catapult magazine

catapult magazine


"appropriate" content


Apr 05 2002
02:59 pm

I believe there is a big difference between seeing somthing and reading about it. When you see it, everything is there, layed out for you nice and neat, but when you read about something it is not all supplied for you, you have to use your own perception of the world to fill in the gaps. The same goes for drama as well, expecially certian types of drama. TV and Movies on the other hand give it all to you, expecting little of the viewer, for some movies and tv the attention of the viewer is not even expected, it is the film or show’s job to keep you attention.

Though I see nothing abnormally sinful in the presentation of voilence, sex,. etc. I think that we must remember that though “‘Everything is permissable for me’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’—but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12).

That is why I think that there is a point in which it should be turned off, by even the strongest of believers. To me it is analogous to smoking or drinking, though it may not be a sin for a Christian to do either, it is not healthy either and they both can lead to even worse things. In treating our bodies as temples we must not forget our minds as well, for what is inside is what makes a man “unclean”.

As for Christian depiction of violence, sex, etc. I would say that at its most basic level it must first show truth but at the same time not cause us to stray. I am very interested in what others think of what everyone else thinks.


Mar 12 2002
02:15 pm

i had an interesting conversation with a friend at church the other day about the content in films and what is or isn’t “appropriate” for christian consumption. he had read an article which essentially equated watching sex on screen to watching your neighbors have sex. he basically agreed and was of the assumption that christians should not be taking in such material (not just sexually explicit) because it was damaging to the moral psyche.

i didn’t agree with him at all, but it did bring up a good question. is anything inappropriate for christian viewing (or listening, etc.)? if so, where is the line drawn?


Mar 19 2002
02:32 pm

Well, I’ve been thinking off and on about this since I first read it. My first thought was, “my gosh this guy is brave to bring this up”! I still think that, but Ive struggled with this and imagine most Christians have. I think sometimes we have to trust our gut instinct; when we’re raising kids we have to think more than once about it; is my spirit grieved; am I causing my neighbor to stumble?; my high school friend’s mother would have said, “Kent, is that edifying?”(that drove us nuts!) is the total content redeeming; is that an excuse; but again, is it contextual, meaningful, uplifting, or is it degrading; does anyone here remember the Keith Green era—no compromise and all?; doesn’t consumerism apply to what we view and read and listen to as much as it does what we acquire? Are we filling up all the quiet spaces in our lives and not being still?
Wisdom and judgement, the discerning of the Spirit. By limiting what we watch and listen to and read, are we limiting learning, thought, a truth, a touch to our souls? Do we trust the Spirit’s voice and leave, put it down, turn it off if need be?
I’m rambling. Still thinking.


Mar 19 2002
03:26 pm

Well said, Alice.

I especially appreciate what you say about needing to be still and turn off some of the noise in our lives so that we can know that God is God.

Having said that, though, and having just read a letter in my Christian College’s alumni magazine that rails against the evils of Harry Potter, I guess it seems to me that sometimes Christians approach culture from a losers perspective. We seem defensive, as if our belief is so marginal that reading a single book or seeing a single movie could sweep us away into the oblivion of Godlessness. We need to remember, I think, when relating with the world that we have all the answers (not that we understand them all :) ) and we know that we will win the war. We can afford to read or watch or listen to things that are not orthodox without fear that they will sucker us. And having discerned the redemptive messages from the false, we can discuss them rationally, not in a manic mode.

Getting back to the original question, is there any content that is inappropriate for Christians, I think there are certainly things that I don’t want my four year old daughter to have to reason out just now. I think there are things that are false in their interpretation of the world. But things that would corrupt us? If we start down that path — throwing out things that are violent, sexual, or descriptive of sin, the Bible is the first book that has to go. I know of no scene more violent than the crucifixion, no book that does a better job of describing the joy of appropriate sex (Song of Songs) and the utter perversion humanity is capable of (Lot and his daughters, Sodom, David, etc), and no more accurate depiction of human sinfulness than the Bible.

