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Published on September 17th, 2013 | by Marcus Pittman

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Why Christian Filmmakers should be Breaking Bad

AMC’s Breaking Bad will end its six year, five season run in the next few weeks and what a run it has been.

Walter White, your average Government school Chemistry teacher has a good job, an intact family, and a happy life. Until that is, he finds out that he has cancer.

Desperate for a way to provide for his family and pay the medical bills, Walter White seeks out the help of a former student— now drug dealer and addict Jesse Pinkman—and together they develop a drug empire.

Forbes (and others) have called Breaking Bad one of the best shows ever made….Ever.

It’s won multiple Emmys and Golden Globes and has built up a fan base that will rival the cosplay of Star Wars at Comic Con’s for years to come.

But why on earth should Christians take notice—and dare I say—learn some things about a story revolving around sin, violence, drugs, and death?

Before we answer that question, we need to know the author’s intention of the series. His name is Vince Gilligan, who is not by any stretch of the imagination a Christian. He said in an interview with the NY Times:

“I’m pretty much agnostic at this point in my life. But I find atheism just as hard to get my head around as I find fundamental Christianity. Because if there is no such thing as cosmic justice, what is the point of being good? That’s the one thing that no one has ever explained to me. Why shouldn’t I go rob a bank, especially if I’m smart enough to get away with it? What’s stopping me?”

As an aside, I am not at all saying that Breaking Bad is a Christian show. It’s not even close. Breaking Bad is very humanist and openly so. It even portrays immorality immorally. But just as Christians can learn how to be amazing heart surgeons from the best secular doctors, so to can we learn how to be better storytellers and filmmakers from the best pagan storytellers and filmmakers. God’s common grace to pagans, even though it’s abused, can teach Christians lessons that ultimately advance the Kingdom of God. Even if it wasn’t the author’s intention.

Vince Gilligan has stated that he wanted to create a series where the main character goes from “Mr. Chips to Scarface.” For those who don’t know who Mr. Chips is, just think Mr. Rogers.

Originally the networks rejected the idea. Why on earth would anyone want to watch a show where they despise and ultimately reject the main character. The main cast has to be likable. How can the audience turn on him? After all, we have to sympathize with the main character at all times, even if the main character is doing evil…right?

How many television shows and movies present a plot which embraces evil?

Whether it’s rooting for the criminals in Oceans 11-13, The Fast and The Furious or supporting the vigilante in Batman or The Avengers, or even cheering on those who disobey their parents, such as The Little Mermaid; movies and films are filled with a reversal of good and evil. We often root for the main cast no matter what they are doing. Films trick you into loving evil and hating good. Many times we don’t even realize that we’re doing it.

But the brilliance of Breaking Bad is that we do know who we are cheering for. We initially cheer for the “Drug Dealer”. After all, he’s just trying to make a few bucks here on the side to pay for his medical bills. I mean he has a disabled son and a pregnant wife!

Eventually, Vince Gilligan rebukes you for doing so and as the series progresses, you soon hope for his destruction and you beg Vince to bring down the hammer of justice on Walter White (Mr. Chips), who has now become the very essence of evil in his alter ego Heisenberg (Scarface).

Walter White, in going from Mr. Chips to Scarface, presents to the viewer the tragic consequences of being given over to a debased mind according to Romans 1.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32, ESV)

Breaking Bad is a sad story of a man who let his pride lead him down a path of destruction. We watch Walter White transform into his alter ego, Heisenberg, as he gets more money than anyone could possibly spend in a lifetime, but in the process loses everything, even his soul. He loses his happiness, he loses the love of his wife, he loses the love of his close family members and eventually brings them into harms way.

Breaking Bad doesn’t glorify evil. Far from it. It shows us the consequences of evil. Breaking bad shows us how pride is a virus and how pride goes before the fall.

Vince Gilligan said he once had a long fight with his writing staff over a single, small scene in the fourth episode of the first season. In that episode Walter White was given a way out, his friends from college gave him a life raft, a nice job, health insurance and all of his medical bills paid. All he had to do was say yes.

“Essentially they throw him a life preserver and he says in that fourth episode of the series, essentially, no, and he goes instead back to cooking crystal meth and that was, I think the moment I was most proud of. In the writers room, even though at the time it was not nearly as dramatic, as some of the, many of the things that have happened since, but it was the moment that all of us in the writers room argued a lot, and hashed it out amongst ourselves and said ‘Wait a minute, what…kind of character is this that would turn this down?’ Because this is a good guy, who’s doing bad things, for good reasons, but we realized in that moment that this is a man who is very prideful, to a fault.”(1)

So Breaking Bad is a Greek tragedy of sorts, and a demonstration of what happens when a man’s pride leads him to destruction.

