Blog / Book of the Month / Quest: Christianity and the Movies, Extras, Part II

Quest: Christianity and the Movies, Extras, Part II

Quest: Christianity and the Movies, Extras, Part II

“Christianity and the Movies” Pr. Giese’s Online Class through Concordia Lutheran Seminary 


To participate live in the next two parts of this Online Quest Course tune in Tuesday September 24th and October 1st at 7pm: click here.


In Part two of the Quest Cource offered through Concordia Lutheran Seminary we continued to look at Discernment (the ability to judge well) and how it's an important part of watching movies. One way to test what you watch is by measuring it against the Bible, another way is to measure it against the catechism, which is an excellent exposition of the Bible. In either case Scripture is the final authority when learning to judge well in your life. On the second evening, using the catachism, we looked at the Lord's Prayer and discussed Movies related to the Lord's Prayer and prayer in general. We also looked at Pietism. At the end of this blog post is more information about Pietism. Why are we thinking about Orthodoxy, Pietism and Piety? The stage is being set to talk about personal movie watching habits. Many modern Christians are highly influenced unknowingly by Pietism. This may also be influencing their personal piety. The goal of these evenings is to encourage Christians to avoid knee-jerk reactions to what they are viewing and instead apply discernment to what they are watching, to use Scripture and the Catechism to judge what they are seeing.  


The catechism we'll be using is Luther's Small Catechism, if you're interested in purchasing this edition you can order one from Concordia Publishing House (Hard Cover and Kindle available) or you can find your closest Lutheran Church-Canada congregation and they will be happy to assist you in getting one.


Before diving into the Lord's Prayer we watched a great video showcasing a centurey of prayer in film put togther by Dr. Terrance Lindvall, C. S. Lewis Professor of Communication and Religious Studies, Virginia Wesleyan College, Norfolk, Virginia. This sample series of clips featuring prayer in movies was made possible by a grant from the Louisville Institute for a research study on Prayer in Hollywood Films. It’s about 14 Min long.


For each petition of the Lord's Prayer we have a movie clip to consider. The Introduction and the first petition are handled together.  


The Lord's Prayer


Our Father who art in heaven.

What does this mean? "With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidently we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father."


Hallowed be Thy name.

What does this mean? "God's name is indeed holy in itself; but we pray in this petition that it may become holy among us also."


How is God’s name kept Holy? "God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father."   


When a criminal mastermind uses a trio of orphan girls as pawns for a grand scheme, he finds their love is profoundly changing him for the better.

Directors: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud

Writers: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio (screenplay)

Stars: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand

Here we have an example of a movie with a prayer where it isn't clear who it is that they are praying too. The prayer isn't addressed to anyone and the end of the prayer likewise gives no clues, except that they say Amen.



Thy Kingdom Come.

What does this mean? "The kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also."

How does God’s kingdom come? "God’s Kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity." 


After his happy life spins out of control, a preacher from Texas changes his name, goes to Louisiana and starts preaching on the radio.

Director: Robert Duvall.

Writer: Robert Duvall.

Stars: Robert Duvall, Todd Allen, Paul Bagget.

While this has an American Evangelical "Invite Jesus into your heart" moment in it, this scene also does do a good job of showing the urgency of the coming of the kingdom of God. The people in the car are near death and at this point in their now short lives there is truly nothing that that they could do, which is true of all of us, we need God to intervene and bring us from eternal death to eternal life because without His intervention we would be lost. God's Kingdom comes when His word is preached, "faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ."(Romans 10:17) 



Thy will be done on earth  as it is in heaven.

What does this mean? "The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer; but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also."

How is God’s will done? "When He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come; And when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and Faith until we die. This is His good and gracious will."


The story of the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War and the soldiers on both sides that fought it.

Director: Randall Wallace.

Writers: Harold G. Moore, Joseph L. Galloway.

Stars: Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear.

In this prayer from We Were Soldiers you hear the firm and confident prayer of a general who puts the battle, his command and the outcome in the Lord's hands while still being bold to ask for victory. Not the most eloquent of prayers but for Hollywood it has a certain level of genuineness to it. We were not able to embed this one Follow this link to see the video (it will open in a new window).


Give us this day our daily bread.

What does this mean? "God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving."

What is meant by daily bread? "Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbours, and the like."  


#1 NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby stays atop the heap thanks to a pact with his best friend and teammate, Cal Naughton, Jr. But when a French Formula One driver, makes his way up the ladder, Ricky Bobby's talent and devotion are put to the test.

Director: Adam McKay.

Writers: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay.

Stars: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen.

This grace prayer is an example of irreverence in prayer, however it is somewhat more complex. The complexity comes from the fact that at its core there is a willingness to thank God for everything even for physical things. The character of Ricky Bobby hits a number of the items found in Luther's explanation to this petition of the Lord's Prayer while even highlighting the nature of the incarnation. Unfortunately it's largely played for laughs and becomes silly.



Here's an example of Life imitating Art: A real pastor giving a Ricky Bobby style prayer which also becomes silly.



And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

What does this mean? “We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayer because oft hem. We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. So we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.”  


In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen.

Director: Rupert Sanders.

Writers: Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock.

