When I first happened upon the trailer for Machine Gun Preacher a few months ago I was a bit curious how it would turn out. Was it just a catchy title about a man who worshiped his guns and violence? Was it about a preacher who in the face of adversity resorted to violence? I was uninformed yet still curious. With the tagline “based on a true story” I figured somewhere online was some information. Found out there was a book written by Sam Childers the “Machine Gun Preacher” himself. I hadn’t yet taken the time to look into it more than that. I Figured I would eventually see the film and if I enjoyed it or was curious for more info I would look it up. One particular evening while I was fellowshipping (hanging out) with a friend my mother text me saying she wanted me to show her the trailer for the Machine Gun Preacher film. I asked why and she didn’t tell me. So when next I saw her I asked why she had asked about the film. Turned out that Sam Childers himself was on TBN giving his story and promoting the film. At the end of the interview it was stated that the film was coming out on the 23rd of September and that was a week prior to when my mother saw the interview. She told me to find showtimes. One would think a film in which Gerard Butler blows things up with an RPG would get a wider release than 3 theaters in the LA county! Suffice it to say I didn’t get to see it in theaters. I will buy it on Bluray/DVD when I can.
All this is not my point. My point is: Why the lack of support from the Christian community? When a film like Courageous gets to the #5 position its opening weekend it’s very obvious that the Christian community is willing to attend the cinema. I even took a group to support/watch Courageous. In all honesty it was a great film by “Christian movie” standards. It was a film by Christians for Christians to encourage their already existent Christian walk. It wasn’t even an evangelistic movie in my opinion. I didn’t see a single sinner in the film make a conversion. I saw a mediocre (by his own standard) father become a more committed father, a couple of good fathers continue to be good fathers, a lousy father continue to be a lousy father who gets in trouble for being a lousy… cop. The one that might have made a conversion wasn’t entirely clear if he did. He had fathered a child and then decided to try and be involved in life of said child. It’s been some time since I saw it so maybe I’m forgetting a detail or two, but suffice it to say any commitments of faith were forgettable.
I have yet to see Machine Gun Preacher because it is still hard to find, and being a whole month after it’s limited release I doubt it will get any easier to find. And this disturbs me.
The film has violence. It has foul language. Turns out we live in a violent and foul world. Machine Gun Preacher is a biopic. It was real life for someone. Not the glossed over easy to swallow cinema type that the Christian community likes to support. I’m not saying we shouldn’t support those films. We should. But we should also support films that are meant to be used and evangelical tools. Yes it IS important to build up the saints, but it is as important,if not more, to reach the lost. Films like Soul Surfer are great films that encourage discussions of faith. Let’s support those films. If you can find Machine Gun Preacher in your area please go watch it. Drag your friends (but NO children due to the violence, profanity, drug use, and graphic imagery) to see the film. If you hate it… sorry. But it will help other films that don’t shy away from showing the world how ugly it is and that it too needs a Savior.
We (humans) are, by nature, social creatures. I have played many video games in my gaming career. I have many nostalgic memories if gaming. Reaching and rescuing the princess in SMB… The hours spent exploring Hyrule… Completing the masterpiece that is MGS. Wonderful memories all, but my fondest gaming memories are the hours spent competing against my sister in Tetris… pumping dozens of quarters into the SFII cabinet at the 7-11 with my friends… Co-opping on TMNT, X-Men, The Simpsons, & Golden Axe at the Missile Bowl with 3 other friends. When the SNES came out there was an accessory that could make it possible to connect 5 (or 8 if you had to of them) controllers. When the GC came out Nintendo showed forward thinking regarding a multiplayer experience by putting 4 ports on the system. Since then the Xbox & Wii were designed to take up to 4 controllers at a time. I have no idea how many controllers the PS3 can handle since I have mine paired up with 7 so far. On the current gen of consoles I can say the memories of Castle Crashers, L4D, and even Wii Sports will stay with me for many years.
That being said: I believe that gaming will become more and more social. Already the PS3 posts trophies to FB. The 360 has a Twitter app and a FB app in the dashboard… it’s only a matter of time before it too will tweet or post achievements to FB automatically. Microsoft has been pushing the Kinect as a video chat device soon to be brought to the PC from what I read. Even my mobile games have social communities such as Feint. Words With Friends is cross platform on Android, iOS, and in your browser on FB. There is a feature on the 3DS that if left on will communicate with other 3DS devices. It’s social gaming with complete strangers. I’m guessing this feature works better in NYC, San Fran, or Tokyo where the population is much denser.
As social gaming is pushed and expanded upon it is important to remember that we need to live lives in the real world. The film Gamer, though extremely violent, has a social commentary: we can’t be like Lemmings (the animals or the game characters) and let others take control of our lives and lead us over a cliff as we follow contently oblivious to the dangers that await us let alone letting the games (or desire to play the games) control our actions. There are already news reports of people who are so addicted to WoW or Second Life that their real lives are being affected in negative and somewhat destructive ways. I myself have a friend who is so addicted to WoW that I have to actually have to schedule time to hang out with him around his WoW raiding time because he doesn’t want to let his guild down. I’m not writing this just to talk smack about people who love their games. I’m writing this to remind people that life is more than games.
I know this post has been all over the place, but I hope you were able to follow my crazy train of thought. ;-)