I have always enjoyed the movies. For most of my life I thought they were just a diversion. I went to the movies to waste time, enjoy a laugh, or thrill at adventure. Then I began to notice how some films are discussions of serious subjects. I discovered that some films made me think. At times, they even disturbed me. The more I started to notice this, the more I realized that more was going on at the movies than entertainment.
In his book Reel Spirituality: Theology and Film in Dialogue (Baker Academic, 2000), Robert K. Johnston helped me articulate what more is going on. According to Johnston, there is a conversation going on about God in Western culture and the church has not been invited to be a part of it. In fact, we are hardly aware of it. I agree with Johnston, and I believe as he does that if this discussion is taking place anywhere, it taking place at the movies.
"The Magic Lantern Show" is my attempt to bring the church back into the conversation. I want to redeem my time at the movies by writing to this blog. Really, I hope it turns into a b’logue, which is my term for a web dialogue, so I urge you to post your comments. In the hopes of good conversation, I want to hear from you. Of course, I should make some clear statements about my intended purpose for "The Magic Lantern Show" so we will be clear what it is and what it is not . . .
1. My entries are a dialogue between faith and film. It is an exercise in engaging the culture with a faith perspective. Whether you attend the movies or not, I invite you to be a part of the conversation. I invite you to disagree and share your faith perspective. Everyone is welcome to join in. Only please, as at the movies, be considerate of others and turn off your cell phones.
2. This website is not intended to be a review or recommendation of movies. I may comment on the content of the film, but please do not use my articles as a guide in determining you viewing choices. Please don’t assume that because I, a minister, went to see a film that it has some sort of religious seal of approval and it is safe for family viewing. You need to use your own discretion in making choices for you and your family. I don’t mind helping you make those choices if you want to email me, but please don’t mistake my commentary as an endorsement of any film. There are many good resources to find reviews on films.
3. Robert K. Johnston’s book is recommended reading. There are also many other websites devoted to a dialogue between faith and film. I recommend starting with the Hollywood Jesus website.
4. I intend to see a movie each week this summer and I intend to make at least one entry a week. I may make continued comments about the movie as the week goes on. Especially if we get a good conversation going.
5. Some of my reflections will be about my personal experience of growing up going to the movies. Going to the cinema is still a public event in many respects and I cannot help but reflect on the cultural and communal aspects of “going to the movies.”
Those are the basics. I have a list of movies I intend to go to but I am open to your recommendations. And now, "On with the show!"