Fr. John Culkin inspired me to develop bridges between faith and film when he wrote that were Jesus to begin his ministry today, he would become a filmmaker. The best storytellers are working in Hollywood, so that is where he would be in order to reach the masses with his message. VisualParables.org is the culmination of my media ministry (Presbyterian) that began in the Seventies with writing reviews for several Catholic magazines, followed later by reviews in Protestant and secular newspapers. VisualParables.org moves beyond merely reviewing films by providing tools for church leaders to use them with their people to explore faith and personal and social issues.
The site offers about 1200 free reviews with one or more Scripture references attached. (Sometimes I spend almost as much time searching for the relevant Bible passage as in writing the review.) Each month the VP journal, available by either annual subscription or individual issue, includes the reviews plus a set of questions, ranging from 4 or 5 to as many as 20. Preachers tell me that they usually read the column “Lectionary Links” first because it suggests one or more films related to the Sunday texts of the Common Lectionary. Methodist chaplain Doug Sweet contributes a column that reviews film books and new DVDs. There are special articles, such as “Celebration of the Dance in Film,” and “Social Issue Films Reviewed in Visual Parables,” arranged according to category/themes—the latter lists almost 550 films. Cindy Corey, director of a Presbyterian resource center, reviews various short films.
Also available on the site are the monthly “Film Capsules.” These mini-reviews are intended for use in newsletters of churches and organizations for keeping their people aware of good films. Readers who sign up receive the set automatically by email when they are posted.
Available from my Visual Parables office is my book Films & Faith: Forty Discussion Guides. Also “The Gospel and Comedy,” a retreat kit for a group wanting to explore the gospel & comedy using various films (Godspell and Jesus Christ: SUPER STAR are two of them) and a children’s Vacation Bible School kit “BABE: Following Christ Across Boundaries & Barriers,” using the film Babe. (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
For further information into the theological background and history of Visual Parables, you can watch the short YouTube video.
Dr. Edward McNulty, Editor, Visual Parables