Film is the New Literature

Film is the New Literature.

So says Robert Velarde, in his essay by this title in The Future of Evangelicalism series at

Here are a few excerpts:

While I firmly believe that literary people will always exist, they are now in the clear minority. This is unfortunate, since the great ideas of history are most commonly discussed in depth not on screen, but in print. Nevertheless, thoughtful films can indeed offer much to ponder philosophically and theologically, while even poorly constructed films can provide us with opportunities to discuss meaningful ideas. However, Evangelicals have often failed to excel in the process of exegeting the medium of film. But if Christianity is to remain relevant to culture at large it must seek to understand and evaluate film intelligently.

Although there are a number of Evangelical responses to popular culture, including film, the typical responses fit into two broad categories: entrench or embrace. The former option staunchly stresses Christian separation from the world, opting instead to entrench itself in the Christian subculture and, as a result, wanting little or nothing to do with the supposed engine of the world, which includes film. The latter option embraces and celebrates pop culture, including film, but often at the expense of nuanced discernment.

A tertium quid, or third option I propose, is to engage culture intelligently. This seems, on the surface, a relatively simple and sensible suggestion, but the caveat is that engaging culture intelligently requires the development of related knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. This knowledge may include, for instance, a well-rounded comprehension of the Christian worldview, an understanding of competing worldviews, an aptitude for logical thinking, a rudimentary understanding of broad philosophical categories (such as metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics), a capacity to make lateral connections between ideas, a degree of biblical and cultural literacy, a capacity for practical apologetics, and a good dose of tact.

Films tell stories, as does the Bible. Christ knew the power of story and, as a result, incorporated engaging storytelling elements in his many parables. On some level we typically respond better to stories than we do to textbooks or preachy lectures. Learning to intelligently engage the storytelling medium of film, carefully exegeting the form, is a far better response than entrenching ourselves in our subculture defiantly or else embracing films uncritically.

Read the entire essay.

Do you think Velarde is right? Why or why not?

Note: Watch for another post with some recommended resources for equipping Christians to watch movies with discernment.

1 comment:

Anna said...

I agree!

A lot of people think movies are a waste of time (some of them are) but they can also be a great source of storytelling. A good story is a good story, whether on or off the screen. And a lot goes into a movie - some people don't think it's an art, but I do. It's just an art that is often abused.