David Bruce

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with comments by David Bruce

I receive a lot of e-mail.  I am not able to post all the mail. I have included a good sampling, however.  If the subject is the same I might group the newer messages with similar older ones.  Also, my response may appear a few days after the original posting. I can't do HJ everyday.  You must include your "name" and e-mail address within your comment if you want it posted, otherwise it will not be posted (there is a privacy issue here and we respect that).  I do, however, encourage you to give your "name" and e-mail so others can respond to you personally.
E-mail and Comments:
This page was last updated on August 2, 2001

CASE BY CASE
Subject: R-rated movies Newsletter#26
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Amanda McCain

I, too, have been frustrated by other Christians stark disapproval of ALL R-rated movies. My husband and I are in youth ministry, and while there are several movies we would like to use (Gladiator and Patriot, to name just two) we are absolutely forbidden to do so.

I don't approve of nudity, or sexual activity (especially outside of a marriage), or violence in movies. However, there are some movies, particularly violent ones, that I believe kids need to see - either because of their historical background, or the message that is sent. For example, the hero in Gladiator was a truly heroic, good character. I was so refreshed to see a hero with no glaring personality defects. Maximus was someone you could truly look up to. In fact, some of our peers used this movie for a theme at a recent Bible camp, and it was a huge hit.

Our policy has been to take movies on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes a G movie is no good, and sometimes a PG-13 is terrific. At any rate, we always screen movies in advance - just to save our own tails!

Thanks for what you do. It's a huge help to have a Christian resource.
In Him, Amanda McCain

Response: Excellent methodology. It truly is a case by case situation. -David

SOPRANOS
Subject:
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Reuben

Dear David,
Like Millions of people across North America, I have to admit that I love the Sopranos. A couple days ago someone asked me if i thought that it was a moral thing to watch considering the excess in swearing, violence and nudity. My only comment that I could make was that it was a show that was intended for adults and not children, and that is why it was on a channel such as HBO, but i could not tell him that it was ok to watch. Especially after seeing such episodes as the brutal murder of a pregnant stripper and the rape of tony sopranos therapist. What is a good answer that i could give him to help keep my mind at rest. This is important to me because i really respect this man and i tend to agree with a lot of what he says and does, he is not afraid to show what he believes to be right and he usually has scripture that back everything that he says or does, I'm not saying that he is perfect but I am saying that I wish I could be more like him.
From, Reuben

Response: I can not solve the dilemma for you. I doubt that the show hinders you spiritually. And you should remember that guilt and conemnation will hinder your walk. I do not subscribe to HBO and I have never seen the Sopranos. I do not get HBO because I just do not have that much time. I have too many other things to do. In addition, HBO has to much soft porn for my taste. But, that's just me. -David

MORE OF LEFT BEHIND SERIES?
Subject: Left Behind Movie Question
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Vincent

hello. I dont know who else to ask this question! Will there be any more Left Behind movies? will they make Tribulation Force into a movie, and maybe Niolae, etc into movies? Or is that one going to be the last? if you know, please inform me ;)
-Vincent

Response: More are in the works. -David

PHENOMENAL
Subject: Moulin_Rouge
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: jessi deadpoet417@aol.com
To: _E-mail

david-
i absolutely loved your review. i thought this movie was the most phenomenal thing i've seen in a long time...visually, musically, and spiritually. of course, i didn't expect anything less from my man luhrmann...your connection between "the prostitute" and "the christ figure" was startling. i hadn't thought of that. also, i had noticed a bit or the 'color' sybolism you commented on, but you took it further. your insights completely blew me away and made me look at it an entirely different way...now i've got to go back and see it again!

but i do have to tell you that the hotel christian stayed in was called "chambres a la journee"- the literal french translation would be "rooms by the day". as in, rented by the day. i took this as an advertisement, not the hotel's name. (the other side simply says "hotel building").

i also have one single complaint about the film's symbolism about the nature of love. it seems to perpetuate the old hollywood myth that "love=sex" and vice versa. the characters only seem to be truly "in love" after they've had sex. that, coupled with a few isolated lines (such as christian's U2 paraphrase- "one night in the name of love") caught my attention. as well as this film does with revolutionizing hollywood cliches, that one still fell through the cracks.

but still, this was a fabulous piece of work overall (i've got to say that the "tango de roxanne" sequence was one of the best visual/emotional representations i've ever seen...it was literally breathtaking), and i think this was a terribly artistic look at a subculture remarkably similar to one going on in america today.

keep up the good work.
jessi deadpoet417@aol.com

Response: Thanks for the additonal information and the thoughts, I always appreciate it -David.

