Guinness says that Silicon Valley Christians may draw inspiration from William Wilberforce’s Clapham Circle, a group of 18th-century Christian friends and industrialists who focused attention on England’s social ills and on developing moral leadership. “Wilberforce was on the board of 69 different initiatives at one time, from founding the first Bible society to abolishing slavery to establishing the national art gallery,” says Guinness.
Yang, for his part, is a key supporter of a new Christian university in Korea. Slayton, who worships at a poor and predominantly African-American church in Palo Alto, champions Christian microenterprise development in poor countries. Nonetheless, spiritual renewal in Silicon Valley is just beginning. It will take decades to determine if, in fact, the renewal will have a lasting influence.
In the meantime, Slayton says the future of Silicon Valley hangs in the balance, and Christian business leaders play a critical role in being a moral counterweight to the pursuit of wealth and success.
Thousands of private planes take off and land at the airport just around the corner from Slayton’s office in Palo Alto. Across the street sits the stately Ming’s Chinese Restaurant, the regular site of multimillion- and multibillion-dollar deals. Slayton’s own company hasn’t done too badly either, seeing a 1,300 percent increase in revenue from third quarter 1999 to third quarter 2000. The Jaguars and Benzes flow along the street onto the entrance ramp of Highway 101 in front of Slayton’s office.
“It is never quite enough,” Slayton says. He knows. At one point he was so busy running a previous company that he forgot his wife’s birthday and his promises to be together on their wedding anniversary. He learned that he needed to play the game in the Lord’s way. “I have told Marina a hundred times since then that she was right. Now I rarely work on Sunday.”
Slayton encourages all his employees to do the same, and to go home no later than 7:30 each evening. Slayton and his fellow Christians, Chen, Leary, and Medin, are redefining community, business, success, and risk.
“If you are willing to bet your job on your beliefs, you can go a long way,” says Medin’s oft-repeated war cry. Christians in high tech realize that the second act of the Internet revolution may see its power brokers trade their shattered dreams for God’s grace and truth.
Tony Carnes is CT’s senior news writer and the editor, with Anna Karpathakis, of New York Glory: Religions in the City (New York University Press).
Even when they’re writing fiction, these
Hollywood insiders bring the truth to bear.
The head writer of a popular television show is a Christian. He isn’t the only Christian in Hollywood. This article profiles three of them—two screenwriters and a producer—who are Christians. They tread a fine line when bringing biblical truth to secular entertainment. It’s not easy being salt and light in a place better known for salty language and dark content. In this study we’ll look at the role of Christians in Hollywood and Christ’s call to bring the truth to our society, wherever we are.
Matthew 5: 13-16
“Cinema Verities.” Christianity Today, September 3, 2001 • Vol. 45, No. 11, Page 94
Identify the Current Issue
Note to leader: Prior to this class, provide for each student the article “Cinema Verities” from Christianity Today magazine.
(For this discussion, you may want to encourage participants to watch an episode of a particular show with a Christian writer or that often deals with religious themes. Choose Judging Amy, Touched by an Angel, or The Simpsons, for example. Or you may want to tape an episode or two, look for scenes in which you think Christian influence is present or absent, and show them to the group to spur discussion.)
Hollywood is arguably the most influential city in the world. New York is the world’s economic center. Washington rules the political arena, but it is Hollywood that has captured the imaginations of people at every corner of the globe. American movies and television shows are seen in almost every country in the world. But the same entertainment machine that a few decades ago depicted the United States as the land of dreams today exports a steady stream of sex, graphic language, and violence.
In the middle of it all are a handful of Christians who are trying to make a living by writing decent, quality scripts that won’t make their mothers blush—or grieve their Lord, for that matter. Some see themselves as screenwriters who happen to be Christians. Others know that, like it or not, they are covert missionaries.