Is the acting profession compatible with Godliness?

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Idelette

Puritan Board Graduate
The Puritan Divines were nearly unanimous in their rejection of the acting profession. During Cromwell's reign they tore down the Globe Theatre in London, believing the theatre to be at best a frivolity and at worst a hotbed of sin. Among the playwrights they blamed were Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, both of whose work reflected a clear Christian worldview, portraying humanity warts and all.
That's the first time that I've ever heard that Shakespeare reflected a clear Christian worldview, in fact, from what I've learned about him it has been quite the opposite. I haven't studied what the Puritans thought about the acting profession itself, but I could clearly understand why they would consider his plays and the theater a hotbed of sin. His plays were laced with homosexuality and promiscuity. And it was rumored that he himself had several affairs while he was married. So, I wonder if it wasn't the immorality itself that the Puritans objected to?
 
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Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
I like cheese, especially when it's cultured with truth.

How about depravity?
YouTube - FIREPROOF fight scene 2

How about repentance?
YouTube - Fireproof | Caleb's Apology

Of course, this is pretty dramatic.
YouTube - Martin Luther - Here I Stand, I Can Do No Other

Was there really a rich man who stole the sheep of a poor man as Nathan told David? Was he acting? Were all the parables Christ spoke actual events? Just thinking.....
In light of my original commentson the film Fireproof, perhaps I should clarify. I am not the one who said the movie was cheesy. I didn't think it was. I said it was very poorly produced and unless one is naive or doesn't see very many movies, this is a fact. I think it's great a movie would convey the above sentiments, but unless the movies are made on a better scale then Fireproof, most people won't take them seriously.
 

buggy

Puritan Board Freshman
The acting profession requires a huge amount of creativity, lots of thinking out of the box, and in the case of the Christian performer, tremendous amount of spiritual strength to ensure his works conform to the Word of God.

Some Christians are unable to comprehend such thing and hence I think that is why many condemn acting and the theatre. From the early church fathers (Augustine), to the Puritans and also some evangelical preachers like JC Ryle.

The problem has never been films, music, of itself, but rather the depraved heart and the evils produced (Mt. 15:19).
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
The Puritan Divines were nearly unanimous in their rejection of the acting profession.
A useful point.

Now, my question is whether they were against acting per se or simply because the people in the profession were almost all given over to ungodly things. That is, that the stage plays were vulgar and of questionable themes. If the latter is the case, then we might take the same position today. Hollywood is almost 100% ungodly, and there is very little good material. Thus we might choose to reject the entire profession of acting because of the association it holds.

I have not concluded anything on this subject yet. Although, in effect, my practice is almost a complete rejection of TV and movies because there is very little that I would watch today. It is so difficult to find appropriate things to view that I reject the whole lot because it is not a good use of my time to put in the effort to find appropriate material.

So, can anyone expand on the Puritan view?
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
The Puritan Divines were nearly unanimous in their rejection of the acting profession.
A useful point.

Now, my question is whether they were against acting per se or simply because the people in the profession were almost all given over to ungodly things. That is, that the stage plays were vulgar and of questionable themes. If the latter is the case, then we might take the same position today. Hollywood is almost 100% ungodly, and there is very little good material. Thus we might choose to reject the entire profession of acting because of the association it holds.

I have not concluded anything on this subject yet. Although, in effect, my practice is almost a complete rejection of TV and movies because there is very little that I would watch today. It is so difficult to find appropriate things to view that I reject the whole lot because it is not a good use of my time to put in the effort to find appropriate material.

So, can anyone expand on the Puritan view?
You make some good points, Tim. I'm also still thinking this through, and I take the same approach to TV and movies - screening for things that are ok definitely would take too much time to be worth the bother.
That's a very interesting question, whether the Puritans would have objected to acting in itself, or whether the only problem was the de facto correlation between professional actors and ungodliness.
Next question:
is that correlation (which does seem surprisingly constant even if it isn't universal) just purely accidental?
 

he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
I like cheese, especially when it's cultured with truth.

