My Favorite Sci-Fi Films

So I’ve always wanted to talk about my favorite films of all time, but have never been able to narrow it down to a top ten or even a top fifty films. The more movies I watch over time, the longer my list of favorites grows as my personal taste expands. But I think I have found the best way of approaching this daunting task and that is by writing about my favorite films by genre. Not only the overarching genre, but also the sub categories that reside within the mainline genre. To start this series off, I’ve decided to talk about possibly my favorite genre of films: sci-fi.

Escapism

For this genre, I’ve broken it down to the following types of films: escapism, guilty pleasures, realism, social commentaries, and the underrated. The rest of the blog-posts in this series will follow a similar format. First, let’s look at my favorite escapism in the sci-fi genre.

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For escapism, the most important element is that you get to go from reality and escape to something completely out of this world. Something that is totally distant from our life. Some favorites in this first category are Alien (1979), Back to the Future (1985), Predator (1987), and Terminator 2 (1991). These are all great sci-fi films that take you to places unexpected and are thrilling from start to finish. Whether it’s the 1950s, the 1980s with time-traveling robots, or even going to space to fight a chest-burstin’ alien, these films take you onto great escapes into the unknown. They’ve got action, suspense, and tons of memorable moments.

Yet my favorite sci-fi escapist movie and also my favorite movie of all time is none other than Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980). It’s got everything you need for a killer sci-fi flick and is in my opinion the gold standard of escapist sci-fi films. It’s action-packed, filled to the brim with fun characters, and has a great story that takes you all over a galaxy far, far away. It’s the perfect escape.

Guilty Pleasure

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Now like any genre, there are those films that are not so good, but we still watch them because of some obscure reason. These are the guilty pleasures that you know are either straight trash or a mixed bag of a movie, but you still love watching them anyway for who knows why. A few of my favorite sci-fi guilty pleasures are AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Tron: Legacy (2010).

The latter only for its sick Daft Punk soundtrack and the lit special effects. Outside of that, it’s your run-of-the-mill generic sci-fi flick with a pretty bland story. Oh, and why AVP: Alien vs. Predator? Because I literally only watch the aliens and predators fight each other and skip through the rest of the movie. Besides that, it’s the definition of a dumpster fire.

There’s even Terminator Salvation (2009), which should have been great yet still failed to be anything beyond eye-candy with its awesome action scenes and cool sound design. Although, of all of my guilty pleasures in sci-fi, none is a greater guilty pleasure for me than Michael Bay’s The Island (2005).

From its wacky plot about cloning humans to its sun-soaked action scenes, this movie is guilty pleasure sci-fi filmmaking to a tee. There’s also the excessive amount of references to peeing, which is strange in itself throughout the entire movie because it’s somehow integral to the plot. I don’t know. I like it and you might too. It’s not that good, but boy is it a fun sci-fi guilty pleasure to watch!

Realism

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For this subgenre, all of these films take an idea grounded in reality and push it past its logical limits, while trying as hard as possible to maintain some sort of realism. Films such as Limitless (2011), where Bradley Cooper takes a pill that unleashes his brain’s full capacity. It takes a simple premise and uses it to an engaging advantage for what is a pretty good movie.

There’s even the space-driven sci-fi films that aim to replicate what outer space is really like for better or for worse like Gravity (2013) and The Martian (2015). What makes these films so good is the fact that despite how amusing or terrifying the story might be, the stakes feel even higher than usual due to them being much more realistic.

But in my mind, nothing comes close to entertaining and realistic sci-fi quite like Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010). It’s both brilliant and subdued. Rooted in a fascinating idea and then goes to a whole other level as the plot unfolds. As you fall deeper into the levels of dreams, what is and isn’t real becomes a lot harder to discern. It’s bold, intelligent, and is most definitely my favorite realistic sci-fi film.

Social Commentary

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Here we find what might be considered the most heady and emotionally tugging sci-fi films. The ones that cause us to feel and think in ways we might not have before. The films that challenge our beliefs and are sometimes a direct mirror of the times we live in as a species.

