Using God’s Story to Analyze Movies

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Last week I wrote a post on how we handle the “media exposure” dilemma with our children, using good, better, best. Today I wanted to introduce one method of analyzing movies.

Recently I took an “Engaging the Culture” class at my church. The premise of the class was “to gain a greater appreciation for creative work all around…engage critically in deciphering the message of the arts…become a more critically engaged Christian, able to discern the truth conveyed in our culture through the arts.”

One week we discussed “metanarratives”. A “metanarrative” is one over-arching context/story in which everything else fits.

Every culture has its own metanarrative.

Their metanarrative tells:
1) Where they came from
2) Where they are going
3) What happens in the middle
4) How they fit in the story timeline

As Christians we have a grand metanarrative to compare against all other metanarratives and works of art. It’s our worldview.

The Christian Metanarrative:
1) Where we came from: God created us
2) Where are we going: We will spend eternity in God’s presence
3) What happens in the middle:
There was an ideal, a fall, tension, redemption, and resolution
4) How we fit in the timeline:
We are in the church age after the redemption and before full resolution

When we watch a movie, read a story, or see a play, we can ask “where does this fall in the metanarrative?”

If a character in the story attempts to solve his problem, we may discuss the concept of “solving problems with our own strength?” Perhaps the character solved his problem in the story. However, in the grand metanarrative we recognize that we cannot save ourselves. Only through Christ’s redeeming love can we be saved.

The “metanarrative” concept helps us be active participants in our entertainment consumption. It also provides a framework for discussion when helping train our children to analyze media.

This week between Christmas and New Years, hopefully we will enjoy some time to relax and watch a movie (or two or three). Perhaps we could keep this idea of the metanarrative in mind and critically engage culture.

If you are interested…
1) Watch a movie
2) After the movie take time to discuss the story line of the film (intro of characters, problem, key event, resolution, key decision, validation of hero’s choice)
3) How does the film fit in the grand metanarrative (Christian metanarrative)?
4) Additional questions for discussion: What viewpoints are offered? Who changes? Is the change for better or worse? What does it say about God? What does it say about me or mankind? What does it say about how the world works? What are the truths of the movie? What are the lies?

Would love to hear what movies you watch and highlights from your discussions!

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