Unfortunately, (and for a reason beyond my comprehension) Christians have decided that all movies and stories must have happy endings. Perhaps the Christian retail market helped promote that. The Joel Osteen, Oprah, and Chicken Soup books have only helped to perpetuate this false cliché.

The home team doesn’t always win. The husband doesn’t always return to his wife. The person with cancer doesn’t always get healed and sometimes the bad guy gets away. But you wouldn’t know this by watching Christian films, who appear to tell stories which lie about reality and present a world that is just as untrue as it is corny.

But who better to write about the tragedy of being given over than that of Christians? Who better to create villains than those who—unlike Vince Gilligan—have a standard for true evil? Reprobation knows only one happy ending, and that is justice being poured out on the reprobate.

The Bible is filled with many stories of evil but it never honors it. It never allows the reader to sympathize with the one who is doing evil.

David and Bathsheba, (Murder and Adultery).
David and Goliath (Violence and Death).
Samson and Delilah (Adultery, betrayal, shame and disgrace).

So then, why can’t Christians write about these kinds of stories? Honestly, who would do it better than the Christian?

Breaking Bad has opened up the door for Christians to write narratives which show the consequences of evil. It has allowed these stories of justice and non-sympathy towards the main character to become mainstream and popular.

No longer do television series and movies have to glorify evil, but it can teach the consequences of evil. We can write about the destruction of adultery or the deceitfulness of immorality.

So it’s time for Christian screen writers and storytellers to Break Bad. Let us write stories void of hope and filled with despair. Let us be the ones to devise evil plots and show the consequences of sin and humanism. Let us teach the world how to portray immorality, morally.

Because who better to write about Breaking Bad, than those in whom the Spirit is Breaking Good?

Endnotes:

  1. http://youtu.be/9LwJqpdkxxY?t=43m()
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About the Author

Marcus is a managing member of Crown Rights, a Christian media company. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia and is a member in the PCA church.



41 Responses to Why Christian Filmmakers should be Breaking Bad

  1. Greg says:

    I watched the series and loved/hated it. Ultimately, I believe it does a superb job of demonstrating the the consequences of sin.

    As much as I appreciate the efforts of those involved in the Christian Film Business, I cannot recall one that I would consider an excellent movie. And usually only believers go to see them.

    Can you imagine a Frank Peretti film, based on “This Present Darkness”, developed with the talents of Scorsese, Copolla or Spielberg?

  2. kennethos says:

    Marcus, this is a well-thought out piece. Well done! I have only a couple nit-picks for you.

    1) “The Bible is filled with many stories of evil but it never honors it. It never allows the reader to sympathize with the one who is doing evil.” As I read the Bible, I see person after person, story after story, of evil people who undeservedly receive grace….just like me! Sympathize or honor evil? No. Sympathize with the person who repents afterwards? YES! God gives repentance and grace, which (personally) gives me hope day after day, as it does the former addict or alcoholic. So I hope you’ll understand when I disagree with you partly there.

    2) We have an R/X-rated Bible, and a church full of ignorant cowards, and a society of partially ignorant pagans, who are afraid of said Bible. A look at the comments tells me that believers who can’t face a TV show that portrays sin/life realistically, likewise can’t truly face a Scripture than equally portrays life and sin realistically. Our milquetoast culture has overwhelmed our Bible, and we’re afraid of what others will say or think. (Which is why I avoid most “Christian” movies like the plague, as do most pagans. They’re simply awful. Sadly, most “Catholic” films are usually better; they understand the reality of art better, so…)

    When believers understand the Bible, as X/R rated as it is, then maybe we can change the culture. Otherwise, we’ll be admiring wise pagans and mourning foolish believers for decades to come.

    • Mike W says:

      I agree that Christians are often guilty of refusing to face reality. Thankfully, the Bible pulls no punches. But neither does it wallow in the sordid details. Re-read the account of David and Bathesheba — it’s only a few minutes long; and even though the subject is “X rated,” the presentation is not. I’d call it PG, because the Bible doesn’t go into hours of graphic detail. Compare the the Bible’s account of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion with Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, and you’ll see what I mean.

      I’ve never seen Breaking Bad, but have read enough to know I’ll never watch it. There are better ways to use my time. And honestly, if Jesus were to stop by my house this evening, I cannot imagine myself saying, “Hey, you want to watch an episode of Breaking Bad?”