When it comes to social commentary sci-fi, some of my all-time favorites include movies like Interstellar (2014), Metropolis (1927), and Snowpiercer (2013). Three films dealing with the similar idea of survival. Trying to make it in a world no longer suitable for us humans or at least for those of us that are not so fortunate. With the use of sci-fi elements, these three films take drastically different approaches on how we would react in similar situations. The various social-economic struggles, the philosophical conversations, and even how they choose to visualize this universal desire to adapt in spite of the worst conditions is what makes these types of films stand the test of time.

Likewise, movies like Arrival (2016) and The Matrix (1999) deal with different types of problems within our modern world like the invasion of our privacy, questioning reality, or even how time affects us. In the spirit of all of these big ideas and confronting our societal struggles head-on, none of these films has affected me more than War for the Planet of the Apes (2017). This, along with the entire Planet of the Apes franchise, has always had the unique perspective of directly addressing bigotry, racism, and xenophobia unlike any sci-fi films that I’ve ever seen.

From the warring factions of apes versus mankind to the delicate reflections on what makes humans human, this movie delves deep into some of the biggest questions that modern day humanity has to deal with now. With its allusions to socialist regimes of the last century to the harsh treatment of minorities during the early years of America, this film speaks on so many subjects and yet nails every single one of them. It’s a modern masterpiece and is my favorite social commentary sci-fi flick.

Underrated

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Not all heroes wear capes and not all films get the attention that they deserve. These are the underdogs. The odd ones out that for some reason or another, don’t get the credit they deserve. Some of these personal favorites include Minority Report (2002) and The Adjustment Bureau (2011). These are films that while good, never seem to get enough attention, in my opinion.

Another underrated movie that I think is pretty fun is I, Robot (2004) starring Will Smith. A movie that follows a detective (Smith) as he tries to solve the suicide of the founder of U.S. Robotics, but believes that a robot is actually the culprit behind the whole crime. It’s got an uneven tone and the third act is really dumb when compared to the rest of the movie, but it has a heart to it thanks in large part to Smith’s great performance and the fun mystery of solving the crime.

Although, my favorite underrated sci-fi movie is Equilibrium (2002). In a post-Matrix world, this at first glance appears like a cheap rip-off of the whole slo-mo kung fu that would define the next two decades of movies. Yes, it has bland production design, some poorly written dialogue, and uninspired cinematography, but this film works because the story concept is just so fascinating and the acting ensemble sells it as best they can with what they’re given. Speaking of casts, this one is kinda loaded as it stars Christian Bale acting alongside the likes of Emily Watson, Taye Diggs, Angus Macfadyen, Sean Bean, and William Fichtner. It borrows heavily from George Orwell’s 1984 and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 as the film is centered on a world where emotion is illegal, along with all things that provoke said emotions. It’s a gem and I’ve grown up always appreciating it as a diamond in the ruff.

In short, my favorite sci-fi films are as follows by subgenre:

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So those are just a few of my favorite sci-fi films. I couldn’t talk about all of them, but this should give you an idea of what sci-fi films interest me most. Next time in this series, I’ll go over my favorite war movies. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

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Causation, Karma, and Kung Fu: Dragon (2011) | Film Analysis

This is the third and final film analysis paper that I wrote while I went to the Colorado Film School. The first two were The Dark Knight: A Scene Analysis and Of Monsters and Men: Trollhunter (2010) | Film Analysis. I wrote this third paper for my Contemporary Global Cinema class and this class was taught by Andrew Houston at the time. It was originally published on December 7th, 2016 and was one of my last assignments at CFS. Since this is a blog-post and not in the original format, I have made minor revisions to this film analysis to make it up to date with the rest of my blog. With all of that in mind, here is my film analysis:

When considering cinema in general, a quintessential part that is often glossed over is the worldviews that the characters on-screen inhabit. Consider this the subconscious factor in a character’s motivations as they make decisions from both an explicit and implicit sense. In particular, a character’s worldview helps us as the audience understand more fully why a character believes what they believe. Now in the West, the worldviews of a cinematic character are rarely elaborated on, in order to appeal to the broadest audience possible by avoiding points of controversy like religion. So instead, we will look at Eastern cinema for a more fleshed-out look at worldviews in film.

