A young pastor asks what to do about young people (and adults) who are interested in movies such as Harry Potter, Twilight, the upcoming Haunted House, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

I grew up in a time when Adventists didn’t go to movies and certainly wouldn’t even discuss films such as named above. Some years ago, when I spoke to a workers meeting in a distant union, a number of young pastors told me their children “loved” Harry Potter and made it clear they approved.

Today those two elements seem strong in the church. There are those who condemn all films, all fiction literature, and a whole list of other things. And there are those who insist we should accommodate the culture, even going to the point of engaging in watching and reading things like the Twilight series.

The short and simple answer is that both sides have contributed to this sorry situation. C. S. Lewis, in a little-read book titled An Experiment in Criticism, described his experience as a soldier in WWI. In the trenches, during the tedious hours waiting for the next attack, or to attack, many soldiers passed the time by reading. Much of what they read appalled the intellectual Lewis. From this he came to a conclusion that goes something like this (I’m quoting from memory, so it may be a word or two off):  “People won’t read no books. They either read good books, or they read bad books.”

In other words, people need stories (I’ll go into this in detail later). They will listen, or read, or watch stories. They will either choose good stories or bad stories, but they won’t go without stories.

The Bible is more than 70% narrative (stories). We learn morality, theology, courtesy, dignity and courage (or depravity, occultism, rudeness, degradation and cowardice) from the stories we tell and witness.

We, and many conservative Christians, have made the mistake of thinking we can protect our children from bad movies by simply eliminating them altogether.

We tried to “empty the house,” as described in Luke 11:24-26.

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”

Hoping to drive the evil away, we simply said, “No movies. No fiction. No drama.” And for a time, we had what appeared to be success. But only for a time. The empty house was begging to be occupied.

Pointing out part of the problem does not, unfortunately, automatically suggest a solution. This is a topic which will take more than one blog to deal with because, like most important things in life, it’s relatively simple–but not at all easy. Simply telling people what to do is useless because most do not know how to do it–important information involving a change of perception, a recognition of when to act, a knowledge of how to act effectively and a willingness to act.

That begins with the next post.