Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Psycho Question and a Not-So-Psycho Offer

MV5BMTQ1NDY1NTQ2Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMTAzNTQ2It is fairly common for me to use video clips to illustrate a point in my sermons. I am really torn this week, because I have a clip I want to use that I am not sure I should.

My sermon is from the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11. My theme is that God will not allow sin to be forever hidden.

The clip I want to use is from the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock thriller Psycho. NO... I am not going to use the shower scene (one of the most famous scenes in cinematic history). The clip I want to use is the clip of Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) pushing the car carrying the body of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) into the swamp and watching as the black swamp waters engulf and eventually cover up the evidence of the crime. Of course, the last scene in the movie, as "The End" appears is of the car being towed, dripping with moss and mud, out of the swamp.

"Be Sure That Your Sin Will Find You Out" (Numbers 32:23).

It is a powerful picture and I believe it really supports the theme of the sermon. But it is...after all...Psycho. One of, if not, THE most famous horror films in history (and rated "R"--although my youth minister says today it would be given a PG-13). The age old question arises, "Am I promoting the movie by showing a clip from it?" I have had angry parents when I have shown clips from "R" rated movies before. (Although I had a lady leave the church a little more than a year ago and one among her litany of complaints was that I had used the movie "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" as illustrative material in my Christmas sermon series).

In this case it is not that I am solely trying to be culturally cutting-edge relevant--this movie is almost 50 years old and tame by today's standards! It's that the clip FITS! It visually makes my point. Seeing the waters close over the hood of that car is so much like trying to hide the sin that we hold onto in our own lives.

I am not afraid to be provocative, I just don't want the clip to overshadow the point of the sermon.

Thoughts or suggestions? Many of you lurk here without posting (and that's OK), but I really would covet some advice.


If you will comment, giving me your advice on whether or not I should use the clip from Psycho and give me your e-mail address, I will send you a free copy of my little e-book on Suggestions for the Public Reading of Scripture in Worship.

You don't want all the world to have your e-mail address you say? No problem. Make a comment and then drop me a note at I will turn around and mail you the e-book.

The only reason I want your e-mail address is to send you the e-book.

Hope this little incentive encourages you to give me your advice.


DW said...

The scene is tame, and it helps make a visual connection, and that can lead to a lasting impression.

Media that we are exposed to, even in short amounts become deposits in our mind, and hopefully, in this case would be called up again, at an appropriate time with the point of the sermon attached.

I would say use it. I will pray that the Sermon bears fruit in the lives of those who receive it.

Cal Habig said...

Thanks for the post. Your thinking matches mine pretty closely. If you want the e-book send me your e-mail address.

Joseph Chase WorshipLeading said...

Use it. Don't make apology for other scenes in the movie. Just say this scene demonstrates God's truth.

God has often used sinful men to do his bidding.

I love your blog.
Joe Chase

Visits Since Dec. 11, 2007