Last week I took my wife on a date to see the recently released Christian film War Room. I went on the recommendation of more than a couple people in my church, people I trust theologically and artistically.
Like most Christian movies, War Room was received with a mix of critical disdain and audience acclaim. Films like these can be incredibly polarizing. People either come out singing its praises or shouting an artistic “anathema!” over it. This is even true in the church. Christianity Today tore the film to shreds in a recent review. Yet even as I write these words, two women are sitting behind me talking about it. “Wasn’t it fabulous?” one says. “Yes! My whole family needs to see this!”
My Artistic Dilemma
As an artist, I entered the theater admittedly skeptical. And, as expected, on an artistic level I was sadly left wanting. There were even some occasional theological fumbles that had me less than enthused (I squirmed as many likely did during Priscilla Shirer’s “get behind me Satan” rant). And yet, to my surprise, the film’s themes still resonated. I felt convicted regarding my prayer life. I was reminded of the daily battle for my family that’s being waged. I sensed an urgency to fight against spiritual attack. And I was often moved to tears at the gospel themes portrayed.
As I left the theater that night, I sensed an interesting mix of disappointment and encouragement. I find that, like so many, I want to write off a movie like War Room as bad art, but I just can’t escape the fact that it’s done some real soul-level good for me. How should we reconcile this tension?