Having said that, I don’t think I have any great need to see “American Pie.”


Mar 23 2002
05:51 am

I agree about turning off the noise, but I don’t think that necessarily has to mean turning off movies with alot of violence, sex, “swears”, etc. A good movie often produces a sense of calm, sometimes even peace for me. It doesn’t have to be a quiet movie even, it just has to speak truly, to bring out an aspect of life that is often overlooked in our busy day-to-day lives (Thanks to American Beauty, I will never look at a flying bag in quite the same way again).

The violence we see/or don’t see on the news can be shown for what it really is in film (I had a difficult time getting an accurate sense of the horror of September 11 because many of the horrific scenes people talked about were not shown on the network news; it took the documentary on CBS, with all the bodies falling on the ceiling, for the reality of the situation to sink in, as terrible as that may seem).

If violence is a part of life, if people have sex, if New York fire-fighters sometimes use the word “fuck”, then we should not be surprised when these aspects of life are depicted. And we all should know by now how unhealthy repression of unpleasant events can be! The question should be in what way are these unpleasantries (or in the case of sex, pleasantries) depicted. Are these aspects of life portrayed in the form of idle chatter that glosses over the way things are or are these experiences of life illuminated to give us a clear (not necessarily unambiguous) picture of what gets lost in the noise of day to day living?


Apr 04 2002
04:24 pm

If I may I would like to quote from the introduction to Eyes Wide Open, a book about having a Reformed Christian view of the world and of culture. I think that the author, William D. Romanowski has a good take on this topic.

*Other passages of in Scripture use food metaphores to describe dicernment and Chritian maturity. “One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables” (Rom. 14:2). The mature Christian is distinguished by diet; those who are young in the faith drink milk, “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distiguish good from evil” (Heb. 5:14).

Of course, the bible also tells us that “‘Everything is permissable for me’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’—but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12). I think that this verse affirms the power of an informed faith to “keep your foot from evil” (Prov. 4:27). And considering the biblical madate to be “in the world but not of it,” I also understand it to mean that we should establish habits and practices that support a fitting role for popular art in our lives and our society.*

I agree with Mr. Romanowski and think that though we are “allowed” to watch, hear, etc. these things I think that it also takes a level of maturity to be able to watch them, and even more maturity to decide to not watch them at all.

As for the “artists” view, I think that we can include these things as long as it is portraying the truth that God made and makes clear to us. Also, the ancient greeks had a theatrical practice, I forget what it was called, but it involved doing the violence off stage. This seems to be the an admirable thing to do, for sometimes a good hint can make an even stronger (and more personal) image in our heads, using our imaginations.

As for the September 11 reference, personally, I saw what was broadcast on the news that day, while it was happening, and the Newsweek pictures, but other than that I am quite oblivious to the actual imagery that was on the “documentary on CBS”. I figure that I can imagine plenty of horrible things that could have happened.

The fact is many people died horrible deaths, and that alone gives me the chills.

One question though, In an age of media coverage, where we know and have access to more informantion than ever, is it proper to try to know everthing first hand? Are we ment to know every grusome detail of life? Or can we live without the knowlege of some things?
Are these “news programs” of today also simply extentions of our so called “information age”. And is this information age truley a step in the right direction. (Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and the internet etc. just as much as the next guy, but my question stands: Is it possible that the News, or even extremely graphic movies and televison, distract us from what is really important by filling us with “raw data”?

Sorry for my ramble, but thanks for listening; (reading, whatever…)


Apr 05 2002
07:22 am

Good questions, but I am not asking for “raw data”. I’m asking for data with a slant, or no data at all. I’m looking for the human aspect of these “events”.

News that claims to give objective info is a lie. I would indeed be horrified if the news showed pictures of falling bodies objectively, in a detached manner (like falling bags of sand) just because people need to know the facts. But in the context of the documentary aired on CBS, the sound of bodies falling was presented in a context that helped me grieve (just as I need to see, even touch, the body of my deceased relative or friend at a funeral or memorial service to put closure on the situation).