COOL!
Subject: Cool!! The_Emperors_New_Groove
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Spencer

This movie made me laugh out loud 50,00000 times over!

COMMENTS ON NEWSLETTER #27

A POINT OF VIEW SIMILAR TO MINE!
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Sharon

Hi there. I have been reading your newsletters and looking at your website for a long time now. I want to thank you so much for your views on things. It is really refreshing to get a point of view that is similar to mine. I often get really frustrated with Christianity, and how unrealistic it often is. I am sometimes ridiculed by my Christian friends because I hardly ever listen to Christian music, read Christian books all that often, or live your typical "Christian life" if there even is one. I hardly ever listen to Christian music because it all is too gooey and does not challenge me in the way non-Christian music does. If you really listen to what some of the artists out there are saying, it's pretty amazing. It is very encouraging to hear that you are challenging others to live outside of the "Leave it to Beaver" lifestyle. Please keep up the good work. Your newsletters always challenge me, and encourage me to be living in a way that is not stagnant, and is constantly questioning and seeking out the real truth.
Thank you so much.
Sharon Bentall. <>< :)

WEARING BLINDERS
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Milena

I applaud you on your insight given so generously. You don't try to make anything pretty, gift wrap any of your messages. It's very refreshing. I agree wholeheartedly on the Kinkade dilemma. While Kinkade paintings are beautiful, I always felt a little uncomfortable when people referred to him as if he had painted Christianity on his canvas'. Now I know why. I honestly don't think that God intended us to wear blinders over our eyes to block the world around us. That doesn't sound like witnessing to me. Neither does making Christian music and suing if it is played on a secular radio station or MTV. Or making a Christian video and only allowing it to be shown in church. Or writing sermons for the lost, and only giving them to the Christian community which you have known for most of your life. I look up to you as my teacher and greatly enjoy hearing from you every month.
Thank you. ~Milena

KINKADE THOUGHTS
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: GEA

To me the light in the windows represent Jesus since He is the light of the world. The cottages do not represent so much the idyllic happy family home that most people never lived in so much as they represent more to me a home our heart can have. I think that the absence of people in his paintings exists so each person can visualize their heart as Christ's home. Just my thoughts..

DAVID, YOU ROCK!
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Leslie Grimes

Dear David: Thank you for beginning a discussion about the Kinkade Dilemma, and for articulating a small-mindedness that frustrates so many people and me. I hope that you do not receive as many angry emails as you mentioned that you might - I hope and pray that something of the truth of our short-sightedness as Christians is revealed to us all, and that a transformation begins to take place within the body of Christ.

Do you know of St. Augustine's description of the sacred and the secular? He points out that creation belongs to God, and that our human and sinful use of objects, actions, time, thoughts, etc. makes them either holy to God or not. In a similar way, I appreciate Mr. Kinkade's success, and his faithfulness to making art that is beautiful by his standards. I appreciate that he is so generous with his earnings, and appears to be committed to righteousness before God. Yet, I fear that as you said, his art has been embraced by the Christian sub-culture in a way that reveals our true motives and true selves to be small and unwilling to welcome anything new or challenging. That true self is ugly, and I would say that it shows how we are afraid of following Christ. This is sin, and it blinds us to a life of more richness than we could imagine for ourselves. I would propose that in embracing Mr. Kinkade's art as the only "good art" in the world today that we are not just dismissing any other art, but also rejecting Christ. In this way, I see Thomas Kinkade's art being used in way that is more secular than sacred - if you will allow me to over-simplify the issue!

I do not offer that Jesus is exclusively modern art, but I do fear that rejecting the struggles and the suffering of this world is in its own way dishonesty to truth, God's truth. David presents that, based on the responses to Mr. Kinkade's art, Christians actually want and prefer a life of retreat, of ease and of perfect family. I do agree that this is a lot of what is happening as Christians delight in Mr. Kinkade's paintings. I also say that if these are the lenses that we are using to view the world, then as a committed follower of Jesus Christ, I feel embarrassed and pitiful for the church. What a small way to live! Christ came to release us from the trappings of our sin and to let us know that He has prepared a place for us in heaven. I truly believe this, and know that this may be Mr. Kinkade's purpose in painting: to remind us of Heaven. But these paintings do reveal our tendency to hide, rather than to "fight the good fight" (I Timothy 6:12).

