Light Shining in a Dark Place: Discovering Theology through Film

Light Shining in a Dark Place: Discovering Theology through Film

by Jeff Sellars


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In Light Shining in a Dark Place, Jeff Sellars has drawn together more than a dozen scholars around the theme of discovering theology through the moving medium of film. The varied contributors in this collection explore, through their particular lenses, how theological ideas might be seen in and considered through one of the most popular of modern art forms. From subjects of sin, grace, and forgiveness to violence, science fiction/fantasy, and zombies, Light Shining in a Dark Place assists the theologically interested film viewer in tracing the light that might be found in the filmic arts back to the source of all lights.

Contributors include: Bruce L. Edwards, J. Sage Elwell, Michael Leary, Peter Malone, Kevin C. Neece, Simon Oliver, Kim Paffenroth, J. Ryan Parker, Travis Prinzi, Megan J. Robinson, Scott Shiffer, James H. Thrall, and Alissa Wilkinson

"An intriguingly eclectic, far-ranging collection of essays that shows how everything from art house cinema to the most popcorny of pop culture--including direct-to-DVD fare--can illuminate our understanding of the world, our place in it, and the One who made it. Even some rather well-worn topics are approached from strikingly original angles. I learned a fair bit from reading this book, and look forward to referencing it in the future."
--Peter T. Chattaway, previous film critic for BC Christian News

"In an all-star line up of writers, this accessible book enables readers to discover God through the all-encompassing medium of the movie, perhaps the most powerful medium on the planet. Movies help us understand God and his story, and God and his Story enables us to understand the movies. Read this book and you'll know film, God, and the biblical narrative better."
--David Naugle, Associate Producer of Grassroots Entertainment, LLC

"Here is a delightful study of cinema's ability to smuggle God-stories into the shades and shadows of the art of showing us who he is, who we are, and who we might be. The wealth of insights in these essays would encourage the likes of a C. S. Lewis to reevaluate this most modern of methods for illuminating and recovering truth twenty-four times per second."
--Scott Calhoun, Conference Director for U2: The Hype and The Feedback

"Light Shining in a Dark Place offers a rich, creative, and diverse theological discourse on concepts such as evil, grace, forgiveness, horror, and community explored through an equally rich selection of films . . . Each chapter is marked by deep scholarship underpinned by a lively enthusiasm and informed respect for the medium of film."
--Maggie Roux, Associate Principal Lecturer at Leeds Trinity University College

Author Biography:
Jeff Sellars, PhD, currently teaches philosophy and humanities in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Visit for more information on Light Shining in a Dark Place and related materials.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781610973090
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 06/04/2012
Pages: 252
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Jeff Sellars, PhD, currently teaches philosophy and humanities in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Visit for more information on Light Shining in a Dark Place and related materials.

Table of Contents

Notes on the Contributors vii

Acknowledgements xi

Introduction Jeff Sellars xiii

Section I From Out of the Darkness, Into the Light: Evil, Violence, Depths, and Trauma

1 Representing Evil in Schindler's List and Life is Beautiful Simon Oliver 3

2 Imagining a Better Way: Ben X and Marjorie Suchocki's The Fall to Violence: Original Sin in Relational Theology J. Ryan Parker 18

3 De Profundis ... Out of the Shallows ... Enter the Void Peter Malone 34

4 Recalling Jesus: Form, Theory, and Trauma in Jesus Cinema Michael Leary 51

Section II From Light to Light: Grace, Forgiveness, and Community

5 Embracing Failure and Extending Grace in a Digital Age: Viewing The Social Network and Catfish Theologically J. Sage Elwell 63

6 There Will Be Frogs: P. T. Anderson and the Strangeness of Common Grace Alissa Wilkinson 78

7 Solitude, Search, and Forgiveness in Paris, Texas: An Augustinian Turn Jeff Sellars 88

8 Graphic Theology: Community, Imago Dei, and Temptation in 300 Megan J. Robinson 98

9 Making Dinner: The Artistry of Communal Meals in Babette's Feast and Antonia's Line James H. Thrall 107

Section III From the Light, Into the Darkness: Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Apocalypse

10 The Parable of the Poltergeist: Making Righteous Use of the Element of Horror Travis Prinzi 119

11 The Undiscovered Country: Star Trek and the Christian's Human Journey Kevin C. Neece 131

12 Theological Reflections and Philosophical Themes in the New DC Comic Films: Faith and Spirituality, Self-Identity, and Worldview through Comic Book Cartoon Movie Adaptations Scott Shiffer 142

13 C. S. Lewis contra Cinema Bruce L. Edwards 153

14 Fantasy, Escapism, and Narrative in Pan's Labyrinth Jeff Sellars 175

15 Apocalyptic Images and Prophetic Function in Zombie Films Kim Paffenroth 191

Bibliography 211

Index 219

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