>The True Stumbling Block of Soul Surfer

>[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWeOjBCi3c4&w=500&h=300]

CNN reported on the tension between the real-life family of Bethany Hamilton and Hollywood in the making of a movie based on her life. Apparently, the film’s producers and directors wanted to sanitize the film by removing the explicit references to the Bible and Jesus. One part of the article evidenced this particularly:

“A lot of the producers didn’t want to go too overboard because they thought Christianity doesn’t always sell well,” Tom Hamilton said. Kevin Sorbo, who plays Holt Blanchard, the father of Hamilton’s best friend, said, “Sony (Pictures, the film’s producer) was afraid to throw in the word Jesus. They said you can have God but not Jesus. They were worried about that. “The studios, you can’t really fight them,” he said. “Hollywood screams for freedom of speech but only if you agree with them. It’s a very two-faced industry.”

I find Hollywood’s passive resistance to Jesus interesting in light of the fact that the movie was mainly marketed to a faith-based audience. The pitch for the movie was how important faith was for Bethany’s success and overcoming tragedy, but they wanted to present that faith without its engine. Like a shiny shell of a vehicle, they wanted to show the importance of faith, but a sanitized faith that would sell better. I guess it is still true that Jesus is a stumbling block.

Battles over how to portray religious themes in movies are becoming more common, as Hollywood becomes more open to addressing faith and marketing movies to religious audiences but worries about alienating nonreligious audiences or viewers from other traditions.

I’m encouraged for the way that the family and friends of Bethany fought for an accurate portrayal of the difference that faith IN JESUS makes. I’ve met plenty of people who have faith that their tragic circumstances will not be the end of them, but very few who anchor that faith in the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, who himself faced tragic circumstances for us.

As spiritual as our culture may be, and as open and tolerant as it may claim, the making of this movie reminds us that Jesus will never be loved by the world because he is not of the world. Jesus may be my Lord, but the minute I start to proclaim that Jesus is Lord of all, now I’ve offended people. It’s a tension that I seen increasing – we want the benefits of faith without the demands of faith. The blessings of discipleship without the cost.

I’m glad that they were able to work out a compromise, and I pray that this piece of culture will not just affect Christian audiences, but also seekers who are looking for hope and strength amidst their own tragedies.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *