Recent newspaper articles on the new PG-13 rating for movies stirred up some friends of mine and me. We're all avid moviegoers. But we agreed that while there is justifiably a lot of interest in what is appropriate for younger viewers, there doesn't seem to be enough concern about the adult viewer.
''I suppose they think adults can take it, but they can't,'' someone commented during a discussion of an article on ''gore-nography'' n1 - films depicting extreme violence. I've thought a lot about her comment, and I've decided that the link made between ''mature'' and the worst extremes of violence , lust, and perversion is the result of a subtle kind of hype.
n1 See The New York Times, July 3, 1984.
This hype affects moviemakers and moviegoers alike. It suggests that adulthood means loss of innocence. And that this loss is supposed to be more enjoyable and more realistic than innocence. But as with any kind of hype, the truth is our protection.
True innocence is not only indestructible; it's profoundly wise and therefore mature in the best sense of that word. It's capable of penetrating immediately to the core of reality, so it's not only vital in art but in every detail of life. And real innocence pours out a freshness that quenches our thirst for joy.
This innocence has nothing to do with our age - although we may catch glimpses of it, for instance, in a child's wonder at a newborn lamb. The sculptor reaching for uncluttered form, the architect stripping away superfluous ornament, the physicist questioning the fundamental elements of reality - each, perhaps unknowingly, is looking for innocence, for the pure vision that sees truth.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Christ Jesus said, ''Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.'' n2 Purity breaks through to reality. It grasps the only real source - the divine source - of lasting joy and insight. It starts from the premise that illusion, dishonesty, perversion, cannot be tolerated, because they would blind us to the one infinite creative power, God, who is Truth. And they would blind us to our own real nature as His likeness.
n2 Matthew 5:8.
Christ Jesus illustrated in his life and teachings the power of innocence and the fact of innocence as a basic component of creation. He said he came to bear witness to the truth. n3 The purity of his life is the standard of truth - and if it was not an attainable standard, he would not have demanded it of others. Sometimes he made this demand by exposing hypocrisy and bigotry; other times he made it with a command to stop sinning. He also made the demand by healing sickness. And each healing proved the essential innocence of Truth's creation - its freedom from corruption and corruptibility.
n3 See John 18:37.
Speaking of the significance of Jesus' unequaled life, Mary Baker Eddy n4 writes, ''The divine nature was best expressed in Christ Jesus, who threw upon mortals the truer reflection of God and lifted their lives higher than their poor thought-models would allow, - thoughts which presented man as fallen, sick, sinning, and dying.'' n5
n4 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
n5 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 259.
What Jesus did should awaken us to the need to respect innocence. We often hear of the way violent images affect children's health. Yet purity is as indispensable to our health as it is to our children's - because the wholeness, fulfillment, and strength we associate with adulthood can only be sustained as we acknowledge their pure origin in God. And as we put off as powerless and unattractive whatever would corrupt.
We do have to work at cultivating our ability to see, and live out from, our native purity. Gorging on illusion won't produce original insights into truth, nor will it help us escape from the pressures of adult life, because the illusions themselves are the source and extent of the pressures. Like the artist or scientist, we won't find what we are looking for - whether it's wisdom or satisfaction - unless we push past illusion to the reality of God's care for man; unless we demand purity and incorruptibility.
What enables us to begin to eliminate corruption in life - and in movies - is Truth itself. God, Truth, empowered Jesus to do his works, and Truth still reveals itself today to the pure in heart and the searching heart. It brings to light man's incorruptibility. We can stop buying the hype that we've lost our innocence. And we can begin enjoying our spiritual maturity as children of God. DAILY BIBLE VERSE . . . whatsoever things are pure, . . . think on these things. Philippians 4:8