by Christopher B. Barnett

Before starting this blog in earnest, it makes sense to offer a few prefatory comments. After all, though it’s clear that I intend to write about “theology and movies,” it’s not clear how I understand the two to be related. What follows, then, is not a systematic analysis of the relation between theology and cinema–I’ll save such an endeavor for another venue–but, rather, a few presuppositions that will guide my reflections on the subject. To be sure, one might object to these premises. And yet, to paraphrase Kierkegaard, there are no presuppositionless beginnings in thinking. I might as well own up to my beliefs at the outset. So, with that in mind, I assume…

  • That both theology and cinema are human activities.
  • That cinema, in particular, is human art form, which, like all art forms, is capable of sacramental significance–that is to say, of pointing to the sacred, inexhaustible mystery of reality.
  • That theology, as a form of discourse about God, seeks to clarify the nature and goals of human life by attending to the meaning of God.
  • That insofar as theology, in attending to God, also attends to matters of ultimate concern, it is a discourse that engages “believers” and “nonbelievers” alike.
  • That cinema, insofar as it is a medium that combines both auditory and visual elements, is uniquely situated to (re)present life to us and, so, to shape the way we live.
  • That, in the above characteristics, there is notable overlap between theology and movies. Indeed, as Martin Scorsese once noted, to enter into the theater is to enter into a kind of sanctuary, where our eyes are opened, as it were, to a world that we often fail to see in our day-to-day lives.

Of course, this list could be expanded. But these convictions form the bedrock of what is to come.