MEMBERS OF our Morley church went into battle against evil a couple of Sundays ago when they spent part of the morning service considering the film “Hannibal” and being told that their Pastor and Elders had written to the Federal Attorney-General to express strong feelings about the film which is currently showing in Perth.
Others in the denomination may have thought about the film with distaste and perhaps anger: Morley went further by registering their grave concern about the classification given to the film which allows it to be seen by anyone aged above 15 years and suggesting it should not be shown at all.
At the morning service on February 18 Pastor John Randell introduced the subject, saying he would like to read to all those present the letter that had been written by Keith Robins on behalf of the Elders and the Pastor to Attorney-General Darryl Williamson — a House of Representatives member for a Perth constituency and the Minister in charge of film classification in Australia.
The letter read as follows:
“At a recent meeting of the Pastor and Elders of the Morley Baptist Church we expressed grave concern about the showing and classification of the film “Hannibal”, rated MA15+.
“Our first preference would be that the film be withdrawn from the theatres. “If this is not possible we would request that you take the necessary action to have the Office of Film and Literature Classification re-classify this film to an R rating.
John Randell told the church that Dr Lachlan Dunjey had wanted something said about reasons why church people should not see “Hannibal” and the Elders had agreed with that sentiment. But, he continued, even if it was never going to be necessary to dissuade people from seeing the film he would like Lachlan to express his views.
“Obviously I haven’t seen the movie,” Dr Dunjey replied, “but it is about real evil — not just your ordinary murder and rape and mass killings (as though we could ever become desensitised to those, which is a risk). It is about sinister, terrible evil and all the critics acknowledge this. So, the real question is, ‘Should we expose our minds to this or any other kind of evil?’
“The scriptural principles are very clear: just let me mention two: ‘We reap what we sow’ (Gal 6:7) and ‘We must sow good thoughts’ (Phil 4:8).”
He quoted from “The Message” version of the latter: “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you‘ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious — the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse … Do that and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies.”
Continuing, he warned that the consequences of ignoring this kind of advice were both psychological and spiritual and he saw both in his work.
“We need to acknowledge that what we fill our minds with influences our thoughts and actions. Violent thought fuels even more violent thought. Truthfully, deep inside ourselves, we are aware that such exposure does us no good — it’s not uplifting, it doesn’t spur us on to greater things, it doesn’t facilitate our enjoyment of people or the simple pleasures of life.”
Quoting C.S.Lewis (“it’s not surprising he had something to say about this principle of life”) Dr Dunjey said:
Asked by Pastor Randell if there were any circumstances in which it was all right to go to see a film like “Hannibal”, Lachlan Dunjey said there were.
“If, for example, a person ‘had’ to go because of his involvement in mental health issues, or if, for any good reason we, as Christians, had to go into the Devil’s territory. But then we must surround that person with prayer and send them in God’s name. It must never be out of curiosity or seeking entertainment. Those motive are dangerous, and we leave ourselves open psychologically and spiritually.”
— Alan Burton