On the day Christians gathered to celebrate the story of God coming to redeem His people through His Son’s death on the cross, Hollywood gathered to celebrate and honor their favorite stories in film from this past year.
On the surface, it may seem that those two celebrations are as far apart as possible, but at the heart of both celebrations are stories.
And even beyond that, the stories honored with Oscars share more in common with the Story than many Christians think. Good stories cannot help but reflect the one true Story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration.
Because of this, stories provide the perfect way to reach our culture. We simply have to know better how to understand the stories presented in movies and books.
For those looking to do, here are seven resources from a Christian perspective that can help you better understand movies specifically and art as a whole.
1. Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom & Discernment — Brian Godawa
2. Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture — William D. Romanowski
3. The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth — Mike Cosper
4. Art and the Bible — Francis Schaeffer
5. Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts — Steve Turner
6. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling — Andy Crouch
7. An Experiment in Criticism — C.S. Lewis
Seeking to better understand film does not mean we enjoy every Oscar-nominated movie or even watch them all. But it does mean when you watch films, you can evaluate them beyond simply whether you agree with the moral choices of the characters.
We see numerous poor decisions from individuals through out the Bible, including men of God like Abraham, Moses and David. But we recognize the united theme of Scripture points to divine truth, even if those in the story don’t always follow that truth.
Better understanding the grand stories our culture produces today (and how they connects with the overarching biblical story) enables us to discuss gospel concepts with our friends and family in a potentially unassuming way.
Your neighbor may not want to hear you talk about Jesus again, but maybe he’ll talk about the redemption of a main character in the latest movie he saw.
For that neighbor and for most of Hollywood, they know the stories are pointing beyond themselves, but they aren’t often sure to what. For them, they see it as an statue to an unknown god.
Like Paul in Athens (Acts 17:16-34), you can take what is unknown to them and proclaim the One who is known by you. But to do that, like Paul, you need to know the culture in which you are ministering. And understanding movies is one of the best ways.
Are there any books or other resources you have found helpful in understanding movies, stories and art?