Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them.
Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
I read an essay called 'Religion and Amusement' delivered on June 1, 1866, by Rev. Marvin Vincent, to an International Assembly of the Y.M.C.A.* The title drew me in, but also the date: just one year past America's bloodiest conflict: The Civil War.
What I discovered was a man 150 years ahead of his time, a visionary of the entertainment industry's impact, a pastor who admonished a condemnatory and cloistered church. Consider these excerpts:
'The idea of development
, which is perhaps the fundamental one of Christianity, has been to a very great extent swallowed up in the idea of safety
... Correspondingly with this mistake, the tendency has grown to strengthen the defenses of character, rather than to foster its growth. To keep it from temptation, rather than teach it to overcome temptation. To teach its danger from the world, rather than its duty to the world. Consequently, we have heard more about keeping unspotted from the world, than of going into all
the world and preaching the Gospel to every creature...'
'The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light... and the world is very clear-sighted to discern the best and richest sources of worldly pleasure, and utterly unscrupulous in appropriating them entirely to itself. The amusements which are most abused... call most loudly upon virtue to rescue them from their abuses.'
'This law it sets forth under a parable: The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened. The great truth here illustrated, is the innate power of the Gospel to pervade and assimilate to its own nature the whole worldly order of things, just as leaven thus pervades and assimilates the lifeless lumps of dough. This then, is its simple lesson: Put the Gospel into contact with everything sinful -- the heart of man, the life of man, the employments of man, the amusements of man -- into society, its customs, laws, institutions, and it will purge them of evil, and bring them into harmony with the Divine order.'
'But be sure and note, that the entire success of this action depends upon the contact -- upon the putting the leaven into the lump....So, I repeat, Christ's work is less a crusade against evil, than an assertion of good by precept and example as the surest means in the end of removing evil...'
'This, in short, is the course pursued to a very great extent with this whole subject of amusements: assuming that the Gospel has no business with it except to denounce and warn; taking the leaven away from the lump, instead of putting it in. Creating a wide separation between two things, which, of all others in the world need to be brought into contact -- religion and pleasure.' *
Actors, models and talent for Christ: you carry God's Rising Agent (the Leaven from Heaven) that changes the entertainment industry. One Man changed the world. One movement can change it again.
Continue and be encouraged.
* For the more studious among us, I encourage you to read the entirety of this amazing speech: 'Religion and Amusement' by Reverend Marvin Vincent, June 1, 1866: http://biblehub.com/library/vincent/amusement_a_force_in_christian_training/religion_and_amusement.htm
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the All Things New series.