Faith + Film: IT

As part of an ongoing effort to actively engage with film beyond its entertainment value, this area of my website will be dedicated to looking at aspects of film as they reflect in my faith. Spoilers abound. Hope you enjoy.


Ah, the horror movie genre, also known as the types of movies I avoid at all cost. Listen, it’s no secret that I don’t do scary. Jump scares and disturbing images, weird creatures and creepy voices do not a good movie experience make. But in 2017, a new adaptation of Stephen King’s novel IT graced the theaters, and with it, curiosity.

I grew up with the made-for-tv movie back in 1990. It scared the crap out of me back then. These days I look on it with fondness, and even entertainment. It’s easily digestible because of its dated effects and restrained visuals due to the television outlet. Because of that, I have been able to appreciate the story more and more, it’s themes of facing your fears and strength in community.

It’s with that in mind that I attempted to take on the 2017 edition. However, as the days grew closer I found myself getting anxious, not in anticipation for the movie experience, but of all of the potential thoughts and images that would haunt me for the days and weeks following. I wasn’t looking forward to it.

A couple of days prior, I sought out some wisdom from a friend. He gave me the following advice:

Remember that dread can be far worse than what actually happens. That’s how scary films work, they ignite dread. Remind yourself that the dread of a thing is more powerful at times than the thing itself, and take those dreadful thoughts captive. Your imagination can be made subject to what you choose to focus on.

Also, remember that facing our fears — the real ones and the imaginary clowns — can be a truly freeing exercise. In the right contexts, it can purge some of our most dreadful thoughts and ignite and embolden us elsewhere.

The lingering power fear has is because of the seeds it plants in our imagination. They dig deep and try to convince us that the monsters waiting around the corner are more powerful than any hope, strength, or faith we may possess.
So never forget…They’re liars. They lie.

With that awareness in mind, actively plant the seeds in your own imagination that will remind you of the truth:

That you are loved beyond the boundaries of this world. That greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. And that the worst thing that could ever happen, already has — the Lord died.

And mustn’t ever forget how that turned out.

– Reed Lackey

So, empowered by those words of wisdom, I walked into a darkened theater, sat down, started watching the movie……

And promptly covered my eyes during all of the scary parts.

I know, I know. I failed. I honestly wanted to watch the whole thing. I wanted to literally look my fears in the face like those seven losers, and take down the Pennywise of my life. I felt frustrated, disappointed, and weak.

But after thinking about it for a few days, I realized another truth. I realized that I have limits, that some things aren’t for me. Paul said in his letter to the Corinthian church, “‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything is edifying.”

I think I realized that the discomfort I feel during horror takes away from my personal movie experience. I wish it didn’t because I don’t get that completeness. This experience just confirmed that limitation in me. Ultimately though, I’m okay with that, and there is freedom that comes when I understand what is beneficial and edifying to my walk.

There’s truth to what Reed spoke to me, and that truth will stay with me as I face the other real fears in my life. But through Christ, I have the power to overcome anything. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, I can face those things with confidence.

As for scary movies? I’ll stick with the classics.

If you want to hear more of my thoughts on the film from a cinematic standpoint, check out the Feelin Film episode HERE.

Faith + Film: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

As part of an ongoing effort to actively engage with film beyond its entertainment value, this area of my website will be dedicated to looking at aspects of film as they reflect in my faith. Spoilers abound. Hope you enjoy.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a book and movie by Stephen Chbosky, goes beyond the trio of Charlie, Sam and Patrick. It’s a story about growing up, falling in love, being hurt, and learning to be okay with who you are. I’d like to think those are universal struggles that we’ve all dealt with on some level.

But it’s also a story about belonging, about being a part of something where you are not tolerated but cared for, not accepted but embraced, not acknowledged, but endorsed.

It’s these elements of the film that elevated it’s enjoyment for me. There’s a scene, just after Charlie meets Sam and Patrick, and they end up at a party together. Charlie doesn’t know anyone and he’s walking around like any other person just trying to figure things out. He ends up eating one of the “special brownies” that are being passed around and, needless to say, releases his inhibitions. Later he is talking with Sam, who is making him a milkshake at his request (because what tastes better when you are on cloud 9 than a milkshake), and he confesses to her, somewhat matter-of-fact, that his best friend shot himself a year before.

Here’s where I connected. A few minutes later, we see Charlie enjoying his milkshake with two other party goers and we see Sam whisper to Patrick that she doesn’t think he has any friends. Patrick looks at her, then at Charlie and says: “Hey, everyone. Raise your glasses to Charlie.” Charlie responds, “What did I do,” to which Patrick says, “You didn’t do anything. We just want to toast to our new friend. You see things, and you understand.” Then Charlie, with this uncomfortable body language, squirms a bit. Patrick says, “What is it Charlie?” to which Charlie responds, “I didn’t think anyone noticed me.” Patrick, grinning says, “Well, we didn’t think there was anyone cool left to meet.”

