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Cinemagogue: Reclaiming Entertainment and Navigating Narrative for the Myths and Mirrors they were Meant to Be Paperback – December 12, 2012
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About the Author
James Harleman has hosted events, lectured and preached for over a decade in Seattle at one of the fastest growing churches in America where he started the "Film and Theology" program. As an ordained minister, he's traveled and lectured, contributed reviews to The Resurgence and Hollywood Jesus websites, and written articles for Collide Magazine. (He also made the Kessel Run in less than eleven parsecs.) James enjoys watching movies with his geek wife Kathryn who shares his passion for cosplay, sci-fi, horror movies, and comic books. They're presently working to publish several short stories and a series of novels. He is also part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor. Take him away.
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Top Customer Reviews
Don't be fooled by the title: althought it deals with movies, the author's ideas and concepts applies to stories, and because of that, it was very helpful for me, even considering that I'm not a cinephile but a book or comic book reader. Harleman does a great job in giving the proper definition of the word "entertainment", as well as explaining what a godly engagement on culture should mean. I must confess that his concepts, as developed in this work, of stories being somehow classified as "Life Under The Sun" (with sub-types "anguish" and "acceptance") or "Life Transcendent" (with sub-types "the transformed life" and "redeeming savior") will accompany me from now on whenever reading or watching stories. It'd be good though if the author had provided some references or recommended bibliography sections for further reading, but this won't hinder me in giving 5 stars to this book.
"Cinemagogue" is a much necessary book, for christians and non-christians as well. Thank God it led me to useful thinking on many subjects, and to review my own behavior toward some things. I intend to reread it next year, and use it as source of reference and study along with Gene Edward Veith's "Reading Between The Lines" and Tony Reinke's "Lit!".
After listening for a number of years as the author of this book, James broke down the elements of the stories we love and explained them from a personal and theological perspective, I was really excited to discover he had a book in the works! Cinemagogue is more than I could have hoped for! This book not only gives a framework for all of the stories that I enjoy, but it entirely rewires the way I engage entertainment and art. It really pushed my understanding of what entertainment is, and how I should engage it. Movies and stories of all kinds are not merely diversions from the reality we live in. They speak volumes about the condition of the world we live in, and how we respond to it. They also seek to answer some of the big questions of where we come from, who we are, where we are going and if or why it matters. With answers presented for such significant questions, It is important to be discerning about what we are watching and why!
This book gives you the tools to understand our stories, a large quantity of examples from a wide variety of genres all broken down and investigated for you and discussions on some of the most controversial issues in movies such as language, violence, sex and nudity. Much ink has been spilled on discussing these issues but the author's real goal of this book, is not just to entertain you with his deft handling of his subject, witty commentary and shrewd insights into movies (which it certainly does) but to hand the torch to you! His goal is to help you to engage entertainment and be discerning in what you take away from it, and to help you to engage in meaningful conversation with your friends.
Most importantly it is all grounded in an unshakable truth that will surprise you. So if you enjoy movies, create art and entertainment yourself or are influenced by the culture around you at all... This book is for you! I will be returning to it frequently, and I expect you will too!
My favorite part of the book is when the author takes an in depth look into some of our favorite movies and shares incredible insight. It will really get you thinking. With that said, I'm pleased that he has taken on some of the taboo concepts that most of us struggle with everyday: cursing, nudity, horror, etc. He gives an interesting perspective that will definitely push some of your personal boundaries. He is clear, however, that he doesn't have all the answers and that you have to make some tough decisions for yourself. He encourages us to be discerning viewers.
This book also challenges us individually to be more involved in other people's lives and entertainment is a perfect avenue for thought and conversation. Being more culturally literate through thoughtful interaction with books and movies is an amazing opportunity to share hope with those around us.