There is transformative power to stories. The stories that we tell as individuals and as a nation define us and help shape our destiny. You can change a life or shift a nation through stories that are told, received, and believed. Movies and the entertainment industry, in general, are powerful for this reason. Film and TV are great influencers on moral values and cultural norms.
Media as medium for transformation
Since its inception, Hollywood has played a significant role in both shaping and shifting the values of our nation. In fact, the American Dream was largely an invention of the Jewish studio execs that ran Hollywood at the time. Why? The majority of these Jewish Hollywood moguls had been born in Eastern Europe and had experienced years of suffering, hardship, and anti-Semitism. Several of these Hollywood pioneers, like Louis Mayer, for example, clearly understood that movies had the ability to transmit and instill values that could positively impact the cultural fabric of America. The movies of the 1940s and 1950s championed values such as freedom and equality, portraying America as a place where the underdog can overcome, the outsider can belong, and if you work hard, your dreams can be achieved, no matter your background. In short, the founders of Hollywood realized that films were a profound moral as well as spiritual force and guide.
People of faith must better understand that media is a key medium and tool for transformation. For better or worse, TV and film mold our imaginations and sway the stories we tell ourselves, which in turn impact our identity, both individually and nationally.
Since identity is destiny, we cannot underestimate the power of these mediums. It is time for people of faith to utilize the power of the media in greater measure to ignite change and transformation in our nation and our world at large.
People of faith have a responsibility to catalyze transformation through arts and entertainment, instilling positive values, such as equality, love, justice, faith, and hope. But too often, spiritual people and leaders, in particular, see Hollywood as the root of the problem and not as part of the solution to our moral and spiritual aliments. This misguided perspective leads to extreme criticism of Hollywood and active discouragement of their co-religionists from working in the entertainment industry.
I believe God loves Hollywood! What Hollywood needs is a new generation of Christians and Jews who allow their faith-driven Judeo-Christian worldview and values to penetrate their work in the industry. Let’s encourage and equip our spiritual creatives to stand strong in their faith as they pursue their dreams in entertainment.
God is on the move in Hollywood! This might sound shocking, but I am continually meeting Christians and Jews that believe that God has placed them in Hollywood to make a difference. They feel called by the Almighty to create redemptive and entertaining content that brings positive values to the world.
Another sign that God is on the move in Hollywood is the increased number of successful faith-based films being produced. Synagogues and churches need to find ways to champion movies like “Miracles from Heaven,” “Risen,” and “God’s Not Dead.” We have a responsibility to support these types of films by praying for their success, sharing about them on social media, talking about them in sermons, and organizing congregational outings to the theater. Hollywood will make them if we come! The faith community has a duty to engage and utilize media as a means of transformation, which communicates our Judeo-Christian worldview and values to the masses.
America’s origins were anchored in a Judeo-Christian foundation. This truth has been seminal to making America great. These values and perspectives have been slowly eroding through the years. Much of TV and film promote a materialistic view of reality. One of the keys to bringing transformation to our nation is a restoration of our Judeo-Christian heritage. For this to occur, Jews, Christians, and people of all faiths that share the values upon which this nation was founded must unite to create and support faith-and-family-friendly content that strengthens the moral fabric and spiritual foundations that have defined our nation as a beacon of light, hope, and inspiration to many. God loves Hollywood and so should we, because it is one of the great gifts that has been granted to us to touch the world.
• Rabbi Jason Sobel, president of Fusion, is a speaker and teacher who is restoring the lost connection between ancient Jewish wisdom and the New Testament, reconnecting Jewish and Gentile believers, and reigniting a 1st Century movement that changed the world and will again. His website is RabbiJasonSobel.com.
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