Page 10, 19th August 1938

19th August 1938
Page 10
Page 10, 19th August 1938 — Christianity Is So Negative Towards The Cinema

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Organisations: Christian Church
People: A. Douglas Wing


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Christianity Is So Negative Towards The Cinema


THE whole controversial business of religious films and their " tobe or not to be" spirit has been re-opened by the publication by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge of a practical, hard-headed little book called Films and the P'aith,'

Its author, A. Douglas Wing, is soundly informed (evidently the information has been gained by practical, and probably bitter, experience) upon the difficulties, financial as well as technical, of making

and showing religious films. And after struggles—there are evidences of some pretty tough spots that MT. Wing has got himself into—the author is still stroongly convinced that the religious film is worth while to the Anglican community in particular, and to the Christian Church in general,

We salute Mr. Wing's enthusiasm.

On all main points, too, agreement with Mr. Wings theories. From bedrock facts he argues " Why Why Films for Films for the Faith?"

the Faith? at all, and demonstrates the strength of visual appeal. Because there is a certain naughty glamour suspended over the popular cinema which has brought it into disrepute that is no reason to condemn the whole cinematic box of tricks as too tainted to be used for spiritual purposes.

This point comes out hot and strong from Mr. Wing's pen. And we like to hear it from him since we Catholics, too, have heard of lack of support of Catholk film ventures just because the film in

itself is still held suspect as a moral offender„Said a producer, hard at work making magnificent documentary with definite Catholic appeal for which he can get no co-operation, " Front my experience I am led to believe that Catholics hate the cinema."

In time this spirit of suspicion will be lived down, I don't doubt. But then what? _Films will he about Must we be as antiquated as are so Slow? magic lanterns today. And just as the Church only began to realise (when everyone else had finished) that lantern slides make instruction more palatable, so will it utilise the cinema when everyone else thinks it old-fashioned. To quote Mr. Wing: " Why does the Church lag behind? .1Ier commission implies leadership. She should not allow herself to he used as a secondhand shop where the world's cast-oll jumble is dumped."

As far as he goes Mr. Wing has excellent things to say in Films and the Faith, but I wish he had been a little less exclusive and gone a little further. I opened his pages full or high hope for wider horizons on this question of Christianity and the films. I wanted something constructive about the Christian attitude towards the cinema

industry, So far, all Christian comment upon the public cinema has tended to be escapist and negative and full of " Don'ts," and I hoped .

Instead I felt a little constrained within the strictly sectarian, propagandist activity of making parish Always Too halls and churches Sectarian into classrooms for religion — very excellent, I acknowledge, but only the very smallest viewpoint to the Christian epos

tolate of the cinema. But perhaps Mr. Wing plans another book to deal with the wider issues. It is needed.

Everywhere I find too much evidence of the gulf which is tending to widen., not to close up, between secular life and Christian life. In the cinema this gulf is even wider than in any other sphere.

And I don't believe this is merely be cause the public cinema is morally too sub-standard to be contacted by C'hristiunity. I wonder sometimes if Christianity is being too " flaw-haw," too "secluded private life." too out-of-touch for the true interpretation of the spirit of " Go ye and teach all," Preserve us from superior withdrawal.

"4 Films and the Faith, by A. Douglas Wing. (S.P.C.K. 35, 6d.),

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