A Wrinkle in Time: Why Does Hollywood Keep Raping Christian Stories?

I guess A Wrinkle in Time can now officially be a part of the #MeToo movement of Hollywood victims.

And before you start “outraging” about the metaphor, I want to say that it actually fits perfectly. Rape is the forced penetration, and often insemination, of an unwilling person.

So too is the act of taking a Christian classic and deliberately eviscerating it of its meaning, and then inseminating it with the seed of a hostile alien worldview.

It’s an act of narrative violence.

But that’s how many secular and pagan storytellers roll. This has been a problem for a long time. In my book, Hollywood Worldviews, I list movies that were made through the years where the original stories were rooted in a Christian worldview (many of them, true stories), but were either completely secularized and shorn of their Christian elements or were so minimalized as to undermine the Christian meaning with a humanistic spin.

That’s called subversion. You retell your opponent’s story through your own view and thereby take control of the story. It’s one of those few things that postmodernism is correct about. If you control the narrative, you control the meaning.

Here are some movies through the years that subvert the Christian faith through suppression or elimination of it: The Pursuit of Happyness, Pocahontas, The New World, Hotel Rwanda, Becoming Jane, Anna and the King, Hard Ball, Walk the Line, Unbroken, The Vow, The Finest Hours, Hidden Figures.

And that’s not to mention movies, like Noah, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Last Days in the Desert, where atheists completely subvert Biblical stories and the Biblical God with an idol of nature or atheist demythologizing.

Most of these movies above are true stories, whose characters are driven by their faith to such an extent that the deletion or suppression of that motivation is a violation, not just of the story, but of the human being.

Now Madeleine L’Engle can join those ranks.

And if her estate was willing, well then, they are complicit in the crime.

A Caveat

To be fair, there are still stories that get through the gauntlet of anti-Christian bias in Hollywood. So it’s not monolithic, which is what I always try to remind the cultural anorexics who throw the baby out with the bathwater.

For instance, here are some fantastic examples of Hollywood movies through the years that keep the Christian worldview as a significant aspect of the story: Faster, Machine Gun Preacher, The Conjuring, Les Miserables, Deliver Us From Evil, Miracles from Heaven, Risen, Hacksaw Ridge, Ben Hur (2016), The Young Messiah, The Book of Eli, I am Legend, Man on Fire, Gran Torino, Rambo, Apocalypto, Signs. And there are plenty more.

But the tendency is that the more big budget the story is, the more likely it will be stripped of its Christian ideas because of the bigotry of those in power. I’ve known some of these very situations. The executive will say they need to “tone down” the religion in it or “make it more inclusive,” for a wider market. But what is so ironic is that the widest market domestically is actually a positive Christian faith.

And don’t forget, The Passion of the Christ was WORLDWIDE, baby.

A Waste of Time

If there is anything good about the film, it would be its elevation of family love, adoption, and friendship. The family at the center of the film is racially integrated and adoptive. That’s a great thing to stand for in our world of segregation through identity politics.

But unfortunately, this is not saying much, because the storytelling is so boring, talkie, and insipid that you watch scenes where they are trying to communicate relatively good truths (like the love of a family) but you don’t believe any of it because of the trite dialogue and mentalized struggles.

Characters keep saying things about their love for one another or their convictions, but it falls flat like some kind of psychoanalytical session of the “talking cure.”

The movie starts with a montage of family love, in order to get that part out of the way, but in so doing, trivializes the real human connection that we need to be able to even care about these characters. And we really don’t care much about them.

There are scenes that go nowhere, scenes that serve little purpose, and scenes that look like a television Dr. Who story where they jump around to different “rooms” or locations and talk talk talk.

And the movie has an obvious agenda of multicultural hiring of its actors, which also lends more weight to the lack of integrity and authenticity that it promotes. It’s a world that doesn’t really look like the world that we live in, at least in the West, which is where this movie appears to take place. That doesn’t bother me that much because I want to see more people of color in more stories. But affirmative action is intrinsically racist and fascist, which is the medicine that is worse than the disease. That’s a Frankenstein you don’t want to try to save the world with.

Where Did all the Christianity Go?

