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Radio, TV and Movies

  1. A Breath of Fresh Fantasy by William Siska

    Star Wars offers tasty morsels of the western, monster movie, swashbuckler, historical epic and sci-fi thriller all in one package. It offers a vision of fantasy as opposed to realism, and strikes us with the force of stepping from the cave into bright sunlight.

  2. A Soulful Afternoon in the Library by James M. Wall

    To lose one's joy is to lose one's soul.

  3. An Interview with Ken Burns by Timothy Larsen

    In this interview Ken Bourns says that in each of his documentary films he asks the simple questions: Who am I? Why am I hear? What is my purpose? Where did I come from and where am I going? What is bigger than me?

  4. Crowd Control by John Dominic Crossan

    The Passion of Christ is flawed and deviates fundamentally from the most authentic version of the story in the New Testament.

  5. Faithful to the Script by William Willimon

    Bishop Willimon comments on the film The Gospel of John. In his opinion it is an even better Jesus movie than Pasolini's The Gospel According to St Matthew.

  6. Farewell to the Clown: A Tribute to Charlie by Conrad Hyers

    Chaplin, like all great clowns, was in a peculiar way a religious figure. He revealed to us in the clown’s inimitable way certain truths about ourselves; he poked fun at our pride and pretension and reconciled us to one another and to a common humanity.

  7. Frodo’s Faith by Ralph C. Wood

    Tolkien obliquely suggests a hope for radically renewed life beyond "the circles of the world." The transcendent is caputred, even the divine quality of real love, by having it issue in a pity and pardon utterly unknown either to the warrior cultures of the ancient world or to our own equally merciless culture of competition.

  8. Garrison Keillor and Culture Protestantism by David Heim

    Comments on storyteller Garrison Keillor’s retirement from public radio: Keillor mocks institutions and people for whom he has a gentleness and fondness. The "grace" Keillor refers to is a generic grace, one that comes from simply living the common life in Lake Wobegon.

  9. Garrison Keillor’s ‘Prairie Home Companion’: Gospel of the Airwaves by Doug Thorpe

    There is a special intimacy about radio. It is a companion for one’s quietude. We are vulnerable with radio in a way that is impossible with television -- TV is somehow too public, too visual; our defenses rise too easily against it. But radio makes few demands. It allows the mind to wander, explore, go for long walks alone. You can close your eyes and not miss a thing.

  10. Harry Potter and the Bullies by Catherine M. Wallace

    Rowling portrays evil in unflinching detail but also dramatizes the appeal of the good. Her success in this difficult endeavor reflects the sophistication of her comedy, and her sense of humor keeps her from falling into either irony or sentimentality.

  11. Jesus on Film by Gerald Forshey

    In the final analysis, the central problem is dealing with a sacred story in a technological and pluralistic society. A melodrama fashioned from the paradigmatic story of Christ works against itself.

  12. Kids' Stuff: Media Fail the Test by James M. Wall

    We have allowed market forces to control television and the rest of our modem communications media -- to such a degree that the lowest common denominator of interest prevails. A free society rises or falls on the exercise of a collective responsibility. When we fail to respond to the needs and vulnerabilities of our citizens, we revert to the law of the jungle, permitting only the powerful to determine how we shall live.

  13. Larger Than Life: Religious Functions of Television by Peter Horsfield

    In the syncretistic way in which people today put together their own religious belief and life-style packages in ways that meet their individual needs, the mass media in their characteristic uses and contents are becoming a significant component of those belief systems. They are meeting needs and fulfilling some of the functions which people once found in theistic religion, and in the process are modifying some traditional expressions of religious faith

  14. Mister Rogers by Carol Zaleski

    Keeping children safe is our inescapable obligation and the measure of our adulthood. We may not be pacifist vegetarian teetotalers like Fred Rogers, but if we can learn from him about the life-giving power of self-emptying attention, then there will always be reason for hope.

  15. Movies and Censorship: Who Will Protect Freedom? by James M. Wall

    The classification system provided an excuse for exploitation of significant human emotions, trivializing sexuality in the name of freedom and making violence attractive when, by definition, it is ugly. However, the outrage of views has increased. Who will protect the industry? Who will protect our freedom?

