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Faith and Film at the Palace Theater (Informal Class for the Community)

Faith and Film at the Historic Georgetown Palace Theater


Old hymnboard with class dates.Three years after being shut down due to the pandemic, Cinema & Religion returned as Faith and Film, hosted at The Palace Theater* on the historic square in Georgetown, Texas. The series was held four Sundays in July and four in October.

The series at The Palace resumes June 2 with four great films to discuss, led by four capable respondents.

Continue reading Faith and Film at the Palace Theater (Informal Class for the Community)

FAQs About Faith and Film at the Palace

Animation including dates of the series on an old church hymnboard
Click to play with sound.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does ESL stand for?

A: You may see a church from time to time offering a class in conversational English for immigrants—English as a second language—to help them make sense of a world in which an unfamiliar tongue is spoken. Essentially, the Faith and Film classes are entertainment as a second language—helping improve the media literacy and fluency of anyone who watches movies. Zion Lutheran Church and School of Walburg has contracted with Parabolic Media to curate a series of classes for anyone interested in registering.

Q: Why not call it Christianity and Film?

A: While this series will certainly be filtered through the lens of Christianity, alternative faiths and worldviews are the foundation of many good movies—even some that are labeled as Christian movies. In fact, virtually all movies promote the filmmaker’s values and beliefs.

Q: Why should I improve my media literacy?

A: Dr. Robert Johnson (Professor of Theology and Culture at Fuller Seminary) has stated that the cinema’s storytellers have become the new priests of our culture. As such, the movie theater has become another great competitor for the church because great movies inspire (or disturb) people in profound ways. “Consciously or unconsciously, all filmmakers have an ethical purpose in their work. All movies have a moral. In both obvious and subtle ways, filmmakers infuse their worldview into the story. If you think about it, the movie is the filmmaker’s prayer.” (quoted from the series’ curriculum, The Filmmaker’s Prayer).

Q: What if I am not a Christian?

A: It is our primary aim to uncover and compare the beliefs promoted in the movie to a mainstream Christian worldview. Admittedly, our discussion leaders will likely interpret the film through a lens compatible with conservative Lutheran theology. However, people of all faiths and religions are invited and encouraged to share their insights. There will be no judgment.

Q: Where and when will the classes be held?

A: Responding to this need in our community, Parabolic Media has made arrangements with The Palace on the square in Georgetown to use the theater as a suitable classroom. This enables us to examine films in their most natural and powerful state. Unlike a movie you merely watch for entertainment, we include a discussion-a careful examination and reflection after the screening that will help us all understand the shared experience.

The summer 2024 classes are scheduled for Sundays in June, starting at 5:30 p.m. and ending sometime around 8:30 p.m. (depending on the length of the film).

    Q: What movies will you examine?

    A: Movies are carefully selected for this course. Use links below to see what questions are raised by the movies selected for examination in October.

    Q: Will you examine R-rated films?

    A: Our approach is not to ask if we should show films like these but ask if these more difficult scenes and themes somehow make the film exempt from critical examination. We find that many R-rated films are in need of close scholarly, theological, and philosophical analysis. However, if you normally avoid such films, you can simply skip the class that week. Or, like the scientist, don goggles, gloves, and a lab coat when examining such artifacts.

    Q: How does the informal class differ from a traditional college class?

    A: Like a college class, a curriculum is provided to assist in learning. Far beyond a simple appreciation for a film’s aesthetics, participants will fully examine their personal and societal responses to the worldviews promoted in popular movies. Learners will be equipped and inspired to identify, interpret, and respond to these cultural artifacts.

    Q: Will I have homework if I attend the informal class?

    A: No. We only suggest that you become at least marginally familiar with the curriculum material provided (a digital copy of a book). In our discussion, you can add your voice to the mix or just quietly enjoy the conversation.

    Q: Do I get academic credit?

    A: The class is for your own edification. However, those who attend all eight classes (July and October) will be eligible to receive a certificate of completion upon request.

    Q: What is the cost of the course?

    A: We do not sell tickets as a theater would do—the series is free for all class participants.  All learners receive a digital copy of the curriculum, drinks, and refreshments. All participants should RSVP each night so the volunteers can provide enough popcorn and other refreshments.  The seating is open.

    Q: May I bring someone with me?

    A: We highly encourage everyone to invite other learners to spread literacy in our community. The following options are ideal for groups such as Bible studies, home groups, friends from work, or families. Again, all attendees must register and RSVP so we can make sure seats are available. All participants will receive a digital copy of the curriculum.

    Q: How do I register (or RSVP)?

    A: Click this link.

    Q: Who and what are Movie Missionaries?

    A: Our goal is to make literate viewer-critics who can put the story in proper perspective and help others do the same. We are recruiting people who have a passion for helping their friends, family members, and neighbors grow in their literacy. Not unlike active Christians, the de-churched and unchurched also struggle to recognize their purpose in God’s plan. For many of us, bringing guests to the theater will be easier than cajoling them to attend church on Sunday. So instead, literally, they will be taking the Gospel to the public square. The class is necessary because most viewers can only unconsciously process the messages filmmakers embed in their stories.

    Do you know anyone who would rather talk about movies that spiritual matters? Watch this humorous video.

    Q: What or who is Parabolic Media?

    A: Dr. Philip Hohle of Parabolic Media is a trained scholar in the study of how people interpret movies. He has published and presented on this topic through the International Society for the Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image (SCSMI). He also has taught film interpretation and media law at the university level. With the help of other scholars in the area, he hosted the series Cinema and Religion at the Moviehouse & Eatery in Austin for eight years. His book, The Filmmaker’s Prayer, was written to serve as the curriculum for this series.

    Q: What if the weather is bad? What if no seats are left?

    A: Parabolic Media will send announcements to the email address you used in your RSVP if the event is canceled due to weather (or any other reason). Likewise, if RSVPs show that the theater will reach capacity, any additional persons submitting RSVPs will be sent an email informing them that no seats are left.

    Q: How do I contact you?

    A: You are welcome to email Philip Hohle with additional questions anytime: philip@parabolicmedia.com