MOVIES & How a Hollywood producer uses Oscar season to teach theology

by Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 2/15/2015

As a producer for blockbuster films in both the X-Men and Star Trek franchises, Ralph Winter is no stranger to the world of movies. As a devout Christian who once considered going to seminary and becoming a pastor, Winter also knows about teaching theology. It’s no wonder he has combined both…

During Oscar season, Winter often teaches a class at his church on some of the nominated films. “When I am in town, I love doing my class on the best picture nominees and how they match up with what we believe,” he says. “Much like a Bible study, you are simply asking what does it say, what does it mean, and what does it mean to me.”

…Using the same questions he asks as a producer to decide if a story needs to be told, he develops discussions that will help those in the class better understand and examine the meaning of the movie.

“Don’t get me wrong, the audience is very smart,” he told CT (Christianity Today). “They know intuitively if a movie is good or not; they just aren’t able to always articulate why. So the class is first about understanding and learning how to ‘read’ a movie. Then we can thoughtfully analyze each one.”

With the Oscars approaching, Winter gives three suggestions for the pastor or church leader who would like to better understand movies and equip their churches to do the same.

  1. Learn how to read movies, understand what is being said, and how movies can push our “buttons.”
  2. Dig a little deeper to see what the cultural significance might be with the story or similar stories being told.
  3. Develop discerning consumers in our church community, to see what movies connect us to the surrounding community, what challenges there might be to our faith beliefs, and ways to engage in dialogue and action in the community as a result—showing the world who we are…

Additional resources for understanding entertainment through a biblical lens:

The Stories We Tell—Mike Cosper
Hollywood Worldviews—Brian Godawa
Eyes Wide Open—William Romanowski

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MISSIONARIES & Insanity of God’ Film Shows Faith Amid Despair

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In my books “The Healthy Church” and “Cure for the Common Church” I encourage suburban churches to share a greater percentage of their wealth as John Perkins suggests in his “3 Rs of Reconciliation.” However I find very few church doing so. A clearer understanding of the sacrifice of missionaries might help suburban congregations sacrifice more … as missionaries are daily sacrificing around the world. Go see this powerful first film from LifeWay films for a reminder.

Insanity of God’ Film Shows Faith Amid Despair

by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 7/27/16.

Nik Ripken almost abandoned hope when he first arrived in Somalia 25 years ago.

Ripken, then a young International Mission Board (IMB) missionary, had caught a ride with the Red Cross in a small plane carrying relief supplies across the border between Kenya and its war-ravaged neighbor.

What he saw shook him to the core. He met parents who asked not for food and water for themselves, but for burial cloths for the children they’d lost. He saw soldiers passing out narcotics rather than relief supplies to those in need.

It was a country where despair was commonplace.

“It was like I’d been plunged into hell,” Ripken recounts in The Insanity of God, the first theatrical release from LifeWay Films. It opens in 400 theaters across the United States on August 30 as a one-night event.

The movie, based on a book by Ripken (who uses a pseudonym), follows him and his wife Ruth from their days as a young missionary couple just starting out through their time in Somalia and some of the hardest places in the world.

Read more at …