Item description for How Movies Helped Save My Soul: Finding Spiritual Fingerprints in Culturally Significant Films by Gareth Higgins & Tony Campolo...
Overview Is there more to going to the movies than mindless entertainment? Author Gareth Higgins, avid moviegoer and film critic, says there is. This is a guidebook for looking at films and finding hidden spiritual truths. With chapters on fear, God, justice, love, power, and more, Higgins teaches how to make sense of the spiritual by looking at films with a new perspective. The The Matrix to Magnolia, Fight Club to Field of Dreams, Higgins takes the reader through more than 200 films that, if looked at the right way, just might change lives. Movie buffs and novices alike will find much to enjoy, provide, amuse, challenge and confound in this book.
Publishers Description At its best, film can transport you to what C.S. Lewis called a "thin place," where the line between harsh reality and the transcendent is so subtly blurred that for a moment, you find it difficult to tell the difference. Film, in the final analysis, can do for you what all great art does--irritate and heal, challenge and affirm, inspire and sadden. "How Movies Help Save My Soul explores the profound possibilities of movies to guide, critique and provoke the postmodern Christian journey. The book examines more than 50 films to see beyond simple multiplex fodder to encounter something transcendent in film.
Citations And Professional Reviews How Movies Helped Save My Soul: Finding Spiritual Fingerprints in Culturally Significant Films by Gareth Higgins & Tony Campolo has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
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Publishers Weekly - 06/01/2003
Library Journal - 06/01/2003
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Reviews - What do customers think about How Movies Helped Saved My Soul?
How Annoying Aug 23, 2005
This book is divided into chapters with different religio-social related themes such as "God", "money", "Power", "Love" etc. For each theme, the author presents a few movies relating to it. It didn't take long to realize that Higgins is a liberal Christian who seems more concerned with political ideologies than the salvation of souls. The values promoted are Christian to a degree but only those that overlap with modern liberalism.
Higgins got annoying fast by constantly criticizing the Church (which I think he means Evangelical Christians) though he doesn't name names. And the reason for the criticism is that they don't uphold the 'true message' of Christianity which is that even more annoying buzz word 'social justice' and liberal ethics in general. Higgins uses the typical method of judging the 'Church' for judging other's behaviors as sinful.
The subtitle "Finding Spiritual Fingerprints in Culturally Significant Films" itself is somewhat disturbing. The movie industry is the last place we should hope to find much true spirituality. It is overridden with everything contrary to Christianity. Saying that some of these movies have the fingerprints of God (I know he doesn't actually say that, but its implied) is to overlook the other prevalent messages in these movies that are ungodly to the core. Even a small amount of arsenic in a glass of water is deadly. So even though I do watch movies, I am very cautious to see much holiness in them.
For as much as I didn't like the book, it did introduce me to some new movies which I have now watched and enjoyed.
How Movies Confused Higgins Soul Aug 19, 2005
Mr. Higgins must wiht nine fingers, because most of the time he has his pointer aimed at American cutlutre, and its values. On the other hand, Higgins preaches about Christian living, and while he chastises people of his faith, he defends and justifies eroticism and sensuality, solely for their purpose. Attacking a culture and a way of life for sipte sake is not insightful. Hard to read.
Not what I hoped Aug 30, 2004
I am leading a Christian study group using popular films. I was hoping this book could help me use film to illustrate some Scriptural truth. Unfortunately, the author was much less interested in a Christian message than to make sure he took every opportunity to insult the "church." I know that churches have problems and hurt people, but it is not as common as this author seems to assert. He seems very angry at the church (and for some reason, all of western culture - especially America.) Living in N. Ireland could make one suspicious of religion I assume, but despite his claims to be a Chrisitan so concerned about commmunity, he seems to enjoy tearing down more than teaching and building up. It is a good study of film (not movies - he definatley comes from a critical point of view and not that of an average person) but not very useful in the context of the church. That's my take anyway. God bless.
