This is the first entry in what I hope will be a long, engaging conversation. The Internet is crowded with amateur critics and armchair theologians — thanks for welcoming another. I hope that this particular combination of writing about film, faith and the areas in which they intersect is able to stay fresh. Your time is valuable, and I hope to honor that with every post.
Despite my ten-year history of writing in print and online, I decided not to move my archives over from my old site. We’re beginning a new conversation in a new place, and I like the idea of starting clean. The old version of Chrisicisms was a mish-mash of whatever I wanted to write about – film, politics, theology, culture, self-improvement and parenting. This is going to be more focused, with a heavy emphasis on faith, entertainment and culture. That doesn’t mean other areas won’t come into play. But given the new focus, I thought it best to start clean.
So, new readers and old, welcome to Chrisicisms. You probably have some questions about what this site will be, so I thought I’d use this inaugural post to explain who I am and what I hope this site becomes.
Who am I?
I’ve been writing about movies for more than a decade from the Detroit area. I grew up enamored with film, even (especially?) when growing up in a strict Baptist church that forbade us from seeing them. As a kid, I wrote stories with my friends, inspired by the movies and TV shows I grew up with. Especially ones that involved ninjas. I outgrew the ninjas, but not the writing or love for entertainment.
My twin passions for film and writing have always been intertwined. As a painfully introverted high school student, I joined the school newspaper because I wanted to write. I was, however, too bashful to interview anyone. I spent my days in the back of the classroom on an old computer writing film reviews. My first was for “Broken Arrow,” which I loved because “things blew up real good.” Ahem. In college, my first assignment as a journalism major was to interview a local student who was about to sell his independent vampire comedy to Troma. I was immediately hooked.
Four years after graduating college, following a painful detour into call center work, I started working at a local newspaper. It was the best possible experience I could ask for. I was the sole reporter for two growing communities, and I had the responsibility for filling the majority of the paper for that zone. Most importantly, I had editors who encouraged experimentation. I wrote opinion columns and movie reviews. The latter became a part of my identity that I took just as seriously as my reporting, possibly more. I attended press screenings. I interviewed directors and actors. In 2007, I was invited to join the Detroit Film Critics Society. When I left the paper in 2009, I continued to write on a freelance basis until early last year, when I briefly wrote for a fledgling local magazine.
That’s the long version. The short version? I’m a Christian, a writer and a film lover. I’m a theologically conservative, politically progressive individual who equally loves John Piper, CS Lewis, Richard Linklater and Quentin Tarantino. I’m a husband, a father, a theologian and a Netlix binger. I hope that strange DNA will result in a unique spot of the Internet to talk about entertainment, faith and culture.
What this blog is NOT.
- A “Christian movies” blog. I have little use for “God’s Not Dead,” “War Room” or “Facing the Giants.” I understand they’re popular parts of evangelical subculture, and I’m sure they’ll be discussed here in some fashion. But a fair warning – unless there’s a dramatic uptick in quality, my position will likely not be favorable.
- A swear counter. If you want a site that tells you which movies are safe for the whole family, look elsewhere. There’s absolutely a conversation to be had about what is pure, right, noble, true, etc. But I’m more concerned about context than content, and I believe a PG-13 action flick can ultimately be more harmful than many R-rated dramas. If you want a thoughtful discussion of content, welcome. If you want to count f-bombs, there are other sites for that.
- A daily devotional. We will discuss faith and film here. That’s the reason this site exists. But I won’t be searching for three valuable lessons you can learn from “Captain America,” or breaking down how we can apply “Jurassic World” to our life. This blog is a celebration of film and television through the lens of faith. I hope we can pay art and theology the highest compliment by digging deeper, respecting its finer points and not dumbing it down.
What I hope this blog IS.
- A celebration. I’m tired of snark. I love movies. I love my faith. And while I’m sure there will be posts that discuss my disappointments, I want this to be a place that celebrates a medium that I love so much.
- An experiment. I have no idea what this is going to be. I have some ideas for recurring features and some things I want to tackle off the bat. But what it becomes will reveal itself over time. And I’m excited to see where it goes.
- A discussion. I don’t want to be talking about film in a vacuum. I want you to disagree with me, share your insights and keep this conversation going. If you have a recommendation you’d like to see or an idea for the blog, let me know! I can’t do this without you – nor do I want to.
The plan right now is to keep this updated twice a week, but I hope for more than that. If you have something you’d like to know about me or would like to see on this blog, let me know below! I’m looking forward to this conversation!
Again, welcome to Chrisicisms!