Haddon Robinson has taught us the importance of ideas. An idea, he writes, is a distillation of life. “Ideas sometimes lurk in the attics of our minds like ghosts,” he says. They influence us more than we know.
Ideas are everywhere. They’re in the Bible. They’re in TV commercials. And they’re in movies. The better we get at identifying the ideas, the better we’ll be at understanding and evaluating them.
Stories contain ideas. The power of a story is that it communicates an idea powerfully without us even being aware of the idea. The story shapes us without us even being aware of what we’ve absorbed.
That’s why I’m glad for Sinema7: A Movie Watcher’s Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins
by Maureen Herring. Sinema7 explores the seven deadly sins using stories and characters from the movies. It’s an attempt to explore theology and culture through the movies.
“Movies offer a culturally relevant context in which to discuss sin,” Herring writes. “This provides opportunities for conversations about sin and redemption in which believers, seekers, or agnostics all get to feel like sinners.”
Herring deals thematically with each sin by making reference to movie plots and characters. Each chapter reflects on the human condition from movies, and then touches on what the Bible teaches about that sin, and how God’s grace meets us at that point of need.
There are two ways to misuse this book. The first way to misuse it is to preach or plan a small group based on this book. That would be taking this book more seriously than it deserves. I’ve attended churches that are trying too hard to be culturally relevant. Don’t base a series on a book about movies; the Bible will do.
The other way to misuse this book is to use it as a source of illustrations. I can see preachers flipping through the index looking for a movie clip to illustrate some point. That would be treating this book less seriously than it deserves.
Instead, I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy movies as a field guide to understanding how movies communicate ideas. The more we understand how stories contain ideas, and how ideas shape the way we live, the better equipped we’ll be to communicate how God’s truth applies to every area of our life.
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