[personal profile] wingedbeast
In Tip #58, I pointed out that much of the media targeted to a conservative Christian audience today can be considered, after a fashion, pornography. A more technically accurate word might be "propaganda", but I think "pornography" still fits the goal of stimulating a sensation more than communicating any idea. In all of that discussion, though, I didn't say how you could tell the art from the porn.

I did give an example in the movie "Saved". For those who haven't seen it, "Saved" centers on a Christian teen girl who never wavers in her faith, but does mature in it and develops a circle of friends based on those who don't easily fit into her conservative, Evangelical Christian culture. As a non-Christian, I appreciate the more positive view of those who aren't the easy poster-children of the culture and as a Christian, you can appreciate the movie's view that Christianity, the faith, is greater than the culture put under the microscope.

For our purposes, the important part of "Saved" is in how it challenges its target audience.

Good Christian Porn, of the likes of "The Encounter" or the "God's Not Dead" franchise or the like does issue a challenge of sorts. The specific challenge, however, goes right along with the kind of pornography I warned you about in Tip #58. Be more a member of the in-group. Submit more to the conservative Christian in-group's ideology. Proselytize more. Stick closer to this view of gender relations. Stay firmer in that kind of attitude with regards to the issue of the day. Say "Lord Lord" more often.

To contrast, the kind of art that would actually be more uplifting will challenge you to do something more intellectually difficult. "Saved" challenges you to have a more complex and nuanced understanding of people, Christians and non-Christians, and of morality. Good art does that. It takes the things you believe, the things you're comfortable thinking, and challenges you to look outside them, to judge them in the light of another perspective.

It's okay to take that challenge, consider it, and find the challenge to be in error. You don't have to drastically change your position after every thoughtful piece of art you encounter. For example, I think the X-Men franchise is naive in what it implicitly promotes as the right method for an othered group (whichever stand-in you can have for Mutants, they apply to so many possibilities) to respond to bigotry. But, that's an opinion I come to after considering what the movies and the 90s cartoon had to say.

Again, the porn isn't inherently evil, so long as you don't confuse it for a representation of reality. It's just a fantasy. But, if you want art that does more for you, that actually uplifts you and helps you be a better person, don't look for the works that tell you to do and think what you already think you should do and think. Look for the works that challenge you to do and think differently. Even if you come out of that process without having changed your mind, you'll still be a more well rounded person for it.
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