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The book

The book is written, but not yet published. I’m working through options for publishing. In the meantime, here’s more about the book. If you want to stay up to date with the status of the book, sign up for the website feed for comments on this page — I’ll add quick status comments when there are significant updates.
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Working title

: The Movies as a Channel for Christian Growth
The title will likely change before publication (which will also cause the name of the website to change), but for now, this is it.

Short description

turns the process of film criticism around: Rather than focusing heavily on how we critique a film, the book describes how we can, in a sense, let a film critique us. It builds a multi-stage framework of thought for why, how, and by what processes and spiritual principles film can and should play a role an individual Christian’s discipleship and personal growth, including growing our ability to love our cultural neighbors. The book builds on, integrates, and extends (a) prevailing current thoughts on Christian cultural awareness and engagement, (b) recently published books on film and theology, and (c) classical sources and thinkers including the Bible, Western philosophy, C.S. Lewis, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Hans Urs von Balthasar, John Calvin, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

What’s unique about the book?

has a different center of gravity than most books in the area of faith and film. Many books center on the conversation between theology and film or on the relationship between the Christian community and the culture at large. Others center on theological readings of specific films. Some recount personal experiences of film’s impact on the authors’ lives; others are intended as resource books for sermon illustrations. The center of is Christian discipleship and growth — the processes by which we become who we need to be as Christians — and how film can help us grow to love the same things that God loves.

Book summary

By drawing connections between film, Christian growth, and the two greatest commandments (love God and others), describes how film can be an important part of our individual Christian growth and our relationships with all those around us. The highest aim of Christian discipleship is for our hearts to be transformed until we fully love both God and our neighbors. Engaging well with film can strengthen our ability to love as it enlivens us and enriches our hearts. Christian attitudes toward film include seeing it as a cultural battleground and seeing it as harmless entertainment with little connection to the Christian life. These attitudes can prevent a film from reaching our hearts. A film’s best impacts are when it causes us to “look very closely at [our] own soul[s]” (Pekinpah) and “in how many hearts it changes” (Miyazaki).

We should love God with both our minds and our hearts. We need multiple channels for learning and growth, including primarily rational channels, like sermons and Bible studies, and largely non-rational channels like art and film. Our hearts change better through concrete, transformative experience than through abstract moral imperatives, and film can take us to new places and bring us new perspectives that open heart-level paths for growth. As a film concretely embodies goodness, truth, and beauty, it embodies the heart of God and can draw us toward the things God loves. When a film embodies badness, lies, and ugliness, it can repel us, propelling us toward what God loves. Although we shouldn’t enjoy ugly content for its own sake, a film that deeply explores the human condition will necessarily deal with ugliness in life. If we engage well with a film it can, from both sides, beauty and ugliness, help us to better love the things that God loves.

The more deeply we enter the world created by a film, offering grace toward both the characters and the filmmakers, the more deeply our hearts can be moved and transformed. Film should foster relationships of love and grace with all of our cultural neighbors, including filmmakers, even those whose films we find lacking. With film as a path to Beauty, Christian growth, and God’s heart, we can love film as His gift to us.

Book length

Approximately 107,000 words.

For more

For more information or inquiries about the book, contact me (Randy Heffner) at

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