When deciding on which film precisely, I have chosen the Hong Kong movie Wǔ xiá (2011) which is translated into Dragon in English. I chose this film because it portrays a great difference in thinking in our two main characters who make for quite the odd couple. The film is about a burglary that takes place at a general store where Donnie Yen’s character, Liu Jin-Xi, works and the aftermath case is investigated by Detective Xu Baijiu played by Takeshi Kaneshiro. The film opens with the inciting incident of the burglary, but what coincides thereafter is an investigation to sort out the loose ends of a peculiar crime scene.

At first it seems that Liu Jin-Xi has, in an attempt to protect the general store, accidentally killed both burglars in some sort of brawl. With too many loose ends, Detective Xu Baijiu looks further into the crime scene only to find that Liu Jin-Xi is actually a former martial artist named Tang Long. As a former martial artist, Long used to be apart of the “72 Demons” gang led by his own father, The Master, played by Yu Wang who famously portrayed the One-Armed Swordsman in the 1970’s in a series of Chinese films.

Now the main scene that shows this conflict in worldviews between these two characters is right after Detective Baijiu pushes Long off of a bridge to see if his martial artist theory is correct and he truly did intentionally kill the two burglars. Turning the case from a self-defense to a double homicide, but Long simply falls onto a tree before falling into the river below as the theory appears to now hold no water. Once Long is recovered from the river, wet and shaken up, the two have a conversation over a warm campfire as the sun sets behind them. It is here when the themes of karma and materialism clash as the two converse, revealing their innermost beliefs regarding the world they equally share.

Long begins this discourse as he says “If you hadn’t come today, I wouldn’t have fallen. It’s karma.” Detective Baijiu replies sternly with, “It was an accident.” In response, Long says the following monologue that succinctly presents his perspective on human existence:

“No. What I mean to say is: the fabric of existence is composed of a myriad of karmic threads. Nothing exists in and of itself, everything is connected. For example, if I hadn’t come to this village, I wouldn’t have met Ayu. If her husband hadn’t left her, I wouldn’t have married her. If I hadn’t gone to the store, I wouldn’t have seen the criminals, and they wouldn’t have died. Then you wouldn’t have come here… No one truly has free will. When one man sins, we all share his sin. We are all accomplices.”

So with this knowledge in mind, we now know what Long’s viewpoint in life is and even in his current situation of potentially going to prison for murder. There is a lot to unpack here, but first we need to understand Detective Baijiu’s perspective on both the situation at-hand and his perspective of the world as well. Earlier in the film, as he is attempting to solve the case, he is quoted saying the following during a montage of sorts:

“Good or bad, it’s determined by our physiology. The Shanzhong Meridian controls our emotions and gives us empathy. My Shanzhong Meridian is overdeveloped. It makes me too empathetic… my rational self appears separately from me, it tells me human emotions can be altered and controlled by manipulating the Meridian. That’s why I use two needles [for acupuncture therapy]. One is inserted in the Shanzhong, to suppress my empathy, the other in the Tientu to control the poison. You can’t trust humanity. Through science, I’ve discovered only physiology and the law don’t lie.”

When compared side by side the two worldviews bear both commonalities and stark differences. For starters, let’s observe the film from an epistemic perspective and see how their differing worldviews compare to one another. Long grew up in a world outside of modern civilization in rural China.

A common man that was surrounded by the ancient belief in karma that can be found in Buddhism. “Karma is the law of moral causation” and is a foundational doctrine of belief within Buddhism (1). Put succinctly, karma is the idea that whatever wrongs or rights that are made in the past will directly affect the present as one is rebirthed. This causational link of events is very much attached to a linear concept of time and thus is limited by that conceptual idea.

To contrast, Detective Baijiu has grown up in a more civilized part of China where Western thought has made its greatest impact: in the city. This influence is what pressed upon Detective Baijiu to adopt some form of a materialistic worldview. Where only matter is reality and everything can be answered through the power of scientific inquiry.

Although, his faith in science is an idolatrous logical fallacy at best and his version of naturalism is quite common in the West. As a detective, Baijiu also sees the world through a much more pessimistic perspective as most likely in his career, he has only seen the worst in people. It must be hard for him to see saints when his job is to stop sinners. The world he sees is only functional and right when the law is firmly established in society and everything lines up.