How about depravity?
YouTube - FIREPROOF fight scene 2

How about repentance?
YouTube - Fireproof | Caleb's Apology

Of course, this is pretty dramatic.
YouTube - Martin Luther - Here I Stand, I Can Do No Other

Was there really a rich man who stole the sheep of a poor man as Nathan told David? Was he acting? Were all the parables Christ spoke actual events? Just thinking.....
In light of my original commentson the film Fireproof, perhaps I should clarify. I am not the one who said the movie was cheesy. I didn't think it was. I said it was very poorly produced and unless one is naive or doesn't see very many movies, this is a fact. I think it's great a movie would convey the above sentiments, but unless the movies are made on a better scale then Fireproof, most people won't take them seriously.
We watched it last night and my husband was almost mad at the movie. I guess he didn't think it was fair that the movie was so poorly made, but had good themes, so it was hard to criticize and not feel guilty about it. For instance, the conversion scene was not great art and was terribly acted, BUT, it was a conversion (which is a GREAT thing!) so to criticize it seems anti-Christian. And he was annoyed that this movie, which wasn't even a good movie, made him feel guilty for not being perfect. Whereas reading, for example, some of C.S. Lewis's fiction might make one also feel guilty for not being perfect, but it is so well-written that you are happy to be inspired by it.

I actually liked the movie well-enough, but I was sort of watching it with people I know with dissolving marriages in mind. So I ended up thinking, "This might be a good movie for so-and-so." My one complaint, though, is that it tried to make up for poor dialogue and acting with highly intensive emotional scenes (like the one fire scene and the yelling at the wife, etc.). It kind of made me think about street preachers who use scare tactics rather than the Gospel to preach. (Which is ironic, since I think Kirk Cameron is a good street preacher!)
 

Wannabee

Obi Wan Kenobi
Haven't you ever seen a man yell at his wife like this? I have. In fact, I'm sad to confess that early in our marriage I did so. That seen was more realistic than most of us care to admit. And, quite often, the woman is yelling just as loud or louder rather than backing down in despair.

This movie gave me many opportunities to reflect and ask myself where I'm guilty. Wherever I'm guilty I should be grateful for God showing me for it offers an opportunity to repent. Anger at feeling guilt is a form of pride, unless it's a false sense of guilt. Of course, we should know Scripture well enough to not feel a false sense of guilt as well. This movie, even with it's short comings, is far superior to the trash out there that's called "excellent" by the media and many who claim Christ. I'll have my family watch this before such trash as is often heralded as a good production any time. However imperfectly, it points to Christ. Do we?
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
The Protestant Reformed Church argues against drama in this manner. I have a pamphlet of theirs that's very good (if I could find it; in order for them to send it to me in the first place, they asked me first why I wanted it and I had to tell them of what church I was a member and they did check me out to make sure I wasn't connected to the secular media). The pamphlet (entitled, I think, "The Evil of Drama") argues vehemently that no one made in the image and likeness of God should pretend to be something they're not. A person who "plays" a murderer or a thief or an adulterer assumes that character for the length of time they're playing the role, and people should not kick open the door to the devil in this manner. All drama is "false-playing," the PRC asserts, and it is evil. Whatever starts out as a lie or a series of lies is not something for a child of God to become enmeshed in.

I don't practice this in my own life, at least not yet. Gradually, though, the range of "drama" that doesn't make me squeamish is getting smaller and smaller. For example, I used to like the movie "Brief Encounter" (1946) with Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson. In watching it recently, I see that for many reasons, I shouldn't be watching it. I own the DVD and so I've put it away. "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" glorifies violence; Lee Marvin, who played Valance, was a remarkably evil villain. Not, then, probably, a "good" movie.

On the other hand, the PRC does celebrate Christmas and Easter, and one could make an argument that these are man-made fabrications of another sort, so...???

No one's perfect; no one is walking in perfect lockstep with the Lord as long as they're on earth. We keep taking baby steps towards that as long as we're being sanctified. And that's a great blessing!

Margaret
This pamphlet, Margaret?

The Evil of Drama

hardly can be, though, as Rev. Smit has not been in the ministry that long... he was ordained in 1996...
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
This is perhaps the pamphlet: THE CHRISTIAN AND THE FILM ARTS, by Herman Hanko. It was brought up in a thread, http://www.puritanboard.com/f24/evils-drama-30417/.

To which I responded with, http://www.puritanboard.com/f24/holiness-world-culture-its-arts-30772/.

This is a very important topic to me — not acting so much as fiction generally — as my primary vocation is as a language artist, not a teaching elder (which I am doing temporarily. I have explained this elsewhere, a number of times — though I must strongly state that the calling of a true elder / pastor is the highest calling in this world). Not that I see fiction per se as evil at all; it is far more nuanced. But later for that. It's bedtime here.
 
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Galatians220

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Well, Bert and Steve, when I say "years ago," I probably mean 1996 or thereabouts. I was converted in 1995 and I started subscribing to the Standard Bearer in 1997 (am still a subscriber), which would have been where I saw "The Evil of Drama" advertised. I'm sure that was its title due to the necessity of having to be interviewed to get it; the one by Hanko also looks good, though, and I appreciate its mention here again.

Gentlemen, have a blessed Lord's Day!

Margaret
 
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