Do stay for tea and coffee: ‘Each Monday he asked me how church was. I was no longer a dot. We were a line!’
In praise of Christians in the media, with Paul Kerensa
I recently attended an advance film screening. I know, fancy – I thought there had been some mistake. I rarely get invited to anything more impressive than a Next mid-season sale, but then Christian films don’t normally knock Indiana Jones and Mission: Impossible off the US box office top spots.
Sound of Freedom (pictured) has recently become one of the most successful independent films ever made, taking over $180m. The tale of one man’s mission to rescue trafficked children is a brutal watch but, because of its cast, crew, financers, some brief religious dialogue and its core moral purpose, it’s been labelled as ‘Christian’.
At our post-screening Q&A, the director Alejandro Monteverde was eager to warn against such labels, suggesting that it’s a film for all. He asked that we judge the film alone, ignoring the hubbub around comments by some cast members (QAnon conspiracy theory talk has been unhelpful). Divisive talk does just that and, as Matthew’s Gospel says, ‘A house divided cannot stand.’
At the screening, Californian Catholics mixed with Home Counties Anglicans. Evangelical journalists met non-conformist composers.
I was representing the organisation Christians in Media, whose members – like the screening’s guests – are not one-size-fits-all. The media faithful include TV producers, disc jockeys, media marketers and Instagrammers, TV presenters and tabloid lawyers. We don’t all look, sound or think alike, but we are united in our faith.
I once worked on a BBC sitcom where three writers, four actors and a producer were all Christians. On set one day, the star – whose name may or may not have rhymed with ‘Veranda’ – introduced me to a guest actor: ‘Paul meet Cyril, Cyril meet Paul. Christian, Christian. Now you can talk.’ (*Name changed for anonymity/memory reasons.)
On another show – a car programme that may or may not have rhymed with ‘Pop Beer’ – I felt like the only Christian in the office until I met one of the show’s directors, an enthusiastic churchgoer with an infectious faith. Each Monday he’d bound into the office asking me how church was. I was no longer a dot. We were a line! Add one more Christian and we’d become a triangle, the strongest of shapes. Because wherever two or three are gathered…
My latest writing job is for a global podcast company, based nearby and run by Christians. They are local, faithful, ambitious and would value our prayers. Old media or new, we’re still God’s people trying to amplify the right stories.
So do pray for us – whether news journalists pondering how and what to report, or comedy writers pondering how and what to satirise, or filmmakers shining a light on visceral issues. We need to feel less like dots, and more like a global network of game-changers and kingdom-makers.
If Sound of Freedom can be the indie that beats Indy at the box office, then clearly Christian media can make a big difference.
Sunday 29th October is Day of Prayer for the Media. Do send one up for us that day, and if you know a Christian in the media, send them our way.
I pray we can turn the world into God’s kingdom come by raising the bar and influencing the global conversation. What’s after lights and camera? Action.
Paul Kerensa is a comedian and writer. Christiansinmedia.co.uk has resources for Day of Prayer for the Media
This is from an article published in the October 2023 edition of Reform