Gordon Matties, Ph.D., Canadian Mennonite University


The Movie Theology website should give you access to almost everything you need for a lifetime of learning with and about movies (, including an extensive bibliography under the heading “Resources by Gordon Matties.”


Bibliography: Here is a very short list. Those that might be of interest for a church library are marked with an *

*Anker, Roy M. Catching Light: Looking for God in the Movies. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004. Perceptive essays on The Godfather Saga, Chinatown, The Deer Hunter, Tender Mercies, Places in the Heart, The Mission, Babette’s Feast, the Star Wars Saga, Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Grand Canyon, American Beauty, and Kieslowski’s Three Colors: Blue.

*Barsotti, Catherine M and Robert K. Johnston. Finding God in the Movies: 33 Films of Reel Faith. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004.

Bausch, Michael G. Silver Screen, Sacred Story: Using Multimedia in Worship. The Alban Institute, 2002.

Blythe, Teresa and Daniel Wolpert. Meeting God in Virtual Reality: Using Spiritual Practices with Media. Nashville: Abingdon, 2004. Applies a variety of traditional spiritual disciplines to viewing movies, with a sample application to the movie K-Pax.

Detweiler, Craig and Barry Taylor. A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Pop Culture. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003. Chapter 5, “Movies: Look Closer,” includes discussion of, among others: The Matrix, American Beauty, Fight Club, Magnolia, Dogma, Run Lola Run.

Dyrness, William A. Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001.

Faller, Stephen. Beyond the Matrix: Revolutions and Revelations. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2004. There are a good number of books and websites devoted to this movie. Search online bibliography.

Fraser, Peter and Vernon Edwin Neal. Reviewing the Movies : A Christian Response to Contemporary Film. Focal Point Series. Crossway Books, 2000.

Gire, Ken. Reflections on the Movies : Hearing God in the Unlikeliest of Places. Reflective Living Series. Chariot Victor Publishing, 2000.

Godawa, Brian. Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002.

*Higgins, Gareth. How Movies Helped Save My Soul: Finding Spiritual Fingerprints in Culturally Significant Films. Lake Mary, FL: Relevant Books, 2003.

Jewett, Robert.  Saint Paul at the Movies: The Apostle’s Dialogue with American Culture.  Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993.  Discussion of Star Wars, Amadeus, A Separate Peace, Tender Mercies, Grand Canyon, Tootsie, Ordinary People, Epire of the Sun, Pale Rider, Red Dawn, Dead Poets Society

________.  Saint Paul Returns to the Movies: Triumph Over Shame.  Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998. Discussion of Prince of Tides; Babette’s Feast; Forrest Gump; Mr. Holland’s Opus; Groundhog Day; Babe; Edge of the City; The Firm; Unforgiven; The Shawshank Redemption.

Johnston, Robert K., editor. Reframing Theology and Film: New Focus for an Emerging Discipline. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2007.

*Johnston, Robert K. Reel Spirituality : Theology and Film in Dialogue. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2006.

________. Useless Beauty: Ecclesiastes through the Lens of Contemporary Film. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2004.

Leonard, Richard, S.J. Movies that Matter: Reading Film through the Lens of Faith. Loyola Press, 2006. Three-page reflections on each of fifty movies.

Malone, Peter, with Rose Pacatte. Lights, Camera . . . Faith: A Movie Lectionary.  Three Volumes. Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2001, 2002, 2003. (Films for all the Sundays in the liturgical year, coordinated with the Common Lectionary, Cycles A, B, and C).

________. Lights, Camera . . . Faith! The Ten Commandments. Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2006.

McNulty, Edward N. Praying the Movies: Daily Meditations from Classic Films. Louisville, KY: Geneva Press, 2001. Four to five page reflections, including discussion questions, on 31 movies.

________. Praying the Movies II: More Daily Meditations from Classic Films. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2004.

*________. Faith & Film: A Guidebook for Leaders. Louisville and London: Westminster John Knox, 2007. Discussion guides on 27 movies.

Marsh, Clive. Cinema and Sentiment: Film’s Challenge to Theology. Milton Keynes, U.K. and Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster, 2004.

*Overstreet, Jeffrey. Through a Screen Darkly: Looking Closer at Beauty, Truth and Evil in the Movies. Regal Books, 2007.

*Pungente, John, SJ, and Monty Williams, SJ. Finding God in the Dark: Taking the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius to the Movies. Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 2004.

*Romanowski, William D. Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2007. Includes an excellent Appendix, “A Matrix for Analysis of Popular Artworks.”

*Stone, Bryan P. Faith and Film: Theological Themes at the Cinema. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2000.

*Vaux, Sara Anson. Finding Meaning at the Movies. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1999. Includes discussion of of Strangers in Good Company; Cries and Whispers; Secrets & Lies; Star Trek; Solaris; Blade Runner; Contact; Diary of a Country Priest; Wall Street; The Searchers; Unforgiven; Lone Star; Forrest Gump; La Strada; Sling Blade; Babette’s Feast; Daughters of the Dust; Ulee’s Gold; The English Patient, and a section on Leading a Film Study Group.


Online Articles (all available as of Oct. 3, 2007)

Balzer, David. “Gospel Meets Media.” MB Herald, September, 2007. 

Garber, Steven, “Don’t Leave your Brains at the Box Office.” 

Haack, Dennis. “Discernment 101: An Explanation of Discernment.” Ransom Fellowship Online. 

________. “Discernment 202: Pop Culture: Why Bother?” Ransom Fellowship Online. 

Kappelman, Todd. “Film and the Christian.” LeadershipU.

Matties, Gordon. “Let’s Rent a Movie: Making Movie Nights Work.” IdeaBank  03 (2001). 

________. “On Movies as a Spiritual Discipline.” Direction 34/2 (2005) 270-86. Accessed Oct. 3, 2007.

Nickel, Gordon. “Making Good Viewing Choices: Videos, Movies and TV.” Mennonite Brethren Church Pamphlet Series. Accessed Oct. 3, 2007.

Veltman, Greg. “In Search of a Good Film: Nine Signposts.” Comment Sept. 14, 2007.  Accessed Oct. 3, 2007


Movie Discussion Guides

Here are a few websites that will be of particular interest for groups that might want to include the occasional movie discussion evening (all linked on the Movie Theology website):

·          Movie Discussion Guides (for purchase):

·          Ransom Fellowship’s Movie Discussion questions:  

·          Reel Spirituality: An Institute for Moving Pictures. Click Study Guides link

·          Damaris CultureWatch Resources

·          Gordon Matties, “Let’s Rent a Movie: Making Movie Nights Work”

·          ________. Discussing Robert Duvall’s The Apostle