Teaching Religion and Film: A Review

As I have mentioned in other reviews of film and religion books, the interdisciplinary field is in something of its teenage years.  While it is a particularly strong field, it is at a point in its life where it must decide...or articulate...which path(s) it will take.  In his collection of essays, Teaching Religion and Film, Gregory J. Watkins brings together some of the finest thinkers, writers, and practitioners in the field to share their thoughts on possible next steps and the ways in which t … [Read more...]

A Graphic Depiction of the Flood

We are quickly approaching the four year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  I was living in Charlottesville, Virginia, at that time and was forced to keep up with those tragic events from news accounts and phone calls with family and friends.  The images on the screen and the stories I heard seemed literally otherworldly...the storm and broken levees things from a Roland Emmerich film.  Moreover, the inept leadership at the city, state, and national levels before, during, and after the storm se … [Read more...]

(Un)Funny People

In his only talking role in The Unholy Three , silent film star Lon Chaney plays a ventriloquist-turned-crook who takes the fall for a crime that he didn't commit so that the woman he loves can be with the man that she loves.  As they part, he tells her, "That's all there is to life, a little laugh...a little tear."  Judd Apatow's latest film, Funny People, complicates this mantra, but not in a good way. … [Read more...]

Heartbreakingly Horrific…

Over the past couple of years, I have become a devoted follower of Dark Horse Comics, especially their Hellboy and B.P.R.D. series.  Though I have devoted significant attention to the intersections of spirituality/theology/religion and popular culture in film, television, and print, the latter has rarely included comics.  I read numerous comics each week, but because I feel less knowledgeable about the histories, theories, and techniques of the art form, I am less comfortable writing about t … [Read more...]

A Princely Offering

Thankfully, with each new Harry Potter film, I have a thoroughly enjoyable experience while being challenged to reflect on a key spiritual or theological insight in a fresh new way.  The latest release, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, does not disappoint. … [Read more...]

Irreversible: A Review

I recently heard a story about the legendary Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa who, upon accepting a lifetime achievement award when he was in his 80s, said in his speech, "I am just beginning to realize the possibilities of film."  This from one of cinema's greatest artists whose films will endure and inspire for generations to come!  Each new generation reveals fresh possibilities as new technologies and their accompanying challenges emerge.  Some contemporary filmmakers respond in creative ne … [Read more...]

After Life

One of the most influential books that I have read over the past few years has been Marcus Borg's The Heart of Christianity, specifically his comments on the distinction between faith, belief, and knowledge and the concept of truth in all of them.  These have had a great impact on my own faith and the ways in which I interact with and think about fellow Christians and people of other faiths.  As Christians, we (or most of us) believe quite a bit but know relatively little about what we believe.  … [Read more...]

Bay's Movie(s) not Transforming

Two things we know about Michael Bay:  he loves to blow stuff up and he loves America.  It's a fitting pair given the explosive way most Americans celebrate their independence.  Unfortunately, his desire to blow stuff up is just as infantile as his view of the country that he loves so much. … [Read more...]