Now that our two main characters have been briefly described based off of the story they are apart of, let’s see what makes this clash in worldviews so unique. How they actually believe almost the exact same thing in the long run, but have differing definitions for their stances in life. Between the two ideologies, they share three distinct similarities with each other that are fundamental to both worldviews: that there is no god, that there is no soul, and that we are bound by circumstantial causation. We will reflect on all three before going full circle and seeing why at the beginning of the film, Long and Baijiu are at odds, but by the end are allies fighting for the same goal. First, we will start with their shared belief in no god(s).

Now when the topic of contrasting different religions and belief systems is brought up, the reality of it all is that most of these faiths bear several similarities across the board. Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, John C. Lennox, remarks on this similarity when he says that “in particular, ancient Near Eastern accounts [on the origins of the universe] typically contain theogonies, which describe how the gods are generated from primeval matter. These gods are, therefore, mere deifications of nature and its powers. This means that such ancient worldviews stand much closer to modern materialism than might at first appear (2).” In short, as odd as it may seem, polytheism and atheism are much closer in relation than one would expect and the same can be said of other pairings like Buddhism alongside materialism.

Both Buddhism and materialism share the fundamental commonality that they both hold to the belief in no god(s). For materialism, the existence of a non-material deity and/or force somehow living amidst the material or separate from the material is illogical. This is based on the grounds that only matter and the laws therein that bind matter are all that exists in our universe. The affirmation that neither the spiritual nor the supernatural could possibly co-exist within a universe constructed of only matter. Matter is all that there is and all that there ever could be in our reality, according to materialism.

When it comes to Buddhism and whether or not it is a form of theism is a hot-button topic of debate in religious circles. While there are certain factions of Buddhism like Pure Land Buddhism that some suggest as theistic in nature, the vast majority of scholars and Buddhists affirm that Buddhism is very atheistic on a fundamental level. This is because it is silent on the subject regarding the existence of god(s).

As philosopher Ravi Zacharias would put it, “there is no teaching about god in Buddhism… the goal of the faith is to cease desiring (3).” Hence, Buddhism is rooted in the implicit belief that one can be good enough to get to Nirvana without the assistance or grace of god(s). While modern Buddhism may have theistic themes in certain sects, classical Buddhism is strictly atheistic in its origins and fundamental values.

In regards to the soul, materialism again has the belief that matter is all there is to life in the universe. The soul in its most basic definition is the essence of who we are as individual persons and what makes us human even after our life is over. Materialists, like Baijiu, believe that time itself is the measure that makes our reality real. To say that there is an existence or a life after our own time ends is preposterous to the materialists because everything that is exists solely in the confines of time. We begin. We live. We end. This is an essential truth for the materialist.

For the Buddhist, like Long, the soul is not real and is a fundamental of Buddhism called Anatta meaning “non-self” or “non-soul” that separates Buddhism from the majority of world religions all together. A Buddhist may believe in the ever-present recurrence of the rebirth cycle, but to have an eternal soul is not supported by any Buddhist writings. The soul happens to be an issue that yet again divides Hindus from Buddhists, respectively. On the other hand, it is a second fundamental similarity between both materialists and Buddhists.

At last, we arrive at one more commonality that both Baijiu and Long share and that is this: they both assert strongly the notion of circumstantial causation. A term that I coined to show the parallel between the two and can be taken in the literal sense. In that everything that is caused is the direct result of the circumstances that one may find themselves in the moment or in the long run of their life. For instance, a Japanese woman may find herself in an internment camp in the Midwestern United States due to the previous circumstances of her living on the Pacific side of the U.S. during the duration of World War II. She is simply where she is based off of circumstances that she cannot control because of the ever long list of circumstances that led to this very moment of her imprisonment.

The materialist would respond to a scenario like this and say that this Japanese woman is apart of a less-developed section of the evolutionary tree that is struggling to survive amidst the presence of a stronger branch of human evolution. The Buddhist would reply with the fact that this is happening due to something awful that the Japanese woman did in a previous rebirth and karma is giving her exactly what she deserves. In this same respect, both materialism and Buddhism carry this idea of circumstantial causation into their own belief systems. The materialist has to logically conclude that all humans can do is fit the most basic evolutionary needs with the use of their cognitive faculties guiding them to reproduction and survival of the species. This conclusion follows because naturalism is the underlying force behind materialism in most cases, especially for Baijiu in the film.