      • kennethos says:

        You may wish to look through the Hebrew instead of an English translation, which has a tendency to “sterilize” content, instead of presenting it in its original earthiness. The original audience would have understood the context, and while they may not have needed every sordid detail, it was still culturally spelled out, in ways we don’t usually grasp. I think that’s what Marcus is trying to say, and I affirm and echo.
        I haven’t seen Breaking Bad either, only because my tastes are more sci-fi than gritty drama. I imagine that Jesus isn’t/wouldn’t be ignorant, nor naive regarding entertainment or stories; entertainment and stories were probably rather graphic in the first century; it’s we moderns who think things have to be G/PG to make-do in church.

  3. Brian Davis says:

    Just wondering if this article is actually condoning the nudity, topless woman in the pilot, blasphemy, and graphic sexual scenes, that are throughout at least the pilot and the first episode in season one.
    I personally don’t care to have images of topless women branded into my head. I think there should have been some sort of disclaimer with the article. I agree with the premise behind Christians and film making, but I don’t see how Christian’s condoning this series gets us to the point that is being made in the article.

  4. Steve Miller says:

    Not everyone comes away from Breaking Bad, or any Entertainment venture with the same experience; partially because not everyone enters the experience at the same point. As a mature Christian I watch the show and I see a very real depiction of the complex entanglement of sin and its alluring nature. It is a repetition of the offer of the fruit in the garden, “You want this good thing (be it either being like God or financial stability for your family in the trials of cancer)? Then do this bad thing to get a bit more control in your life. That thing you perceive you are lacking can be achieved in an expedient, but illegitimate manner.”

    In simpler words: Get that “good” thing you want now, but it is only achievable by using forbidden means.

    The problem with secular media is it seldom offers a balanced picture; the Bible depicts sin so it always creates a longing for a solution to the sin. Sin is an absence of God; the Bible’s stories show the Godless negative condition of mankind so we might long to see that hole filled. The secular media is under no compulsion to offer a solution to the problems they highlight, so often the Christian viewer must in their own mind provide the counterbalance to the human brokenness on display.

    For the Christian ongoing evil is a testament to the patience and grace of our God, I watch Walter stumble down a path which seems right to him, it seems it will fulfill his desires, but it is illusory and ends in death. It reminds me how God is holding back his wraith against all mankind. God is allowing the painful consequences of our own sins highlight our inabilities to fix our own problems and convince us we need a Savior.

    2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

    Breaking Bad masterfully depicts the problem, but we are left to fill the sin-void with our own faith of what (or more precisely, Who ) the solution is.

  5. Sarah says:

    Happy endings may be corny and unrealistic to you, but a happy ending is the ultimate desire of every human being (minus the exceptionally deranged). Eternity is built into our hearts, and we frankly can’t get enough of being told the story of redemption. So, sure, let’s have Christians make realistic stories about the horrors of sin, but don’t bash the Happy Ending. I need a story that offers hope after a long day of doing battle with my own sinfulness, which is why I’ll take good news any way I can get it, whether it comes out of reading John 3:16 or watching Strictly Ballroom.

  6. Isaac says:

    Very thought-provoking article Marcus! Makes me think of how Charles Dickens (who would have shared at least some of our Christian worldview – not sure exactly where he was in terms of orthodoxy) would expose the horrendous nature of some of his society’s unbiblical cultural norms and practices to his readers/audience through such dismal novels as “Oliver Twist”.
    However, as I’m sure you agree, this doesn’t mean that happy endings – even to the point of being somewhat unrealistic or corny – are inherently less artistically effective or less valid for the aspiring filmmaker. I think the films of Hollywood legends Walt Disney, Frank Capra, and Cecil B. DeMille show that; and, in a culture that is drowning in despair of its own destructive, sinful practices and worldviews, a positive lesson – “kill the dragon, get the girl” – may be just culturally influential as a tragic ending with a negative lesson.
    Please don’t disavow Christian filmmakers who are consciously trying to work through the implications of working in such a powerful medium. The agnostic screenwriter of “Breaking Bad” didn’t feel the need to worry about whether his cultural offering was in compliance with Scriptural principles, and that meant that while his theme may have been bold and perhaps even laudable, in terms of aesthetics and worldview, he delivered a work of art that was deeply flawed. Meanwhile, the Christian is attempting to “take every [frame] captive to the obedience of Christ.” This may mean that his first few films are thematically simplistic and artistically weak, as figures things out and learns the craft, his work may be more timid or less well-executed, but as he gains experience, skill and epistemological self-consciousness he will become bolder and braver his artistry. Until he reaches that point, lampooning him for his shortcomings will not do any good.
    Thank you for urging your fellow Christians to step boldly into the arts and for strengthening the conviction that Christianity can regain cultural leadership through the dominion work of faithful believers.

