I’ve been fairly quiet lately about the progress of Through a Screen Darkly. But, having just started taking notes for my next book about film, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to share a couple of recent highlights.

I just delivered some copies of Darkly to a book club. And I was thrilled that they selected my book as the centerpiece of their summertime reading and discussion, and have been hearing from similar groups around the country.

In fact, just last week, an English literature professor contacted me to tell me that she had just read through her students’ evaluations of the course. And 3/4 of those students said that the most rewarding part of the class had been the discussions that came from reading Through a Screen Darkly. Yowza. It kind of freaks me out to think that my anecdotes about talking to Christians about movies have actually become homework.

This is all very surprising. I thought it would be a book for film geeks. I never expected this. And I’m really grateful. And jealous. Wish I could have taken the class, just for the chance to discuss Punch-drunk Love, Taxi Driver, The Fisher King, and Babette’s Feast with other students. I probably would have learned a lot from them.

That’s what I wanted to do… start conversations about art and Christianity. Or contribute to those already happening. If I’d shared this book with students when I was in college, I would have been in all kinds of trouble. The enthusiastic response to it has been extremely encouraging. It shows me that things have changed dramatically.

If they work through they whole thing, they’ll end up discussing:

  • the power of beauty
  • critical discernment
  • the role of conscience in moviegoing
  • the differences between art, entertainment, and propaganda
  • awe
  • heroes and villains
  • violence and revenge
  • films about redemption
  • “holy fools”
  • satire… especially religious satire
  • films about loneliness
  • films about evil
  • films that tell us to “follow our hearts”
  • how big-screen art can renew our sense of joy and discovery in everyday things

They’ll also find a list of more than 200 movies recommended for group viewing and discussion (not to mention directions to a section of Looking Closer where they’ll find additional chapters, articles, and filmmaker interviews.

And speaking of good news, it’s exciting when one of your favorite writers gets excited about something you’ve done:

Frederica Mathewes-Green:

“What books were to previous generations, movies are to the present one; their ability to teach and shape our view of reality is unparalled by any other medium. Christians can’t afford to be ignorant of the content and power here, and Through a Screen Darkly provides an excellent guide.”

There are several more reviews on the Amazon page, including a new one from YouthWorker Journal. You can pick up your own copy at a discount there. Or, if you’d like, I’ll write you a personal note on a brand new copy and mail it to you myself. Just follow these instructions.

I sent a few out for graduation presents, and more for Father’s Day presents. So hey… if you’ve got a moviegoer in the family, or if you want to get a head start for next Christmas, I’ve got one box left of my own copies. I’ll address them to anybody you like. Just send me a note, and I’ll put one in the mail.

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