I’ve been thinking a lot about the young star of Two and a Half Men, Angus T. Jones, and what he has said about the show. Pray for him. For the last year of his contract he’s got a world of trouble. In light of his courageous statement, I thought I might write a few words about Hollywood. And, trust me, I do know my subject.
Think of Hollywood this way: It’s like a giant restaurant, the most fabulous in the world. The décor is stunning. The hosts and servers are charming, sometimes even ravishing. Everything in this restaurant has been created to make you love the experience of eating there, especially the menu. Just opening it is dazzling. There are thousands of items, something for everyone, and all are created by the most talented chefs. You don’t see them, they stay behind the scenes, but they are constantly at work laboring to make the finest soups and salads, the most tempting entrees and desserts, all designed to overwhelm your palate with pleasure. These skilled artisans spend night and day creating new culinary concepts to bring you back over and over to eat in their vast establishment. But I have to tell you something that might disturb you. I know this because I know the restaurant well. You might be surprised to learn that there is a primary, secret ingredient in almost every one of their recipes. That secret ingredient is shit. (My friends, there are rare times when only that word will do and this is one of them.)
There are several important things to understand about this secret ingredient. First, it is never called shit. To suggest that the food you will be eating in the restaurant is primarily shit would not be a good marketing plan. People would be offended. They wouldn’t walk in the door. Second, you can’t just serve up a pile of raw shit. To load that on a plate and stick it in front of someone on their first visit would not get you a good Yelp rating. So the chefs have found a thousand different spices and condiments, not just to hide the flavor, but make it delectable. To the unsophisticated palate there is a slightly unpleasant aftertaste, but over time that disappears. Third, (and this is very important to understand) the chefs have been eating shit themselves for so long that, honestly, they don’t think of it as shit. In fact, they would be highly offended if anyone described it in such a crass manner. To call their creations shit would bring the most God-awful load of the pure stuff right on your head. Fourth, after years of eating many different varieties of shit, the chefs like theirs straight. And they want you to like it that way as well. So the longer you visit the restaurant the more your palate will become like theirs. After a few years of eating disguised shit you will be sophisticated enough to eat raw sewage and love it.
It might be interesting to note where all these chefs come from. They are products of the finest culinary schools with names like USC, UCLA, New York University, Harvard and Yale. In these schools are experienced professors who train students for their future lives in the restaurant. If some young students arrive with a modicum of real culinary genius (rare) they are gently and carefully guided to lay such youthful delusions aside and create recipes that are acceptable and will make them successful restaurant chefs, for it is in the success of their students that these schools maintain their high reputations. Remember, like everyone else involved with the restaurant, the professors don’t think of shit as shit. If you suggest that they are creating shit chefs they would be enraged. (Here is a strange fact that must be taken into consideration: The longer you eat shit, the more you lose your ability to appreciate any other cuisine. In a weird convolution, you start thinking of good pure food as shit. Isn’t that odd? But it is the truth and that’s the case with most of the people who run the restaurant.)
So how do Christians fit into all of this in Hollywood? First, you have to understand where young Christians are coming from. There is so much Hollywood shit in churches that is passed off as the finest Christian cuisine that they arrive with sewaged-out palates. In their homes they’ve been eating shit for years and told it was all about Jesus. If they come from a Christian college or university, most likely many of their professors don’t know shit from shinola as the old saying goes, or they have been corrupted by the restaurant themselves. The truth is that the whole American Christian world loves to eat shit in the Hollywood restaurant. They’ve done it for decades and have created their own versions of all the great Hollywood recipes. But it’s still just shit.
When they arrive in Hollywood young Christians may enter one of several “Christian” training programs in which they will learn how to fit in at the restaurant. They will be told that they aren’t here to come up with their own recipes. They need to learn the recipes of the restaurant and execute them well for that is their job. They will be told that if they want to do their own recipes they should go out and start their own restaurants. For most of the students it’s an easy sell. If there is some lingering vision, some vague idea that they are in Hollywood to cook up creations whose main ingredient is “truth” instead of shit, they are told that, perhaps after many years of faithfully serving shit, someday they may earn the right to cook something else. Of course, by then they will be a well-paid chefs and will have lost all ability to cook anything else. But there is a consolation. When all is said and done they can tell themselves that there was a little less shit in a particular dish because they helped cook it.
Friends, I’m sick of it all. Dare not minimize the importance of what I am saying to you and dare not patronize me by saying that I’m just an old curmudgeon. Am I old? Indeed. But the older you get as an artist warrior the more dangerous you should become. After all the years the vision is still strong, in fact more powerful than ever. I have a vision of Christian artist warriors, young and old, skilled in their crafts and absolutely committed to the King, who refuse to serve up shit. I have a vision of Christian artist warriors who aren’t satisfied to be drones and whores (both inside the church and out of it) and who care about the slaves of the restaurant and setting them free in Jesus more than they care about their own precious creativity and careers. I have a vision of Christian artist warriors who have the guts and commitment to clean up their lives and find the Power of God to create things that have never been seen before. The art of the Christian warrior who stands for Jesus isn’t pretty. It doesn’t play idiot ghetto-games using the slither of chameleon words such as “faith-based” and “family-friendly.” Most often it’s bloody and wears a crown of thorns. Who is the Christian Artist Warrior? The wounded and heartbroken man or woman who stands and creates in darkness, yet sees the coming of the King. And all they do is for Him.
The time is short. Where are you? Is anyone there? If you are sick of it all, what shall we do about it?