Due to the circumstances of previous members of the evolutionary family tree, the modern human has the sole purpose of surviving long enough to reproduce, in order to pass on their genetic makeup onto the more evolved next generation. This cycle of evolution is interestingly similar to the way karmic rebirth plays out in the mind of a Buddhist. We are born due to circumstantial causation and must perform better in this life to guarantee a better life later down the timeline, according to this Eastern philosophy.

An oddity, but nevertheless a similarity between the two differing viewpoints. In other words, natural selection through the process of evolutionary naturalism within a materialistic worldview is identical with Buddhism because karma through the process of rebirth within a Buddhist worldview has the same exact circumstantial causation. Thus, the two belief systems are almost perfectly aligned in this respect.

So how does this culmination of a case in favor of the similarities between materialism and Buddhism connect with the relational dynamic of both Long and Baijiu? Well in the explicit sense, the two are at odds over their differences, yet by the end set their differences aside to fight the ultimate evil: the Master of the 72 Demons. In the implicit sense, could it be a stretch to argue that subconsciously the two figured out their own similarities in their own worldviews throughout the unfolding of the film’s narrative, which led them to fight alongside one another in the end? For Long, a battle for redemption, honor, and family. For Baijiu, a battle for truth, justice, and the survival of the fittest to make way for the next generation.

The two have differing reasons because of differing worldviews during the whole film and yet they work together to stop this evil threat. Why would they do that exactly? The field of sociology might just have the answer. Within sociology, there is common idea that there are more differences between two people within the same sub-culture than there are between two people in different sub-cultures. Therefore, these two different people, Baijiu and Long, being from two different sub-cultures fought against the Master because they were more aligned than they thought at first. The Master, who was from the same sub-culture that Long was apart of, in the end viewed the world drastically different than the way Long views it and hence they differed so much leading to this battle.

To summarize, at first Baijiu and Long appear to be on opposite ends of the spectrum of worldviews, that is Buddhism and materialism. As seen previously, the two subconsciously may have recognized some similarities in their thinking (i.e. no god(s), no soul, and circumstantial causation) and this led to their teamwork throughout the final battle in Dragon. Which when the title, Wǔ xiá, is translated into English, it means knight-errant. This word equates to a medieval knight or a warrior searching in the hopes of finding an honorable quest.

So two warriors from two polar opposite worldviews are subconsciously looking for something worth fighting for that is greater than themselves. In this instance, beyond the self, in order to bring about a satisfactory end to their individual quests. Baijiu fights in the hopes of eradicating the outlaw to further the human species and Long fights in the hopes of entering Nirvana by fixing the debts of his past life. Together, by the end of the film, the two are walking on their own quests and both have only a few more steps before reaching the end of their journey. Like an ancient Chinese proverb once said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/karma.htm
  2. Seven Days That Divide The World, P. 94
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5jr00Hyk54
  4. Disclaimer

Who Is Chris Cribari?

Updated: 10/12/2018 | Photo Cred: Daniel Walton

For those of you that are new to this blog and since I’m closing in on 50 blog-posts pretty soon as of this blog-post, I figured it might be time to reintroduce myself to new visitors to this site. Who am I exactly? Well, here is a little about myself and what makes me who I am today.

I grew up Southern California for the first ten years of my life and then my family moved to Colorado in July of 2007 for my Dad’s job where I have lived ever since. I was raised by my parents in the Calvary Chapel Movement, along with my four siblings. My four siblings are Rachel, John, Corban, and Nathan. My parents grew up in very broken homes, which directly influenced their strong emphasis on a family established on Christ first and foremost.

I came to faith in Christ when I was 9 in the summer of 2006 and have been a Christian ever since. My parents strong belief in Christianity had a great impact on my path towards the Christian faith, but the decision was all my own. I privately accepted Christ walking home from my friend David’s house where we were watching Playboy DVD’s after school. I publicly came to Christ at Calvary Chapel Oxnard’s Summer VBS a few weeks later when my VBS group leader explained the Gospel to me after I questioned him as to whether or not it was true.

