Fantasy, faith, and other fun things

Just for the record, I am one of several people quoted in Douglas Cramer’s article ‘Longing for Other Worlds: Faith, Fantasy, and Orthodox Christians Today‘ in the current issue of Again magazine. Here is the relevant paragraph:

The best fantasy likewise reminds us of the feel of godly power. Film critic Peter Chattaway, a recent convert to Orthodoxy, explained his own experience: “I began attending an Orthodox church while Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings adaptations were still coming out, and they helped stoke a sense of majesty and awe that I still feel whenever I bow or venerate something.”

FWIW, this is how I phrased it — in considerably more detail — at Jeffrey Overstreet’s blog two months ago:

I happened to start attending my wife’s Orthodox church (now my Orthodox church) between the theatrical releases of The Two Towers and The Return of the King. The fact that many people at my church, including my priests, are huge Inklings fans was pretty nice. But the reason I mention this is because Peter Jackson’s films filled me with a deep appreciation for royalty, majesty, and awe — qualities that are absolutely essential to worship in an Orthodox setting.

Whenever I bow or prostrate myself during the service, I do so because Jackson’s films, for all their action-movie histrionics, encouraged a reverent sensibility in me. For that matter, whenever I kiss my priest’s hand, I think of Pippin kissing Denethor’s — which is no diss against any of my priests, because the point is, it is the office that commands respect, more than the person who occupies it; and indeed, one of the key points that Tolkien and Jackson make through the character of Denethor is that some people are unworthy of the offices they occupy, and that ultimately people who act as stewards for higher powers will be judged based on how they reflect and submit to those higher powers.

The point is, I think Jackson’s films made me a better churchgoer. And there is nothing — nothing — in Adamson’s movie that inspires that kind of reverence in me.

Oops, there I go, bashing the Narnia movie again!

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his award-winning film column for that paper, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He has also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005) and The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film (De Gruyter, 2016).

  • 5cent

    Excellent incites about correlating Lord of the Rings and becoming Orthodox. Makes perfect sense to me. Elise was partially converted herself by reading The Brothers Karamazov (which serves to reason), but also by reading Brave New World by Huxley, which has nothing at all to do with Orthodoxy. But there is something in it that somehow gives so much creedence the ancient Faith. Perhaps we’ll tell you about it sometime.

    P.S. Be sure to see my comment in the last post.

  • magnus

    Samll point – Orthodoxy isn’t actually a different religion than the any of the Anabaptist denominations, so Pete really isn’t converting since he is staying within the same religion.
    He is switching to an older and more elaborate form of practice, but not a whole new religion. (which the word conversion does connotate) If Pete was leaving the Abnabaptist tradition for Islam or the JW’s – then he would be converting.