    • Marcus Pittman says:

      “Until he reaches that point, lampooning him for his shortcomings will not do any good.”

      If Christian films are immune from receiving two thumbs down, how will they know when they have received two thumbs up.

      It seems to me, and this may not be true of every Christian filmmaker, but a vast majority of Christian Filmmakers cry for grace when it comes to their failed productions and list excuse after excuse for their shortcomings. Whether it’s lack of funding, lack of distribution channels, or lack of fill in the blank, it appears as if Christian filmmakers want to be exempt from the rules of Capitalism.

      None of the excuses Christian Filmmakers use would work in any other capitalistic system.

      Imagine if people we’re getting food poisoning from the “Christian Restaurant” or the “Christian Cars” were exploding in accidents and were unsafe to drive.

      We would say, stop with your excuses, make better stuff or go out of business and we would cease to support these companies even if their owners were members of your Churches small group.

      If you make a movie, and it’s a flop, dry your eyes, pick up your camera and make something better. Its OK to fail. It’s not OK to say your failures are immune from criticism.

      Over the past century, Christian’s have failed at the filmmaking business. There I said it.

      Now then, how are we going to fix it?

      • Isaac says:

        I only made the comment because it has become such a tendency to not merely criticize, but talk-down and nay-say the efforts of Christian filmmakers, many of whom I know welcome critical feedback and seek to improve with each successive film.

        To use your analogy, the case we have today is one where there is a multimillion dollar car industry (humanistic films from Hollywood), that makes exciting and luxuriously-outfitted sports cars, but the problem is that, in spite of the excellent design and construction, they explode (cultural destruction) killing or maiming the passengers. Then, along comes a Christian, who sees the problem, and builds a different kind of car. He is still learning about design and such things, his car is a bit uncomfortable and doesn’t handle the twist and turns of the road as smoothly, but his car drives fine, and rather then exploding, gets the driver to his destination safely.

        Would you condemn this Christian for his car’s lack of sophistication, shiny chrome or spinning rims? Of course not! You’d laud his enterprising work to help make safer cars. Obviously, there’s tons of room to improve, but it’s a step in the right direction, and the rest will follow.

        It’s not that over the last century Christians have tried and failed – they haven’t even tried! We retreated from public life.

        Now, Christians are getting serious about making films for the glory of God that advance his Kingdom – this is happening more and more in recent years. All I’m saying is that this cultural trend is relatively new and should be encouraged to grow and improve. Not immune to criticism, but definitely worth encouraging, which is something that many people don’t do.

        I very much enjoyed and appreciated your article, and don’t mean any of my feedback to suggest otherwise. Thank you!

        • Isaac says:

          I should add that I agree if Christian films have been associated with Osteen or Oprah, then it would be a good thing to get away from that. But that has not been my experience from what I have observed and from being involved with the Christian independent film movement over the past several years.

          I loved your point about how “Breaking Bad” went against the tendency in modern storytelling to affirm everything the “hero” does in order to have someone to root for. It’s ethically disorienting for an audience to have the “good guy” do something evil and then reward him for it, or rationalize it “because it’s for a good cause” or whatever. Excellent, insightful point there!

      • DrewJ says:

        Part of the problem is that if a Christian filmmaker made a good movie, lots of stupid Christians would decry it as being too dark and sinful, and refuse to support it.

  7. Mike W says:

    “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

    Paul would never endorse “Breaking Bad.”

    • DrewJ says:

      If modern Christians wrote the Bible, it would be rated PG, and it would be about 35% as long. But at least the people who read this reboot of the “Bible” wouldn’t have to set their minds on anything “impure” or “unworthy” of praise.

  8. Brian says:

    Breaking Bad is really The Sopranos 2.0. It works because they show very little of the real horrors of the characters occupation. Sure, bad guys get wacked, but it’s just business, nothing personal.

  9. al says:

    i dont like this article. following christ is about spreading the good news of faith hope and love not seeing how well one can portay evil. learning from secular surgeons isnt the same thing as learning to portray evil ‘better’. should we learn from secular prostitutes how to make better whores for jesus? we cant even get loving people right, dont encourage people to spend more time coming up with evil.

    • Mike W says:

      Right! Christians should show that is possible to obtain victory over sin. If we are children of light, then we ought to be sowing HOPE, instead of dwelling on failure.

  10. David says:

    Hi Marcus (or anyone commenting here) – How does a Christian reconcile Eph. 5:3-4 if they watch shows like this? There are shows I like to watch that I would think probably wouldn’t make it through this filter in Ephesians. I would like to hear your take. Thanks. – David

    • DrewJ says:

      The passage that you cited doesn’t seem to have any connection at all to this discussion that I can see. But do what you feel is best.

      • David says:

        I’ll admit my question is a little off-topic, but this discussion segues into something I’ve been thinking about, so I thought I would offer it up for conversation here.

        Anyway, in verse 3 It says: “…must not even be named among you…”. So wouldn’t that include not watching shows that have those things listed in verses 3-4 on television?

        • DrewJ says:

          It just means that no one in the church should have a reputation for having ever engaged in any of those things. If he were saying that they should never talk about sin, he would be violating his own command in doing so.

    • Marcus Pittman says:

      That verse is speaking to the actual actions and behaviors of the Christian. This verse doesn’t apply to watching, or reading an individuals works.

      In other words, let us not allow Christians to be charged with impurity or sexual immorality.

      Christians can learn things from the secular world. I can read books by Richard Dawkins and it would be foolish for my elders to place me under Church discipline, having assumed that I had embraced atheism. In addition, reading a book by Richard Dawkins would not be considered violating Philippians 4:8. It’s all about how one thinks on “these things” that is the issue at hand.

      People often tend to throw out this argument; “Well what can you learn from pornography?” and apply that to every single secular show. That argument errs in many ways but mainly because pornography is a two way sin in which the actors, the camera crew and the viewer are all in sin because one cannot help but to participate in that sin by viewing and even if it was possible to view, and not sin, the viewer according to God’s Law, is never invited to do so.

      When an individual watches pornography, he becomes a part of that act. He places himself in that room. That doesn’t happen with cussing or violence. I don’t participate in murder, or have hatred in my heart for an actor who fakes violence. I don’t become a part of the vulgarity in a TV show, any more than I become a part of the vulgarity at my secular job, hanging around my co-workers.

  11. From the Midwest says:

    Walter is NOT a “Government School” Chemistry Teacher. Knock off the propaganda!!! Public Schools are run by the School Districts in the States. They are NOT run by the Federal Government, although there are ties. Of course this is no explanation at all for those who can afford expensive private schools (religious or other), and those who elect to Homeschool their children or send them to what Protestants now call “Christian Schools”. The highly successful “Beaking Bad” series is certainly about evil but it makes no pretense to be other than that. On the opposite end of the scale is that highly popular series about an up class English Family languishing around in Jolly Old England just before the great slaughter of World War I which truly was evil, and yet is glorified today. Think about it.

    • Jeff E. says:

      I read his quote again after reading your response. “…your average Government school Chemistry teacher…” I was unable to find the part where he said “Federal government school chemistry teacher”. School districts are considered governmental entities. They are run by a representative board elected by the people in that district. Public schools = government schools. Just because school districts are local governments does not mean that they aren’t governments.

  12. James Gilbert says:

    Thanks for the wonderful article, Marcus. A movie that renders the same spiritual service is “Monster,” a film that garnered Charlize Theron an Oscar for Best Actress.

  13. cate tuten says:

    Breaking Bad is indeed brilliant writing, editing, and acting. In fact it’s mesmerizing. And as a Christian I am fascinated by the expertise of craft exhibited here, wanting to propel myself as a writer into a higher level of excellency. Yet, as a Christian, I also wonder what is the real appeal of this show to Christians. Is it really that we are observing how sin corrodes, or is this an excuse to be entertained by sin, same as any pagan, under the guise of “learning” the wages of sin are death. How much of sinfully entertaining TV do we need to watch (or should I say, want to watch) in order to get a very basic teaching the Bible gives us from the get go……

    • DrewJ says:

      There is nothing wrong with being entertained by sin.

      Psalm 2:2-4

      The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

      • Sarah says:

        This passage refers to the fact that God is so far and above all earthly powers that the thought of anyone acting against Him is laughable, and not to be confused with God sitting on His cosmic Barcalounger throwing back popcorn whilst having a hearty guffaw over man’s sin. I don’t think Jesus was ever “entertained by sin” and we should endeavor to follow suit. Go easy on the eisegesis, eh?

