Drawing the Line

Let's face it, it's something we all have to do. We have to decide what we believe honors God--what we will allow into our minds and subsequently, our hearts. The world is rife with entertainment that looks innocuous at first glance, but will slowly poison the soul. It's also full of garbage that looks horrible from as little as the thirty second teaser that pops up during commercial breaks for other programming. I'm thankful for those horrific blurbs. They save me a lot of time in deciding what I can absolutely avoid.

What I want to address today, however, are the instances where the line is blurrier. In my recent experience, one of these foggy places had to do with my husband's participation in a local stage production of Dracula.

I realize that the vampire has made a comeback, with the overwhelming popularity of the Twilight series. I admit, I know next to nothing about Stephenie Meyer's phenomenon, since I have no fascination with vampire stories, and have never followed the genre. The craze isn't new, though. Ann Rice had her heyday, I believe starting with her Interview with the Vampire, written in the 70's but propelled to becoming a household word by the 1994 film. And I'm sure there were other surges of vampire lore that came up just about every decade before. (Given Anne Rice's current body of work, I should probably familiarize myself with more of what she's done, but I digress.)

What I'm saying here is that the vampire, like so many other denizens of the speculative sub-genres, sees the spotlight in cycles, and I think that has a lot to do with why our local theater chose Dracula for this year's fall production. Whether or not any spiritual consideration went into the choice, I have no idea, but in the reading of the script, the spiritual content is there. The power of God to overcome evil, forgiveness, all of our need for salvation...it lingers in the subtext, and sometimes even the outright spoken word of the play, and it's for this reason I can say I came to grips with my husband taking a role in the show.

Many Christians might not agree with our choice in having my husband participate in the production. They all have to draw their lines for themselves, and if any naysayer has a biblical reason he'd like to discuss with us as to whether we have misstepped, I'd gladly hear it. One undeniable benefit of the experience, however, is that his belonging to this cast has given my husband the chance to rub elbows with some folks who were ready to engage in a spirited debate about the matters of faith in the play, as well as his walk with the Lord. Through a carefully chosen secular vehicle, I believe my husband has encountered a chance to speak freely about the gospel. In that regard, he's doing immensely better than I am in furthering the gospel. Real world interaction and honest debate are powerful tools in shedding light on the gospel to those who haven't considered it beyond a passing familiarity.

So, once again, the challenge of being "in the world but not of it" rears it's head, and we all have to search the scriptures and our souls as to what this means in daily living. We also have to decide how our passions, interests and talents can be used in the context of the world to show others that there is something immeasurably greater that lies beyond our daily experience. Whether this production of Dracula raises any of those questions to the audience, I don't know, but I'll find out this weekend, and perhaps post a review of the show here. But what I do know is what went on behind the scenes, in the context of dressing room conversations, and that itself had eternal value.

Comments

  1. We have to engage the culture where they live.

    Christ called us to come out and be separate, to 'be holy, as I am holy'. But He also commanded us to preach the gospel in season and out of season, to everyone.

    Paul engaged the culture when he pointed out the statue to the 'unknown god' in Athens.

    Not everyone comes willingly to hear the gospel. In fact, CS Lewis said he felt that he was one of those who were'compelled to come, from the byways of this world, to the marriage supper of the king's son.'

    "I seemed to hear God saying, 'put down your gun, and we'll talk.'"

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  2. Hi MisterChris,
    Thanks so much for your comments and the confirmation of much of what I've said in the post above. I think, if we take a good look at many of the historical figures whose legacies stand out, we'll see that they ministered to the world, not the already-been-saved. Feeding the sheep is very important, but heaven forbid we get so fearful of stepping out from the flock that it never grows.
    Great thoughts! I'd love to hear from other who drop in, too. Dissenting opinions also welcome. :)

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  3. My feeling vampires in relation to Christians is this, look at how are the vampires portrayed.
    Are they shown as demonic influences ruining lives, or as the next stage of human "evolution," better than man in every way.
    Horror fiction and movies seem to have been taken over by the latter version in recent years. Twlight and its ilk are all about "perfect" loving, heroic vampires who are hated by an ignorant populace.
    I consider that to be the evil garbage that Christians should stay away from.

