Item description for The Gospel according to Hollywood (Gospel According To) by Greg Garrett...
Overview In this new book in the Gospel According To series, Garrett looks at the theological elements in dozens of classic Hollywood films, including a discussion about what the new openness to spirituality in the movies might mean for the future of American cinema and American religion. (Biblical Studies)
This book will thrill movie buffs and casual fans alike. In an engaging style, author Greg Garrett looks at the theological elements in dozens of classic and new classic Hollywood films, including a discussion about what the new openness to spirituality in the movies might mean for the future of American cinema and American religion.
From Publishers Weekly It is easy to see the religious imagery in movies like The Passion of the
Christ and The Mission, but much more difficult to uncover it in mainstream
Hollywood films. Garrett, professor of English at Baylor University and
popular author, analyzes dozens of films and extracts their religious and
spiritual themes. Rather than focus solely on contemporary films, Garrett
digs into the past five decades and investigates important works that are
often overlooked in similar books. He masterfully weaves threads of Christian
history, doctrine and tradition into the chapters, utilizing these films as
platforms from which to teach the reader. The chapter on peace and justice is
especially powerful, as the author not only instructs but also advocates for
working toward a more just society. Being a Christian means to put one's faith
in action, and Garrett is able to elucidate how these movies can have the
power to encourage some to live a more authentic Christian life. While he
realizes that not all Christians will buy into his primary thesis-that movies
can reveal something about spirituality and God's action in the world-he also
understands that "many theologians have argued that nothing in creation is
outside the scope of God." This is a bold and courageous belief, and kudos to
Garrett for advancing it. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Citations And Professional Reviews The Gospel according to Hollywood (Gospel According To) by Greg Garrett has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Library Journal - 07/01/2007 page 69
Publishers Weekly - 05/14/2007 page 51
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Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.51" Width: 5.76" Height: 0.53" Weight: 0.65 lbs.
Release Date Jul 1, 2007
Publisher PRESBYTERIAN PUBLISHING #86
Series Gospel According To
ISBN 0664230520 ISBN13 9780664230524
Availability 0 units.
More About Greg Garrett
Greg Garrett is Professor of English at Baylor University. He is author of the critically acclaimed novel "Free Bird," selected as one of the best first novels in 2002 by "Publisher's Weekly" and the "Denver Rocky Mountain News," as well as "The Gospel According to Hollywood" and "Holy Superheroes." He lives in Austin, Texas.
Greg Garrett currently resides in Austin, in the state of Texas. Greg Garrett has an academic affiliation as follows - Baylor University.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Gospel according to Hollywood?
Sitting around the sofa Feb 25, 2008
I picked up this book thinking it was an historical account of the portrayal of the gospels in Hollywood. There are many such books around that cover the history of blacks, homosexuals, drugs, and other topics in films, and the title suggested this was another of those type of books. It isn't. So what is it? In the author's own words - "I want to offer you a learned yet accessible look at films that can inspire as well as entertain, to show how you might use these films to discuss theological issues, and, wherever possible, to tie the stories of these films back to our core narratives about salvation and the life of faith (xxii - xxiii)."
Leaving aside my disappointment in not finding the historical account I was looking for, we need to evaluate the book on the basis of the author's goals, not my expectations. This is a well written book and the author is obviously a film buff, but I wouldn't go so far as to call this text a "learned" approach to film. There is very little depth to Mr. Garrett's film analysis, nor is there much backstory nor sociopolitical concurrents. In addition, Garrett usually ignores the box office information which I would have thought added value to any discussion of the film's impact. Mostly it is Garrett's reactions to films, rehashing the plots and reminding us of the actors whom played the various parts.
As far as being a teaching tool, I didn't see that either. Perhaps I am being too concrete and looking for teaching lesson material here. Of course Garrett's examples can be adopted by others and used for teaching, or any other purpose. But the book itself is hardly a teaching tool, even if the contents itself can be used for teaching.
Another problem I have with this book is that it is not particularly concerned with the gospels. Rather than using the gospels as the focus, Garrett adopts the culturally normative view of Jesus, which any scholar knows, is vastly different from the gospel point of view. I think the title "The Gospel according to..." is meant more as a play on words rather than an actual description of what we are getting.
So, the book doesn't live up to my expectations and neither does it seem to live up to the purpose as set forth by the author. Nonetheless, this is an entertaining book and well written, and if you like films and are very religious from a Christian perspective, this might be the type of book you're looking for.
Many Insights on Wide Range of Movies Oct 31, 2007
Garrett writes from a "neo-evangelical" perspective, in the vein of Ron Sider or Sojourners Magazine. So his theology leans toward the conservative; his social and political views are slanted in a more liberal direction.
Garrett finds Christian themes in films ranging from old classics (The Philadelphia Story, To Kill a Mockingbird, Cool Hand Luke) to more recent movies (Pulp Fiction, Magnolia, American Beauty).
The first four chapters deal with more theological themes in films such as faith, the Trinity, sin, and redemption. The final two chapters explore more social and political themes such as war and peace, justice, poverty and race.
While I occasionally disagreed with Garrett's theololgy (and/or his politics), I found his insights into the spiritual themes in films unerringly accurate and insightful. The author avoids two common traps in Christian interpretation of film. He does not try to read explictly Christian ideas into movies where the filmmakers clearly did not intend them. Nor does he wholisticlally condemn films that contain offensive elements such as nudity or violence.
Instead he looks for the filmmakers intended themes and compares and contrasts them with Christian belief and practice. Although I have frequently taught college and greaduate classes on the spiritual themes in Hollywood movies, I learned a great deal from Garret's analysis.
Readers who are interested in this topic may also want to read "Hollywood Worldviews" by Brian Godawa.