Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Movies Are Prayers: How Films Voice Our Deepest Longings Paperback – June 13, 2017
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"Going far beyond a simple assessment of Christlike martyr figures (the movies are lousy with 'em), Josh Larsen's passionate and movingly reflective new book makes an inspiring case for treating a provocative variety of films as prayers for all seasons. He writes on everything from Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life to Michael Haneke's Amour, teasing out the filmmakers' insatiable desire to wrestle with the unknowable. But his democratically theological approach to the medium he loves brings into play unexpected gems: Polanski's Chinatown, or Demme's The Silence of the Lambs (to which Larsen took his future wife on a date). 'Many films,' he writes, 'even the challenging ones, are capable of functioning as messy, mixed-up, miraculous prayer.' I've long been engaged by Larsen's film criticism on Filmspotting, but this book seeks and finds a higher power and a more mysterious set of concerns, somewhere out past the lobby." (Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune)
"This is one of the best books on film and theology I've ever read. By conceiving of and engaging with movies as 'prayerful gestures received by God," Larsen guides the reader in a study that is itself a reverent, prayerful gesture. Packed with insights into how both the content and the form of films can mirror prayer, Movies Are Prayers is a must-read for anyone who has ever felt the pangs of transcendence in a movie theater. Yet this is a book as much about prayer as it is about pop culture. Readers will gain not only new language with which to understand movies, but an enlivened paradigm for understanding prayer." (Brett McCracken, film critic for Christianity Today, author of Gray Matters and Hipster Christianity)
"There's a lot of writing on film and theology, but a perspective like Larsen's―fresh, insightful, and interesting for anyone―is a rare gift to cinephiles and more casual movie viewers alike. In Movies Are Prayers, Larsen encourages us to rethink movies as not just vehicles for content, but as actual expressions of the heart's deepest longings, readjusting the way we think about both films and their creators―and, by extension, ourselves as viewers and critics." (Alissa Wilkinson, film critic, Vox.com, associate professor of English and humanities, The King's College)
"I'm about as far removed from religion and spirituality as one could possibly be, and yet Movies Are Prayers opened up for me an entirely new way of appreciating the movies I love and the art of filmmaking as a whole. As Larsen points out, it's so easy for even the most obsessive cinephiles among us to fall back on viewing cinema through the cynical lens of commercialization or a frothy lens of mere escapist entertainment. By reexamining an array of movies, including the ostensibly secular (Trainwreck, The Muppets), via the language of prayer, this engagement with the medium uncovers a different and fascinating approach to film theory." (Aisha Harris, Slate culture writer, editor, and host of the podcast Represent)
"With a rich understanding of film history and the Scriptures, Josh Larsen's Movies Are Prayers provides a revelatory look at how movies―their messages, their characters, and even the process of making them―can serve as acts of worship. Larsen's readings of films are welcoming, accessible, and insightful. Movies Are Prayers will help Christians everywhere look at film in a whole new light." (David Chen, editor-at-large, Slashfilm.com)
"Larsen pulls on the complexities of the prayerful posture―yearning, lament, confession, joy, and more―that bring us closer to the self as recipient of film than previous comparisons of the movie theater with church and sacred space. Joining the breath of a movie with the breath of prayer, he teaches us anew. This vision of presence and the movements of prayer at the movies are offered through profound films often ignored by the Christian public, making the book a needed addition to the library of the prayerful, reflective, movie-loving Christian." (Rebecca Ver Straten-McSparran, director, L.A. Film Studies Center)
"Spoiler alert: Josh Larsen's Movies Are Prayers will have you reevaluating your relationship not just to the silver screen, but to story itself. Displaying a prodigious breadth of knowledge and an infectious passion for his subject, Larsen draws an invaluable map of the vast spiritual landscape staked out by cinema while outlining a persuasive, and dare I say exciting, approach to the life of faith―indeed, to life, period. Expansive, gracious, and beautifully written. I'm saying a prayer of grateful awe right now." (David Zahl, editor of The Mockingbird Blog, author of A Mess of Help)
"Movies Are Prayers is for the movie lover and the infrequent viewer, the person who prays daily and the one who seldom does. Rather than looking at movies as mere entertainment or a means of teaching moral lessons, Larsen invites us to view the medium as a means of expressing our joy, sorrow, and longings―for a right world, right relationships, and right hearts. In the process, we not only see that movies are prayers, but we see our innate human desire to commune with our Creator." (Erik Parks, filmmaker; Catherine Parks, author of A Christ-Centered Wedding; cohosts of The Whole Spectrum podcast)
About the Author
Josh Larsen is co-host of the WBEZ/NPR podcast Filmspotting and editor of Think Christian, a digital magazine on faith and culture. Previously, he spent eleven years as a film and entertainment critic for Chicago-based Sun-Times Media.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Too often when “Christian” and “movies” come together, a didactic censoriousness and disordered view of art follow. Larsen takes the opposite approach. You’ll see no mention of Left Behind or God’s Not Dead, but you will see George Bailey struggling to be obedient in It’s a Wonderful Life and Alvin’s motorized meditations in The Straight Story and hushed yearning in In the Mood for Love. As his true in his reviews, he brings a generous, exploratory spirit to cinema, seeing the form’s good and beautiful and attempting to understand the bad and ugly.
Anyone who has grown up in any sort of religious circle has seen the objects of art and culture poked and prodded time and time again. Whether it was the classic, revival preacher calling for the destruction of the newest top 40 album or, what I was worried I might find here, that one guy who skews artist intent or stretches every theme to declare a relation to their own religious narrative. Rest assured, you will find none of that here. Instead, there is something much more wonderful at play.
Larsen wasted no time in reawakening my view of prayer. He helps remind the readers that it is so much bigger than speaking to something or someone. There is an interaction taking place that is so deep and so full yet too often we stop after a few simple lines of one-way-dialog. If we are to pray without ceasing, what happens when we run out of words? What happens when we don’t know the words in the first place?
Anyone who has sat and watched a sunset should have some understanding of inspirational or experiential prayer. Even if words weren’t said, to be filled with the inspirations of aw, wonder and thankfulness and then to raise those emotions and thoughts upwards is a prayerful experience. Is it too much to think that the same creator who can use a sunset to fill us with prayer or help us realize the words or emotions we did not know how to express could not then use something like a film (which could be completely secular and created by someone holding completely different beliefs) to give us the words, thoughts or emotions to lift our prayers up? This is how prayer without ceasing happens; that when we run out of things to say, we then come upon our prayers, as if they were left there for us to find.
After convincing that films do not have to be inherently religious to help viewers find words or emotions to lift up, Larsen then spends the rest of the book laying out his observations of many films and where they have provided for him or can provide for others the same type of experiential prayer. His observations are so refreshing and so different from what I have experienced in the past that I have been inspired to revisit many movies that I had previously felt I had gotten everything out of.
For the fan of film, this book will provide a deeper movie watching experience.
For the reader who likes to consider spiritual thought and living, Movies Are Prayers could be a formative read that enriches not only the way you view movies, but, all art, culture and beyond.
Most recent customer reviews
"Could a single film prayerfully envision the original glory of creation, mark the tragedy of the...Read more