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Great book for movie lovers or those interested in finding new meaning in cinema. His style and structure made for a quick read, and he covered all genres of movies - citing examples from the last 100 years. This book is a great addition to what Josh discusses on "Filmspotting" (podcast).
I've enjoyed watching films my entire life. I've also been a Christian my entire life. I've never considered weaving the two together as a way to enrich the experiences that both offer. Larsen does just that without being too preachy. Even if you don't consider yourself to be religious this book offers what all great books do...a chance to consider something from a different perspective.
Hard to believe, but Josh Larsen dissects his faith and how he prays through this amazing book about where art and expressions to God meet. I recommend this book to anyone who loves film and would like a guide to view films through a new lens. Also, for those who would like a better understanding of the conceits if different forms of prayer.
As a film lover, this book really resonated with me for the way it reframed the idea of prayer, especially in how contemplating the world through film is an act of spiritual connection. I had been considering for a while how to share this way of thinking with others, when the idea hit me to start a movie club at my church.
While I hoped that this would be a way to bring together younger members (especially young parents) of our congregation, I was pleasantly surprised by the wide range of ages of the people who have joined our group -- a college student, a couple in their 80s, and just about every age demographic in between. It's a way to bring people together to talk about topics of faith and life (and also just about how much we love movies) without the discussion feeling like homework or a chore. We started with The Wizard of Oz, Into the Wild, Toy Story, The Black Stallion, and Rushmore, all of which Larsen writes about at length. We are soon moving on to Casablanca, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Do the Right Thing.
Especially in a time when so many of us are apart from one another, our regular meetings on Zoom have been the highlight of our months. Each chapter focuses on a number of different films, but that's also a blessing. We spend the first half of our meeting discussing our own impressions of the movie, then read aloud the paragraphs in which Larsen highlights that film. That sparks further discussion, and often leads us to connect the film to other things that are happening in our individual or collective spiritual lives.
I highly recommend this as an opportunity to help people form meaningful relationships with one another over a shared love (or even just mild interest) in movies.
Would someone that is not really religious enjoy this book? That was the question I was asking myself when I started chapter one. Half way through the chapter, I knew I was in good hands and sat back to enjoy the ride. I really enjoyed reading the thoughtful and insightful comments on so many of my favorite films. Without looking ahead, I found myself trying to try to predict which films would be referenced next as the different prayer types. Josh references a few surprising choices but I believe he was able to back up his choices in the end. Throughout the book, I found the tone of the writing to be open and inclusive to all readers and was a pleasure to read. The wonderful late film critic Roger Ebert once wrote in one of his books that he believed that movies were "a machine that generates empathy". I believe that is true but I also now believe that movies are prayers.