What Does This Mean?

If I knew enough about the theology of the rest of the world’s religions, I’d blog about their relationships to cinema, too.  Unfortunately, I am only equipped to help chart the cartography of the region where religion and film overlap from a Christian perspective.  A Protestant perspective, to be more precise.  I was baptized and raised Lutheran, and while I’m sure many of my current views would scandalize my old pastors and teachers, a descendant of Luther I remain, for better and/or worse.

Though there are many Christians out there writing great criticism, this blog is my own humble attempt to contribute something meaningful to the discussion of film — to articulate a “Christian gaze,” if you will — in a way that is, in my opinion, still tragically underrepresented.  It’s not my wish to proselytize or polemicize.  I just want to find ways to relate the medium I love to the faith I practice.

If anyone else is interested in my perspective, pour yourself a cup of joe, pull up a chair, and join in the conversation.


19 responses to “What Does This Mean?

  • ptatleriv

    Glad to have found you via your comment over at my White Elephant post. It’s refreshing (and rare) to find reasoned, vital film writing from a Christian perspective. Consider me a fan!

  • mjschneider

    Thank you for the kind words. I’ll be checking in at your blog regularly as well!

  • David

    I just finished reading your article on “True Grit” at Playtime, and was very impressed. Most of the Coen Bros. fare I have not seen, partly out of my desire to avoid the extremities of the violence and profanity they have (for the violence, it’s more the coldness of it, like the murders in Fargo, than the explicitness that keeps me away), but O Brother, Where Art Thou delighted me, and True Grit moved me. Your article did a great job of explaining the ways they operate in an understandable manner.

    At my own blog, I often try to give a Christian perspective on the books, movies, and TV shows I write about, and I look forward to exploring your blog some more.

    God bless!

    • mjschneider

      You’re very kind. I’m going to be adding several more links in the near future, and your blog (as well as ptatleriv’s) is going to be one of them. So far, I’m digging your perspective. I’m a film lover, but I’m also a reader and a writer, so your rather intimidating posts on literature are enticing. Looking forward to reading more.

      Re: the Coens… If you haven’t yet checked out A Serious Man, I highly, highly recommend it. If you’re worried about language and whatnot, there isn’t an egregious amount. But of their films, it’s the one that deals more explicitly with faith and religious concerns. I thought it was trenchant and funny. Probably their best film since the 90s. Based on what you wrote about the movies on your blog, I suspect you’d enjoy the heck out of it.

  • Carl

    Just found your blog through a tweet by Image Journal. Love what I’ve read so far, and it appears we share several of the same interests such as Christianity and cinema. I write about movies, music and other forms of pop culture at my blog, would love to have you stop by!

    Carl

    • mjschneider

      I certainly will check out your blog; I’ll comment where I feel I have something of relevance to say. Thank you for your kind words and for stopping by. It’s very appreciated.

  • Satish Naidu

    A wonderful wonderful blog. One of those you instantly add to your favorites and keep checking every morning for a new post. I came here via The Man from Porlock (re)tweeting your response to Jim Emerson’s mostly subjective analysis to The Dark Knight.

    Oh I am a Christopher Nolan fan, and I think he is the greatest director ever. Period. And Inception is a masterpiece. Also, I am getting real this afternoon as I read all of your stuff.

    Adding you on my blogroll. Good luck and God bless!!

  • Chris Monks

    I, too, am a Christian writer looking to encourage people through my musings on films. Glad I found your blog. Check my blog out. I’ll definitely be reading yours on a regular basis.

  • Kyle van Rensburg

    Yo, it’s “Jesusisking” here. I changed to my real name since it’s on my blog and I use it a lot.

    I do not wish to criticise or be naggy. So for what I’m about to say, please understand that I’m just confused as to what your site’s about.

    It says here that you are writing from a Christian perspective and talking about it’s ties to film. But I haven’t seen you write from a Christian perspective in quite a while, and you got sidetracked with politics a few months ago. That is one topic which I can say doesn’t belong on this site. While you can do what you want with this blog, saying that you are blogging about Christianity and film, and then posting stuff about politics, it kinda alienates people who cam here for what is in the tagline at the top.

    The reason why I’m posting this is because I lost interest in your blog because of what I mentioned above. I know Americans are heavily into politics, no offense, but talking about it on a film blog? Just is out of really out of place.

    I’m not nagging you by saying “REVIEW COURAGEOUS! REVIEW COURAGEOUS! REVIEW COURAGEOUS! REVIEW COURAGEOUS!”

    No, I’m just saying that your blog got sidetracked from it’s original purpose, and I lost interest because of it.