I’ll confess, I haven’t read the book. So I’ll take everybody’s word that it was a strong Christian fantasy, similar to C.S. Lewis. But you don’t have to read the book to see that the movie has no vestiges of that original faith in it.

I’ll let the writer tell us herself. Here is a quote from an interview with writer Jennifer Lee:

The book is pretty open about its Christian ideals and the movie doesn’t directly reference them. As a fan of the book how do you approach that aspect?

What I looked at, one of the reasons Madeleine L’Engle – as I’ve been told; I never got to meet her – but one of the reasons it had that strong Christian element to it wasn’t just because she was Christian, but because she was frustrated with things that needed to be said to her in the world and she wasn’t finding a way to say it and she wanted to stay true to her faith. And I respect that and I understand those feelings of things you want to say in the world that need to be said that are out there. In a good way, I think there are a lot of elements of what she wrote that we have progressed as a society and we can move onto the other elements. In a sad way, some of the other elements are more important right now and bigger – sort of this fight of light against darkness. It’s a universal thing and timeless and seems to be a battle that has to keep being had.

“The fool says in her heart, there is no God” (Psalm 14:1). This fool adapts a story with a worldwide base of fans, who love it BECAUSE of the specific faith elements, and she thinks a generic “light against darkness” is bigger than Christianity? Like you couldn’t draw that truth out of the Bible? This is “progress”? To colonize someone else’s narrative?

No, I’d call that cultural imperialism. Ahem… cultural appropriation, anyone? Hmmm?

One of the rules of great storytelling is the counterintuitive truth that the more specific your story is in being true to a culture, the more universal it becomes, because it is more authentic and therefore rings universally true to the human condition despite our differences. But when you water down to a generic “light against dark” the grand impersonal “It” is evil and goodness is becoming one with the universe, well you get the kind of limp, weak sloganeering that A Wrinkle in Time is.

And of course, if you don’t know by now that Oprah is decidedly NOT a biblical Christian, well then, I can’t help you. Her view is a new agey self-deification that is clearly the driving worldview behind this movie. Yes, she does claim that God talks to her, making her also dangerously loony, but whatever that God is, it ain’t the Biblical one.

There are classic humanist/new age references throughout the film about “becoming one with the universe,”  and discovering that “the universe is in us,” “having faith in who you are,” and understanding that you are made by a myriad of “choices made since the birth of the universe to make you just who you are.”

This is the panentheistic view that the universe is or manifests God in its totality. There is no personal one true and living God who is our father (no doubt that was a part of the original book character’s search for her father).

In another sense, this pseudo-philosophizing is so generic and watered down that it even lacks the force of a good positive thinking seminar. If you really want to believe the delusion that you can be a god, go to a Tony Robbins seminar. That is much more effective.

Now, there are a couple of these generic statements that some Christians who are tools of the establishment will no doubt point to and say, “hey, there’s a reference to faith or God!” But that’s just self-deception.

“We can’t take credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.”
“I want to find the origin of the universe and shake its hand.”

Do I really have to explain that the universe is the god here, not a personal being? God is not “It,” God is “He.” And of course, Oprah’s sexist matriarchal spirituality cannot abide with such “sexist patriarchy,” so they must depersonalize that deity and locate it in the self.

Of course, in the movie, Oprah is treated as godlike in her status and presence. But that doesn’t surprise me, because, hey, in real life, the woman thinks God talks to her!

There’s a quote from a fantastic article that deconstructs Oprah’s philosophy like a wise woman gutting a fish. It shows Oprah’s delusional worldview of self-idolatry:

OPRAH: Every one of us has an internal guidance, a GPS, an intuition, a heart print, a heartsong that speaks to us. Your only job is to be able to listen and discern when it’s speaking versus when your head and your personality is speaking. And if you follow that, you will be led to the highest good for you. Always.

I am not going to waste time explaining how “following your heart song” is the most wicked foolishness one could ever advise anyone to do. This article does a better job than I could:

Oprah’s Advice To Follow Your ‘Heartsong’ Is Garbage. Here’s Why.

I got news for you, Oprah, Jeffrey Dahmer followed his heartsong. So did Bill Clinton and Bill Cosby, and Mao and Stalin. I’ll follow that “unprogressive” universal, timeless and specific faith of the Bible any day to this drivel.

