Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Saint Paul Returns to the Movies: Triumph over Shame

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Saint Paul Returns to the Movies: Triumph over Shame

Article excerpt

Saint Paul Returns to the Movies: Triumph Over Shame. By Robert Jewett. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999. x + 221 pp. $14.00 (paper).

The title of Robert Jewett's sequel to Saint Paul at the Movies: The Apostle's Dialogue with Modern Culture (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993) is a double entendre; as in the earlier work, Jewett succeeds in liberating cinema from those who demean this medium as irredeemably shameful to its rightful, and in this context, triumphant stature. Modernmedia is too much slighted by those who fail to see that regardless of the method, humankind still tells stories in the ongoing quest for meaning.

Unlike homileticians whose cinematic references betray over-reliance on story, but often fall short of thoughtful theological analysis, Jewett's book is rich in biblical reflection (and includes both a scriptural index and a name and subject index that enhance its usefulness as a reference). His prologue essay on shame and grace as Pauline and cinematic themes, and the epilogue on scripture itself, are easily worth the price of the book. The remaining chapters, tracing the theological strains of The Prince of Tides, Babette's Feast, Forrest Gump, Mr. Holland's Opus, Groundhog Day, Babe, Edge of the City, The Firm, Unforgiven, and The Shawshank Redemption, reveal the diversity of revelation's instruments. In the hands of a scholar like Jewett, who obviously has the eyes to see and ears to hear the handiwork of God, we learn that ours is a culture richly blessed with evidence of the holy in the stories we tell and share.

I'm always wary of homiletical references to film; with the possible exception of films like The Wizard of Oz and It's a Wonderful Life, whose repetition have elevated them to epic status, the preacher can never be sure how widely the story is known among the congregation. …

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