CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT
...From Bad Movies
Not 30 minutes ago I walked out of a theater. I was there only because I wanted to write about the film I saw, and now I just don't know what to say. I can't endorse the theology, the quality of the movie, or the history, but I desperately want people to stop getting so angry about Christmas. So, at the risk of contradicting my appreciation of Christmas, here is as honest a review as I can come up with.
Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas is an hour and 20 minutes of mediocre-to-poor production that is exceptionally clean and family friendly. Cameron literally plays himself, and I recognized a number of faces from previous Christian-themed films he has starred in such as Fireproof. It is an incredibly slow-moving film that is mainly filled with Cameron narrating visuals of Bible stories and more recent historic events. Bookended by Cameron's opening monologue and his onscreen brother-in-law finally breaking out in the holiday spirit, the plot is minimal and the character development completely forced.
There were a few elements to appreciate though. If you are a fan of Kirk Cameron from back in his Growing Pains days, you might be interested in seeing him do the caterpillar — I'll admit I was rather impressed. The music is backed by some big names, like Steven Curtis Chapman, Tenth Avenue North, and Building 429, along with the use of Family Force 5's version of "Angels We Have Heard on High." Although a little overacted, Darren Doane did a pretty good job playing Cameron's on-screen brother-in-law, a more believable character than Cameron's, which is impressive since Doane was essentially playing a Christmas conspiracy theorist.
I can't recommend anyone spending the 80 minutes or the $8-10 per ticket for this movie. (Did I mention I spent the drive home mentally cutting the film into a somewhat okay 8-minute YouTube video?) However, keep reading, there's a completely free and legal way to see the whole movie without the theater!
Symbols and History
Theologically and historically, there are a number of concerns with Saving Christmas. Cameron's main point in the movie is that today's primary Christmas rituals — nativities, trees, gifts, and Santa Claus — communicate Christian beliefs and stories. He suggests that the Christmas tree can be connected with the Cross, the carvings of trees and flowers inside Solomon's Temple, and the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. He talks about nativities as foreshadowing Christ's death. I will grant that he told a fairly historically accurate account of the real St. Nicolas, but he set it in the wrong period and made him into a sort of righteous outlaw character.
Now, I hesitate to disagree with Cameron publically on Christian symbolism in Christmas. I too encounter an incredible amount of vitriol spewed by Christians against Christians who celebrate Christmas, and I wish they would stop. However, Cameron presents these reinterpretations of Christmas symbols as originally intended by the early-to-medieval church. Ultimately, that just isn't true. The reality is that as Christianity spread, those who converted retained many of their holidays, but worshiped the triune God instead of spirits or idols. The wider church, and later the Roman Catholic Church, accepted this out of hand, and we have morphed those celebrations into our own, though still retaining many symbols, over the past 2,000 years.
Cameron's reinterpretations are admittedly somewhat fascinating, and I will be keeping them in mind from time to time, but they are not, nor were they ever, what our cherished Christmas symbols were intended to be.
Before heading to the theater, a friend mentioned seeing Cameron's Liberty University Convocation speech on YouTube and essentially agreeing with Cameron's points. I proceeded to watch it later, and it communicates Cameron's beliefs about Christmas far better than the film. He also seems less focused on claiming his reinterpretations as historically accurate, and more on making the point that we are able to adopt symbols and worship Christ through them if we desire.
While I personally still disagree with a couple of the points Cameron makes in the Convocation speech, overall it is quite a bit better, takes half the time to watch, and is free on YouTube! So, if you're curious or want to help an anti-Christmas friend "see the lights," I recommend skipping the theater and using your computer.
Tags: Celebrating-Holidays | History-Apologetics | Reviews-Critiques
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