Meaning at the Movies
Grant Horner, Crossway
“Becoming a discerning viewer” is the subtitle of this succinct, stirring guide to approaching films with your faith switched on.
Discernment is the core message of American film lecturer and proactive believer Grant Horner, who comfortably weaves his personal tastes and evident movie nerdness throughout a welcome addition to an increasingly popular area of theology.
While it’s fantastic that celluloid is being dissected by Christian thinkers and their insights channelled into resources, too many theological books about film are stuffy journals of yawn-inducing academia. How they assist or advise everyday viewers can be lost in the communication of ideas.
Spurred by cinema being the dominant art form of the past century, Horner isn’t too dry or spurious as he exhorts Christians to think deeply about each movie they consume.
Every movie has a message, usually more than one, projected by its plot, direction, acting or editing or so on.
Like a funnel for most of the prominent theological attitudes to movie watching, Horner’s easy-reading book launches from the second half of Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 1. Before offering examples of discerning the meaning within movies, broken into genres (film noir to romantic comedies and sci-fi), Horner explains how the crucial Romans passage aligns with cinema creations being distorted versions of God’s suppressed Truth — whether they intend to be or not.
Sure, that sounds a bit too deep and serious, but that’s because it is. It’s a good thing Horner has a way with words, makes strong arguments via specific films, and yet never suggests Christians should watch every movie ever made.
Horner calls for what he believes God calls us to do: discern, using God’s Word as our remote control.
Ben McEachen is the Reviews Editor of Empire Magazine.