catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 2, Num 7 :: 2003.03.28 — 2003.04.10


Christ and the same sentence?

I started working in Hollywood about a year ago. After completing school I found myself with the option of working for a major company that provides the surround sound for almost all of Hollywood's theatrical releases, which in itself seemed like a dream come true.

Packing up the family and our belongings, we trekked from Tempe, Arizona to Burbank, California where we rented a quaint little house with a freshly planted flower garden. Sitting about 9 miles from Hollywood, it is the perfect house in the perfect location where you can raise a family and still commute to work. It was almost as if I was being "called" to Hollywood as I watched the loose ends come together and the transition from school to full time work almost make itself.

After arriving in California, I called an old boss and friend of mine from Illinois to tell him what was happening and where God had brought us. His immediate response was, "Well, I am sure God will use you in a way to bring Himself back into Hollywood." His contention was that Hollywood is comprised, for the most part, of the heathen of the earth, and Christians in the film industry are few and far between. My stomach began to twist and tie itself into knots as I pondered the concept of possibly being the only Christian in my company. Would my convictions be jeopardized, and/or even abandoned? Would I lose myself to a cesspool of liberal self-centeredness that eventually would destroy the integrity and values that I have found and built in my faith? Would my family's faith suffer as well? I hung up the phone and began to pray that God would protect me and keep me strong during this apparent battle I was going to have to face.

My first day at work I found out my manager is very involved in his local Presbyterian church. I also found out that one of my main contacts within the company is also a strong Christian. In the following weeks I began to discover believers everywhere—projectionists with stories of how they turned down working at the Playboy mansion due to their faith, post production supervisors who were also musicians within their local churches, even the Vice President of Domestic Theatrical Releases for a major studio who moonlights as his church?s youth leader. Men and women who know who they are and what we, as believers in Christ, have been called to do: to share the truth of Christ and live a life that expresses Who we believe in.

As I have gotten to know these people, I have had opportunities to talk to them about their effects on their workplaces?and about their workplaces? effects on them. I have asked questions concerning how they justify some of the films that they work on, and how their faith comes into play throughout the process. Some of these answers are what I will try to share here.

Fred is a projectionist. He is union and works at one of the major studios. He is on his second marriage, the first having dissolved after his wife left him with their four children to party with a younger crowd. He is involved with his local Lutheran church and sees a counselor with his wife of 4 years to try to work out some of the emotional problems brought into the marriage. He is a quiet guy—pretty much the kind of fellow that would seemingly come to work, do what is expected, and go home. Above his desk is a wooden sign that says "Jesus." After breaking through the "get to know you" phase he is quite open about his past, present and prayerful future. He opens up about the demise of his first marriage, its effects on his children (and himself) and how if it weren't for his faith he probably wouldn't have made it. Interestingly enough he can see the path he could have taken through the life of another. During the divorce, he was called by an organization in the soft porn industry to be the major projectionist in its mansion. The money was good, really good, but he immediately told the voice on the other line that he was a Christian and that despite the financial freedom the job would bring, he could not accept. They chased him for a while. Offered him bonuses and incentives, but finally got the picture and went to someone else—his co-worker and friend, who quickly snatched up the job. His friend stayed at the job for several years, but eventually lost his family, health and self-respect due to his employment. His friend eventually quit the industry entirely, and disappeared. Fred thanks God that his faith helped his reject the job and subsequent lifestyle, which could have just as easily destroyed him.

Ben is a VP at a major studio. He talks about his kids a lot, and his wife, but also talks about his youth group and his church events. Once he found out that I was also a believer, we have had many discussions about his job. Ben considers himself "placed." He does not decide which films will be made or not, so he focuses on infecting the lives of those around him with his Savior. He is not as pushy as you would expect a VP to be; on the contrary, he is slow to speak and very considerate of those around him. He takes the opportunity to share how his "kids" and kids are doing, how their faith is growing (or sometimes not) and about the latest ski trip the youth group took. He is just a real guy, really in love with investing in a real way in those around him. His employees love him and talk about how different he is from the other execs they have met.

While encouraged by the few Christians that I have met in the industry, there is still the occasional film that has made me stop and wonder, that has blatantly thumbed its nose at my moral standards or belittled (and often defied) my faith, films like Old School that are lewd, disrespectful and distasteful and upcoming films, such as The Order, which just come out and say that our faith is pointless and that God has never cared about mankind (and all of this coming from an ex-priest who learns how to save others by taking their sins upon himself). There are times when I sit and stare at the screen and just wonder what this world is coming to and just how long Christ is going to allow man to storm down this path.

It is shortly thereafter that I am reminded that there are those who still need to know the Good News. So I will continue to share Christ with my co-worker who left the church when he was a boy. Ben will continue to show his employees what Christ-like leadership is. Fred will hug his family and thank God for keeping him steadfast. After all, we have been "called." All of us. Called to go into all the world and share the Gospel. Yes, that even means sharing Christ in Hollywood.

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