    I hope you understand. :)

    • mjschneider

      Hey, Kyle! Hopefully I can clear up the confusion. I don’t take offense, and I’m glad that you still check my blog from time to time despite your aversion to my political posts. To paraphrase Lincoln, you can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

      The primary purpose of the blog is to discuss film; I’m a Christian, so my views on film are always informed by a Christian perspective, even if I don’t specifically cite which Christian beliefs or doctrines are most applicable to each film. (Sometimes even I don’t know that much!) My politics also inform my viewpoint, and if nothing else, I think the relatively few political posts I’ve done provide context for the more specifically film-related criticism.

      To clarify: cinema and its audience are both part of culture. Culture is inseparable from its political landscape. Paying attention to pop culture means that you must also pay some attention to its politics and one’s relation to those politics. If my perspective on film (my aesthetic viewpoint) is contingent in some way upon my political viewpoint, it behooves me to disclose that viewpoint in order to enrich, expand, or complicate my aesthetic analysis. It’s the only way I can feel that I’m being completely honest.

      Not to mention that a great many film bloggers do political stuff. Roger Ebert, Jim Emerson, Armond White… even Bordwell and Thompson, who focus so keenly on the pure craft of film poetics, do a non-film political post every once in a great while. This puts me in good company, if not nearly in the same league.

      All of that is ex post facto rationalization, though. The reality is that I simply blog about something whenever I feel I have something to say about it. Since some political topics interest me greatly, Catecinem has evolved accordingly. I wouldn’t consider it a “sidetrack” so much as an extension. This blog is an extension of my personality, which is encompasses politics as well as faith and film; therefore, politics is also a part of the blog’s personality. It’s still the place where Christianity and film meet for coffee; sometimes they chat politics over a hot cuppa.

      I certainly don’t want to drive readers away, but I also don’t feel that I’d be true to myself or to the personality of the blog if I didn’t follow my muse. If I lose some readers in the process, hopefully I’ll pick up others who are more simpatico.

  • Kyle van Rensburg

    After reading a few of your political posts again, what you are saying does make sense. However, the thing is that you post erratically, and I don’t know when you are supposed to have an update.

    I guess because I live in a country like South Africa where politics is just BS to me, is why I’m so critical of it. What I am saying is that it SEEMS like your Christianity talk is getting less…

    Maybe saying this is your personal blog on various issues including filmmaking, Christianity, and politics would clear up some confusion. I’ll be honest, politics just don’t interest me when it’s all OPINIONS. I like explanations of how the political structure works, and I find the various stances intriguing.

    I guess you got a valid point, but if I were to go and start posting stuff on food on my Game Reviewing blog, it would kinda alienate people for a good reason. I have worked with WordPress, and know that

    It’s really the sudden change from films and Christianity, and know we’re discussing politics. Just came really unexpected, and I got confused. And to be frank, in blogging, the narrower your focus, the better. It caters to a specific audience, and you will have a better following. :)

  • Kyle van Rensburg

    …And know that WordPress makes it easy for you to make various blogs for various issues, is what I wanted to say. :)

    • mjschneider

      I’m very grateful for the readers I have, and I especially value the conversations I’ve been able to have with those who have posted in the comment threads. I’ve been blessed by having some of my posts linked or reposted elsewhere. Aggressively expanding my readership via this blog is not my biggest concern. My biggest concern is starting or continuing — in the form of my blog posts — conversations that I find to be interesting. That may alienate some people, and I’m okay with that. The Internet is a big place, and I’m sure they can find bloggers who are more in tune with their interests elsewhere. Meanwhile, if you want to know when there’s an update, I strongly urge you to subscribe via e-mail (if you haven’t already)! :D

  • kvr

    BTW, I didn’t know where else to post this, but: SERIOUSLY? Nicolas Cage in the new Left Behind movie? Like what?

    Sure, their getting hollywood in there, but…..this is not what I want for Christian movies. I think they should stay indie, and try to be innovative JUST like indie films.

  • Reader question: Should Christian movies be more “indie”? « Catecinem

    [...] I thought I’d try ye olde blogging standby of answering reader questions in the form of standalone posts. If you have a question you’d like me to consider blogging about, please let me know. The first question comes from Kyle, who posted the following: [...]

  • Kyle van Rensburg

    So, Roger Ebert passed away today. It’s strange how much his passing affected me. I prayed for him, and hope that he saw the light of salvation in his last hours.

    Even just reading through his reviews shows how much of a big deal he was in the realm of film criticism. Rest in Peace.

    • mjschneider

      I believe Ebert was a practicing Roman Catholic, so while prayers are always good, I don’t think you have to worry about him too much. I hope to do a post on Ebert today or early next week.

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