In Defense of the Indefensible
February 20, 2020

Creativity fosters better leadership, problem solving and promotes teamwork.

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A conversation about culture, creativity, and the church's responsibility to make a bigger impact on the world around us.

Over the past century, Christian creativity has spawned in America a very unique and one of a kind field of creative that doesn’t quite exist elsewhere. An industry built from it’s earliest roots dating back to the early 1900s around protectionism instead of evangelism. 

In 1915, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio decision that free speech didn’t extend to motion pictures, and states throughout the country began to introduce censorship legislation. Faced with mounting political pressure and the possibility of having to comply with hundreds of decency laws throughout the U.S., movie studio heads worked with Jesuit Father Daniel A. Lord to develop the 1930 production code of standards for wide-release films, basically as a way of self-regulating.

This idea of self regulation spurred an entire industry to be weary of offending faith minded audiences. Out of this ideology, William Hays formed the Motion Pictures Distributors Association of America… MPDAA which eventually became the MPAA - Motion Pictures Association of America - the organization responsible for creating the ratings system. 

Though this approach had lasting impact on our culture, the Supreme Court eventually overturned it’s original decision and in 1952 declared that motion pictures are covered under the first amendment - freeing up the industry to extend freedom of speech to films. 

I can’t help think what would have happened if instead of trying to defend the hearts of the faithful from a world filled with darkness, we had prepared the hearts of the faithful to take that darkness head on. 

This approach to culture and creativity in the United States - a country that spearheaded media production worldwide - also spawned what would become a Christian Music Industry, and a Christian Television Industry, in addition to Christian Movie Production Houses. Industries dedicated to creating media for Christians to consume. 

Now don’t get me wrong. Christian music changed my life. Christian movies, not so much. But I do get that they have helped so many people - and we aren’t here today to discuss the pros and cons of christian media industries. 

We are, however, here to discuss the possibility of a world where Christian Creatives - designers, filmmakers, photographers, animators, and storytellers are directly pouring salt into the culture at large instead of crafting for a smaller protected sub table filled with believers. 

The idea of protectionism pervades most believers, especially when it comes to creativity. But I’ve always found this approach of defending our faith to be somewhat confusing. 

Why do we seem called to defend our faith when in fact, it is our faith that defends us (shield of faith)?

Why do we seem to be at war with a culture around us instead of seeing it as a mission field meant for our impact… meant for our flavor… meant for our light… and our salt?

Salt and Light (in the middle of the beatitudes - the sermon on the mount)

Matthew 5:13“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

14-16“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. 

I’ve decided that I serve a God who doesn’t need defending. He doesn’t need me to be offended when someone trashes Him or paints a picture of Him that isn’t accurate. It’s not my job to defend… It's my job to paint a picture of Him so bold, so big, so bright… that the others pale in comparison. A picture that shows a God that so loved the world, he gave his only son.

We can’t undo history, but we can certainly do our part at writing it a new today in our time.