Disappointed May 12, 2004
Although written in a conversational style, it wasn't a very interesting converstion. I would have preferred more depth. The title and (especially) Campolo's praise were highly misleading. Perhaps the occasional anti-American comments soured my opinion a tad. As another reviewer stated, I wanted more meat and less side dishes. Overall, sorry I spent the time reading it.
Discover the Impact Some Movies Can Have on Your Life Feb 29, 2004
The awards season is in full swing. Already we've sat through acceptance speeches at the Golden Globes and the Grammys. The Oscars, grand poomba of all award shows, is fast approaching. So this is the perfect time to pick up a book about movies!
HOW MOVIES HELPED SAVE MY SOUL: Finding Spiritual Fingerprints in Culturally Significant Films, by Gareth Higgins, is the newest addition to a growing number of Christian books dedicated to exploring religious themes in film. Brought to us by Relevant Books, an upstart publisher with its finger planted firmly on the pulse of 20-something Christians, this book displays the innate comfort post-modern Christians have discussing movies and their power to positively influence personal lives. This is notable because many older Christians can remember a time when mainstream moviegoing was widely recognized as taboo.
As one might surmise from the title, Higgins' approach to the subject of movies is as much about memoir as it is criticism. Some of his earliest memories are of his dad taking him and his brother to the movies, beginning his lifelong love of the big screen: "Film is so wrapped up with the fabric of my life that, along with the community of friends and family with whom I'm blessed to travel, I simply cannot explain myself without it."
Like listening to a veteran bibliophile list off his or her favorite books, it's daunting to realize how many movies Higgins has viewed in his relatively short lifetime. If I got started right now I'm not sure I'd catch up! Thankfully, I don't have to catch up and the encyclopedic roster of movies Higgins has seen is clearly an asset to this book.
Higgins chose to sort through his ideas about movies by organizing his thoughts into chapters on big themes such as Justice, God, Community, Brokenness, Outsiders, Death, Fear, and so on. In each chapter he presents a relatively detailed critique of two or three movies he thinks best explore the subject at hand. What follows varies from chapter to chapter, but it generally involves lists of additional suggested movies and his musings.
This book is a much-needed departure from what has been, until recently, the standard format for Christian movie criticism --- counting all the bad words. Perhaps such simple criticism does have its place, but Higgins does an excellent job of pointing readers to the ways movies, even those with bad words, can reveal striking portraits of grace and faith and hope:
"Who among us has not felt at least in microcosm the anguished courage of a William Wallace in Braveheart, or identified with the last minute redemption of a Lester Brunham in American Beauty, or suffered the torment of a Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II, on realizing that what we thought we controlled was actually controlling us? Film, in the final analysis, can do for you what all great art does --- irritate and heal, challenge and affirm, inspire and sadden. It can, in the case of a film like Magnolia, truly give you more life, or as in Wings of Desire, make you believe in God, or as with The Wizard of Oz, tell you the truth about your own existence."
HOW MOVIES HELPED SAVE MY SOUL is weak when it strays from its understood mission. Far too often it leaves both movie criticism and memoir and turns into a soapbox for Higgins' ideas about community and the death penalty and the institutional church and whatever else he's inspired to preach about. Loose writing also creates the cumulative effect that Higgins is rambling at times, as opposed to providing tangible insight.
The most helpful chapter in the book is the first, titled "Dr. Higgins' Rosetta Stone." In it he gives a brief primer on how to move from being a passive moviegoer to an informed amateur critic with the ability to mine movies for all they're worth. Some of his suggestions are probably a bit too involved for most would-be amateur critics (I don't know many who would spend the money and time to subscribe to and read "a decent, intelligent but accessible film magazine" as he suggests), but many more of them are excellent and simple ways to make moviegoing more interesting and beneficial.
This book could be a great tool with which to start your own movie club. People get together and talk about books, so why not do the same with movies? I'll bring the popcorn!