I believe the desire to be noticed, valued and loved are not lost us as people. They aren’t mistakes. More than anything I believe they are indications that we are a broken people in need of something, someone to satisfy those desires.

David wrote in Psalm 139 that he is “fearfully and wonderfully made,” that from the very beginning of time, God’s eyes “saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book  before one of them came to be.” Throughout this Psalm, David confesses how intimately God knows him, how grateful he is that he is known so fully. There’s this overwhelming sense of awe, wonder, and gratefulness that David has because of how God sees him. 

As believers, the intimacy God has for us, knowing us so well, reminds me that we aren’t mistakes, that every bone, every wart, every blemish, success and failure are all part of this life that He has given me. I think, like Charlie, who desired just to be noticed, got more than that. Through Patrick and Sam, he was cared for, protected, and genuinely loved.  Choosing to be followers of Jesus, we experience that same thing, with the One who created us.

If you want to hear more of my thoughts on the film from a cinematic standpoint, check out the Feelin Film episode HERE.

Faith + Film: Jurassic Park

As part of an ongoing effort to actively engage with film beyond its entertainment value, this area of my website will be dedicated to looking at aspects of film as they reflect in my faith. Spoilers abound. Hope you enjoy.

When I first experienced Jurassic Park in 1993, awe and wonder are probably the two words to describe my movie-going experience. Seeing those dinosaurs in all their “terrible lizard” glory, I was mesmerized and to this day still consider Jurassic Park to be the gold standard when it comes to what a Summer blockbuster should be.

Revisiting this film as an adult recently, the awe and wonder was still there, but I found myself drawn into the ideas that were being communicated more than anything.

One of the themes that stood out to me was that of Hammond’s pursuit of this successful park. In no less than 6 or 7 instances, he reiterates that he’s “spared no expense” in order to make this park the successful venture that he wants it to be.  In a pivotal scene at a dinner table with Dr. Sattler, he talks about his flea circus and how successful that was. This leads into him talking specifically about the park, confessing that he  “wanted to create something that wasn’t an illusion.”

Throughout the film we see this character who seems to possess this dual motive when it comes to the success of Jurassic Park. On one side, he wants what he created to be shared with the world. He wants anyone and everyone to experience what he has created. But on the other side, I get a sense that he is willing to stop at nothing to make sure this park is a success, not just for the entertainment and awe and wonder of the potential patrons who would visit, but also to satisfy some ego-driven motive in himself. He seems to have his identity wrapped up in this park. There is a desperation, even, that we see in that conversation when he says “the next time it will be flawless.” Even in the midst of the chaos going on around him, his hope is still in the potential that there will be a next time, that someday his dream will become a reality. Does this make him a villain? I don’t believe so. More than anything, it kind of makes him a tragic character. I was reminded of something incredibly vital concerning my faith through Hammond’s character.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.  – Ephesians 2:1-3.

What fascinates me about this description is the way in which Paul uses words to show duality of someone before his relationship with Jesus, being “dead” while “living.” He begins to paint a clear picture that as Christians, we were clearly something different than we are now. But who exactly are we, if we aren’t that? Paul goes on.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. – Ephesians 2:4-7.

Here he makes it clear that we are now alive with Christ, connected with him “in the heavenly realms.” It’s also clear that the motive is from God. It’s because of His great love for us that He did it, and it was Him who made us alive.

So What? If we are now alive with Christ, how are our lives any different. That’s a question that, I would imagine, the world asks of us every day. How does being connected with Jesus make me any different than the guy next door who is still “dead in [his] transgressions.” Is it enough just to live?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:8-10

Here Paul essentially sums up what I believe the Gospel is in a nutshell. First, grace through faith is the linchpin for salvation. That’s where it starts. Do we believe that Jesus, through his power, conquered death and rose again? Do we believe that we are separated from Jesus because of sin in our lives and that only that same power can save us from sin?

He then goes onto say that we are Gods “handiwork.” The Greek word used here is where we get the word “poem.” We are His poem, the result of His creativity, so in essence that’s where we connect. That’s where our identity comes from. But Paul goes onto say that it’s not enough just to identify with Christ. Our purpose, that further identifies us, is to “do good works.” He specifies this by saying that we are to do these things “in Christ Jesus.”

I believe that the life of a believer, the identity that someone who says “I am a follower of Jesus” is defined by these three verses. I go back to these when my identity is shaken, when I feel like I deserve some kind of accolade or when something I do goes unnoticed. Like Hammond, I have good intentions. I want the world to see what I have done, that the things I aspire to be great at have some kind of benefit, but when I lose myself in those things, when I care more about what others think than what Jesus does, I am no better than the man who “wanted to create something that wasn’t an illusion.”

If you want to hear more of my thoughts on the film from a cinematic standpoint, check out the Feelin Film episode HERE.