Hollywood Be Thy Name
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
CBN.com - The red carpet has been rolled back up, the stars have gone home, and the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s night of nights, the Academy Awards, is now but a memory.
Today, we are celebrating the achievements of those fortunate enough to take home Hollywood’s most coveted prize, the Oscar.
But a lot has happened since the Academy Awards issued its first statuettes in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel way back in 1929. Legends have come and gone, films earning great fortune have faded from view, and an industry so full of promise has gone from an age of gold to a box office based on green.
Ray Comfort, a best selling author of more than 60 books, has penned “Hollywood Be Thy Name”, a work that solves the mystery of why this influential town is so out of step with mainstream America when it comes to the things of God.
CBN.com Program Director Chris Carpenter recently sat down with Comfort to discuss America’s fascination with Hollywood, how to effectively change culture for the cause of Christ, and whether Christians should stop going to the movies.
I want to start you with a question that is sort of a curve ball but I think it ties into America’s fascination with Hollywood. Why is the general public so fascinated with stars like Paris Hilton and not on matters that make a difference?
I think everybody is fascinated by celebrity. There is something in human nature that wants to worship. If it doesn’t go to God it goes to man. We are idolaters by nature. I think Hollywood really makes idols out of people. They are not real. Paris Hilton for example. She creates an image that sends us into an awe-like state. All you need to do is turn the television on anytime and you will find Hollywood this, Hollywood that – people are interested in what celebrities wear, what they eat, what they drink, and when one goes to prison it fascinates the world. It’s crazy because it doesn’t matter.
There has been a recent movement in Hollywood to make films of faith like “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Chronicles of Narnia”. Why the sudden interest?
Because there is money to be made. Money is the only language that Hollywood hears. There are 177 million professing Christians in this country and “The Passion” showed that they were prepared to put money into the box office. That is what caught Hollywood’s attention. What concerns me is that these films are great films but you won’t find the Gospel clearly presented. You don’t find Christ crucified or the culture of repentance. “The Chronicles of Narnia” was a great movie but you had to understand the allegory to understand the Gospel. I sat through the trilogy of “Lord of the Rings” looking for the Cross but I couldn’t find a thing. It was great graphics and an interesting movie but I would like to see movies produced that exalt Christ and speak of sin, righteousness, judgment, and hell in reality and not as a cuss word. The name of Jesus needs to be used in reality not in blasphemy. I would like to see that happen through Hollywood.
Most people will tell you they are a Christian or that they believe in some form of God. If this is the case, than why do so few people want to talk about it?
In his book “The Coming Revival,” Bill Bright said two percent of Christians in the United States share their faith regularly with others. I think it is a reproach on the Church. If you let a little child drowning in a swimming pool and you can save him you are guilty of what is called depraved indifference. And that adequately sums up what has happened. Depraved means to be as low as you can get and indifference means you couldn’t care less. It would seem that 98 percent of the Church could be guilty of depraved indifference. They are saying you could to hell and we couldn’t care less. You cannot let a child drown and you shouldn’t sit on a pew while sinners sink into hell. I think the Church needs to be called to their responsibility. So they say with the apostles, ‘We cannot speak but what we have seen and heard.’
What was your inspiration for writing this book?
In 2005, the box office take in the U.S. was eight billion dollars. Just under seven billion of that came from church goers. Christians proved the power we have in Hollywood with “The Passion of the Christ”. If Christians said, ‘Hollywood, don’t you blaspheme God’s name – we can’t do anything about the adultery or the violence, but we can do something about the blasphemy.’ We’ve started a Web site called hollywoodandgod.com where you can go in and see a list of all the modern movies that blaspheme God’s name. You’ve got an email where you can email the producers of that movie and say, ‘Ok Hollywood, you have blasphemed the name of the God I profess to love. I am not going to support this at the box office.’ There are 177 million professing Christians in America. If we started doing that saying ‘No more Hollywood,’ then we will have some power. If this happened we could speak to Hollywood. Money is the only language they speak and if we withheld money at the box office there would be a change. Every time we purchase a movie ticket we are saying, ‘Hollywood, bring it on. You are doing what is ok with us.’ I want to say, ‘Hollywood, no more.’ That is why I wrote this book.
Here is a quote from your book – Hollywood’s lack of tolerance for religion is tearing down America. Is this the thesis for your book?
What the book does is actually put into the hands something that Christians can do to make a huge difference in this nation. It grieves me that Hollywood has not only filled a nation with violence and destroyed marriages but this anti-Christian agenda just drives me crazy because my whole heart is to reach the lost. They are doing the opposite. You see, I preach open air every Saturday at Huntington Beach, California. I have done it for some time. And there is a venom from young people who come. They don’t know me. They don’t know what I am going to say. But as soon as they know I am a Christian there is immediate hatred. Where is that coming from? What is fueling it? When you think of Christianity, we have the Red Cross, we have the YMCA, we have food/soup kitchens, all out hospitals (St. Peter’s, St. Jude’s), all are Christian based. We love our enemies. We do good to those despite those who use us. Christianity should not be hated by this generation. They don’t hate Islam. They hate Christianity. So, what is feeding it? Hollywood is feeding it.
Sadly, there are Hollywood films made by Christians that get attacked by the Christian community because they aren’t “Christian enough”. Is there a right way or a wrong way to make a good Hollywood film that espouses Christian values?
Just keep it biblical. If you stay true to scripture it doesn’t matter if people rip you for doing it. You don’t want man’s praise. You want God’s praise. That should be what we are trying to do. We should be trying to exalt that Cross.
After people read your book what would you like them to get out of it?
What I want the Church is to do what it is supposed to do. It is supposed to be a tabernacle of witness in the wilderness. While there is hypocrisy in the Church, while there is compromise in the Church, we are not going to have the power -- because power and holiness go hand in hand according to the book of Romans. When Christians see that they are allowing it into their houses or they are going to movie theaters and being entertained by things that are an abomination to the God we profess to love. When they come back and say, ‘Ok, I am going to live in holiness from now on,’ than I think we will see the Church and the saints rise up. We will see this nation turn around.
It all starts within the Church. The Church needs to be purified and Christians need to see their responsibility to preach the Gospel uncompromisingly.
Should Christians stay away from films made in Hollywood?
No, but they should have a standard for viewing that is according to scripture. There is a great passage that addresses that in Philippians 4. I like movies and I think they can be wonderful things as long as we know that we can feel happy having the Lord sit next to us and watch the movie with us. I don’t like boycotts but if there is blasphemy in a film I think it justifies withholding your finances to say, ‘We are not happy with you blaspheming God’s name.’
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