Mr. Kinkade's work is good for reminding us of Heaven. While he is reminding us, however, we have embraced it as a NOW image, and forgotten the world around us for which Christ died. I fear that these paintings, and how they have been embraced by the Christian sub-culture (the fact that a Christian sub-culture exists is grounds for a whole other discussion) reveals a powerful truth about the shortsightedness of the American Church today. While I believe that Christ sees this shortsightedness, yet also loves us, I also believe we can offer Him more. We can offer Him an attitude of gratefulness and of service that extends a cup of cold water to the needy, to the unbeautiful.

I cannot say that I am absolutely right and that lovers of Mr. Kinkade's art are wrong - I know there is much good in those paintings, and in the desires of the painter to honor God through making them. But it is lamentable that all modern artists are grandly dismissed as bad artists and that many Christians define "good art" as that which depicts life in Christ as a blind and dishonest utopia (Mr. Kinkade's paintings). When we hide from the world after being given the full power of God to fight sin, we are miserably failing God. Sometimes I am afraid that I value retreat from the world more than life in Christ. Is that really what we want? The world will only resent us for pulling away from pain and from reality. We cripple our testimony by not reflecting the real pain of the world Christ asks us to love on His behalf. I do not think that generating this kind of hate from the world is what Christ meant when He said in the beatitudes:

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5: 10-12).

I fear that Mr. Kinkade's paintings show how we are skipping the righteousness and demanding God to "skip to the end", as Prince Humperdink demanded of the Impressive Clergyman in The Princess Bride. Do we desire dessert, but not the meal? Are we rejecting Christ in this way?

I think it's possible to see Thomas Kinkade's paintings as beautiful. But I think it is also true that they are problematic, because they have revealed the sin of Christians, and not just the Christians who adore Kinkade's paintings. I know we could learn from this truth being revealed, but will we change our hearts and lives to match?
Leslie Grimes
Arlington, VA

WHAT DILEMMA?
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Linda Johnson

I'm not necessarily a Kinkade fan, nor did I especially care for the works of Norman Rockwell. But there are many ways of being and many forms of expression. Why beat up on Kinkade in particular? Personally, I don't care for "gaggy" Christian art forms, from music to painting to movies - and as for TV - well, "Touched by an Angel"? Let's not even go there. (Or if we must, let me first dose myself with a tablespoon or two of Emetrol).

But really ... what harm is any of this stuff? I don't have to watch "Touched by an Angel" (thank God), and I don't have to buy Kinkade posters. Thank God we live in a country where there's something for everyone.

MARS HILL COMMENTARY
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Linda Johnson

I heard a commentary on "Mars Hill Audio" (which features discussions of important theological, philosophical, sociological, and aesthetic questions from a Christian perspective) about Thomas Kinkade. The point that stuck with me most strongly is that the brilliant light casts no shadow, so it seems to represent grace with no price; a world without sin. And yes, a decidedly isolationist perspective.
Linda Johnson

WORSHIP MUSIC AND KINKADE PICTURES
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Doug

The Kinkade dilemma reminds me of a similar issue. I had a radio program for awhile called "Banquet of Praise" that "celebrated the diversity of music written for and performed in the church." I would invite community groups to perform on this live program, whether or not they were "Christian". It quickly became apparent that, to most people, music for the church had to fit one style - usually slow and based upon hymns. It was hard to get groups to understand the wide diversity of music appropriate for worship and to get them to play that wide diversity. Many people still have an expectation for worship music to sound like those Kinkade pictures - sweet, sentimental, and completely out of touch with the world around them.

I am a classical musician - I am not involved in the contemporary Christian or rock scenes - but I have discovered people love diversity of music in worship and I include many styles in worship - except that I almost never use contemporary Christian music because it tends to be superficial like the Kinkade pictures. There are thinking groups and thinking artists out there, but they are usually "secular" artists, not those who have presented themselves as "Christian".

