Andrew Klavan answers a question in the mailbag about whether Christians should engage with stories and art, like “Game of Thrones,” that heavily feature sinful actions on Wednesday’s episode of “The Andrew Klavan Show.” Transcript and video below.
From Sara: “Hi Andrew Klavan with no E’s, longtime listener. I’m struggling to raise my children to be Christians in a very fallen world. And your willingness to embrace expressions of the most vile sin while creating Christian movies with pornography struck me dumb.” Little bit of kidding around there Sara but still I did say that. “I’m not saying that Christian movies are terrific in their acting, direction, and production.” Which by the way is what makes movies terrific. Plus, the writing. “But how do you square your perspective with Philippians 4-8. Colossians—”. The number of the Bible verses I’ll get to those in a minute. “You have often said that anger is the devil’s cocaine. I have always thought that guilty laughter is the devil’s cocaine. If the devil can get you to laugh at sin, he’s got you comfortable with it and you’re moved incrementally away from God and towards sin.”
So basically, she’s saying, “I can’t watch many shows or movies without a deep sense of disturbance; I have to wonder the wisdom in allowing myself to grow accustomed to depravity. How can you immerse yourself in filth and stay clean in Christ? Love, soon to be Dr. Sarah.”
Well first of all this Philippians quote, I won’t quote all the verses, the Philippians quote people are always throwing this at me when they see that my characters curse, when they see that I watch “Game of Thrones,” when they see that I have sex scenes in my books. They always throw Philippians at me, and it is “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.”
So what would a work of art be like that only had people doing noble, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy things? It would not be a work of art. It would be a work of trash and dishonesty. Philippians begins with whatever is true. I think all those things nobility, loveliness, admirableness in the arts are about representing the truth. That is what the arts do. They tell the truth. And if you can’t tell the truth, if you don’t want to hear the truth, if you think that somehow your life is better by reading you know namby-pamby Christian stuff — where everybody does the right thing and all the bad people are punished and all the good people win praise — if that’s what you want, don’t go to the arts, go to that. I mean that’s, that’s what you do. But that’s not what I do. I’m an artist.
The fact that you have children doesn’t enter into this because we can’t live in a world where everything is geared toward children, where every movie is made so that only children can watch it. I’ve written books for children. They are squeaky clean, they have no bad words in them, they have no sex in them. Those are books for younger people. When I write for adults, I write about adult things, I write about the world as it is because I believe you can only find God in the world as it is, you can’t find God in namby-pamby silliness.
And as for laughing, I give a whole speech about this at Hillsdale. As for laughing at sin it really depends why you’re laughing. If you’re laughing because you don’t understand the pain that sin causes or the twistedness that it causes or the physical destruction that it causes. Well yeah, then you’re being depraved. But if you’re laughing as I laugh at sin and I do laugh at sin there’s no question about it I find some sin very funny. If you are laughing at corruption and sin because it’s absurd, it’s because you have an understanding of human nature in keeping with original sin. You understand that humans are made to be better than they are. And that’s funny. It’s funny when a guy in a tuxedo falls in a mud puddle. It’s funny when a society woman is hit in the face with a pie. It is funny when a group of people who were made to walk with God in the Garden of Paradise instead spend their time cheating and lying and hurting each other. There’s something absurd and funny about that. Obviously, when people start to suffer physical destruction it stops being funny, but until then when you’re dealing with things like the parents who cheated their kids’ ways into school, there is something absurd and funny about it. If you understand that they were supposed to be something so much better than they are.
So again the arts do a thing just like a car does a thing right. A car takes you someplace, the arts take you someplace. You cannot take people to those places without telling the truth. Not all truth has to be in every art. Some good art like “Game of Thrones” can also be exploitive. In the opening episode of this new season, there was a nude scene in it that had absolutely no point and purpose, it was just to put naked ladies on screen. I enjoyed it very much, but it was absolutely nothing to do with advancing the story. But some scenes that show horrible horrible things can, in fact, part of getting at the truth. I always referenced “The Sopranos,” one of my favorite TV shows, which was filled with depravity and yet was uplifting because it showed the moral world. That’s the way the arts work. If you don’t like the arts don’t use them, but if you do like them be prepared for uncomfortable truths.