Saturday, June 12, 2010


Behind the popular culture curve as usual. We just watched Fireproof. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the movie. I have three comments.

First, many people complain that Christian movie-making is totally lacking in artistic merit. They turn up their noses at it because it is too preachy, or poorly written, badly acted, or what have you. Now, many of the movies people complain about, I found to be seriously unsatisfactory as well. In this case, I would say that the producers succeeded in pulling off a well-crafted, if not universally excellent, movie.

It is clear that this is a low-budget film. The acting isn't uniformly great, or even good. On the other hand, some of it is pretty good, even excellent at time. Some of the actors who seem to be somewhat wooden are probably actually talking the way real people would talk in those circumstances. On the other hand, some of it is somewhat wooden. That did not substantially interfere with my enjoyment of or appreciation of the movie. It was definitely good enough, even if it didn't rise to the level of Its a Wonderful Life. The humor was very good. We laughed many times spontaneously and out loud. The "preaching" was appropriate for the context. I thought the suspense in the train scene and the fire-rescue scene were very good. I thought the characters were very well drawn and, except in a couple of spots, their line weren't forced or "purpose-driven." The only scene that made me cringe was the scene with "Anna" in the hospital cafeteria. Maybe the project was a bit above the production team's actual capabilities, but I think they overcame their own limitations--perhaps by the grace of God (and from experience from their earlier movies).

Second, my kids noticed right away that Caleb didn't start going to Church or even reading the Bible when he became Christian. The first can be explained by the fact that it is an evangelical film; I don't know what explains the second. Evangelicals who are saved often begin to devour the Bible. Maybe that would have gotten in the way of the fundamental point about the need for Christ to learn to love and to overcome one's "issues" (nod to Maclin Horton).

Third, did you notice that they had been married five years and had no kids? Since there was no mention of biological difficulties (which can contribute to the stress of a marriage and would have come up in a situation like this), I can only presume that they intentionally did not have children and that they used contraceptives.

I think the issues with pornography may be related to a previous issue that both members of the couple separating marital relations from its essential connection to fruitfulness. This puts the emphasis in the relation on "satisfaction" in the act rather than on satisfaction in enjoying the fruit of the act--the motherhood of the woman, the fatherhood of the man, and the children with which they form a community. There is already a predisposition to selfishness if one practices contraception as a regular part of one's marriage. Once "satisfaction" declines, and there are biological reasons why some aspects of "satisfaction" declines after a couple of years, if you are not beginning to enjoy the fruits of your marital relations in generous openness to the life--of each other as father and mother and of the children that come from the relation, then the fruit of your contraceptive attitude--selfishness, will ripen. Of course, many evangelicals do not see the link of selfishness and inordinate focus on "satisfaction" between contraception and pornography, so it is not surprising that it doesn't show up in this movie.