Posted by: William | January 25, 2008

A Grisly Tale

I enjoy the movies. I think I most enjoy the movies when I can walk into a movie theater and once the movie begins, I forget that I’m watching anything until the credits roll. I most enjoy movies when they can carry me off to some alternate reality for ninety-four minutes. That’s not the only time I’ll enjoy a movie, but it’s the only time that I really, really fall in love with a movie. Amongst movies, some of my favorites are suspense thrillers, or to a lesser extent, horror movies. But that’s likely on account of the feeling of suspense being unusual in my daily life, so if a movie can pull it off, it’s doesn’t have to go far to get me out of my current reality.

I have obvious gripes with movies that make play with demonic forces. I have issues with movies that point overwhelmingly to hell. But I think most of all, I have issues with movies that are unabashedly grotesque. Sometimes the promos even flaunt them that way. You’ve probably heard that ridiculous voice actor from the previews, “A grisly tail that will haunt you for weeks!” It’s not as much bothersome when the bawdiness is instigated by, or involved in some supernatural or otherworldly force (i.e., aliens, zombies, etc.). However, that’s not really the majority of these movies.

I recently read a review of the movie Untraceable. I have no intention of seeing this movie, especially after reading the review. The basic gist is that people gradually murder victims through carefully designed torture weapons simply by logging onto a website. Sounds great. Before this it was a whole host of other ultra realistic gore parades, including the Saw trilogy, The Hills Have Eyes, and Hostel, just to name a few; movies that recreate very real human suffering only for the sake of entertainment; any redeeming word to humanity was lost long ago in the gallons and gallons of (probably, although we can’t tell) artificial blood.

“In prison, they put iron tubes around his legs and tightened them with screws. Then they beat on the tubes with a hammer until the vibrations broke the bones in both legs. All this to make him confess to imaginary crimes against the government. He did not confess. Several Communist police officers then went to his home and one of them, a woman, held Vladimir’s baby in his hands and told Vladimir’s wife, ‘If you don’t sign an accusation against the prisoner [her husband], we will smash the had of the child.’ She refused… the woman police officer smashed the baby’s head against the wall several times, killing it.”

The above quote doesn’t come from a synopsis of a Hollywood movie; although it likely could have. It comes from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Vladimir was a Christian undergoing very real torture for his “crimes”. To speak hypothetically, let’s say that Vladimir were here today and went to the movies to see one of the installments of Saw. How do you suppose he would react to seeing a victim rigged into some terrifying murder and torture device?

Which brings me to my larger point, how do we go one minute and indulge in the very realistic fantasy of seeing someone brutally and graphically tortured and murdered purely for our own entertainment, to the next minute in which we are supposed to be compassionate, loving and broken hearted for those in pain. I submit that it is unlikely that the two can coexist. Either watching it on screen must break our hearts for those who are, even right now, experiencing similar horrors; or else we must have little or no compassion for those people and on some level delight in their pain. If we continue on this path, I doubt it will be very long at all before someone merges these horror films with reality television and we see a rebirth of the Roman Gladiators.

Jesus, I pray that you would change my heart. I pray that you, by your Holy Spirit would be persistent in sanctifying me. God, I pray that you would create in me an ability for the words of my mouth to meet the actions of my body. Jesus, I pray that you would give me and your church a broken heart for those in need, for those suffering, for those dying; for the sake of your glory, O Lord.



  1. LOVE this post. We love the darkness.

    We love to watch and actually ENJOY the suffering of others. Daytime television alone proves this. Soaps. Oprah. Whetev.

    Primetime TV? ER. House. Law&Order. CSI. And these are the lite varieties.

    Movies are yet another reflection of our inner self. Humanity has a long and well documented history of dragging some unfortunate out in public for the amusement/entertainment of the crowd. TV, Movies, and the Internet have made for more innovative approaches to feeding this craving within. But these are just the techniques… the craving is unchanged.

    In the poem, Our Turn, I am suggesting God uses our morbid, sadistic, sinful cravings to our undoing… and to His glory.

  2. I’m wondering if I should say anything here or just continue to pray for you..I praise God that He is causing you to look deeper into why you have allowed yourself permission to watch the movies you choose….which runs right into the taking of your thoughts captive..I love how everything is so tied in,so carefully choreographed in our lives when we sincerely desire to follow Jesus..Imagine if you will ,the next time you are trying to decide whether to go see some obviously questionable movie..or even one that’s not so obviously questionable…instead of giving yourself excuses for it being ok..harmless…ask yourself if you were to walk into the theater to partake..become a partaker of that film,would you see Jesus turning around right ahead of you..because you are following Him,right? If He would be smiling and beckoning you inside to get taken into an alternate reality or if He is actually being drug in against His will..if He lives in you doesn’t He get subjected to everything the windows of your soul take in?
    I’d warn you about alternate realities..there are plenty of is interesting that Jesus called Himself the Way,the Truth and the Life…the Truth also means Reality..big R Reality..the real thing..ask yourself how often do you need to study alternate realities..some knowlege may be useful when bringing someone out of one..because that is the problem..everyone is locked into their own private reality..little r.
    I do not believe all violence is wrong to watch..for instance order to be realistic in portraying my life on film ..leaving out the violence would be false..and would not get to see how the angels intervened..if everything was sanitized how could the glory of God be shown to the degree that He has changed me or healed me if we left out being raped or beaten almost to death or get the point..And where would the film The Hiding Place.Corrie tenBoom”s story be without dipicting the horror of the concentration camp. I believe it is what one alludes to without being so graphic.I was concerned when trying to help a little sister understand how she was trading in actual spiritual protection and authority by studying earthly martial violence begets violence etc..concerned that I was perhaps not perfect in resisting violence and that I was being hypocritical because I occaisionally watched movies that I’d find glorified violence with little actual plot..unrealistically portayed.
    I think anybody who really askes God “would you have me go to this movie..yes or no?” would find that much of what they found to be entertaining was really just a distracting compromise.
    I enjoy your heart as help me to reexamine myself..for to whatever degree I may have knowledge of God in which to take my thoughts captive in obediance..I am ever going to be coming into a greater understanding of all God requires of me as I get more knowledge of His perfect will,what is or is not of Him..where the actual limits are and so this will lower the bar in my now aware conscience..I am thankful that He is able to lower the bar in each of our lives, as in making us aware that it is actually really that low,in His timing, according to our individual growth and knowledge of Him. May we respond to this with immediate compliance to His standard..not resisting or excusing ..lest the moment for turning away pass by us and our hearts become hardened to correction and our consciences seared to the reality of our own sin.

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