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The following post comes courtesy of Grace Hill Media in sunny Southern California. As the genre, and responsible parenting/consumption of media are near to my heart, it was a no-brainer to feature their byline here.


Lessons For Christians From Horror Movies

The popularity of horror films continue to grow, especially among teens and young adults, who flock to movie theaters on opening weekend.  This Friday, August 11, for example, the movie “Annabelle: Creation,” about a possessed doll hits theaters nationwide.  It seems difficult to believe that any movie created to frighten and give us nightmares might have a meaningful spiritual lesson for Christians.  And yet, anyone who has been brave enough to watch “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” written by Scott Derrickson, a Christian filmmaker, knows full well that horror movies can serve us with cautionary messages and, might just inspire the audience to head to their nearest church pew.
To be clear, not all horror films are the same. The genre has different versions.  
There’s no takeaway from “slasher” or disturbing “torture” movies meant to provide nothing but shock.  However, there are horror movies that depict spiritual warfare (which we know to be real) and the battle between good and evil. These supernatural films, oftentimes written and produced by Christians and based on real-life events, are filled with lessons about something we as people of faith have stopped discussing in an increasingly distracted secular world – that evil is real.

Here are a few other lessons from supernatural horror films:
1) Exorcisms are also real.  Although incredibly rare, people can get possessed by evil.  “The Exorcist” is based on a real-life possession of a young boy, and “Annabelle: Creation” is about a possessed girl.  

2) God will always defeat evil. No matter how powerful the enemy may be, God will always come out on top.  In the Bible, one of the most powerful miracles that Jesus performed was The Miracle of the Gadarene Swine in which Jesus cast unclean spirits out of a man.  In real-life and in all supernatural films that have a faith message including “The Conjuring” and “The Rite,” evil will always be vanquished.

3) Ouija Boards are a big no.  Perhaps one of the strongest and most valuable lessons to come from supernatural horror movies (which just as true in real life) is that those who become plagued or possessed by evil may have inadvertently invited those spirits or demon to come into their lives.  This is done through certain “gateways” that many priests and Christian leaders warn us about.  Christians, especially Christian parents must teach kids and teens to stay away from Ouija boards, tarot cards, fortune telling, or any sort divination.  These are all means in which evil can take hold of our lives.  In the second “Conjuring” movie the character becomes possessed after playing with a Ouija board.  This was based on a true person and event.
4) Prayer is the most powerful thing in the world.  Prayers protect and deliver us from evil.  In horror movies, those who are plagued by evil must often turn to a person of great faith or priest to help them.  That Christian leader is always portrayed as someone who believes prayer to be of utmost importance and is shown onscreen praying to God throughout the film.

5) Faith is the most important thing in the world.  Believing in God and being baptized in the Christian community protects and strengthens us.  It is a natural defense again evil.  In times of weakness, we must lean on our faith and turn to God.  The upcoming movie, “Annabelle: Creation,” is a cautionary tale that depicts what happens when one turns away from God and succumbs to temptation during a period of grief and weakness as opposed to leaning on God for grace and healing.  

All movies, including horror movies tell stories.  In the last century, before we had television and films, parents told stories and tales that were meant to alarm and even frighten children and youth from a certain place or course of action.

Now these stories, meant to be lessons, are brought to life onscreen, complete with sound effects and make-up.  They are terrifying and they should be – evil is something to stay away from.  But for Christians, there is a stronger message, one that should always comfort and strengthen us – that we have a savior and that he will always come to protect and fight for those of us in need.

The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men is a new movie starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin, Cate Blanchett, and Hugh Bonneville. Set during the waning days of World War II, it is the story of an unlikely platoon of men tasked with recovering, and restoring, works of art stolen by Hitler’s Nazi regime. Positioning itself as an epic among the likes of Saving Private Ryan, it is nevertheless a tale that takes place in smaller, quiet moments. Going in, we do not know much about the Monuments Men, other than they are scholars, professors, art historians, architects–men who love art. Despite this lack of back story, we learn who they are by what they do.

They characters are revealed by their respective actions. Though they wrestle with it, struggle to come to grips, each believes the mission is one worth dying for. That these monumental works are worth preserving. That by keeping culture alive they are keeping hope alive.

That by preserving history they are safeguarding the future.

Though it is somewhat disjointed at times, with abrupt tonal shifts, this movie brings home the high human cost of war. Not through the horrors of the concentration camp, but rather through small moments (a character hanging a painting in an empty apartment, never to be occupied again by the people who left it).

