Book Review

Faith and Film: A Brief Annotated Bibliography

Mark Bowald
Wednesday, January 31st 2024
Video film in different colors with a rectangle view finder.
Jan/Feb 2024

• Roy M. Anker, Catching Light: Looking for God in the Movies (Eerdmans, 2004). Anker has written and edited many other film related books.

• Christopher Deacy and Gaye Williams Ortiz, Theology and Film: Challenging the Sacred/Secular Divide (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008). Both Deacy and Ortiz have written other worthwhile related books.

• Craig Detweiler, Into the Dark: Seeing the Sacred in the Top Films of the 21st Century (Baker Academic Press, 2008). An early entry in the relevant Cultural Exegesis series edited by William Dyrness and Robert K. Johnston.

• Brian Godawa, Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment, updated and expanded edition (Intervarsity Press, 2009).

• Robert Jewett, Saint Paul at the Movies: The Apostle’s Dialogue with American Culture (Westminster John Knox, 1993). This is an early classic in the field; Jewett has written several follow-ups.

• Robert K. Johnston, Reel Spirituality: Theology and Film in Dialogue (Baker Academic Press, 2000). This is an anchor volume in the Engaging Culture series edited by Johnston and William Dyrness, which includes several film related texts. Johnston has edited or written many other exemplary film and faith-related books.

• Terry Lindvall and Andrew Quicke, Celluloid Sermons: The Emergence of the Christian Film Industry, 1930–1986 (New York University Press, 2011). A misleading title, it is more comprehensive in tracing ecclesial attitudes toward film in the United States. This is a compelling read of a more nuanced history than many assume. Lindvall has published additional related contributions, beginning with the fascinating God on the Big Screen: A History of Hollywood Prayer from the Silent Era to Today (New York University Press, 2019).

• Edward N. McNulty, Faith & Film: A Guidebook for Leaders (Westminster John Knox, 2007). A useful guide for a church or Christian small group viewing and discussion.

• Barbara Nicolosi and Spencer Lewerenz, eds., Behind the Screen: Hollywood Insiders on Faith, Film, and Culture (Baker Books, 2005). Unique take including interviews with Christian filmmakers.

• Jeffrey Overstreet, Through a Screen Darkly: Looking Closer at Beauty, Truth, and Evil in the Movies (Regal Books, 2007).

• William D. Romanowski, Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture, rev. ed. (Brazos Press, 2007). An excellent film-centered introduction to the topic. See also his Cinematic Faith (Brazos Press, 2019) and his other books on cinema and American Christianity.

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Mark Bowald
Mark Bowald is professor of theological studies and director of master’s programs at Grace College and Theological Seminary. He serves as canon theologian and examining chaplain for the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes (ACNA) and is the former general editor of Christian Scholar’s Review. With industry experience in film and television, he writes and speaks on hermeneutics, theology, and culture.
Wednesday, January 31st 2024

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