I had a friend in North Carolina who always wanted me to play hymns slowly and gently and fussed at me for playing with energy. I have discovered that many Christians want a sound that is passive and wimpy - and boring!

Theologically, my church talks about the controversy going on between God and Satan over control of this earth. When you think that there are spiritual battles going on in the spirit world around us, that doesn't suggest passive music, but suggests music full of energy, courage, conflict, challenge, etc.

The above all applies to movies as well.

A POINT IN FACT
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Kit

Dear David, thanks for your usual candid thoughts. This side of the Atlantic there are some very good christian artists who are not at all like your Kinkade (whose work I have never seen but can easily imagine)Chief amongst these is Sieger Koder. I think he is Catholic rather than Evangelical but it is realistic, moving and can be very frightening.www.cpo-online.org has some of his work.
Blessings, Kit

WHIPLASH FROM NODDING
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Gord

Right on. I was nodding my head in agreement with your comments so much that I think I've given myself whiplash. It hit home on so many points that my mind was running off in all sorts of directions.

I have never felt at home as a christian, in the "christian" sub-culture of North America. It's plastic-saccharine world is so unappealing, that it sometimes truly angers me and I am loathe to be lumped into that milieu. I angers me that something so deep and so profound has been reduced (debased) into something so trite and shallow. I try to listen and watch things that are well done and/or thoughtful and almost without fail these will not be "christian".

As to the past that never was: I am always amazed when people talk about how these must be the end times, because of how bad things have gotten. I have always wondered what has changed? What is new under the sun? When exactly was the golden age? Seems to me, that historically people have always been people. That things were never really much different, barring some technological changes, that life has always included the beautiful and the ugly. One has to be incredibly selective and blind not see that any time there was more than enough ugliness and brutality to eliminate the possibility of a golden era.

Well I've rambled on enough. Thanks for the thought provoking newsletter. It is good to know that one is not alone in thinking something is terribly amiss in the "christian" world.
Gord

COONTZ'S ATTEMPT AT REVISION
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Dave Haynes Sioux City, IA

Stephanie Coontz's book points out many statistics that prove that American culture was not the way someone? always used to think it was. While humans have always been and will always be real, real sexual, one thing about "the good old days" that cannot be argued away is that human life had greater value and more people believed in personal responsibility. While many people were engaging in pre-marital sex way back in the day, they weren't murdering the evidence at a rate of 1.25 million per year. And alot of those teenaged mothers were married before the birth of that child as couples attempted to do what was thought to be right (it was!) in the face of their sin. Times were different and so were our values and standards and Stephanie Coontz's agenda cannot change the truth. Does she lie in her book? No! Does she miss the point completely? Yes! Heather may have two mommies now but no amount of revision can make Heather better off!
Best Regards, Dave Haynes Sioux City, IA

PRECIOUS MAN BUT NOT AN ARTIST
Subject: Newsletter 27
kinkade/disengagement
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: randy

Good got you..cheers..Kinkade isn't an artist even in the broadest sense of the term and good for you for telling it like it is. I too agree that he is a precious man,devoted father, etc..but art? No way. disengagement...another pat on the back for you. You are just telling it like it is. Thanks Randy

WOW!
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: "Peg Peters"

Your piece on the Kincade art was amazing! I am an evangelical pastor in Vancouver Canada trying to get my people out into the real world through movies and film. Your commentary hit the issue right on the head. Thank you so much for articulating a real Christian vision for the 21st Century. I love it!

PS Moulin Rouge was one of the most creative movies I have seen! thanks so much for encouraging me in my lonely struggle amidst a Kincade-type church
Pastor Peg Peters

REVISIONIST HISTORY OF THE POP CULTURE WORSHIPPERS
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: David Haynes Sioux City, IA

David, While I am unable to dispute some of the statistics you quoted from various era's of our nations history, I am struck by a burning question in response to your assesments: What is your ultimate point? The point of 1950's television was not that everyone lived like the Cleavers or the Nelsons. It was that the vast majority of us agreed that The Nelsons and the Cleavers lived the way we should all aspire to live. There values should be our values. That notion came under assault but hung in there in the sixties. Were there drunk absentee fathers in the 50's? Of course! Were there single mom's beating there brains out to make a living in the 50's? Absolutely! My grandma was one of them. Were there teenage mothers (lots of teenagers got married back in the day!) and out of wedlock births? You bet! But as a culture we pretty much all agreed that those life choices SUCKED!!!! Now in our modern and enlightened age we have convinced ourselves that any life choice or cultural reality is as good and desireable as the next. BULL-loney!! Besides technology, all American culture has gottten better at is LYING TO ITSELF - patting itself on the head - affirming itself with all the intellectual gravitas of a Stuart Smalley."I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggone it, our culture is great!"