  14. DrewJ says:

    One reason I found it easy to sympathize with the main character was because theonomy (probably) does not support the criminalization of drugs.

  15. Michael Paul Tuuri says:

    James Jordan has pointed out that modern Christians love the Proverbs, which seem to say “Being good gets you stuff.” But they don’t care much for Ecclesiastes, which says being good may have nothing to do with what you get. Interesting that both books, for the most part, were written by the same dude. Great article, and spot on.

  16. Gray says:

    The (almost) plethora of syrupy sickeningly sweet so-called Christian tales are the inevitable result of the curse of dispenraturalism.

    Modern American evangelical Christianity is embarrassed by the sovereignty of God and instead worship the idol of “free will”, a construct that flowed out of the heresy of Pelagianism. They then posit that it is only semi-Pelagian, as if that same defense could be used for “its only partially dirty water”.

    A proper view of His sovereignty rapidly evokes significant implications and the duties attendant therein. Duty requires courage, and to “quit ye like men”, something considered brutish in contemporary Christian squish.

  17. Mark says:

    Excellent, timely article Marcus:

    When we watched the episode “Ozymandias”, I was thinking “The wages of sin is death.” That show, if anything, made me, as a Christian, want to walk the straight and narrow more than ever!

    • Marcus Pittman says:

      Amen! I had the same impression with that episode. All I could think on was the sinfulness of sin. And how terrible of a thing Pride was.

  18. Craig Fairclough says:

    The movie appears to be another example of the unbeievers suppresed knowledge of God. Even the non-christian cannot escape the Christian worldview. In a sense, they have a better handle on it than we do in their portrayal of human depravity.

    Such movies would not make sense at all if reality was really as meaningless as a consistent non-C worldview should be.

  19. Philip Tatler says:

    For those of us living “in the trenches” and living out God’s call in our lives, we don’t need a TV show (or TV at all for that matter) to exhibit the wages of sin. This is armchair religion.

    • Alison says:

      I think this is an excellent point. When we are exhausted by the day’s work which means working with real people who are in the midst of all of that (the wages of sin), we don’t want to come home to watch it again. The author makes excellent points, though; Christian storytelling must present the truth, however hard it may be, instead of sticky-sweet falsehoods that make us feel happy-go-lucky.

    • ZavFam says:

      Sometimes you need to reach those that are not living “in the trenches” or living out God’s call on their lives. That was the point of this article … to call out those with the talent to pick up where “Breaking Bad” falls short so that these people can be reached.

  20. Terry Elston says:

    Excellent article. While “Facing the Giants” and “Courageous” both show more realistic plot lines of Christians struggling with real life problems and tragedies, neither shows the kind of confrontation with evil the author is speaking of. The closest movie I can think of is Robert Duvall’s “The Apostle” where the main character finds redemption after committing murder, but is finally arrested at the end for that crime. We need more movies that don’t label themselves as “Christian” but just tell a story showing good and evil with characters, some of whom happen to be Christians, confronting the problems and consequences of decisions made.

  21. Donald Wright says:

    I hadn’t heard of Breaking Bad until I read this article, but I really like and agree with the article’s excellent points, e.g., that “just as Christians can learn how to be amazing heart surgeons from the best secular doctors, so to[o] can we learn how to be better storytellers and filmmakers from the best pagan storytellers and filmmakers.”

    I know it’s tangential to the thrust of the article, but I’ve often thought about how rarely great scientists or doctors come out of nonaccredited Christian colleges; more often than not, they will be found teaching only at large secular universities that are of good repute among unbelievers, e.g., Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. Too many Christians, especially in the Reformed community, seem to pride themselves on their lack of higher education; hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear strong objections from Reformed friends to attending “State-run synagogues of Satan.” Almost no young Reformed Christians seem to be interested in pursuing careers in the physical sciences; yet to take dominion in all areas, as Reformed Christians profess that they believe in doing, requires that some pursue medicine as a career, and that in turn requires that some dare to attend secular colleges.

    I second the motion that Christian storytellers and filmmakers should seek to learn from their unbelieving forbears; I’ve sat through too many Christian films that have been given self-congratulatory awards by other Christians but that are terminally hokey (you know, the kind where all nine blond Stepford children are engaged in the family’s home-based business, mother, perpetually smiling, is engaged nonstop in cooking and making clothes on the spinning wheel, the family homestead is apparently devoid either of bedrooms or bathrooms, and no harsh word has ever been spoken). Surely, as you say, we can dare to admit that evil exists, and portray its consequences.

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