Tom Hanks says “Film is telling stories with the best technology available.” Sometimes I feel like my touring shows are telling stories with the least amount of available technology, but I’m okay with it. In a conversation about films I’d still like to see, a friend mentioned whatever the latest Marvel movie is. I wasn’t interested. They are impressive, I guess. Like so many stories nowadays, however, there is all this “epicness” that simply goes nowhere. I guess I spend enough time outdoors that I get my kicks via fresh air and a boosted heart rate, or maybe they are just meaningless entertainment. So, is that bad?

I would not argue that mere entertainment has no value, but that it is not meaningful. Take a roller-coaster: you get in line, get on, ride around and have an absolute blast. The trick is, when it sets you down, you exit right where you entered facing the same direction you started in. It may have literally moved you, but you generally leave unchanged. Meaningful entertainment – or meaningful art – should, at the very least, set you down facing in a different direction than when you started. Usually when people walk out of the movies, or even a theatrical piece, they say “quite moving,” but only because it picked them up, tossed them about, then set them back down in the same spot.

Now, I could be convinced that some roller-coasters are, in fact, “life changing.” Maybe because things went terribly wrong. Or maybe it was your first time riding one, and you finally understand that not all pleasures are of the devil. But whatever we do, if we are Christian artists, let us always set people down pondering new possibilities of joy or sacrifice. Let us always set people back on the cold earth with their feet pointing more in the direction of hope, mercy, and love. The ratings may go down a little. Real love costs something. But the ratings we listen to don’t come from around here anyway.

Ethan Norman
Artistic Associate
The WordPlayers