Movies are the powerful storytellers of this generation, but because of the complexity of the medium, we need to first ask, "What is this movie saying, and is it true?" But to really answer that, we have to understand the way a film tells its story--primarily through visual clues. We want to look at film as a serious art form, see its limits as a medium, but also suck the goodness that's there.*
We hope to use Film Night as a way to learn to communicate with non-Christians about current culture and to learn to approve whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.
We want Theology Matters to be like a mini L'Abri--a place where people can express and seek understanding for their faith in a "nothing's off the table" format. We want to learn to bring to bear a biblical understanding to current church and societal issues. We also want to learn practically what it means to "speak the truth in love"--to grow in knowledge and in patient but real communication.
Anyone is welcome to come, although some topics may be too advanced for young people. A position paper is read and discussion follows. Sometimes we pray.
In our Poetry Club** we learn to appreciate the beauty of language and to sharpen our interpretive skills. As we think about words, we experience hilarious fellowship and reach out to people who may not be interested in church.
Anyone can come, although poets sometimes use rougher language than we might. Everyone brings two poems (or songs) with copies for others. We take turns reading a poem, and then we discuss. Also, three times a year we have a reading of a Shakespeare play--bardtastic!
* Seven Generalizations about Christians and Movies
1. As humans, we've moved from being an oral culture to a print culture and, in the last 40 years or so, to a visual culture.
2. English teachers can say what they want; movies are the new storytellers.
3. Pastors can say the word is central; society responds to the image.
4. Movies have been around for only 110 years; Christians have been watching movies sympathetically for about 25 years. Hence, Christians are not good interpreters of movies. Humility must be our first interpretive tool.
5. Movies appeal primarily to the emotions through visually artistic clues, which need to be learned.
6. All movies make you feel; a good film can also make you think. The cathartic experience of Schindler's List can be more valuable than the reading of a Nazi history book.
7. Movies can exercise our emotions, and through that process help a brainy Christian become a more well-balanced person.
**Testimonials from some of our converts to poetry:
"I love language but never enjoyed poetry much because (1) it was hard and (2) I never seemed to 'get it.' Now I am a total convert because my approach has changed. Understanding is not my whole goal. I treat it like a painting -- I look at it, and if I'm attracted to it, I look at it again. I appreciate the sound of it and the parts that I do 'get' on an emotional level. Over time, I find that I start to get more and more from it."
"Part of what helped me in learning to interpret the Bible was teasing out the meaning in Emily Dickinson's poems in college. Also, IMHO, poetry celebrates God's beauty in language!"