Your comments on the art of Thomas Kinkade are insightful and for the most part right on. However, to buy into the Leftist cultural elite's argument that America was never good is choose to overlook the truth. The goodness of America resides in what our standards are or have been at any given time in our history. There has always been sin and always will be. AMerica used to have much more lofty standards and when we did, we were great! Now we suck! Everything is okay. Nothing is evil accept the attempt to maintain standards of morality; you know making absolute statements like "Fornication is wrong" or "Abortion is murder" because that might make someone feel bad and that in the end is the worst sin in America today.
David Haynes Sioux City, IA

THANK YOU FOR YOUR WORDS!
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Douglas

David - Thank you for your well thought out and researched words about "hiding from culture." All too often Christians take on the "not of the world" mentality and it seems contrary to the Gospel. Christians hide behind the safe confines of Christian music, Christian films, and Christian TV. I am always far more touched by non-Christian music that address faith questions. I am challenged far more by non-Christian films that probe Christian issues. If Christ were physically present today where would he most likely visit first... a Christian Family Center filled with the Cleavers or a Harley Bar filled with the rebels of society?

WARM AND COZY GAG REFLEX
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Mike_Bernard

David i am sure you will probably get a lot of mail from Cristians screaming bloody murder and asking for your head on a platter for the things you wrote about Thomas Kindade. let me be the first one to say that i agree with you 150%. you hit the nail right on the head with your comments about his art and movies in general. i echo your thoughts completely regarding the way Christians view this world. why does everything created in the name of Christianity have to be watered down? why is all the art and movies produced filled with quaint pleasent images that make us feel warm and cozy all over (actually it envokes a gag reflex in me)? that stuff isnt real. I believe that it actually does a disservice to spreading the gospel. non-Christians see that and run from the church. they dont want to be associated with medoicre things or in some cases even complete and utter crap. we as Chistians need to be a little more like the non-Christians of the world if we have any chance of witnessing to them. the church in America suffers from too much close-mindedness, too much reliance on tradition and the way things have always been, and not enough of a passion to really reach the unsaved. Bob Dylan said it best when he pened the lines "people are crazy and times have changed". it is just as true today as it was in the 60's when he first wrote it. until more people allow their minds expand and take off their worldly blinders the church will loose more and more potential believers each and every day. maybe the church should heed Lawrence Fishburns advice in The Matrix and "Take the red pill and see how deep the rabit hole goes" not continue to live in a fairy tale state. keep up the good work. i love your website and your insight on American culture, especially concerning religion, is dead on. you have at least one person behind you!!!!
Mike Bernard

MY DIMES WORTH
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Chrissy

Dear David- I would like to commend on what you said about Christians in today's world. As you know I am a Catholic-and a Christian. I feel there is too much violence on television and not even quality family programming. I think that if a television show or a movie shows a lot of blood, then it will be a bigger hit whereas a television show or movie shows something that is respectful to today's society it doesn't get great reviews. I recently saw America's Sweethearts and I must say from a critical point of view the movie stunk. It wasn't a comedy though it was supposed to be and it talks about two people who wanted to get married but were seeing other people in the process. Maybe I went off the subject a bit-but I feel like you said that there is no such thing as a good movie or television program. I used to watch the program "Higher Ground" on the Fox Family Channel. It has since gone off the air because it talked about real life issues within the family. It had no violence no blood no sex. It just discussed family life. Well that is my dimes worth of your recent newsletter. Take care and God Bless.
Best Wishes- Chrissy

BUNCH OF BULL
Subject: Newsletter 27
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001
From: frankie

Bunch of Bull. Your are readfing things into the art that isn't there. Leave the man alone, must everything good, and theres not a lot of it , be attacked today?

You are on Comments page 98
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