In order to in a healthy way engage films, we must discern the worldviews that are portrayed by the culture through those films. So many people fear doing the hard work of actually understanding a film. What does this film speak about humanity? What does this film say about the universe, or God, or sex, or food, or happiness? Although, some filmmakers may not realize they are putting their worldview on display, most works clearly speak to the worldview of its creator. The author of Hebrews gives us a powerful reminder of the importance of training our minds to detect the differences between good and evil. He writes “…those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Two practical observations of this verse brings the reader to realize that 1) discernement must be trained, it is not something you simply fall into, nor are you born a discerning person, but the ability must be worked out by 2)practice – actually ‘constant’ practice. As believers we must train our minds through ‘constant practice’ to discern the culture we live in. As Grant Horner puts it “Film is a rich combiination of storytelling, painting, philosophy, history and politics all wrapped in technology.” And while Christians obviously should not watch everything that is produced, which would be at the very least a poor management of time and money, we must enter into a discerning and engaging experience when interacting with the film that is reflecting and changing our culture. Horner goes on to write “The study of film is important for Christians because it is the modern-day equivalent of philosophy” Philosophy is not always abstract or complicated high-brow conversations of the university. No, everyone has a philosophy for philosophy is merely just what we believe to be true about our world. So, is even the foul-mouthed, sex-crazed film of the late 90’s American Pie or the gratuitous, torture-porn Saw considered philosphical works? Yes, although I would never recommend them. Films may not look like The Complete works of Plato, or Aristotle, Locke or Neitchze, but they are a result of humanity looking at the world in a cerain way, because philosophy is your way of looking at the world and your way of explaining that view to the world. Essentially, a person’s worldview, is their philosophy about life, existence and God. This is what takes place in film, movie makers are simply viewing the world, making observations and then sharing that with the viewer.
God and Film, pt. 4: Film as Philosophy