Magazine article Anglican Journal

Question Helps Decipher Message: "Black and White and Made in 1934!"

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Question Helps Decipher Message: "Black and White and Made in 1934!"

Article excerpt

THESE WORDS, delivered in a withering tone by a teenage youth were part of a household spat about what sort of film we might watch on television.

The parents saw the chance to watch a great film of a former age and the teenager wanted to tune into something contemporary. "Black and white and made in 1934!" was his description of his parents' idea of a great movie.

I don't recall which of us won the battle that night, but I have never forgotten the phrase. (Was it coincidence that he chose the year I was born to describe the vintage of film that represented everything boring?)

I began to think about why I could see the great qualities of a 1934 movie and he could not. Those movies struck him as totally meaningless because of the artificiality, the posturing acting styles, the film conventions of the time.

But because I remembered when all movies were like that, I could discount those things and see through to the issues that were being set forth, the social values that were being affirmed or challenged, the standards of an era that were being portrayed. And most of all I could see the values that were being unwittingly portrayed. To take a superficial example, everyone of consequence in those films smoked; therefore, smoking equals being of consequence.

But he could see none of these things. Those movies looked like pictures of a crowd of stagy twits, carrying on in a way utterly out of his experience.

"Time makes ancient good uncouth" says the hymn.

But if mid-20th-century movies are difficult to decipher or appreciate today, how much more is that true of first-century Scripture, or the Scripture of centuries before that? …

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