Monday, August 20, 2012

Kevin Miller, "Talking to Christians about Hell"

Miller:

Anyone who thinks filmmaking is glamorous should try making a documentary sometime. Better yet, try promoting one.

For a high profile film like The Hobbit, promotion means having Peter Jackson premiere an exclusive clip to hundreds of adoring fans at Comic-Con and then flying back home to New Zealand in his private jet. For a low budget documentary like Hellbound?, it looks more like some poor schmuck (usually me) standing outside a big, black tent at a dusty, blazing hot Christian music festival handing out swag and asking—begging—people to come inside and watch our trailer.

I shouldn’t complain. As we’ve travelled to various festivals across the country, I have met literally thousands of potential viewers—something I doubt Peter Jackson ever gets to do. It’s been a fascinating, educational journey, and I’ve made plenty of new friends. But at times it’s also been frustrating. You’d think talking to Christians about hell would be a slam-dunk. But my experience has shown me it’s anything but.

Here’s a typical exchange that occurs when an unwary soul passes by our booth:

Me: “Hi there. Have you seen the trailer for our new movie?”

Unwary soul: “No, what’s it about?”

Me: “It’s a feature-length documentary that looks at the debate Christians are having about hell.”

Unwary soul (a little warier now): “Debate? What debate?”

Inside I want to scream: Haven’t you heard of Rob Bell? Don’t you know he put hell on the cover of TIME magazine last year? Have you not read Love Wins, one of the several books or some of the thousands of blog posts and news articles written about it?

Nope.

Instead of screaming, I convey the same information in calm, measured tones, hoping for that glint of recognition in their eyes. But it rarely comes. Instead I get something like, “Well, I don’t know what there is to debate. The Bible is clear. There’s a hell, and you don’t want to end up there.”

At this point I typically clench my teeth like Tom Cruise doing a close-up. Then I say something like, “If the Bible is so clear, why do so many Christians disagree on how we should interpret it?”

Confused look, often followed by, “I don’t know. I just go with the plain reading of the text.”
For the rest, enjoy it HERE.

--Nick

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