Sanctuary Cinema: Origins of the Christian Film Industry

Sanctuary Cinema: Origins of the Christian Film Industry

by Terry Lindvall, Ted Kuster


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Tuesday, October 22


Winner of the Religious Communication Association Book of the Year Award for 2008
Sanctuary Cinema provides the first history of the origins of the Christian film industry. Focusing on the early days of film during the silent era, it traces the ways in which the Church came to adopt film making as a way of conveying the Christian message to adherents. Surprisingly, rather than separating themselves from Hollywood or the American entertainment culture, early Christian film makers embraced Hollywood cinematic techniques and often populated their films with attractive actors and actresses. But they communicated their sectarian message effectively to believers, and helped to shape subsequent understandings of the Gospel message, which had historically been almost exclusively verbal, not communicated through visual media.
Despite early successes in attracting new adherents with the lure of the film, the early Christian film industry ultimately failed, in large part due to growing fears that film would corrupt the church by substituting an American “civil religion” in place of solid Christian values and amidst continuing Christian unease about the potential for the glorification of images to revert to idolatry. While radio eclipsed the motion picture as the Christian communication media of choice by the 1920, the early film makers had laid the foundations for the current re-emergence of Christian film and entertainment, from Veggie Tales to The Passion of the Christ.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814752500
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 01/01/2011
Pages: 303
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Terry Lindvall is C. S. Lewis Chair of Communication and Christian Thought at Virginia Wesleyan College. He is the author of Sanctuary Cinema: Origins of the Christian Film Industry and God Mocks: A History of Religious Satire from the Hebrew Prophets to Stephen Colbert.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     1
The Brazen Serpent     15
Sanctuary Cinema     55
Divine Shows     117
Better Films     179
Conclusion: Film as Religion     203
Notes     225
Bibliography     293
Index     297
About the Author     303

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher


“Lindvall’s book provides a wonderful and wonderfully readable history of this important period. Issues that churches and those interested in communication, culture, and religion wrestle with today turn out to have appeared almost 100 years ago. Anyone interested in film, religion, theology, and culture should read this book.“
-Paul A. Soukup,S.J., Santa Clara University

“Thoroughly researched and free of jargon, this book fills the gap in film history.“


“Lindvall offers a history of the Protestant Church’s role in making and promoting Christian movies, from the very beginning of the industry (circa 1895) through the end of the silent era. . . . This well-researched book is recommended for large academic and theology collection.“
-Library Journal XPress


“Provides a masterful and fascinating survey of the history of the Christian silent film industry and its demise.“
-John Lyden,author of Film as Religion: Myths, Morals, and Rituals

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews