Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A movie class

I hope you have been enjoying this fresh new year!  Mine has been packed with lots of fun things.  I spent the first two weeks watching movies.  I audited a class at Emmanuel Christian Seminary about theology in the cinema.  I watched a few movies in December to help with this class and I did a good bit of reading books on the topic.  I spent the first week of January trying to catch up on movies I have missed over the years while I was in Kenya.   The next week was spent in watching more movies during the class and talking about the various spiritual themes that can be found in them.  It was a very eye opening couple of weeks!

I generally watch movies to relax and veg a little.  I don't often think about what the movie is trying to 'say.'  I just enjoy the experience and move on to the work of the next day.  Sometimes I will see a very obvious theme and might think about it for while, but usually, I just enjoy the story.  This class helped me see the many and varied spiritual themes that can be found in movies.

Why is this important?  People may not go to church, but they do watch movies.  They might be willing to talk about the themes of the movies.  Others may be like me and think a movie is wonderful without thinking about the implications of what the movie is teaching in all the fun.

I went to see the movie Les Miserables.  I must confess that I had never read the book or seen any version of this story.  I knew the outline of the story, but not much more than that.  This was an easy one to see spiritual themes in, so it was a good place to start.  Themes of forgiveness, grace, the balance between grace and law, and sacrifice and redemption were pretty easy to spot and to ponder.

Another movie that got me really thinking was Contact.  People all around us are looking for meaning and trying to understand the relationship between science and religion.  This movie explores a lot of those questions.  How do we prove God's existence?  How do we prove love exists?  Is science all about proof or is there some belief in there?  How do we who believe in God treat those who don't?  What about faith?  Is it blind?  Is it based on feelings, evidence or a mixture?

This class dealt with a lot of different types of movies.  I cried a lot while watching these movies and I also laughed a good bit.  Most of the movies we watched in class were tear-jerkers, but we did watch a couple that were funny with some pretty serious themes.  Before class, I watched Groundhog Day and in class we watched Forrest Gump.  Is life just a meaningless repetition of events until we die?  What gives it meaning?  How much does our attitude change the way we view our life?  How does our society view a really good person?  Do we mock them and say they are just stupid?  Is real love intelligent?  How does love work for or against great power?  Foolishness over against power and wisdom are great themes in Forrest Gump.  How does that relate to God and the Bible?

Well, those are just a few examples.  It was a fun class.  I saw several movies I had never heard about and some that I wanted to see, but never got the opportunity.  I think I will watch movies a little differently in the future because of this too.  I will also think more about questions to ask after seeing a movie with friends.  I might even choose some movies for my English students to watch (over several hours because of having to stop to read subtitles) that I might not have thought of using in the past, like the one below.

Would you like some movie recommendations to get you started?  Comment or send me an e-mail and I will be glad to help you.