I watched Saved! and The Phantom of the Opera this past weekend. I can't really say what I thought of Phantom - the jury is still out. I thought the filmmaking aspects were incredible, but I wasn't sure what I thought about the singing.
As to Saved!, I am not one of those Christians who thinks it's an evil movie because it makes fun of Christians. It does make fun of Christians, but it does not make fun of Christ, and that is the important thing. Perhaps I am too cynical, but I found every jab the film took at Christians to be based on things I myself have experienced.
a) I have known many Christians who are hypocrites.
b) I have known many teens in youth groups who were shunned for anything from pregnancy to just "being different," and who had to turn to more accepting places to find friends - they found no compassion, understanding, or grace from the Church.
c) I hate the way Christians try to disguise plain old gossip with the words, "we need to pray for Bob...he's been..."
d) I have known many pastors who have had affairs.
e) And many youth pastors who end up being just stupid in their attempts to be "hip" ("All right! All right! Who's down with G-O-D?" "Let's get our Christ on! Let's kick it Jesus-style!") rather than serving as a genuine role model.
f) Yes, Christians do create their own bizarre sub-culture bubbles (Christian rock bands, the Christian skate boarding competitions, and even the "Christian interior designer of the year award"); they are then surprised when others find them to be inaccessible, unengaging, and just plain weird. I hate Christian-ese and all those Christian catch-phrases, yet they are virtually inescapable at any church today.
There were certain quotes that have to make you think. Try this one: "Mercy House doesn't really exist for the people who go there, but for the people who send them." And then there's the time when Hilary Faye takes Mary's "Christian Jewel" pin off of her and basically tells her that they can't have someone like her being associated with Christians anymore.
Here are a few bits of dialogue:
Hilary Faye: Mary, turn away from Satan! Jesus loves you.
Mary: You don't know the first thing about love.
Hilary Faye: [throwing a Bible at Mary] I am FILLED with Christ's love! You are just jealous of my success in the Lord!
Cassandra: There's only one reason Christian girls come down to Planned Parenthood.
Roland: She's planting a pipe bomb?
Cassandra: Okay, two reasons.
Dean: We've been kicked out of our homes, our schools, and now we're going to be kicked out of Mercy House - there's nowhere left for us to go!
Mary (to Pastor Skip): So everything that doesn't fit into some stupid idea of what you think God wants, you just try to hide or fix or get rid of? It's just all too much to live up to. No one fits in one hundred percent of the time - not even you. ... Why would God make us all so different if he wanted us to be the same?
It would be so great if the Church were this beautiful thing that drew people in. I think Saved! was just showing that we aren't the kind of people we ought to be; instead of whining about the movie, Christians should think about it. It wasn't a great movie, but it made a point and provided food for thought. The film ends with a sort of all-embracing and accepting moral. However, with that comes a realization from the main character that life is too complex and amazing to have happened by chance - there must be a God. I found the moral relativity far from the ideal conclusion to reach - yes, the message of Christ is one of love and grace, but He also stood for holiness, and there is a difference between right and wrong. However, I also found myself thinking that if a Christian had made the film, the ending would have been preachy and unrealistic. At least this ending left a door open for non-Christians to think, "yeah, life is pretty amazing..." and Christians to think, "if we shun homosexuals and teenage mothers, where do they have to turn?"
So it was an interesting movie. And the Church is full of sinners who fail daily to show God's love to others... and I am no exception. I'm glad I watched the movie. It does not make fun of Christ. It does make fun of Christian culture, but I don't think that's a bad thing. It satirizes self-righteous Christians without becoming preachy, and the dialogue is witty enough to keep things moving along.
Has anyone else seen this movie? Tell me what you think.
(Note: The film does include some bad language, etc.)