Jeremiah 17:9–10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

Don’t waste your time with this dreadfully insincere and dishonest rape of a Christian classic.

Read the article above instead. You won’t be sorry. It’s about real universal timeless truths and love.

 

12 comments on “A Wrinkle in Time: Why Does Hollywood Keep Raping Christian Stories?

  • Thank You so much for the insights once again!
    You hit the nail the head every time with a big hammer!
    We as Christians need to rise to the challenge and make more and better movies!
    We have started to at least.
    Thank You!

    Reply
  • Donna Richardson says:

    You know, I had a feeling that this would be the case with this movie the moment I heard that Oprah had a role in it. Loved the entire book series by L’Engel and had planned to see the movie. Thanks for saving me my money…I’ll stick with “I Can Only Imagine.” Love your movie reviews, Brian, because I trust your viewpoint having read many of your books and the corresponding essays that accompany most of them. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Paul Rose Jr. says:

    i know I’m probably going to get shit on for saying this, but I have a strong belief that being TRUTHFUL is an important part of being a Christian.

    I appreciate your sentiment and the point you are trying to make with this article, Brian, but you probably should have waited until it was about a book that you had taken the time TO READ.

    Why?

    “There are scenes that go nowhere, scenes that serve little purpose, and scenes that look like a television Dr. Who story where they jump around to different “rooms” or locations and talk talk talk.”
    True to the novel. Actually, filmmakers cut some out.

    “So I’ll take everybody’s word that it was a strong Christian fantasy, similar to C.S. Lewis.”

    It’s not. The best comparison would be to look at Tolkien’s approach. Lewis is far more obvious and clearly intending to be an allegory. L’Engle is/was not.

    “This fool adapts a story with a worldwide base of fans, who love it BECAUSE of the specific faith elements, and she thinks a generic “light against darkness” is bigger than Christianity?”

    I don’t know what Jennifer Lee is talking about. I’v read her comments in several posts, and the clear Christian content she sees is as valid as the “uniquely gay moment” in Beauty & the Beast. Light vs the growing darkness IS EXACTLY HOW L’ENGLE PRESENTS HER STORY IN THE NOVEL.

    “But when you water down to a generic “light against dark” the grand impersonal “It” is evil and goodness is becoming one with the universe, well you get the kind of limp, weak sloganeering that A Wrinkle in Time is.”

    Again, this is all taken DIRECTLY from the novel. The big bad is an impersonal IT, a brain without a body that demands that everyone confirm to it’s idea of perfection and equality.

    “There are classic humanist/new age references throughout the film about “becoming one with the universe,” and discovering that “the universe is in us,”

    Again, that’s L’Engle from the novel. She was fond of saying in interviews that she was made of stardust — and so are you.

    “There is no personal one true and living God who is our father (no doubt that was a part of the original book character’s search for her father).”

    NO, it wasn’t. None of the characters in the novel talk about a personal God who is our father. Most of the aliens who live on non-dark or shadowed worlds appear to simply know that all is meant to be right with the universe, and some speak Bible passages as part of their regular conversation, but never quote it.

    “We can’t take credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.”
    Direct quote from the novel.

    “I want to find the origin of the universe and shake its hand.”
    Made up for the movie.

    “God is not “It,” God is “He.”

    Again, IT is the big bad, the source of the darkness spreading across the universe. In the novel as well as the movie.

    “Of course, in the movie, Oprah is treated as godlike in her status and presence.”

    The character she plays is that way in the novel, maybe even more so.

    If you don’t like the movie, that’s fine. I actually agree with you as far as your direct assessment of the storytelling and structure of the film. I wanted to love the movie; L’Engle has a cherished spot on my bookcase, along with Lewis & Tolkien & Lawhead. But she’s not blatantly Christian in this novel. In fact, most of the parts from the book where alien characters speak words of wisdom that we know are from the Bible, are parts that were excised for not being visual enough. Imagine one more scene of people leaping to another alien world where everything is gray and dull, because the aliens who live there don’t have any visual cortex or concept of what “seeing” is. Again, I don’t know what Jennifer Lee thinks she cut out, but very little of it is from the Bible or presenting God as a personal being. That just doesn’t appear in Madeleine’s book.

    So maybe next time take a couple hours and read the 200-page book, okay?