Regarding your comments on maturity in watching films, I agree with Romanowski’s use of Scripture in this case. I would be surprised, though, if he claimed the goal for Christians is to decide not to watch these shows at all. Rather, it would seem more consistent with the rest of Romanowski’s work if you said that the Christian’s responsibility is to become more mature in terms of discerning what is good and pleasing.

Maybe it would be beneficial here to talk specifically about what constitutes Christian depictions of violence, sex etc. so that we know, as mature Believers, why we’re turning the channel.


Apr 06 2002
12:38 pm

Good points on both ends of the discussion. Thanks. I look to movies and novels and whatever aspect of culture to show me Truth. If violence and sex and bad language are part of the story, but are necessary to get across Truth with a capital T, I’m all for it. Some violence in movies (the Action Movie sort) seems to serve no purpose but cheap thrills. Other violence in movies (when Steve Martin’s character gets shot in “Grand Canyon” or the opening sequence in “Saving Private Ryan”) is necessary to a meaningful story. Ditto for sex and bad language. How much of these things is in film is not the question Christians ought to be asking. We ought to ask, “Is it True” first of all. After all, the Bible contains plenty of violence, sex, and bad language, but uses these things (as I think Grant said) to show the way the world is. Mechanics, firefighters, and sometimes businessmen talk the way they talk. Writers have to show them that way.
Sam makes a good point about the Greeks. They believed that sex and violence had a part in many stories (Oedipus, for example) but that it might better be described on stage, but not shown. Their reasoning for this, if I remember my Aristotle right, was not that these things were offensive, but that they were private and not appropriate for anyone to see but the participants.
thanks for a good discussion.


Apr 07 2002
08:24 am

Film and television expose just as much imagination as drama, literature and painting. I recently saw Monsters Ball. There was a subtext to the events of the film that really made it a rich experience. I was constantly guessing and discovering the thoughts of the characters and film-makers.

Beyond working visual imagination as literature does perhaps film works psychological, philosophical, and spiritual imagination.



Apr 08 2002
06:00 pm

I agree that for mature Christians with discerning eyes it is possible to watch almost anything in moderation without being “lead astray.” My question is is most of the sex, bad language, and/or violence we see in TV and movies today really nessesary to be seen? Obviously it’s completely reletive to the situation, but can watching or reading something with superfluous swearing (and the like) really be something that can help us become better Christ-like people?

Obviously some secular art forms have relevant messages for everyone, and we can learn from them, but I don’t think that that really means that Christians can go about watching/reading/listening to anything they please without expecting to be somewhat affected by it. Because we are fallible, whether we like it or not, we could unbeknowenstly occasionally let something slip by us once in awhile and I think Satan could and most likely would take advantage of that. I say why give him the opportunity for that foot-hold.


Apr 08 2002
08:22 pm

Superfluous sex, violence, etc., superfluous anything usually indicates a bad movie. If we’re talking about bad movies or bad television, then I agree, TURN IT OFF (not that all superfluity is bad, however. I think this point was made in Tarrentino’s “Le Big Mac” scene in PULP FICTION. Films don’t have to be efficient machines of meaning. Extravagance is what makes art fun). But I’m not comfortable with blaming film for being dangerously engaging, while praising books for making us better human beings. Books, with their stress on reasoned and ordered discourse, have led us down a treacherous path that we’re just now realizing contributed to the horrors of WWII (this is a claim of several French thinkers (Blanchot, Levinas, Derrida, Sarah Kofman) who survived the NAZI regime with deep scars).

Every medium bears the mark of sin. Maybe television is trickier to redeem than film, but I know that I’ve seen good television (“The Simpsons”, “Twin Peaks”, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, “The Smurfs”, “Roots”, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” etc.). And I hope to see more.