Oh, those Duggars. (You know, “19 Kids and Counting Until Michelle’s Uterus Falls Out or Jim Bob’s Penis Falls Off.”)
On last night’s episode, the first Duggar daughter-in-law said this to her toddler son:
DIL: Today at the store, we’re going to practice self-control, okay?
KID: Mmm ……….
DIL: Do you know what that is?
KID: Mmmm ………
DIL (said like a mantra): Instant obedience to do what is right.
Well, yes, that’s the definition of “self-control” in a patriarchal fundamentalist context. Self-control to them is actually total parental control which isn’t actually “self”-control at all, now is it? And this control applies to their kids of all ages, not just the littlest ones. I just find it fascinating that obedience = self-control.
If they’re following the discipline system advocated by those cray-cray Pearls — which they are — then “instant obedience” is required at all times and they’re punished whenever they don’t display instant obedience. You don’t see that part on the TV show, though, because it’s all about being “good witnesses” as opposed to being authentic.
Over the last month or so, I’ve been reading the online Christian commentary/reviews surrounding the movies “God is Not Dead” and “Noah” and I’ve come to a conclusion: Christians need to jump off the validation-persecution roller coaster they allow themselves to ride when “Christian-themed” movies are released. “God is Not Dead” comes out and Christians everywhere applaud that “The Christian guy wins the movie! Hurrah!” The high of validation. Then “Noah” comes out and Christians everywhere boo and hiss that “The movie is gnostic and pagan! How dare they mess with a biblical story! The depths of persecution.
And I don’t get it. I really don’t. I don’t understand the intense emotional investment here, the endless cycle of “good movie/bad movie” hysteria that does nothing, ultimately, to move anyone closer to Jesus in any genuine way. Some Christians seem to need to praise or condemn a movie as a requirement of their faith, which I find bizarre: “Look at me going to a movie where the Christian guy wins everything! I’m a good Christian!” Or “Look at me lambasting a movie that messes with our biblical traditions! I’m a good Christian!” (Well, maybe, but not because of this, okay?)
It’s a movie. It’s not Jesus. It’s not the gospel. It’s not salvific. It’s a movie made for the purpose of making boatloads of money. The movie industry isn’t a 501c3. It’s a multibillion-dollar moneymaking business and its money-making goal has nothing to do with you and your beliefs. They don’t really care about your beliefs, okay? They care about stroking your religious ego with this “good” Christian-themed movie – if it makes them money — or stoking your religious hysteria with that “bad” Christian-themed movie – if it makes them money. And that’s all it is. It’s a business for them but we seem to need it to be The Church. It’s not. It’s entertainment.
Hollywood doesn’t care about this self-made roller coaster Christians are on, but they’ll ride along if there’s money in it. Christians, however, ride the roller coaster because they choose to get on. So get off. Get off the roller coaster and see it for what it is: our own self-made misery regarding our perceived rights and/or perceived persecution. Hollywood is under no obligation to make Christians happy. We need to stop being so emotionally invested in “good movie vs bad movie.” We need to stop expecting miracles from “Christian-themed” movies when most of them are — aesthetically — crap. We need to stop bitching about them when they fall short of our personal expectations or agenda and we need to stop praising them when they do our job of offering an apologetic for the faith. We need to stop being so insecure in our faith that a 90-minute movie can soar us to heights of validation or depths of persecution.
Hollywood isn’t in the business of making Christians happy, nor should it be.
So next time the roller coaster stops, get off.