Dramatic Fever—5.

From the “Calvin College Chimes” of October 28 we quote the following:

“The Chimes hereby humbly but unequivocally requests the authorities of Calvin College to reconsider Calvin’s rule against the movies. That such a rule should never have been made in the first place, that if is now already too long since it should have been revised, and that it is not consistent Calvinism, is obvious. Furthermore, the amount of good it has accomplished is negligible, and is more than nullified by the stultifying position in which it has placed all Calvinists.

“We insist that the motion picture—that drama—is not evil, that instead it is a gift of God which He intended that we use to His glory. Calvin teaches drama, e.g., Shakespeare, in its classrooms; it has a Thespians Club, which turns out dramatic productions, and it has just recently begun to recognize the tremendous value of movies for educational purposes.

“But we insist that at least 95 percent of Hollywood productions are not worthwhile seeing; (Examples of the very few that are worthwhile are David Copperfield, Abraham Lincoln, Over the Hill, I Remember Mama, The Yearling, and Lawrence Oliver’s Shakespearean productions.) that they are saturated with crime and sex, that they present the extremes as though they are the norm, that they reek with emotion and sentimentality, and as such give an entirely distorted picture of life. . . .

“Knowing the evil that is being disseminated thru the motion picture today, and realizing the good that it could accomplish, we Calvinists—Calvinist, mind you—turn away our heads, condemn the motion picture per se, thus making it impossible for us to take constructive, vigorous action to improve their quality.

How ridiculous! We may as well make a rule against voting on November 2 because politics is corrupt and politicians lead offensive lives!

“What we Calvinists must do is give leadership to the scattered fight now being waged for an improvement in the quality of motion pictures. The Catholics have done some good, and much sound criticism has come from movie reviewers, etc. But we need a force with deep, moral integrity that can give impetus and power to this currently weak drive against Hollywood’s dramatic drivel. That force obviously, is Calvinism. What we need is to put that force into action, but denouncing the motion picture—regardless of how it is used, not only enervates but virtually nullifies any program for sound, constructive action.

“To repeat, Chimes wishes the authorities to reconsider the decision against worldly amusements; to give a clear, intelligent understanding of what constitutes “worldliness”; and to eliminate the clause against theatre attendance. It hopes that the Board of Trustees will do so at its next meeting next February, and if they feel that the final decision does not rest with them, to take the problem to Synod next June and let them do what must be done.”

In how far this editorial expression in “Chimes” is the individual expression of the author and in how far it represents the thought and sentiments of the student-body in general, I do not know. And again in how far the expression of “Chimes” is under the control and guidance of the faculty of Calvin College, I do not know. That this can hardly be the voice of a lone individual however becomes plain when we read the rest of “Chimes” as well as by the confident, I would almost say belligerent tone of the entire article.

When we read this article we thought immediately: “A fruit of ‘Common Grace’?” and then: “But isn’t this an inevitable fruit and the logical consequence of the “Decisions on Worldly Amusements”? Of this we quote the following: “The question may be asked whether the theater as such is a sinful institution. The answer depends on whether acting, particularly professional acting, is necessarily sinful. Is acting as such sin? Is it always sin to give or witness a dramatic performance? Your Committee feels quite safe in declaring that no ground for an affirmative answer can be found in the Bible. . . .” (Page 27). And again: “But what shall we say about the so-called good plays? It cannot be denied that a few plays, taken by themselves, apart from the evil cause which they are made to serve, the actors who present them, and the environment where they are shown, are unobjectionable; and that some Christian people see no wrong in viewing them. Is this morally defensible? Your Committee is of the opinion that he who takes this stand toward the theatre is, in spite of the fact that he may take it conscientiously, on dangerous ground. . . . We believe that the safest course to pursue is the way of total abstinence.” (Notice that here is no principal condemnation of acting.)

And what shall we say? Certainly a Calvinism that seeks for a closer and closer contact with the world, and that exactly in the sphere of amusements is a strange substitute for that which is historically Calvinism. And once again the general principle may well be repeated; that anything which has the tendency to break down the walls of separation and obliterate the lines of demarcation between the Church and the world is to be condemned. We must hate even the “garments spotted by the flesh”.

One more thought arises: Calvin is the primary training ground of our Christian School teachers. There is also a close though unofficial relation between the National Union of Christian Schools and Calvin College. If this tendency continues and if it is indicative of a trend what is the future of our Schools?

How Far Are We From Persecution?

Repeatedly it has been and is being stated that the time may soon be here in which persecution for Christ’s sake may once again assume a more violent form. And in view of the rapidly increasing and intensified signs the church may well take heed.

But from a slightly different point of view this question, “How far are we from persecution?” may be answered, “Only some hundreds of miles are we from persecution.”

And we quote from the November issue of Moody Monthly.

“The fires of persecution still burn in Mexico. . . .

“We have just read in one of our esteemed colleagues (El Heraldo Mexicano) some documents in which brethren from a town of the state of Veracruz give notice to the proper authorities. . . .how they were attacked with firearms by fanatical Romanists while celebrating a religious service, three of the congregation being killed and various wounded.

“Also in El Tiempo, one of the best read magazines of the republic, we find the news of the attack on the Christmas of Rio Verde, S.L.P., at a time when they were meeting in a special service of worship and praise to God. To the ringing of the bells and the shouts of the priest from the pulpit, a mob composed of men and women rushed upon the church, destroying a part of it and wounding several brethren, among them a North American, Brother Halliday.

“From all parts of the country, in these last seven or eight years. . . . there are constantly reaching the capitol of the republic the saddest, most bitter and sorrowful reports of evangelical Christians assassinated with impunity, of churches attacked with fire or stones, of persecutions of groups of believers to force them to emigrate from the smaller towns.”

From the Banner of October 29 we quote the following:

“Who Are Your Friends?”

“One of the clearest marks of genuine spirituality is a strong desire for fellowship with Christian friends, preferably those of our own faith. . . .

“One of the most perilous forms of worldliness is worldly friendship. It is not less destructive than following after worldly entertainment, for it is sure to lead to dangerous compromises and to base denials of the Lord who bought us with his precious blood . . . .

“James knew the peril of close social connections on the part of believers with those who do not love the truth. Therefore he says, bluntly and uncompromisingly: “Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” Spiritual adultery! Enmity with God! Nothing less than that!

“Worldly friendship is usually symptomatic of spiritual disease. When in days of prosperity Christians begin to climb the social ladder, the “pride of life” may fasten its tentacles on their souls. Sometimes members of the church begin to seek their associated among the “nice” people of the world because they have become too important in their own eyes to associate with the less “cultured” fellow-members. But as they sacrifice the indispensable benefits of spiritual fellowship with Christian friends, and make increasingly serious compromises with their faith for the sake of pleasing worldly companions, they lose interest in the church, and their religious life  deteriorates; their faith declines, their worship becomes irregular, their hearts turn cold. . . .”