Useless Beauty: Ecclesiastes through the Lens of Contemporary Film

Useless Beauty: Ecclesiastes through the Lens of Contemporary Film

by Robert Johnston
     
 

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How should Christians relate to the difficult and contradictory messages of modern movies? In Useless Beauty, Robert K. Johnston presents the bold position that films can be our "eyeglasses and hearing aids" in understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes. Taking up movies such as American Beauty, Magnolia, and About Schmidt, he addresses such

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Overview

How should Christians relate to the difficult and contradictory messages of modern movies? In Useless Beauty, Robert K. Johnston presents the bold position that films can be our "eyeglasses and hearing aids" in understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes. Taking up movies such as American Beauty, Magnolia, and About Schmidt, he addresses such biblical issues as life and death, chance and choice, loneliness and connection, and God's presence and absence to deepen our understanding of life's beauty amid its confusion and pain.

Christian filmgoers, pastors, and youth leaders will find Johnston's book a valuable source of insight into the relationship between Christianity and popular culture.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Drawing the title from a line in an Elvis Costello song about "all this useless beauty," Johnston, Fuller Seminary professor of theology and culture, invites us to consider connections between biblical wisdom literature and film. In particular, he compares Ecclesiastes with films such as American Beauty, Magnolia, About Schmidt and Signs. "Useless beauty" refers to the paradox described in Ecclesiastes (and in many of the selected films) of beauty in the midst of a life filled with vanity, futility and absurdity. Although the title promotes Ecclesiastes through the lens of film, it is really a treatment of film through the lens of Ecclesiastes, as Johnston intersperses key biblical passages in italics next to his rendition of film plots and characters showing us the dynamic analogies. Johnston's hope is that this will create a "two-way dialogue" that starts with the film but moves back and forth between the film and scripture. Narrowing in on Ecclesiastes-a book embraced by many different religious traditions-exposes Johnston to a wide audience, one that includes Christians, Jews, Muslims and even New Age hybrids. That's good for everyone, because Johnston's forte is helping us think more deeply about how God is revealed in popular culture, so that our notion of God is expanded even beyond our traditional understandings. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801027857
Publisher:
Baker Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/01/2004
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

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