The Climb Best Taken

On any number of occasions I've talked about the negative impact that TV has on people's lives. The worldview presented in much of television is at odds with that of historical Christianity. Even if we can ignore television's blatant use of sexual titillation and its contribution to the overall coarsening of American culture, TV still has a negative impact on its viewers. TV, after all, is all about entertainment, most of it very banal, often dulling our senses. One study showed that people's brain waves actually slow down while they're sitting watching television. Yet once in a while a program comes along that reinforces the Christian worldview with a compelling presentation of the Gospel. And a venerable Christian media company has provided us with just that. The company is World Wide Pictures, the movie-making arm of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. For fifty years, World Wide has been using the medium of film to carry out its mission of bringing the Gospel to every person. Their latest effort, "The Climb," is coming to network TV. The film tells the story of two mountain climbers, Derrick Williams and Michael Harris. These very different men are brought together during the rescue of a third climber. The rescued climber's father happens to be a very wealthy developer. Out of gratitude for what they did for his son, he agrees to sponsor a high-profile climb of a peak in the Chilean Andes. The struggle and danger inherent in such an extreme climb brings out the differences between the men. Williams is an atheist who sees climbing as a way to show up the father who abandoned him and the God he no longer believes in. Harris is a Christian who puts his relationship with God first. These differences, especially in the face of adversity, are what drive the story. "The Climb" follows in the trail blazed by films like "Extreme Days." These are movies that, while they reflect a Christian worldview, appeal to a broader audience. This is done through the use of stories that resonate with contemporary culture and through the use of high production values. These values caught the attention of Variety magazine, which is considered the "bible" of the entertainment industry. The reviewer cited the film's "impressive production values" and used the word "fascinating" to describe the way the story unfolded. The Charlotte Observer called the movie "entertaining." The use of mountain climbing as a metaphor for our spiritual journey is part of a long tradition in Christian imagery. Earlier examples of this device include John of the Cross's Ascent of Mount Carmel and Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain. The result is a film that appeals to a large audience and entertains them. But it doesn't stop there. World Wide has succeeded in translating Christian ideas into a mass medium that reaches our culture where it lives. All of this makes "The Climb" an excellent alternative to the junk we usually see on television. When "The Climb" airs on the major networks in early June, be sure to make it a point to watch it with your family. And invite in your neighbors! What a great opportunity to share the Gospel. If more Christians made movies like this one, we might actually have a good reason to turn that TV on, after all. For more information: Visit "The Climb's" website to find air times and local stations. Find out more about World Wide Pictures. Find out more about the Providence Entertainment film "Extreme Days".


Chuck Colson


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