Tuesday, June 12, 2007

'Hollywood Be Thy Name' (A Book Review)

You decide to go to a movie. You look at the movie section of your local newspaper to see what’s playing. Because of your personal convictions, you will not see a rated “R” movie, so that eliminates most of the films that are presently showing at the theater. You see a couple of “PG-13” movies that might be interesting.

Knowing how Hollywood is constantly pushing the envelope on decency, you check a couple of Christian websites that review movies for content. You learn that the movie you would like to see contains no graphic violence, no sexual content, and the negative language is limited to a few instances of blasphemy. The instances of blasphemy are not detailed, but you are not too concerned. “At least I won’t have to hear the ‘F’ bomb in every other scene.” You say to yourself. You feel that you have made a “good faith” effort to research the movie’s content and you are satisfied that the negative aspects of the movie are mild enough that you can, in good conscience, watch the movie.

You decide to ask your mother to go to the movie with you. You haven’t seen her in a while and this will give you a good opportunity to spend some time together. She is thrilled to spend the evening with you. You pick her up and on the way to the movie theater, you tell her a little bit about the movie and assure her that it will be a couple of hours of good, clean fun.

You and your mother arrive at the theater. You treat her to some popcorn and a soda. You walk into the dimly lit theater and lead her to what you think are great seats. As you wait for the movie to start, you catch up on what’s going on in each other’s lives. You’re feeling pretty good about the day.

The theater darkens. The opening credits begin to roll. And the theater becomes quiet. You settle in to enjoy the movie. Initially, the movie proves to be everything the positive reviews promised. Then the unthinkable happens.

Your mom’s name is Jane Logan. Of course you have never called her that. You have too much love and respect for her to use her name casually.

Without warning, one of the main characters in the movie becomes angry and uses your mother’s name in a derogatory way. Your jaw drops. You can’t believe what you just heard. You look out of the corner of your eye (because you are too embarrassed to look your mom in the eye) and you see tears welling in her eyes. Just as you try to convince yourself that what you just heard was a mistake, another character in the movie uses your mother’s name as the punch line of a joke. Another character responds to the joke by using her name to express their disgust.

“Come on, mom.” You take her by the hand and lead her out of the theater, repeatedly apologizing along the way. As you make your way toward the exit, you see one of the theater’s managers. You stop and let the manager know how offended you are by the way your precious mom’s name was used in the movie. You demand a refund and the manager obliges, with his apologies.

If this scenario really happened, how would you respond? Would you defend your mother’s name—her honor and dignity? Or would you tell her to get over it because it was no big deal?

Now I would like you to consider how often you hear the name of God blasphemed on television or in movies. Do you walk out of the theater? Do you change the channel? Or do you simply overlook it because, well, that’s just the way people talk these days? How important is God’s name to you—really?

Ray Comfort, founder of Living Waters Publications, The Way of the Master Television, and The Way of the Master Radio has written Hollywood Be Thy Name (Bridge-Logos, July 2007). If the above scenario gave you even a moment of pause, a moment of self-assessment, then you must read Ray Comfort’s book. I am confident that you will never watch movies or television the same way, again.

Hollywood By Thy Name picks up where Ray Comfort’s earlier book, What Hollywood Believes (Genesis Publishing Group: 2004), left off. In Hollywood Be Thy Name Comfort explores the reasons why the Hollywood film industry, which once produced some godly films, has become, by and large, anti-God. “The average Hollywood production,” Comfort says, “uses the name of ‘God’ and ‘Jesus Christ’ more than the average sermon.”

If you are not familiar with Ray Comfort, his ministry, or his writing, you might be tempted to think that Hollywood Be Thy Name is just another diatribe against a sinful entertainment industry. You would be wrong. Ray Comfort writes the way he talks to people—with the concern of a man who deeply cares about the spiritual condition of everyone he meets. With the same warmhearted style with which he engages people in conversation, Ray tells the truth. He doesn’t attack anyone. He simply exposes the lies and the blasphemy of Hollywood with the truth of God’s Word. There is not a shred of legalism in this important book. Instead, the book is a clarion call to people everywhere to revere and honor the name of God.

Comfort skillfully exposes the beliefs of Hollywood’s elite atheists, evolutionists, and spiritualists. But he also challenges those Christians who continue to support ungodly movies. Then he suggests, powerfully, how Christians can effect change. There is one rock believers have in their hands that can “hit the blaspheming giant [Hollywood] between the eyes.”

As is the case with all of Ray Comfort’s books, the gospel is clearly and biblically presented throughout Hollywood Be Thy Name. The book is replete with Scripture, with each verse and passage carefully presented in its proper context. Warning: Don’t skim his footnotes! The footnotes provide interesting trivia, fascinating history, and Scriptural encouragement. Read every word on every page.

This book will undoubtedly serve as an encouragement and a challenge to both the Christian and the unbeliever alike. I will use this book as a tool in both my discipleship and evangelism efforts.

I have read many books by many Christian authors during the last twenty years. I can think of several that have had a profound effect on my growth as a Christian—books that have brought conviction and a desire to grow in godliness. Hollywood Be Thy Name is such a book. Don’t just read it. Let its powerful message change your viewing habits and empower you to effect positive change in our country!

For more information about how you can let Hollywood know how important God's name is to you, and to watch live interviews with people outside Grauman's Chinese Theater, please visit the Hollywood and God website.

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