About Craig Detweiler

Craig Detweiler is Professor of Communication and Creative Director of the Institute for Entertainment, Media and Culture at Pepperdine University. He is a filmmaker, author, and cultural commentator who has been featured on CNN, Fox News, NPR, ABC's Nightline and in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. His most recent books is iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives.

Spiritual Transformation in The Birth of a Nation

Rarely has such a small, independent film been forced to carry such weight on its shoulders. Purchased for a record breaking price at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and positioned as an Oscar contender months before it was released, The Birth of a Nation can’t really sneak into theaters. As soon as writer-director-producer-star Nate Parker audaciously titled his Nat Turner story, The Birth of a Nation, he was taking on the tangled history of Hollywood and race relations in America. What rare a … [Read more...]

Morgan Freeman Explores The Story of God

On the heels of Holy Week, National Geographic presents The Story of God, an ambitious, expansive six-part series hosted by Morgan Freeman. This is an impressive interfaith study, with Freeman traveling to Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Guatemala, India and beyond in search of God, or at least humanity’s efforts to reach God. From the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to bathers on the Ganges, we follow Freeman and his guides to spiritual hot spots connected to prophecies and religious rites. Digital imagery a … [Read more...]

THE YOUNG MESSIAH in a World on Fire

Who has time to answer a child’s questions amidst racial strife, religious conflict, and a refugee crisis? There is so much uncertainty and anger surrounding our search for a new leader, threats can lead to violence at any moment. And if we fail to see the parallels being the tumultuous ancient world that Jesus entered and our context today, then we’ve missed the poignant, life affirming point of the captivating new movie, The Young Messiah.Opening in movie theaters this weekend, The Young Me … [Read more...]

RISEN Dares to Dabble in Mystery

The Greatest Story Ever Told is also one of the most oft told cinematic tales. So how can filmmakers bring a fresh take to Jesus’ death and resurrection? Directors often succumb to the digital temptation of bigger, louder, faster in an effort to instill faith in their audiences. Unfortunately, relying on spectacle only builds fascination with the special effects.Risen restores my faith in the Gospel film by doing the hard work of finding a new angle. It places us within the dramatic moment w … [Read more...]

Does the Arc In Hollywood Bend Towards Justice?

Editors' Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square. This month we're asking: Has Hollywood Become Our National Conscience? Read other perspectives here.While some decry the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as an exclusive club deserving an #OscarsSoWhite label, others see it pushing a liberal agenda through every ribbon displayed at the annual Academy Awards. Given the conservative nature of the economic decision-making in Hollywood, the truth resides somewhere in … [Read more...]

SPOTLIGHT: No More Silent Nights

Spotlight is a throwback to the golden age of seventies cinema. It is a whip smart tribute to investigative journalism, rooted in character and grounded in a world where the most special effect is human emotion. Spotlight follows the tireless efforts of a team of reporters from The Boston Globe to uncover the sexual abuse perpetrated by far too many Roman Catholic priests. The most disturbing revelations in this true story involve the systematic cover up by Cardinal Bernard Law and the Boston … [Read more...]

ROOM: Expanding Our Empathy

Heartache is an interesting condition. It is usually associated with romance, when break ups lead to heartbreak.   So what should we call a situation where you find yourself rooting so hard for someone else’s happiness, that their trials and tribulations make your heart ache?Room is both harrowing and heroic.   It places a heavy burden upon its characters and thanks to superb acting, writing and directing, transfers that weight to the audience.   Emma Donoghue adapted her award-winning novel … [Read more...]

MCFARLAND USA: An Interview with Legendary Coach Jim White

Do you like sports movies?   I cry every time I watch Field of Dreams. The rousing underdog stories of Rudy or The Rookie almost feel too good to be true. The cynic in us may resist, but once you actually meet Jimmy, the guy who sank the winning shot in Hoosiers, your perspective shifts.   These aren’t just tall tales, manufactured by Hollywood.  These can be modest, “everyday” heroes who challenge us to practice, to press on, to never give up.I recently met Jim White, the legendary cross … [Read more...]


The 2015 Oscar race has become one of the tightest and most unpredictable contests in years. Three well-crafted films emerged over awards season as the key contenders for the 2015 Academy Award for Best Picture: Boyhood, Birdman, and The Grand Budapest Hotel.  While Selma and Interstellar combined epic scale and meticulous craft, the Academy and the guilds obsessed over a few peccadilloes that kept them out of serious Oscar contention. (Only time will honor these two towering cinematic … [Read more...]


What 2015 Grammy moment moved you?   Kanye West’s cut in on Beck’s acceptance speech for "Album of the Year" garnered most of the headlines.   How sad to a stunt overshadow Annie Lennox’s rousing rendition of “I Put a Spell On You” with Hozier.   Pharrell reimagined his sunny single, “Happy,” into an intriguing protest echoing the "Hands up/Don’t shoot" posture that accompanied events in Ferguson, Missouri.   Prince slipped in the best one-liner of the night, “Albums still matter. Just like books … [Read more...]