Friday, February 09, 2007

Erroneous Fictions

Not all movies need to be faithful to history, whatever that might mean. Movies are a medium, and that medium can be used in a variety of ways, and no one thinks that it has to reflect historical scholarship acurately. Gladiator would not have been the movie it is, or Braveheart for that matter, had the historical record not be violated. But Christians need to be careful when the subject of movies are their history. Why? We tend to construct naive hagiographies that play into practices and beliefs that may be less than healthy.

Why might unmitigated praise for someone like Wilberforce have negative consequences for Christians? For one, it can produce a mythology about the man that when questioned leaves us feeling deceived. Wilberforce was a man of his times, and exhibited as many vices as virtues. As Christians we should not shirk from acknowledging this. Many Christians I know praise Wilberforce because they want to believe that Christianity is solely responsible for abolition, just as many wish to believe that the root of modern science and all its benefits are due to Christianity. Whatever the truth of these kinds of statements - and there is a grain of truth to them - when uttered without due caution and self-criticism they can lead to bloated self-imagery, and a self-understanding based on erroneous fictions.
[via Prolegomena]

No comments:

Post a Comment