Category: Movies

Accidental Courtesy and the Difficult Call to Love One’s Enemies

America’s greatest sin may be the pernicious racism that has persisted since the country’s inception. No matter the economic heights the nation climbs nor the technological feats achieved, the United States has been plagued by the injustice of racial inequality. The documentary Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race, & America, available on Netflix, chronicles one man’s unlikely and unusual…  [more]

Happy Death Day’s Scars of Redemption

Despite its slasher trappings, Happy Death Day is more fantasy film than horror flick. Sure, some viewers might jump when an attacker in a baby mask kills medical student Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) after her late-night birthday party. But when the scene cuts to Tree back in her bed, beginning anew the day that just ended, we know we’re in the realm of wish-fulfillment. Happy Death Day doesn’t want to…  [more]

Thor: Ragnarok’s Prophetic Call to Confession

Thor: Ragnarok will be remembered as the goofy Thor installment, thanks to a zany middle section set on a psychedelic planet named Sakaar where Jeff Goldblum, sporting blue eyeliner and space pajamas, presides over a gladiatorial tournament. And while those scenes are enough to recommend the movie, I wouldn’t want to overlook a rich and theologically resonant narrative thread that involves Thor’s home…  [more]

Five Solas, Five Films

One way of summarizing the distinctive Christian teachings that emerged 500 years ago with the Reformation is through a collection of Latin slogans known as the “five solas” (from the word sola, meaning “only” or “alone”). In regard to how salvation is achieved and received, the solas answer: sola Scriptura: “only by Scripture” sola fide: “only by faith”…  [more]

Imagining Faithfulness with The Lego Ninjago Movie

Ninjago hits something of a sweet spot for me. First, it’s a line of Legos, and as a child I devoted a lot of space on annual Christmas lists to Legos, so there’s a tactile nostalgia. Second, my oldest son loves the world of Lego Ninjago and has taught my youngest son to love it, and I love them. So there I sat in the theater for The Lego Ninjago Movie, expecting little more than cool visuals, a few jokes…  [more]

American Made: Tom Cruise Chases After the Wind

During a particularly tense moment in American Made, Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) asks his wife, “Do you trust me?” When she snaps, “No,” Seal changes tactics, asking, “Do you love me?” Questions of love and trust run through American Made, which tells the true-ish story of Seal, who in real life went from being a pilot for TWA to running planes for the CIA, the DEA, Latin American…  [more]

Martin Luther at the Movies

The weight of five centuries has a way of flattening out certain historical events in the popular imagination. The Reformation tends to suffer this fate, with the doctrinal arguments at its center giving it a patina of high-church stuffiness. For this reason, it can be easy to overlook how readily the story of the Reformation, and particularly Martin Luther’s role in instigating it, lends itself to the…  [more]

Blade Runner 2049 and Our Created Capacity for Awe

The awe-inspiring visuals of Blade Runner 2049 paint more than a pretty picture. They also suggest, alongside the story, that the very expression of awe is a uniquely human quality. Might the movie be right—that if you’re capable of expressing wonder, you have a soul? Blade Runner 2049, as its title suggests, asks this question in an imagined future. A sequel to 1982’s Blade Runner, in which…  [more]

Columbus and the Architecture of Worship

When I first stepped into the enormous Canterbury Cathedral, which direction do you suppose I looked? This, the central location of worship for the Church of England, is a series of heavenly columns drawing the eye upward in a posture of rapt attention. All the architectural elements are crafted for fostering wonder. It’s a stark contrast to a few of the American churches where I’ve served as a pastor,…  [more]

The Passion of the mother!

No one who saw mother! will be shocked to learn that CinemaScore, which measures audience reactions, awarded the movie an “F.” It’s a tough watch, one that includes Buñuelian surrealism, two hours of abuse heaped upon star Jennifer Lawrence, and a ghastly sequence involving a newborn baby. Nobody exits the theater with a warm sense of reassurance. But Christians might leave mother! feeling…  [more]

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