WELS president on the two versions of the Luther movie

711x400-Prez-TogetherNot only did the writer/producer of the new Luther movie, Mark Trinklein, weigh in to explain why there are two versions.  So did the president of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Rev. Mark Schroeder.

He explains that it had nothing to do with fellowship issues or theological concerns about the other version.

Read his comments after the jump.

I appreciate both gentlemen for participating in this blog and for setting the record straight.

Sorry that we here at this blog and on FaceBook jumped to some conclusions.  Please share these explanations in your circles.

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The writer and producer explains the two versions of the Luther movie

275x315-LutherAdWe reviewed the new dramatized documentary, Martin Luther:  The Idea That Changed the World, and then expressed puzzlement  when we learned that it existed in another version, A Return to Grace:  The  Life and Legacy of Martin Luther. 

In the comments and on FaceBook, we discussed why there are two versions, with the latter being the version screened in Wisconsin Synod churches.  We did a lot of speculation about whether there were fellowship issues or theological concerns behind the changes that were made.

I am very grateful that the writer and producer of the film, Mark Trinklein, weighed in at the comments.  He explained why there are two versions.  He said that the movie was, in fact, designed for multiple versions and that they are planning new ones for Europeans, Chinese, grade schoolers, and other kinds of audiences.  He did say that they denied the request of a television network to “remove the religious material”!

Also weighing in was Rev. Mark Schroeder, the president of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  His comment is worth a separate post, which we will post tomorrow.

Again we see that we should always “put the best construction on everything.”  Read Mr. Trinklein’s explanation after the jump. [Read more…]

The other version of the new Luther movie

Return to GraceI reviewed Martin Luther:  The Idea That Changed the World, the dramatized documentary produced in Lutheran circles to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Reformation.  It turns out that there is another version of the same project, Return to Grace:  The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther.

The latter, which has a much better title in my opinion, is the version being promoted and screened by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS).

Why the two versions?  Is WELS, known as a stickler for fellowship issues, holding to some kind of “cinematic fellowship” as one Cranach commenter called it?  This provoked quite a bit of discussion in the comments to my review here at the blog and even more on Facebook.

First of all, the WELS version does NOT leave out scholars from the liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  Nor does it leave out the interview with the Catholic archbishop Timothy Dolan.   This is evident from the trailer, which you can see here after the jump.

It was said that the WELS version cuts out many Lutheran Church Missouri Synod scholars from the original film, but in the trailer the LCMS is represented.

After the jump, I’ll explain what I have found out so far about why there are two versions. [Read more…]

The new Martin Luther movie

downloadMartin Luther:  The Idea That Changed the World is a film funded by Thrivent to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  First Lutheran Church in Ponca City secured a local movie theater and opened it up for free to anyone who wanted to see the movie.  (Go here to learn how to host a screening and for further information.  It will reportedly be shown on PBS.  I suspect its longer life will be on DVD eventually.)  So we attended the screening.

The movie is not a drama about the life of Luther, as earlier Luther movies have been.  This is a documentary with dramatic re-enactments.  There is a narrator throughout (Downton Abbey‘s Hugh Bonneville), with experts discussing the different facets of Luther’s life and career.  Meanwhile, we see these episodes acted out, with the requisite settings and effects.  I’m not a huge fan of this hybrid of documentary and drama, but this one works as well as I’ve seen.  Luther’s life is so interesting and so inherently dramatic that the narrative is gripping and entertaining, even though it is continually interrupted by the scholars.  (Review continued, plus trailer, after the jump) [Read more…]

Academy Awards fiasco

Hollywood was feeling good.  The Academy Awards show featured continual Trump-bashing and the “Oscars So White” controversy was put to rest, with black people well-represented in all categories and winning lots of awards.

But at the grand finale, the announcement of the climactic “Best Picture” award, presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced that the winner was La La Land.  But they had been given the wrong envelope!  The La La Land producers were giving their speeches, until they were interrupted with the news that it was all a mistake.  Moonlight, the coming of age film about a young gay black man, was really the winner!  Pandemonium!

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Actors vs. Trump

Meryl_Streep_At_The_2014_SAG_Awards_(12024455556)_(cropped)Meryl Streep took the occasion of her lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes to give a blistering speech against president-elect Donald Trump.  See Mollie Hemingway’s critique of her speech.

Now actors have the same right as all other citizens to criticize their public officials.  This, along with other recent “public service” spots featuring actors and their political causes, does raise another issue:  acting outside of one’s vocation.
Actors have the vocation of effectively speaking lines written by someone else.  (It has always bothered me that actors get all of the attention in Hollywood, while those who write the scripts that they recite remain largely unknown by the public.)  They generally have no particular expertise in other areas, yet they regularly testify at Congressional hearings on a wide range of non-acting topics. [Read more…]