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Theology In Film
God has often communicated with humanity through stories and Scripture may be viewed as God's story interacting with ours. Film is a rich story-telling medium that gives God much to work with in communicating with viewers, whether or not the filmmakers intended this. Because film works with images, music and words, it is a visceral experience that, at best, can transport the viewer to a divine encounter. This is highly individualized from viewer to viewer; some of the multitude of ways could be by general theme of the film, the struggles of a character, the interactions between characters, or a few moments of dialogue.
It is enriching to both share one's experience after watching a film and hear others' experiences. One important function in Theology in Film showings is to create a non-judgmental climate afterwards where the viewers can process their reactions with each other during a discussion session.
A theologically relevant film is one that says anything significant about life. Film is an art-medium. Art with timeless value is a reflection of the mind of God. Most theologically relevant films are also good art, however, artistic experience by its nature is idiographic. This, coupled with God's individualized communication, means that a theologically relevant film for one Christian may not be for another.
Theology in Film committee members are individuals who enjoy both films and discussing theology. The film selection process involves a committee member viewing the film and personally perceiving God communicating through it. If the committee member is willing to host it, s/he nominates it for a Theology in Film showing. One other committee member needs to second the nomination, thereby signaling that s/he has seen the film and is willing to co-host it. The committee is large (approximately 15 members) and diverse, to ensure that a broad cross-section of religious and artistic preference is represented. A large committee also makes it more likely that at least two members will have previewed a film and will be willing to host it.
Although God can communicate to us through films, they are human endeavors that implicitly bring dangers. The potential value of a film has to be weighted against its drawbacks, with the touchstone being how much Theology in Film committee members sense God communicating through it. Objectionable content does not, by itself, disqualify a film. When a selection for Theology in Film is announced, its rating and the content responsible for the rating will be made clear, and it will be assumed that viewers are adults who have made an informed, responsible decision to attend.
The Theology in Film committee typically hosts four DVD viewings at CrossWalk per year, normally on Saturday evenings. When a theologically relevant film is playing in a nearby cinema, a Sunday trip can be arranged.