It’s always helpful to sit back and think about why you do something and how you are doing something. When watching movies it is so easy to get caught up in not thinking about them, especially since a lot of the movies that come out are what would be called, “popcorn movies”. They are tasty, quick to digest, and not all that heavy to munch on for two hours. However, at Reel World Theology, we are not comfortable to merely snack on a movie, but you can call what we do here a slow and multi-course movie meal.
Two days removed from putting out episode #50 of the Reel World Theology podcast, it is this conviction that “entertainment is not mindless” that motivates us to continue onwards and to forge ahead with thinking deeply and thoughtfully about the movies we watch.
In that same mold of thought, Alissa Wilkinson, chief film critic at Christianity Today and professor at King’s College in New York, wrote a helpful article on faith and movie watching at Reel Spirituality, an offshoot cultural initiative of Fuller Theological Seminary. She uses the dining analogy to refer to movie-watching like having someone over for dinner:
“Entertainment…is not a one-way street in which the artist or actor or filmmaker performs and the audience is entertained. He reaches back toward an older meaning “entertain,” one we use less these days: a sort of analogue for hospitality. When you have dinner guests over to your house, you certainly are giving them something—a roast chicken, a glass of wine—but you’re also receiving from them.”
I believe I first heard this idea of the older definition of “entertainment” while reading James Harleman’s book, Cinemagogue, and I really enjoy how this older use of the word, now mostly obsolete in that usage, has the connotation of engaging with intent to listen to someone. That is what our aim and ultimate goal with each movie we watch is at Reel World Theology. We want you, the listener and reader, to walk away having entertained the movie’s intent and message and be able to digest it to find the heart of God in it and how Christ can inform the movies we watch.
Read the whole of Alissa’s article and let us know what you think of what she has to say. I am encouraged that the chief critic at CT, and all of them for that matter, are conscious of engaging film and narrative in a thoughtful and faithful way.