126. How Can We Respond With Grace and Truth to Christian Cringe? | with Kevin McCreary
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Maybe you’ve heard about that one church that just did a “Christian” version of the musical “Hamilton,” and of course got criticized by the creators and savaged by secular media. Or maybe last Easter you heard about the other church that did a “Christian” version of “Avengers,” just as they’ve adapted (or parodied?) other fantasy franchises. Christian cringe. Most of us have grown up seeing the controversial “art” our brothers and sisters keep making for the sake of evangelism or entertainment. How can we be truthful about these controversial cringe attempts, while also being gracious in Christ and faithful to his beloved saints? Today we’re joined by a surprise guest who has seen a lot of Christian cringe.
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Introducing Kevin McCreary of Say Goodnight Kevin
Kevin McCreary is a podcaster and video editor, host of the popular YouTube channel Say Goodnight Kevin. In said channel, Kevin roasts (sometimes even gently) Christian cringe movies of all sorts. Somehow this has helped him make connections with evangelical filmmakers and/or actors such as Alex Kendrick, Dallas Jenkins, and Pureflix’s David A. R. White. (But it seems Kevin Sorbo and Rich Christiano won’t come onto the show.) Kevin lives in Tennessee with his wife, currently editing videos for companies such as The Daily Wire.
- Yes, Christian cringe can be subjective because people are very different.
- If you like a thing, even one we call “cringe,” don’t catch our embarrassment!
- At the same time, there are things that many Christians can’t help cringing at.
- This calls for discernment. We must “love the cringe-maker, hate the cringe.”
- Discernment goes double when some critics claim that our faith is “cringe.”
- No matter how cringey your spiritual family can be, we are called to grace.
- The point of identifying cringe is not to hate-watch this forever, but to grow.
- We do assume we can rightly expect art to fulfill objective excellence standards.
1. Okay, let’s have it all out: some Christian art is just plain cringe.
- One church was recently blamed for a “Hamilton” ripoff that added religion.
- See Variety: Lin-Manuel Miranda Calls Out ‘Illegal, Unauthorized’ Production of ‘Hamilton’ by Texas Church, Rebecca Rubin, Aug. 11, 2022.
- Last spring, critics lambasted a Canadian church for many other ripoffs.
- See Relevant Magazine, Watch This Church Crucify a Chumbawamba-Singing Iron Man For Easter, Tyler Huckabee, April 26, 2022:
“We use whatever is most popular in pop culture in a particular year. We always give it our own name and our own spin…The simple answer is people, for the most part, today are not beating a path to their churches,” Hughes says. “They see them as archaic and irrelevant and outdated.”
- Yes, we can also include infamous Christian movies, such as the God’s Not Dead franchise.
- See Kevin’s remixed review of God’s Not Dead, or his reviews of Princess Cut, War Room, and (yes) The Trump Prophecy.
2. But some cringe critics miss the point of particular creative works.
- Some may call “cringe,” say, Thomas Kinkade paintings, or romance/Amish novels.
- But not all these are legit examples of cringe. They do what they mean to do.
- See Roger Ebert’s 2022 review of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers:
“The Two Towers” is one of the most spectacular swashbucklers ever made, and, given current audience tastes in violence, may well be more popular than the first installment, “The Fellowship of the Ring.” It is not faithful to the spirit of Tolkien and misplaces much of the charm and whimsy of the books, but it stands on its own as a visionary thriller. I complained in my review of the first film that the hobbits had been short-changed, but with this second film I must accept that as a given, and go on from there.
- Ebert wisely sought to divide his feelings from his review, and so should we.
- That means we may dislike kitsch or preachy stories but they have their place.
- Maybe this isn’t “realistic,” but in the real world, real people still like kitsch!
- It would be wrong to drift into considering evangelism/doctrine as “cringe.”
- Also, it’s more than a little dishonest to ignore plenty of secular cringe.
- For example, many cringed at a recent video clip from Disney’s She-Hulk.
- Popular culture cringe is not a uniquely Christian issue. It’s a human issue.
3. Even for truly cringe Christian stuff, we can learn to live with it.
- Like with mere kitsch, in the real world, real people like Christian cringe.
- It’s probably okay to laugh and be snarky about cringe, yet without sin.
- The point is not to mock people, but to be honest about human failings.
- That’s why we might enjoy, say, YouTube reviews of cringe Christian movies.
- That’s also why negative reviews (not at Lorehaven) may offer a little snark.
- Even then, the Holy Spirit can work through Christian cringe to save.
Meanwhile at Lorehaven
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- Read guest article “Christian-Made Fantasy Can Shine Light in the Grimdark.”
- Read our newest article, “Three Fantastical Christian Stories To Help Your Kids Head Back to School.”
- Watch for Marian Jacobs’s coming article about her award-winning Narnian cosplay.
- Join the Lorehaven Guild for The Hobbit book quest, starting in September!
Next on Fantastical Truth
We’re planning more interviews with fantastical Christian authors, leading into a certain Saga we’re planned in September.
Explore the best Christian-made fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond, and apply these stories' meanings in the real world Jesus calls us to serve.
What say you?