I am and always have been an avid storyteller, along with an active listener to people’s stories. I started writing my first stories in either second or third grade and continue to write to this day. At home, I have stacks of partially-written novels, poems, sermon ideas, and short stories either on flash-drives or busting out of years-old binders. Writing allows my soul to speak truthfully, in spite of my high-spectrum autism disorder as diagnosed by Stanford University.

This is also why I love cinema and going to the theater so much. When Blockbuster was still a thing, my siblings and I would watch our VHS movie collection to death as we rewatched our favorites all the time growing up. This collection that we had as kids contained the original Star Wars trilogy (1977-1983), The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003), the Wallace & Gromit series (1990-1995), a pair of Jurassic Park movies (1993; 2001), a few Val Kilmer movies like The Ghost in the Darkness (1996), The Saint (1997), and The Prince of Egypt (1998), along with a few dozen other films.

When we got a little older, we boys got the privilege of watching my Dad’s infamous movie collection that holds some of the best films I’ve ever seen. This collection consisted of mostly war movies like Braveheart (1995), Gladiator (2000), Saving Private Ryan (1998), The Patriot (2000), and We Were Soldiers (2002). It also had other genre movies like A Beautiful Mind (2001), Bandits (2001), Equilibrium (2002), Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy (2002-2007), The Matrix (1999), The Passion of the Christ (2004), and the Phantom of the Opera (2004). It might just be a box of DVD’s, but it holds some of my favorite memories as my Dad showed us boys what men he wanted us to be through the medium of film.

When I have time to train, I occasionally compete in Strongman too. I was introduced to the sport by my mentor Andrew Morrison and have loved it ever since. I have competed four times and I am preparing for future competitions as well. Through my time training, I’ve met some of the world’s strongest men like Brian Shaw, Mike Burke, Robert Oberst, and Stan Caradine. My favorite Strongman lifts are Atlas Stones, Deadlift, and Log Press.

My theological stance is Molinist, while my preference on church function leans heavily towards Anabaptist. I favor the elder-run church model versus the Moses model as seen in the Calvary Chapel Movement. As the old saying goes, power corrupts. For me, the more powerful one is the more likely they are to be corrupted. Therefore, more accountability before God and His church is necessary for the Great Commission. I currently attend and serve at church in Colorado called LifeGate Denver as a youth pastor.

My favorite apologists are John Lennox, Ravi Zacharias, and William Lane Craig. Although some honorable influences also include Alvin Plantinga, C.S. Lewis, Hugh Ross, James White, Michael L. Brown, Nabeel Qureshi, Norman Geisler, Peter Kreeft, R. C. Sproul, and Voddie Baucham. My parents taught me the basics of Christianity when I was young and from there I have continued to develop my own systematic theology as I mature in the faith.

If I specialized in a subject within Christian apologetics, then it would either be philosophy or world religions. With that said, I’d like to know more about every subject if I’m perfectly honest. I’m mostly self taught, but I have had mentors in my life that have sharpened my worldview to be more coherent and concrete.

I attended the Colorado Film School for a while and have an education in screenwriting, along with directing for the screen. I continue to use my education in my career as I am currently the Director of Creative Content for AvidMax and produce their video media. I’m in the process of researching for two books that I am writing. The first book is a fictional novel that focuses on a married couple’s grieving a stillborn birth and the problem of suffering. The other book is like Mere Christianity for the modern world.

I started this blog for a few reasons. It gave me the opportunity to speak freely about whatever has been on my mind. People have also asked and encouraged me to write, so that inspired me as well. Most importantly, I believe God put me on this planet to write for Him.

This blog started in June of 2015 and will continue to go on as long as God wills. I’m Chris Cribari and this is just a frame of my life. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Legalism: Movies & Music

Updated: 9/12/2017 | Photo Cred: (1)

Although there are many global issues I could write about that are very prevalent in the world today, today I would like to talk about an issue that may seem minor, but can result in cataclysmic effects in Christianity. The issue I want to talk about is legalism. Since legalism is too large of a topic on its own, I am going to narrow down my discussion to two things: movies and music.