  16. Not Global Villagers, but Global Voyeurs by Randall K. Bush

    The electronic media allow us to look without being touched—to watch but not react. The mass media have made us not global villagers, but global voyeurs—looking without risking involvement.

  17. On Being Alive to the Arts and Religion: Film by F. Thomas Trotter

    This brief essay evaluates film as an art form. Trotter explores how film developed, then looks at whether film has potential for communicating the Christian faith with integrity in the light of criticisms of such a project. Citing several films, Trotter turns to the three forms of biblical literature to suggest what is important for a film to provide religious content witn integrity.

  18. Romero: Evolution of a Martyr by Dean Peerman

    The author places the film Romero in political context and points out that conditions have not improved in El Salvador in the nine and a half years since the archbishop’s murder.

  19. Schemes from a Marriage by Janet Karsten Lawson

    The film, Scene’s from a Marriage, leaves unexamined the questions of how to redeem community in the larger society; it seems to have gone irrevocably to the devil as it has become technically more nearly perfect.

  20. Simpsons Have Soul by John Dart

    The Simpsons comedy takes many clever jabs at religion, but it also acknowledges the importance of religion in American culture.

  21. Superheroes, Antiheroes, and the Heroism Void in Children’s TV by Edward M. Berckman

    Let the heroes not be more moral or didactic, but more interesting and lifelike, engaged in struggles whose outcome could be in real doubt. The prevalence throughout our popular media of larger-than-life heroes fosters passivity, submission to authority and a yearning for easy solutions.

  22. The Birth of Evil: Genesis According to Bergman by Janet Karsten Larson

    It is artistic imaginations that can conceive, bring to birth, more intricately detailed human figures, which can give us what we most need now -- a conviction of our capacity for life that is textured richly enough to disclose our creaturehood as both problem and promise.

  23. The Church Moves Toward Film Discrimination by F. Thomas Trotter

    In the early 1968's, the National Council of Churches radically revised its approach to the film industry, moving from a self-serving pietism to a support for artistically superior films that deal honestly with the human condition.

  24. The Enemy Church by Edward and Tom Johnson Higgins

    The authors summaries the contents of Philip Pullman’s stories about the "evil church," and oppressive organized religion, but these stories portray a God who is not the God of the Bible. Nevertheless, the stories are powerful, enjoyable and imaginative.

  25. The Last Temptation: A Lifeless Jesus by James M. Wall

    Wall’s reasons for disliking The Last Temptation of Christ are not the same as those of the fundamentalists who have been protesting the film. Nevertheless, he has found it to be highly disappointing.

  26. The Making of Jesus by John Dart

    More than two decades after its original release, Bill Bright’s movie Jesus has become not only the most-translated film ever, but perhaps the most-viewed movie in history.

  27. The Problem with "The Passion" by Matthew Myer Boulton

    The trouble with the movie The Passion is that it proclaims a Braveheart Christianity. The Christ of the New Testament, by contrast, has a heart not so much brave as broken -- "broken for you," Christians recall.

  28. Tolkien the Movie by Ralph C. Wood

    A review of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. No film critic acknowledged Tolkien’s claim that his heroic fantasy is "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.

  29. Wobegon Poets: A Prairie Poem Companion by David Heim

    Garrison Keillor speaks of poetry at Lake Wobegon: the challenge of Shakespeare to high schoolers, poetry’s use by pastors, books pastors read, writers of poetry and Christian poetry of gratitude.

  30. Woody Allen, Theologian by John Dart

    Under the cover of comedy, Allen repeatedly makes the point that people do not pay enough attention to the fact of their mortality. This troubled agnostic religiophilosopher frequently uses priests and ministers, rabbis and nuns as comic ploys. His Love and Death was practically a complete theological statement on the screen -- despite distracting gags and funny lines.

  31. Your Kid or Mine? by Lynn Schofield Clark

    The movie Thirteen reminds us that we are called upon to love those who are hurting even when they threaten to hurt themselves or others, and we are asked to offer support to the beleaguered parents who often become isolated from others through the actions of their children.