    Reply
    • Paul, thanks for your concern for accuracy as well as the truth.
      Not shit to sling on my end here! 🙂

      I think you may be missing the nuance of all this. I don’t think the subtleties that you point out in the novel make the argument any less appropriate. The fact is that, regardless of how much I may agree or disagree with L’Engle’s version of Christianity (maybe it’s too liberal, maybe its too vague for you), the context is universally known and understood to be a Christian worldview. I think that is a fair assumption. (There are lots of Christians who argue that C.S. Lewis wasn’t a legit enough Christian either)

      I think my analysis of the movie made it very clear that the context of the movie is what dictates the meaning of the symbols or references, so anything she may have carried over from the book is given a distinctly different worldview than Christianity.

      So, if you want to argue that L’Engle’s Christianity is more akin to Oprah’s humanism than many Christians assume, you should do so.

      It sounds like you have a strong conviction on this. So why don’t you write a detailed blog about it on your site or Facebook page? It’s a worthy conversation.

      Reply
  • Gailon Totheroh says:

    I remember my sixth grade teacher reading the novel to us. It was delightful.

    What a change to this pap now on Netflix!

    Let’s indeed speak “Gospel to power”!

    Reply
  • I know I’m late to this party, but I tripped over this while looking up some related stuff and felt the need to comment. There is a huge difference between finding good moral base in a movie or book that fits your culture, or how your want to raise your family or find wholesome, vs laying religious claim to a book, movie, etc. Monotheism, good vs evil, and good moral sense are far from being exclusive to Christianity. (I’ll note that in the books even monotheism is up for debate as the older beings like Mrs Who, Whatsit, and Which could all be considered young gods in their own right. The youngest being billions of years old and a former star. Also laying base for reincarnation.) So claiming that any movie, book etc is inherently Christian when not expressly presented as such is… egotistical,
    as you can’t possibly know if it actually was written to be that way. Now that doesn’t mean it can’t be a good example of Christian lifestyle or values, but try to remember that those values are not exclusive to Christianity. And as such you can’t claim ANY intended meaning beyond that expressly stated. Only interpret it best you can, while hopefully remembering that others interpret things differently.

    As for the movie, other than some updated cultural changes (such as a blended family, which is much more common than you seem to think), it is quite accurate to the book (surprisingly so) as far as not adding in content not in the book. Of course some was excluded, I assume for the sake of time and viewers entertainment. I would recommend in the future that you read the material rather than using a few third hand reference comments regarding it for the sake of accurate comparison.

    On a different note, yes the message and meaning has been watered down. Despite that it was a very wholesome family friendly, dare I say Christian friendly movie. No sex (not even kissing you see so often now). No cussing, not even the “light”words. A message about love spanning the universe and making all things possible. A message where love beats evil and violence. There is even a scene that “could” be interpreted as the literal turning of the other cheek where Charles has given his heart over to evil (due to his natural egotism and inexperience according to the book) and Megan refuses to lift a hand, instead taking every blow he gives her, physical or verbal, and returning only love. It doesn’t get much more Christian than that (although there are other religions that believe the same).

    I just felt the need to comment on this. This book series was much loved by me growing up and didn’t even get the standard scoff my grandmother normally reserved for things she found religiously unacceptable. (Which was most everything I could get my hands on as a young bookworm.) And while I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the Oprah casting decision, I was genuinely surprised with how accurate the managed to keep what they put up on the screen, and how rated G they kept it. Even if it wasn’t the most entertaining movie if the year.

    Reply
    • Zaxzia,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I understand your appreciation of the good you saw in the movie. As I noted in the piece, there are some good values or moments in the film. But my main message to viewers is that the worldview or philosophy or meaning of a movie is far more important than merely a few good “morals.” I believe that the lack of sex and cussing is a good thing in a movie, but in the context or service of a pagan worldview, they become mere moralistic therapeutic deism, a pernicious worldview where we think being good will save us from our sins. Also, the generic notion of “love” in the universe can also be an antibiblical, antichrist false love in the context of a pagan worldview, as this film was promoting. We need to be more discerning with what we are watching. That is why I wrote the book, Hollywood Worldviews, to help believers to watch with wisdom and discernment.

      Reply

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