I’m Bob Blaskey. I’ve always loved stories, in whatever form: movies, books, plays, and even songs.
My great friend and mentor, Fr. Francis White, once said “Face it, Bob, you’re hooked on God.” He was right. I’ve been able to combine my two loves – of God and stories – in my own writing, as well as in my teaching through the spiritual messages found in other media.
We all know the parables of Jesus, but what are “the parables of today”?
They are scenes from a movie which help us understand God or our faith better (they can also be from a TV show, song, or book – anything which tells a story).
The spiritual message may or may not be intentional, but if the teaching moment is there, why not use it?
PARABLES OF TODAY AS TEACHING TOOLS
Movies can be used to help your audience adopt Christian viewpoints; with a new point of view to consider, they will gain a whole new perspective.
You may not approve of a particular movie as a whole, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use what’s good in it to teach about God. After all, Samaritans were reprehensible to Jesus's audiences, but that didn't stop him from using them to make his point.
When you talk about a popular movie in the middle of a conversation, lesson, or sermon, you can’t help but pique your listeners’s interest. Jesus understood this principle and used parables: an interesting story makes more of an impact than a lecture. You can show a clip from the movie or simply refer to it. If your audience is familiar with the movie, a simple mention of it will help them make the connection.
Once you start looking at movies from a Christian perspective -- using 3:16 vision -- you will find these parables of today just about everywhere.
A TRIO OF EXAMPLES
Here are some examples from movies I’m sure we’ve all seen at least once. My college writing professor used to say “It takes three trees to make a row.” Three is even more important to us Christians, so here are three examples, beginning – like the Bible – at what was the beginning for me.
Star Wars (the original, known to some younger viewers as Episode 4, A New Hope)
This was the first scene which struck me with the power of film to convey a Christian message.
On the Death Star, Obi-Wan confronts his former friend and protege, Darth Vader. Vader is confident, saying he was once the student but now he’s the master. Obi-Wan's answer is that if Darth Vader were to strike him down, Obi- Wan will return even stronger. This echoes what Jesus said about a grain of wheat needing to fall to the ground and die before it will bear much fruit (John 12:23-24).
The battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader continues until Obi-Wan is sure Luke is watching him. Then, with an enigmatic -- even beatific -- smile, Obi-Wan raises his lightsaber and allows Vader to kill him. If anyone has trouble identifying with the sacrificial death of Jesus, you can supplement your discussion by showing them this scene.
(This is part of a complete workshop, The Gospel in “Star Wars”)
ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
At the end of ET, Elliott and the alien have the biggest farewell scene since Dorothy left Oz. ET encourages Elliott to “come,” while Elliott wants his friend to “stay.” Ultimately they both realize they literally come from different worlds and must part – but not without a promise. ET takes his glowing finger and touches Elliott’s head, saying “I’ll be right here” – his own version of the promise Jesus gives at the end of Matthew’s gospel.
Forrest Gump is filled with examples of God’s love and desire for reconciliation. While in Vietnam, Forrest saves Lt. Dan but the officer is wounded so severely he loses both his legs above the knee. Lt. Dan takes out his frustration and anger towards God on Forrest. Instead of being angry in return, Forrest offers Lt. Dan a job on his shrimping boat. Lt. Dan eventually mellows and Forrest tells us he knows his friend has finally made peace with God.
The relationship between Forrest and “his girl” Jenny mirrors the relationship God has with us. Forrest -- like God -- is always there for Jenny, regardless of the lack of interest she shows him. When Jenny goes away from Forrest -- as we often turn our back on God -- Forrest is still there when she’s ready to return.
(This is part of a workshop, Reconciliation: God’s Gift to Us)
|Posted on April 28, 2014 at 11:00 PM|
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