Stars: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron

Here we have two clips to look at. In the audio of the first clip Snow White prays the Lord's Prayer while still a prisoner of her evil stepmother (the video has this audio mixed with a montage of scenes from the movie). The second clip comes from a scene near the end of the film. In Snow White overcomes the evil Queen by force. The Christian viewer may actually long for a different resolution to this conflict. A more powerful narrative conclusion would be for the evil Queen to be undone by Snow Whites forgiveness. This could have been done to great effect considering that they did use the Lord's prayer in the film and the Lord's prayer says "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" her purity would be magnified even more if Snow White was also forgiving to her stepmother the evil Queen who had imprisoned her and sough to kill her for her 'innocent' blood.  




And lead us not into temptation

What does this mean? "God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attached by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory."


A post-apocalyptic tale, in which a lone man fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind.

Directors: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes.

Writer: Gary Whitta.

Stars: Denzel Washington, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson.

Ultimately a Christian is lead by God to heaven, Jesus says “I Am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6). In this clip the main character of the movie has died and we posthumously hear his prayer for guidance to God. He thanks God for bringing Him to his rest, he even quotes St Paul saying "I have fought the good fight, I finished the race, I kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:7). To be kept on the Way, to be kept in Christ we need daily to kept from the way that would lead to eternal damnation we need to be led not into temptation but to be led into life everlasting.


For an indepth Lutheran Study of this film check out: Big Screen Bible Study – The Book of Eli (Downloadable) 


But deliver us from evil

What does this mean? "We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last our hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven."


Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.

Director: Robert Zemeckis.

Writers: Winston Groom (novel), Eric Roth (screenplay).

Stars: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise.

Here we have a depiction of a genuine and earnest prayer for deliverance from evil. The way in which this prayer is answered in through the help of the police. This is fitting as God works through people in their vocation to accomplish His good and gracious will.



For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen. 

What does this mean? "This means that I should be certain that these petitions are pleasing to our Father in heaven, and are heard by Him; for He Himself has commanded us to pray in this way and has promised to hear us. Amen, amen means “yes, yes, it shall be so.”"


In order to gain influence over their North Carolina district, two CEOs seize an opportunity to oust long-term congressman Cam Brady by putting up a rival candidate. Their man: naive Marty Huggins, director of the local Tourism Center.

Director: Jay Roach.

Writers: Chris Henchy, Shawn Harwell.

Stars: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis.

This is one of those irreverent prayers, but it does illustrates the need to memorize the Lord's Prayer; take the time to learn it, and learn it well, and then take the time to teach it to others. Teach the words and teach what it means. Then you won't be put on the spot and you'll never be without a prayer in trouble.



More Food For Thought

For more information than you'll likely ever need to know about Lutheran Pietism check out this great series of videos presented by Dr. Daniel van Voorhis form the LCMS congragation of Faith Lutheran Church in Capistrano Beach, California. Information was presented from the first of these video the night of the second Quest class. In the first of the videos below you'll hear about the infulential Johann Arndt (27 December 1555 – 11 May 1621) who wrote: "True Christianity" a very popular 17th Century Devotional Book and Philipp Jakob Spener (13 January 1635,– 5 February 1705) the Father of Pietism.


For Starters:

Lutheran Orthodoxy "Accepts the teachings of the Lutheran confessions in the Book of Concord as they are the correct summery and explanation of the Scriptures" 


German Lutheran Pietism "Was a historical movement that had these four markings: 1) it stressed the heart over the head 2) it stressed the need for a little church inside a larger church 3) it stressed a post-millennial view of the end times: meaning Christ will return after a 1000 year time of peace created by Christians who have cleaned up the troubles of the world 4) it stressed the incomplete nature of Reformation (this is a reaction to Lutheran Orthodoxy of the 16th century)." 


Piety "A broad definition of Piety would be fidelity to natural obligations. Even though forms of piety can be found in pagan history piety is still a Christian idea too. Fidelity and faith are connected, they are one in the same. You could think of fidelity as faith 'on the go,'  as the fruits of faith.  One of the solas of the Lutheran Church is Sola Fide "faith alone"  the doctrine (the teaching) of justification by faith alone." “The righteous shall live by faith.”  (Galatians 3:11 ESV)


Watch these videos to find out more:

A Brief History of Lutheran Pietism (Lesson 1) "Orthodoxy, Pietism, and the Schism in the Lutheran Soul" from Faith Lutheran Church on Vimeo.


A Brief History of Lutheran Pietism (Lesson 2) "Halle Pietism- August Hermann Francke and the Quest for Assurance" from Faith Lutheran Church on Vimeo.

A Brief History of Lutheran Pietism (Lesson 3) "The Diaspora of Lutheran Pietism-Zinzendorf and the American Colonies" from Faith Lutheran Church on Vimeo.

A Brief History of Lutheran Pietism (Lesson 4) "Pietism in America- Muhlenberg and the Radical Pietists" from Faith Lutheran Church on Vimeo.

A Brief History of Lutheran Pietism (Lesson 5) "The Second Reformation: Lutherans and the Reformed in the 16th Century" from Faith Lutheran Church on Vimeo.

A Brief History of Lutheran Pietism (Lesson 6) "Lutheranism and the Radical Reformed" from Faith Lutheran Church on Vimeo.


For some of the same information in a more condensed form check out "THE ROOTS AND FRUITS OF PIETISM" by Ronald R. Feuerhahn Concordia Seminary St. Louis, MO.


Quest is a programme presented by Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Edmonton Alberta: For more information, or for any other enquires including enrolment details, contact the office of the registrar at (780) 474-1468   

Rev. Ted Giese is associate pastor at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Regina, Saskatchewan.