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Throwing Down the Gauntlet, by Tyler Smith

20 Oct


I walked into Andrew and Jon Erwin’s Woodlawn with my usual skepticism. Most Christian films leave a lot to be desired, both artistically and theologically. In an attempt to appeal to a neglected Evangelical audience, these films will oversimplify every element of their stories and themes, creating art meant to inspire its viewers, but that instead panders to them in the worst way. These films often fail at every artistic level, but are forgiven because their hearts are in the right place, as though a filmmaker’s intention is the only thing that matters.

And so when I was told that Woodlawn was the best Christian film in a while, I was understandably hesitant. A film that depicted faith amidst the trappings of a sports movie (a genre that often has pandering problems of its own) didn’t do much to inspire hope for me. But, while Woodlawn is far from perfect, it left me feeling engaged and entertained, which is more than can be said for any other faith-based film. For this reason alone, I consider Woodlawn to be the best Christian film I’ve ever seen.


Viewer Discretion is Advised, by Reed Lackey

17 Oct


I can still remember the most blasphemous thing I ever said as an actor. My character believed in God, but had utterly rejected Jesus Christ. He was full of fury and bitterness and at a key point in the play, I had to look at the iconic image of Jesus, beaten and bloody for the sins of the world, pretending to be this angry man and yell, “If you are the Son of God, come down off of that cross and save yourself!”


The Dilemma of Christian Film

15 Oct

Hello. I’m Tyler Smith, of More Than One Lesson.


“Good” and “Bad” Movies, by Reed Lackey

13 Oct

Before we dive into defining movies as “good” or “bad,” it might be valuable to use another more basic term which might be applied to any art in any medium, but which certainly applies to film. Before a film can be considered either good or bad, we first have to figure out whether or not a film “works”.


The Calling of the Christian Imagination, by Reed Lackey

10 Oct

christianimaginationMy starting point is very simple. Everything that you are – all you say, do, believe, question, and aspire to – begins with your own imagination. This is not to say that you have personally created everything within your own imagination because we’re all at least partially products of our own environments and experiences. But every bit of our own experience passes through the filter of our own imagination and is somehow either rejected or accepted into our beliefs, aspirations, and behaviors. We don’t do anything and we are not anything that was not first planted by us or someone else into our individual hearts and minds.


Just the Same as You, by Josh Long

11 Sep

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 1.52.24 AM

If you haven’t seen this video yet, it was only a matter of time before you did. BuzzFeed’s recent video features self-identified Christians talking about themselves. They talk about what they are, but more importantly (so the video makers think) about what they are not. The socio-political aim of the video is obvious from the things they abjure: homophobia, ignorance, conservatism, etc. While many Christian opponents to gay marriage are offended at the implicit suggestion that they are the “really terrible people” in Christianity, others saw the video as a refreshing, positive spin on Christianity. To the question of why BuzzFeed would create this video, the answer is probably that it’s an attempt to re-engineer their social image after Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith claimed there were “not two sides” to the gay marriage debate. The deeper questions begin to blossom when we examine the culture’s perspective on Christianity, the Christian response to cultural morality, and the church’s desire for relevance and acceptance.

Whether intentionally or not, BuzzFeed’s video starts with an implied description of how the United States culture at large sees Christians. If the culture didn’t see Christians as “closed-minded, ignorant, judgmental ” for example, there would be no reason for these Christians to specify that they are not. And why are Christians seen this way? Perhaps there’s a hint in the video itself, as these same individuals assure us they are not “homophobic” or “conservative.” It’s not a big leap to say that culturally, all of these things are seen to go hand-in-hand.


Episode 132: with special guest Greg Koukl

19 Jun


In this episode, Tyler is joined by Christian apologist Greg Koukl to talk about his faith and career.

Episode 127: Going Clear

2 Apr


In this episode, Tyler and Josh discuss Alex Gibney’s Going Clear and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man.

00:00:44- Intro, Battleship Pretension, Wondercon Meetup, ASMR
00:05:10- Going Clear
01:01:30- The Wicker Man (1973)
01:09:25- What’s the difference between Scientology and Christianity?
01:36:20- Episode wrap-up

Something Old, Something New, by Reed Lackey

28 Feb


One of my biggest criticisms of the genre known as the “Christian film” is that the films too often feel reactionary. Rather than being created from a desire to tell a good story and tell it well, many films in the “Christian” genre are responding to a specific cultural condition with a specific message and an undeniable agenda.

The latest film to fall into this category is Old Fashioned, written and directed by Rik Swartzwelder, who also stars as the lead role opposite Elizabeth Roberts. The film centers around a couple whose romance is more akin to “courtship” than dating and was specifically marketed as the Evangelical response to 50 Shades of Grey. I should be upfront about the fact that I wasn’t expecting much from it.

But the marketing campaign was probably a disservice to the film because what I saw offered me a few surprises, which not only endeared it to me as a positive entry in the “Christian film” genre, but also gave me some glimmers of hope for where that genre might be headed.


An Open Letter to Christian Filmmakers, by Joe Zaragoza

20 Feb


I just got out of seeing the movie Old Fashioned. Here are some things I noticed: It was a Monday morning and the theater was packed. The movie was getting laughs from the audience throughout. When the movie ended, people applauded it. Also, as I was leaving, an older woman sitting in my aisle with her husband asked me, “Wasn’t that a wonderful movie?” while I heard another person say, “There needs to be more movies like this.” Now, if this is your audience, if this is who you are making movies for, then good job! You guys are succeeding. Not just Old Fashioned, but all Christian films. I remember leaving God’s Not Dead and seeing people genuinely excited about it, pulling out their cell phones, I’m guessing to text people, “God’s Not Dead” as the movie instructs, and then myself receiving the text “God’s Not Dead!” for several weeks after that from random Christian friends. You have an audience. Christians are going to your movies and they are going to continue to go to your movies.