I happened to come across an interview with Joseph Fiennes on the Eric Metaxas Show. He expressed an appreciation of religion and Christianity more specifically, but did not indicate that he practices the faith. In an entertaining interview covering many topics he was asked to quote Shakespeare (topic of his role in Shakespeare in Love came up). I am not sure if Metaxas expected for him to take him up on it but he blasted off a sonnet. Sonnet 129 to be exact. It is different than other sonnets (so I’ve discovered). It could even be considered a type of sermon. A warning on lust. One long run on sentence about the complexities, excitement and madness of lust.
Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame Is lust in action; and till action, lust Is perjured, murd'rous, bloody, full of blame, Past reason hunted; and, no sooner had Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
Lust ruling your heart, something no one is immune from. It’s pointing to physical lust yes, but lust of all things in all ways can fit as well. Sometimes the driving lust of one’s life (fame, success, power) is far superior than a lust like this. There is a franticness that Fiennes brought out in his reading that comes to a stop and then: All this the world well knows; yet none knows well To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.
Shunning the lust (Heaven) everyone knows to do, yet often is not the chosen path. Lust for sex primarily in this sonnet but also power, fame, and possessions. A warning from an actor channeling Shakespeare. How do you put a stop to lust? The sonnet doesn’t have the answer.
I began to think about the confluence of this in regards promoting an overtly Christian film. Some want movies that present Jesus as the answer that solves all of humanities ills. Yes, Jesus saves and redeems. That’s we want in our sermons and our movies. He wins and we are on the winning team. But there are a good number of fans of Jesus– whether it be the conservative or progressive flavor- who if truth be told - believe with reservations. They are exempt from taking seriously the Bible or even their own sinful condition. The human condition is complex, vexing, in many ways a mystery in which the heart does not easily submit to the Spirit of God. I remember one pastor stating after counseling people for years that he had a certain amount of awe and respect of the rebellious hard heart. Yet we can go into theatres cheering our hero, yet not really having been conquered at all.
Film and other art forms, have a place in communicating the gospel message. Christians often talk of understanding culture and the Bible to communicate the gospel effectively. You can handle both superficially and in depth. Augustine said that “the Gospel of John is shallow enough for a child not to drown, yet deep enough for an elephant to swim in it.” Often Christian movies only wade in the shallow end. That is not a bad thing but that may not be that compelling for some who like to jump into the deep end. When the human condition is displayed in all its complexity from a Christian perspective, belief might move beyond mere mental ascent to beggars sharing with other beggars where to find the bread.