Eric Metaxas on Art and Evil
"To End All Christian Films" in Books and Culture (July/August 2002, Vol. 8, No. 4, Page 6)
What Christian films — and Christian "art" in general — have lacked is a willingness to portray evil convincingly. It was Milton's Satan and Dante's Inferno that made them two of the most powerful Christian artists of all time. Because they understood evil and did not shrink from it, their depictions of goodness had power. In order to be redemptive, art has to convince us there is something real from which we need redeeming. Conversely, much secular art in the last half-century illustrates confusion and pain brilliantly but provides no antidote. The screeching hell of marital discord in Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives puts the viewer as close to seeing the need for God as any "Christian film" ever has, but stops there. Ditto John Updike's anti-paeans to adultery and suburban ennui; he limns the darkness all so well, so perfectly — too perfectly — and then splits for the golf course. We get universes of darkness without light, and from Christian "artists" we get watts of light without darkness. So it seems a little chiaroscuro is generally in order. Early on in the movie, at Mclean's funeral — which is a genuine Christian funeral rather than the papier-mâché facsimiles Hollywood usually gives us ("dearly beloved, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and so on) Miller reminds his fellow prisoners that "there is suffering before glory, there is a cross before the crown." That says it.