It is a journey worth taking.

Go see The Monuments Men.

We who write, or create–sculpt, paint– feel a certain filial affection towards our creations. This stands to reason, for we pour much of ourselves into our work. In fact, no less than the great J.R.R. Tolkien called mankind a race of “sub-creators”–we create because we were fashioned in the image of the Creative One.

I would venture to say that it’s in our DNA.

We create–art, books, even blog posts–because we were made to do so. And always, like a parent raising a child, there’s a letting go that necessarily takes place when our art emerges into the world. Just as a child is conceived, and grows in the womb, it cannot stay thus cocooned. Because it was never meant to:

Art does not exist in a vacuum: it was made to be shared.

But in so doing, we who create, risk. Because our art takes on a life of its own. Again like a child, though a part of us, it exists independently of us. And that is a gamble.

For those who, like me, write, we never quite know how our words will be received. This is a condition endemic to humanity:

We want to be liked.

But as “sub-creators” this is a trap. Did God the Father do what He did–making us and the universe ex nihilo–because He needed to be liked?

I contend to you NO!

He did it for the sheer joy of creating, because His nature is love. Love freely gives, desires to share.

And that is the place you, and I, need to be:

In it for love.

Else we fall victim to pride, hurt, misunderstanding… Don’t get me wrong: we will be misunderstood. But if we’re in it, as God Himself is and was, just for love–and not for approval, or affirmation, we can weather those storms with grace and faith to spare.

What do you think? Do you blog, paint, post, write? Please take the time to share:

Listen. Come a little closer. That’s right–here around the corner. I need to tell you something.

Please keep this in confidence, okay?

'Douche' photo (c) 2008, Mike Schmid - license:

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>Dream!photo © 2008 Melody Campbell | more info (via: Wylio)

This isn’t my dream. I fell into it somewhere along the way. Oh, I know how it happened, but it’s not what I always wanted to do. Not by a long shot. Fifty years from now, who’s going to remember “that time” I fixed their computer? I didn’t set out to be a tech, to be so enamored of gizmos, but that’s how it worked out. I imagine any number of things would’ve “worked out” had I gone in a different direction. But I didn’t.

So, yes, I’m good with computers. But my field is transitioning away from support into something else, and I fear I’ll be left behind, a relic of a bygone era. Yet, I’m not sure investing in further training would be the right thing for me, as–thankful as I am to have a well-paying job–it’s not what I see myself doing for the rest of my life. I’m struggling to find the significance in it. Yet, to remain has its appeal: a retirement package. And it finances the life I share with my family.

As Jon Acuff has so aptly said, I need to fall in like with a job I don’t love. But this is really a good place to be. There is great potential for meaningful interactions, potential to impact lives with the grace of God.

Maybe it’s a condition brought on by middle age, or perhaps even by the Lord, but I’m trying to find my place in the world. Trying, and floundering a bit. Sure, I have a platform with this blog, but my content is–as my name (“RandomlyChad”) suggests–somewhat random. I’ve been advised to find a focus, search out the posts that I’ve most enjoyed writing, and expend my efforts there. Or as Jackie Chan, as Mr. Han, said in The Karate Kid, “Your focus needs more focus.”

I’m not sure my mind works that way. What I lack in focus, I gain in freedom. I’m free to write about whatever I want. Now his may keep my readership small, but it may be a sacrifice worth making. And coupled with the fact that I do indeed have a day job, I’m not dependent on my writing for income. There’s freedom in that, too: I’m free to say what I want without fear of repercussion. As Acuff has also said, I’m free to “stay dangerous.” I’m not writing for anyone so much as me.

Sure, I’ve guest posted on other blogs, tailored my voice to another’s format, but it’s still my voice. (I’ve learned–the slow, hard way–that there’s no leveling up here: one has to put in the work to earn the trust). Interestingly, my reach seems to be growing organically. And you know what they say: slow and steady wins the race. As much this slowness used to bother me, I appreciate it now; as an introverted soul, it’s much better for me this way. I can adjust to the success as it comes.

Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever be a “Quitter” in the Acuffian sense, but I have a job that supports my art, and that art in turn brings some support to my life. It explains, illuminates, illustrates, that life. And I’m both blessed, and content, to be in that place.

Thank-you for reading!

What supports your art, and indeed, your life?