This post was inspired by a couple things and experiences from the past. Namely an open letter written by John Givez to Christian Hip Hop that was posted by Rapzilla (2) and a conversation I had with my good friend Jeremiah. In John Givez’ open letter to CHH, he touches on the stigma that is attached to him because everyone considers him to be so edgy that he has lost his spiritual edge, so to speak. That the way he operates and lives his life is not like the typical white, suburban, Evangelical-Christian. You know, that typical generalization and stereotype of every Christian in America. Take me for instance: the guy that looks like the 99 cent version of Leonardo Dicaprio, but who also always looks like he either just got back from the gym or is about to go to one.

Yet as Christians, we project these misconceptions of what a Christian should look, talk, and act like. These legalistic type and their keyboard warriors decided to call out John Givez for the way he lives his life and the way he goes about impacting the culture. So John Givez wrote a response letter to answer his skeptics. Then after reading the letter, I talked to my friend Jeremiah about legalism which led to a discussion on movies and music.

We talked about how we feel convicted by certain things that the other is not convicted to such an extreme degree. For instance, my friend is not comfortable watching an R-rated movie usually, but I on the other hand don’t mind depending on why it is rated R. Then when it comes to music we are again at opposite ends of the spectrum, but the positions are reversed. I cannot listen to music with foul language, but my friend is a lot more open to it then I am which is fine. I mean, I have no place to call out my friend for listening to music with foul language, if I watch movies with foul language. Right?

Now I am a film fanatic and I actually went to film school, so I am biased towards watching films over listening to music. I grew up watching war movies with my Dad and brothers late at night all throughout my childhood. War movies like Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart, We Were Soldiers, Gladiator, and so on that were very R-ratedWhen it comes to music on the other hand, I am a lot more cautious and skeptical to what I listen too.

In fact, I could count how many secular artists that I listen too off the top of my head on a regular basis. So now I ask myself, “Why is it that I am so restrictive towards music when it comes to whether or not it is Christian creators, but when it comes to my movie collection it is exclusively secular?” Why is that? Why do hold to this double-standard like a lot of other Christians?

I know for me personally that I honestly hate nearly every movie made by Christians because they are usually garbage, with the one exception being The Case For Christ movie which was actually pretty good. That may play a part in why I have more secular movies in my possession than secular music because there is a smaller supply of quality, Christian-oriented films that are also good. When comparing how many Christians are in the movie industry versus the music industry, it is pretty evident where the quality is best. In general, Christians in the movie industry are a joke compared to the Grammy-winning Christians in the movie industry.

Going back to legalism, when does someone go too far in what content they consume like movies or music? When is it okay for a fellow believer to correct another believer in love on what they are participating in? The best answer I can come to is that someone who has gone too far in whatever they are doing, is someone who is a) not glorifying God and b) is not reflecting Christ. If you can listen to secular music or watch secular movies, and not be hindered spiritually then go for it. If not, then you might want to reconsider what you are interested in as far as movies and music go.

For me, I have set up certain boundaries to ensure that I do not stumble into sin by going too far when it comes to these two mediums of art. This includes reading reviews from Common Sense Media (3), which is a website that tells you the content of most media and to what degree of content. For instance, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol has a 4 out of 5 stars for violence on Common Sense Media‘s review of the film, which means there is a lot of violence throughout the movie.

It could also be how you started your relationship with Jesus and became a Christian that influences what your specific borders for certain non-essential beliefs are going to be in your life. For example, I have these old family friends whose sons had such violent tendencies that just watching violent films would influence them to act extremely violently towards each other. So for that family, violent movies were not allowed because it tempted the two brothers into sinning towards each other.

Paul the Apostle wrote about legalism in two different places: Colossians 2:16-23 and Romans chapter 14. In the end, I could continue to discuss and try providing answers, but really I cannot truly say why I have certain standards for these two different mediums of entertainment. I will need to investigate and understand what pulls me away from God and draw borders accordingly on my own. One way you could go about finding safe boundaries for yourself is by studying these two passages in the Bible and understanding what hinders you or what doesn’t hinder you as a Christian. Like always, I hope this helps you if this is something that you struggle with in your life. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. http://www.thekctv.com/2017/03/28/john-givez-criticised-smoking/
  2. http://www.rapzilla.com/rz/news/38-backstage/11361-john-givez-pens-open-letter-to-christian-hip-hop
  3. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/
  4. Disclaimer