What I Dislike about Hallmark Christmas Movies

   
If you celebrate Christmas in Amercia, I’m sure you’ve seen at least one cheesy Christmas movie featured on the Hallmark Channel. I’ll start with a list of items that must be present in order for a movie to air on these channels, and then I will begin my rant.
Must-Haves for a Hallmark Christmas Movie:

  • A female main character who lives in a big, modern, progressive city with a high-status job in the career field she’s always dreamed about
  • A male supporting role character who is the romantic counterpart of the female main character
  • A family member of the main character, usually a parent, who passes away and leaves an inheritance in the form of a small-town family business that has supported the emotional morale of the small town for many generations
  • A semi-handsome male main character who knows the family business and has been dubbed the interim keeper of the grounds until the female main character moves back home
  • A visit home that the female main character swears will be a short one but ends up being longer
  • Several meet cutes between the female main character and the male main character that turn into dates and into convincing the female lead that she needs to stay in the small town and run the family business
  • A crisis that separates the two main characters
  • A happy ending that brings them back together
  • So, those are the must-haves for a Hallmark Christmas movie. 

Now I begin my discussion of dissatisfaction with these movies.
1. All of these movies hate on the city life. I know that you aren’t supposed to speak in such extremes, using all-or-none thinking, but I have yet to see a Hallmark Christmas movie that celebrates people who live in the city. What’s so wrong about city life? Is it sinful? Is it unbiblical to live in an urban setting? Why is urban life always portrayed negatively in these movies? I don’t get it.

2. None of these movies address the sinfulness that goes on in small towns. In case you’ve never lived in a small town, they thrive on gossip and as much manipulation as big cities do. It’s not the physical location itself that’s the problem. It’s the people who live in it that make up the issues within it.

3. According to the Hallmark Channel, it’s perfectly fine for a Christian woman to date two men at the same time without there being any consequences or without either of the men getting upset about it. Have you noticed this in these movies? I just can’t. And the female lead is never shown as having a backbone or standing up for herself. If she tries to stand up for herself, other characters call her selfish.

4. The female main character always gives up a career that she is passionate about in the city. This is usually because she feels bad about letting other people (whom she barely knows) down, and she can’t stand the thought of doing so. Why can’t one of these movies show a female main character who is joyful as a single woman and pursues a career that she is passionate about, one in which she can use her many talents?

5. Neither of the two men she dates is willing to move to where she can pursue her career, but both of them usually have jobs that are transferable to another state. Hm.

6. The female main character usually becomes underemployed and takes a job that is well below her intellect and skill level. Then she usually makes a stupid decision that her career should have taught against. Why is the female role shown in this light? Does this mean that a Christian woman has to dumb herself down, silence her visions, and settle with underemployment in order to live a godly life? Unfortunately this is a caricature that is often portrayed of women in the Christian world, but women in the Bible are shown as having more courage than this.

I’m not adding a seventh point to this list because the number seven usually indicates completion, and these movies are anything but complete. That’s the end of my rant for now.

What Inspires You? {Advent: December 5}

  
What inspires you? What makes you see your circumstances in a new perspective, and what causes you to let go of the unhealthy patterns in your life?

You need to spend more time around the things that inspire you. Things that inspire you range from a variety of categories. It can include people, patterns, styles, textures, destinations, colors, shapes, animals, plants, nature, music, landmarks, books, certain stories, blogs, a course you’ve taken, magazines, journal articles, smells, sounds, words, podcasts, movies, tv shows, retail stores, restaurants, your industry, etc.

So, take five. Take five minutes, get your journal, and write down ten things that inspire you. Be specific. If you think of more than ten things, write those down too.

Now for each thing that inspires you consider how to incorporate it more in your life. Think of purposeful, tangible, ways in which you can do so. For example, if there’s a certain pattern that inspires you, pick out a set of notecards or some scrapbook paper with that pattern to set on your desk. As another option, purchase a cookbook with your favorite kind of cuisine in it. Have an inspiring destination in mind? Purchase a travel book on that destination and plan out your next visit. Listen to your favorite podcasts daily. Purchase a year-long subscription to your favorite magazine. Network with people in your industry, or each month read a new book that relates to your career.

Whatever is on your list of inspirations, make a point to surround yourself with those items. Be sure you encounter those inspirations on a regular basis. Life isn’t supposed to be boring, so let it inspire you!

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Just to let you know, Dallas Theological Seminary is giving the gift of a free online course this Christmas to anyone who signs up. The course is an eight-week study on the Gospel of John. Click here to sign up for the course.

Lets Be Honest {Advent: December 4}

  
Really honest. You ask God for clear direction. You want signs, you want clarity, and you want to know that God speaking to you. But what do you do when you actually realize that He is talking to you? Do you listen or do you pretend not to hear him? Do you actually follow His leading or do you tell God, “No”? You see, we ask God to lead us, but then when we think that we hear him, we just ignore it because, “Surely God wouldn’t ask me to do that,” so we think. We want to be absolutely certain, and in our quest for certainty, fear starts to grow within us as we consider what it takes to respond to what God might possibly be instructing us to do.

Earlier this fall when I returned home to Alabama, I visited the church where I grew up. I still know several of the people on staff, and they know my family well. They also know that my family and I have been walking through a really difficult season: five members of my family diagnosed with cancer within the past four years and just witchin the past year, my grandmother’s health rapidly decreasing. Moving home has made me even more aware of the pain that surrounds my family, and my heart has become somewhat calloused. At the end of the worship time during the service, our pastor asked people to come down to the altar and have staff members pray over them. There was no doubt about it. This was one of those times when you just know that God is nudging you to move. At first, even though I knew that’s what I needed to do, I said in my mind that I would just sit through it and enjoy the comfy chair. Nope. God wasn’t going to let that happen. I got the message and asked my mother to walk down there with me. We caught up with a close friend who prayed for my mother, family, and me. It was a sweet time and was exactly what I needed. God knew it. I knew it. I almost ignored it, but God melted my stubborness.

What is God asking you to do? Go do it.

Speak {Advent: December 2}

 

This one is not as long, because I want you to have time to apply it in a practical way.

As we talked about yesterday, you have something to say. Deep, honest words and emotions are stuffed in your heart that you long to express. When you try to find an outlet to speak, you only end up hitting a wall. Jump over it. You need to speak. You want to communicate emotions that you fear others may judge. You want to express points that need to be said, but you are scared to say them.

Let me encourage you to speak. Your voice needs to be heard. You can find ways to say what needs to be said in a way that’s constructive. You can speak what’s on your mind with kindness. If there is something you are timid to say or if it is something that might hurt someone, write it down in a journal. Regardless, speak.