A few weeks ago I finished Josh Larsen’s upcoming book, Movies are Prayers, and it has been lingering in my head since.
I was lucky enough to get an advance copy in order to help promote the release of the book. When I first heard about it, I expected a book about movies and assumed it would give me a new interesting way to think about film and use prayer simply as a way to interpret film. I had first encountered Larsen as one of the primary hosts of the fantastic film podcast, Filmspotting. He has since become one of my favorite writers. His film criticism is top notch and is every bit as good as anyone currently writing in that realm. The writing that I appreciate the most from him, however, is when he discusses art from a Christian perspective on the exceptional blog, ThinkChristian, where Larsen serves as contributor and editor. Larsen has always had the ability to elevate film criticism to the point of improving my life as well as my walk with God. Understanding that I could learn about God’s overwhelming grace from Moonlight or that in a movie like Alien: Covenant I could understand the depraved human condition in its relation to its creator all the more clearer for having watched the film was a new way to connect two things I strongly cared about. Larsen has better enabled me to interpret an art medium which I deeply love in order to live my life in a way that better honors God and more closely resembles the type of person I wish to be. This is especially true in the case of Movies are Prayers.
When I received my copy of the book, my expectation was to learn something about film, which I did, but the most profound realizations I had and am still having are all about prayer. After this book, I’ve found myself thinking more and more about prayer and its role in my life and the full range of how it could look. I realized that I’ve been very limited in my understanding and use of prayer for a long time and through my love of film Larsen was been able to open up an entire world for me in my appreciation for prayer. I did learn a lot about films and added quite a few to my Letterboxd watchlist, which I’m very thankful for. That’s quite small, however, in comparison to the way I think about and utilize prayer now, which, in turn, changes the way I see myself, my creator, my family, life in general, and film.
Larsen has always been able to navigate the world of film as a Christian incredibly well and in a way that wishes to understand and observe the world around us and the people creating and appreciating films. It’s a breath of fresh air in a church culture where most Christians seem to be mostly busy trying to control things around them by creating tighter and more exclusive subcultures full of soulless art, boycotting popular movies that project ideals that they find offensive. This is a culture that I could not be less interested in being a participant. What this has always meant for me, personally, is that I could read true film criticism, or shallow, fear-based dogma from the camp I associate with religiously. Larsen was able to merge a deep understanding and appreciation of film with the convictions and virtues of Christianity in a way that is open and understanding. I hope it inspires more writers to begin viewing the world and art in a way that is inclusive and beneficial to all. I am all in on Movies are Prayers and the culture that could arise from writers and thinkers like Josh Larsen.
Movies are Prayers is available here June 13th!