What Makes Me Sad About Crash

Let’s talk about Crash. Karl and I went to see it last night. Amazing movie… amazing dialogue… amazing bits of silence where dialogue would have ruined the scene. It’s hard to describe. My initial reaction is just to say, “You need to go see it and then we’ll talk.” It’s a very real look at racial prejudice and how that affects relationships between friends and strangers, but even more it’s about pride and trust (which are completely interlocked with the roots of bigotry in my opinion). 

What makes me sad is that the singular thought carrying me through most of the movie was that a Christ follower, or groups of believers, will probably never make such a thought-provoking piece of cinema. I think we (meaning believers with artistic leanings) do such a disservice to the gospel by glossing over and ignoring the hard parts of life… our sinfulness… our depravity. We paint this picture of life in our art that is 100% positive and it’s as if we’re negating the entire reason we needed salvation. It’s called “salvation” because we needed to be SAVED from SOMETHING. And that something hardly EVER shows up in our art… visual, musical, cinematic, photographic… nothing. It’s as if darkness and evil and sin and all the things we needed saving from never existed. It’s as if Christ didn’t need to sacrifice because we didn’t need to be saved from anything. That’s the story we’re telling. If we don’t have four easy steps to happiness, or problem/resolution in a Sunday sermon, or if the art isn’t explicity “christian” enough… then we reject it. 

And if we continue to perpetuate that kind of worldview, which isn’t really a worldview at all, then we shouldn’t be surprised when non-believers look at our lives and our art and say, “That has NO RELEVANCE to my life… my life is HARD… i’m in PAIN… i’m confused and angry and I don’t even know why and YOU HAVE NOTHING TO SAY TO ME.” I’m not sure if it’s our pride or our reluctance to live in reality, or, perhaps worse, our inability to tap into artistic expression that’s actually rooted in honesty with ourselves and with God, but the majority of the art made by the majority of Christians in the world today has no impact on the minds and hearts of the people who view it. 

We’ve got to embrace the fact that the image-makers of our time are influencing the world. Music, art, the internet, photography, movies, television, video games… our culture is almost ENTIRELY visual and sensory. For the first time since the Reformation, artists informed by a Christ-centered worldview have the opportunity to engage our culture with their artistic expression. We don’t have to learn another language, we don’t have to fight our way into the public eye, we don’t even have to deal with persecution like the vast majority of our brothers and sisters in the world do. We can bypass the pluralistic reasoning and humanist thought that have inundated our country through our college campuses and we can connect with people at a heart level. But once we’re there… once we’ve gained their trust and are in that place… what are we saying to them?

That we have it all together? That life is without suffering or hardship? That if you aren’t happy and fit and perfect that something is wrong with you? Or are we telling them the truth? That something IS wrong with us… that we are not what we were meant and created to be… that we eat a steady diet of false ideals… that we ARE in need of saving… that there IS redemption… but it isn’t found in us, it’s found in Christ. And not as a cute, tidy resolution or a trite Sunday School answer… but as THE answer… a personal, permanent, unwavering, passionate relationship with GOD through the person of Jesus Christ.

You’re an image-maker. What are your images saying?