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On Movie Morality
Motion Picture Code

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On Impacting Society through Movies

C. S. Lewis said it best. Just substitute “motion pictures” or “television” for “books”, and “Warner Brothers”, “Fox”, “Paramount Pictures” – you name the studio – for “Penguin” and “Thinker’s Library” in the selection from the C. S. Lewis classic God in the Dock below. (Emphasis in bold red is mine. Text [in brackets] is my interpolation. Think about it!)

While we are on the subject of science [movies], let me digress for a moment. I believe that any Christian who is qualified to write a good popular book on any science [or write or produce movies] may do much more by that than by any directly apologetic work. The difficulty we are up against is this. We can make people (often) attend to the Christian point of view for half an hour or so; but the moment they have gone away from our lecture or laid down our article, they are plunged back into a world where the opposite position is taken for granted. As long as that situation exists, widespread success is simply impossible. We must attack the enemy’s line of communication. What we want is not more little books [movies] about Christianity, but more little books [movies] by Christians on other subjects – with their Christianity latent. You can see this most easily if you look at it the other way round. Our Faith is not very likely to be shaken by any book [movies] on Hinduism. But if whenever we read an elementary book on Geology, Botany, Politics, or Astronomy [see a movie], we found that its implications were Hindu, that would shake us. It is not the books written [movies produced] in direct defense of Materialism that make the modern man a materialist; it is the materialistic assumptions in all the other books [movies]. In the same way, it is not books [movies] on Christianity that will really trouble him. But he would be troubled if, whenever he wanted a cheap popular introduction to some science [wanted to see a movie], the best work on the market was always by a Christian. The first step to the re-conversion of this country is a series [of movies], produced by Christians, which can beat the Penguin and the Thinkers Library [Fox, Paramount, New Line, Warner, etc.] on their own ground. Its Christianity would have to be latent, not explicit: and of course its science [story structures] perfectly honest. Science [Movie content]  twisted in the interests of apologetics would be sin and folly. But I must return to my immediate subject.

Our business is to present that which is timeless (the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow) in the particular language of our own age [— movies]. The bad preacher [film maker, screenwriter, director, producer] does exactly the opposite: he takes the ideas of our own age and tricks them out in the traditional language of Christianity. … The core of his thought is merely contemporary; only the superficies is traditional. But your teaching [movie] must be timeless at its heart and wear a modern dress.

-- C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock, Grand Rapids, MI: 1970: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, page 93-94.

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