Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Review: Hollywood Worldviews by Brian Godawa

I love movies. They are part of the language of our culture and generation. I believe that many in my generation absorb their beliefs and worldview from the movies they watch without even knowing it. I also believe that our entertainment in general (but movies specifically) shape our values as a culture as much as it reflects our values as a culture.

This is why, if I were so gifted, I would be making movies today. Movies that put the themes of the Gospel, of fall and redemption, of substitutionary atonement, on the silver screen in a way that makes it real and palatable to the average viewer. And this is why I loved Hollywood Worldviews by Brian Godawa so much.

Godawa is a Christian in the industry, making (and thinking about) movies with just such a motivation in mind. Without endorsing all movies wholesale, Godawa makes an argument for the value of movies to instruct, inform, and simply reflect the God-given creativity in the creature and the beauty of creation around us. Speaking of finding the value in movies, Godawa says, "Because all truth is ultimately God's truth, we can find what we think is true in a movie and dissect what we think is false".

Godawa goes straight to the hot-button topic for the Christian concerning movies, addressing "Sex, Violence and Profanity" in Chapter 1. His key point about such issues is that "context makes all the difference between moral exhortation and immoral exploitation of sin". In following chapters he begins to address the Hollywood worldviews such as existentialism, postmodernism, and other worldviews. These chapters were some of the most personally enjoyable, as I saw many movies I've watched in a completely different light.

Even for those of you who don't spend much time talking or thinking about worldviews, this book has much to benefit from. In particular the first and last chapters lay out some excellent guidelines and principles for watching and engaging with Hollywood and it's culture. This book was well written, even better thought-out, and I endorse it to anyone who likes movies. I'm assuming that's all of you.

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