, due to my quick judgment and perhaps even fear of the rating and content.
After I finished my film course, I continued on to help start the same course back home in Canada. As I meet different people and tell them about my work, most Christians assume that we train students to make Christian films, or to record sermons.
Propaganda or story?
How are we to be artists and create beautiful stories if we end up instead making propaganda that is often painfully forced of our own beliefs? Often times, I feel as though Christians have lost sight of the fact that we can create art in many different forms, without them blatantly relating to Christ.
Although I strongly believe that whatever giftings we've been given are to be used for the glory of God, this does not necessarily mean that we lose the ability to create something that goes beyond a Christian audience. Redemptive stories and subjects can be found within a piece that may contain mature content that makes us uncomfortable. We have freedom in Christ to be able to create works of art, without guilt if there isn't a Bible verse or a cross somehow featured.
All this isn't to say that all Christian films and books, fiction or not, are worthless or a waste of time. I think that these do have a purpose, and have affected many in a positive way. As much as I love writing fictional stories, I also enjoy writing articles such as this, which are mainly directed to a Christian audience.
However, as Christians, I believe it's important to ask ourselves questions as to why we choose to watch, or rather not watch, certain films. Have we placed a sense of guilt, or legalism over our lives in which we feel that we need to censor ourselves to a certain extent?
Of course, boundaries will vary from person to person, yet when I broke my own restraints, I was pleasantly surprised at the stories out there that were being told, stories that I had previously judged solely based on the rating and content.
Join me as I cozy up on the couch, searching for the perfect film for movie night, and get lost in a story with a fresh set of eyes.
Miranda Bersaglio works in the film industry with a Christian organisation, "Youth With A Mission" in Quebec, Canada. During her free time, she can be found making films, writing stories, and getting lost in a good book.
Miranda Bersaglio's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/miranda-bersaglio.html