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Church as ‘A Quiet Place’ in Age of Deadly Noise

One of the most exciting action sequences in A Quiet Place: Day One ends with the protagonists climbing up from Manhattan’s underground subway network and into a cavernous, quiet church. Barely escaping the sound-attracted alien monsters (called “Death Angels” in the Quiet Place franchise), Sam (Lupita Nyong’o) and Eric (Joseph Quinn) find a haven in the hallowed, quiet space of a damaged-but-still-intact cathedral. They join dozens of other survivors who also found refuge there, some silently kneeling in the pews to pray.

This moment reminded me of a similar scene in John Hillcoat’s 2009 film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. In that scene, “Man” (Viggo Mortensen) and “Boy” (Kodi Smit-McPhee) share a quiet space of safety in the ruins of a cathedral. Having built a fire to warm them in the cold night, they huddle together under a large cross in the church’s apse.

Both A Quiet Place: Day One and The Road offer sometimes bleak but ultimately hopeful visions of how to live when the world is falling apart. And the church—as a distinct eschatological community—is a key part of it.

Skeptics might interpret the imagery of these crumbling “haven” cathedrals as emblematic of religion’s last gasp in an increasingly godless world. But I find the imagery beautiful and galvanizing: a reminder that the church should lean into its countercultural distinctives and hold fast to its transcendent identity (see also: The Crown season 6, episode 6). As the world darkens into dog-eat-dog brutality, the church will carry the light of true humanity (Matt. 5:14–16). As the world’s chaotic noise grows deafening, the church will remain a quiet refuge of hope for the weary and worried.

Church: Beacon of Humanity in an Animalistic World

Both A Quiet Place and The Road are post-apocalyptic survivor stories that lean heavily into questions about surviving with our humanity intact. In harsh worlds where the drive to survive has led many people to resort to cannibalistic brutality, what motivates someone to live sacrificially, putting the interests of others above his own?

The Quiet Place franchise is built around the Christian virtue of sacrificial love, and it shows up powerfully in each of the three films. In the church scene in A Quiet Place: Day One, for example, Eric risks his life to track down an abandoned pharmacy to get Sam the medicine she needs. From the start of the film, Sam is a terminally ill woman living in a hospice facility. Her time is short. In a world of Darwinian survival, no one would put his life on the line to save the dying Sam. Yet Eric sees Sam (a total stranger to him just a few hours earlier) in tremendous pain, and something motivates him to boldly venture out of the church to find medicine to alleviate her pain, while the Death Angels swarm all around.

As the world darkens into dog-eat-dog brutality, the church will carry the light of true humanity.

Elsewhere we see other characters risk their lives to help others—it’s a theme in the film from start to finish. What’s this sacrificial impulse that undermines fleshly self-preservation in favor of saving others, even strangers? Selfless love. It was a radical concept when Jesus introduced it in the kill-or-be-killed ancient world, and it’s just as radical in a dystopian apocalypse.

In our post-Christian world, Christian virtues like self-giving and sacrificial love still exist. In The Road, this is “the fire” that must be carried on. Even if its source is dimmer and dimmer, and its logic more and more absurd in a brutish world, the fire still burns. And the church is the kindling that carries it on from generation to generation.

Church: Sanctuary of Rest in an Exhausting World

A Quiet Place and The Road also underscore the church as a place of rest and shelter. The characters in both films sleep and replenish their health in the church. Momentarily free from the terrors outside—monsters, marauders, and an exhausting pursuit of salvation—they can recalibrate and tend to one another, taking deep breaths and being still. For them, the church is a hospital for healing and a hospitable inn for resting—a dwelling place built on the words of Matthew 11:28–30.

Does the church have this reputation today? Arguably, no. Because in far too many instances, dangers are inside the church too. This is why it must be a perennial concern for churches to guard against wolves, ensuring God’s house is a haven of health defined by Jesus-centric worship and the collective pursuit of holiness, rather than self-serving interests and individual power grabs.

The encouraging news is that, on the ground, many biblically faithful churches are drawing the weary, the hurting, the vulnerable, and the exhausted into communities of safe, gospel-fueled restoration and hope. At their best, churches are havens from the horrors of life outside (including horrors caused by our own sin). For those at the end of their rope, barely outrunning whatever their version of the Death Angels might be, the church is a place where they can find footing on the solid ground of Scripture and renewal by the Spirit working among God’s people.

Church: Quiet Haven in a Noisy World

Finally, A Quiet Place reminds us the church at its best is a quiet refuge amid the cacophonous maelstrom. In the film’s sci-fi world, noise is death and quiet is life. Could there be a better metaphor for the dynamics of our digital age?

Our world is noisier than ever. A chorus of frenzied voices surround us online, shouting with the megaphones of social media or through the siren-song enticements of Lady Folly algorithms. The nonstop noise is killing us, numbing our ability to hear truth and eliminating all silence from our lives—the silence essential for prayer, contemplation, and growing in wisdom.

The nonstop noise is killing us, numbing our ability to hear truth and eliminating all silence from our lives.

Rather than mirroring the noisy culture, churches should recognize they can offer what more and more people are hungry for: silence, awe, reverence, stillness before God. The best way to draw Gen Z and Gen Alpha to church will not be adding to the ways they’re shouted at constantly, via apps and ads and influencers; rather, it will be to invite them into an escape from all that, into a sacred space of unhurried presence, quiet reverence, embodied worship, and collective encounter with the living God.

In an ever-more brutal, harried, and loud world, Jesus Christ’s church can be the quiet place we so desperately need.

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