    On the other hand, there are what I call the classic vampires. The embodiment of satanic evil.
    This is where stuff like Dracula and most of the vampire stuff produced from 1890s to the 1940s falls.
    But, the coolest vampire fiction for Christians is the 1980s film Fright Night.
    One of the people who ends up fighting the vampire is an man who cannot use the cross with any effectiveness against the vampires. In the end he--off screen, sadly--accepts Christ then can use the cross. It's much more Pro-Christian than I'm making it sound. (Also the movie has much more Christian meaning, but I won't go into here.)
    In the end though, it all goes back to what I said in the beginning.
    How a vampire is portrayed, defines whether or not a Christian has any reason to be watching that movie, or reading that book.


    James Bojaciuk

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  4. Good points Becky and Chris. Too many Christians have this idea that we should all be insular and ignore and have nothing to do with the world.
    It's sad really, how they ignore things in the Bible like that.

    James Bojaciuk

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  5. James...you make an excellent, clarifying point about how vampires are portrayed in contemporary work about them. The older scripts and novels do indeed paint vampires as "evil," something I am afraid our relativistic, post-modern culture has lost touch with. Good and evil don't even have definitions anymore, so is it any wonder arts and entertainment look like they do? That's where we Christian authors, artists, filmmakers need to step in and buck today's trends, however we can.

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  6. What a subject to tackle a couple of weeks before Halloween, Becky. :)

    I've read the Twilight books. They're interesting. The "good" vampires hate what they are, do not murder people, only hunt over-populated animals and work to do good. They resist what their sin nature pulls them to do. Much like any other Christian. Consider someone who is gay and comes to Christ. That person will resist living a lifestyle that does not honor God, even though they may wrestle with those feelings. The same for an alcoholic, drug addict, kleptomaniac or sex addict. I found it fascinating that Stephanie Meyer handed it this way.

    And I think it really depends on the person - these things are not for just anyone to read, watch or talk about. It's much the same with any fantasy.

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  7. Pam...thanks for your first-hand perspective on Meyers' books! Very interesting parallels you've drawn to habitual sin in the "real world." Thanks so much for dropping in and offering this dimension to the discussion.

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  9. It's fun to see such an intelligent conversation about this subject. I never thought I'd want to be involved in a production of Dracula. I assumed it was just more 'vampire trash' as I've come to call it. Vampire stories with all the gore and sex, but no presence of God to combat them. The script we are using for our production is the same one that opened on Broadway in 1927 with Bela Lugosi, and was the basis for the screenplay of the movie in 1931. Most versions I've seen tend to downplay Renfield's role in the story and change subtle words to weaken his character. Renfield is the role I am playing, and he has to choose whom he will serve... God or the Devil. The show is arguably about Renfield and his struggle between obeying Dracula and saving his own soul. The quote from the play that headlines the director's notes is one of Renfield's lines, "God permits evil. Why does God permit evil if he is good? Tell me that." The play doesn't attempt to answer this question but the mere asking prompts the audience to consider it. Renfield's last line of the play after leading Van Helsing to Dracula's final "earth box" is, "Thank God. We're free." I wish you all could see it!

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  10. Greetings,

    This is an amazing article. Thank you for writing it! It is hard sometimes to get through people's preconceived notions about fantasy. This principle that you talk about is actually something that I try to get across in my Holy Worlds forum (http://holyworlds.x10hosting.com).

    A writer's worldview permeates his writing, whether he likes it or not. It is imossible to avoid it. A materialist's or a pagan's writings will be dangerous no matter how 'holy' his topic. And a good, God-dedicated, God-glorifying, Christian's writing will generally be edifying even when on the most worldly of subjects. Even on Vampires.

    Anyways, enough said. Thanks again!

    With joy and peace in Christ,
    Jay Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes

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