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Hollywood’s Digitally Enhanced Religion

February 21, 2011

Here’s a little more related to the controversy over the temporary removal of the words “Holy Bible” from a scene in the new film, Soul Surfer.

On Patheos.com, Frederick Schmidt discusses Hollywood’s Digitally Enhanced Religion.

My interest is in the implied notion of those films: the notion that spiritual and religious commitments can be generic and yet formative—the notion that the best faith is an undefined faith and a God without a name.

It is this notion that is both misleading and largely errant. A faith without content might sell a lot of movie tickets. It might generate a warm feeling or two. On a rare occasion an unnamed God can even get us started on a spiritual journey. The Apostle Paul knew that and so do those whose first steps on their journey are taken with a Twelve Step Program. But an unnamed God does not have much staying power.

Why? Because to name God is to name what God wants and with it the purpose of life, the nature of our values, and the shape of our commitments. The decision to name God is a decision to name what is real and, by definition, what is unreal—what is important and what is less important, or even trivial. Naming God, in other words, is itself an act of commitment.

…The gutted, empty model that Hollywood offers has all the attraction of that foamy white stuff in a bag that passes for bread in the grocery store.

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