Tag Archives: film

Faith and Film Movie Titles for October

Faith and Film at the Palace

This is a list of movies we will examine in the class along with some key questions the films raise.

(Note: Movies are subject to change if circumstances warrant.)

Sunday, October 8

  • An Oscar-worthy movie hailed by critics
  • An overlooked gem
  • A beloved cinematic classic
  • A movie greatly influencing young people

The Notebook (2004)

From IMDb: A poor yet passionate young man falls in love with a rich young woman, giving her a sense of freedom. However, social differences soon get in the way..”

Respondent: Angie Goeke

Angie Goeke is an influential writer, musician, and speaker living in Katy, Texas. She previously served as the co-founder and executive director of Not In Our City, a network of moms fighting human trafficking. Her not-for-profit provides preventive education for students in middle school through high school. Her husband, Paul, is the pastor of Crosspoint Community Church in Katy, Texas. Angie authored A Girl and Her Warhorse: Reveal False Hope. Restore True Balance, which is available on Amazon.

Questions this film raises:

  1. What is your definition of commitment? Can one have a partial commitment?
  2. Metaphorically or literally, what stories from your younger days have you begun to forget? 
  3. What forms of dementia does our society suffer from today? What have we forgotten?
  4. What is your (metaphorical or literal) notebook? What power do the words have?
  5. What would it mean to have someone to write you love letters and notes every day?
  6. Who is your protagonist in this film?
  7. What would you change if you were the director? What would make this film more satisfying?

Sunday, October 15 

  • An Oscar-worthy movie hailed by critics
  • An overlooked gem
  • A beloved cinematic classic
  • A movie greatly influencing young people

Vengeance (2022)*

From IMDb: “A writer from New York City attempts to solve the murder of a girl he hooked up with and travels down south to investigate the circumstances of her death and discover what happened to her.”

Respondent: Dr. Jacob Youmans

Youmans is a professor of ministry at Concordia University Texas. He was a co-founder and regular respondent for the film series Cinema and Religion, which ran for seven years at The Moviehouse & Eatery in Austin. He has authored five books, including Talking Pictures, a manual for using film as a way to connect viewers to the Gospel message. His blood runs Dodger blue.

Questions this film raises:

  1. What cultural conflicts are evident in this film?
  2. In what ways are the main characters transitional? What change of values are depicted?
  3. What does the depth of Ben’s relationship with Abby represent?
  4. Consider the symbolism of the cracked mirror and the music playlist.
  5. One character claims that life is nothing more than a series of regrets. How true is this statement?
  6. What statement does the filmmaker make about taking vengeance into one’s own hands? In pop culture today, how often is vengeance an acceptable response to grief or offense?
  7. What statement does the filmmaker make about the state of journalism and truth in our world today? How different is this story from other journalist-as-hero stories?
  8. Who is your favorite character, and why?
  9. What would you change if you were the director? What would make this film more satisfying?

*Another movie with a familiar Texas setting.

Sunday, October 22

  • An Oscar-worthy movie hailed by critics
  • An overlooked gem
  • A beloved cinematic classic
  • A movie greatly influencing young people

Jesus Christ Superstar (1974)**

From IMDb: Film version of the musical stage play, presenting the last few weeks of Christ’s life told in an anachronistic manner.

Respondent: Dr. Jacky Dumas

Dumas is the Associate Dean of the School of Humanities at The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, where he teaches courses in literature, rhetoric, and composition. He is a regular presenter at the Pop Cultural Association’s annual national conference. Dumas is also a vocalist and actor. In his early career, he played Judas in a stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Questions this film raises:

  1. Is it reasonable to expect a play or movie about a Biblical character or story to be accurate? How much literary license is acceptable?
  2. What differences can be noted between the Gospel’s depiction of the events of Holy Week and the movie’s?
  3. Why does the filmmaker have Jesus feeling overwhelmed by the crowds who come for healing? Similarly, His relationship with his disciples is strained. He is admittedly in the dark about the purpose his impending death will serve. Are the filmmaker’s assumptions plausible?
  4. Likewise, Mary Magdaline is depicted as being confused by her vague romantic feelings for Jesus, whom she calls “just a man.” What perspective might her attraction serve to promote in the movie?
  5. Considering the filmmaker as an artist, how is the Last Supper framed or staged?
  6. How do you interpret the last scene in the movie? Does it simply end with Jesus’ death?
  7. What spiritual impact did this musical have on you when you first heard it?
  8. What would you change if you were the director? What would make this film more satisfying?

**We expect this screening will be a fun singalong.

Sunday, October 29 

  • An Oscar-worthy movie hailed by critics
  • An overlooked gem
  • A beloved cinematic classic
  • A movie greatly influencing young people

Five Feet Apart (2019)

From IMDb: “A pair of teenagers with cystic fibrosis meet in a hospital and fall in love, though their disease means they must avoid close physical contact.”

Respondent: Rev. Ted Doering

Doering is the pastor at Narrative Church of Round Rock. He and his wife Chelsey are new parents of adopted siblings. Together, they co-wrote the book Myth of the Millennial: Connecting Generations in the Church.

Questions this film raises:

  1. The teen protagonists in this movie are victims of cystic fibrosis. If you were to substitute COVID, how especially relevant would this film become, especially with the knowledge it was made a year before the recent pandemic?
  2. Consider how separation is like a disease.
  3. What significance does the movie’s title have?
  4. What would you risk to connect or stay connected to the ones you love?
  5. How important is human touch to the human condition?
  6. Many young people today are struggling with their mental health. In this movie, can one find hope? What is the source of that hope?
  7. Who is your favorite character, and why?
  8. What would you change if you were the director? What would make this film more satisfying?

Series Curator

The Faith and Film Series is led by Dr. Philip J. Hohle, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in Radio-Television-Film from The University of Texas at Austin, a Master of Arts in Speech Communication from Texas State University, and a Ph.D. from Regent University in Virginia Beach in Communication Studies. A member of the Society for the Cognitive Study of the Moving Image, he has presented in the U.S., Finland, and Spain on how audiences interpret the movies they watch. He has also published two books and several articles on viewer response theory. Currently, he teaches at The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

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

Faith and Film at the Historic Georgetown Palace Theater

Old hymnboard with dates of the classes.

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.

Now in its eighth season, this informal class is produced by film scholar Dr. Philip J. Hohle, an adjunct professor of Mass Media at Mary Hardin-Baylor University. A member of the prestigious Society for the Cognitive Study of the Moving Image (SCSMI), Hohle has authored several books and articles on viewer responses to movies.

In The Filmmaker’s Prayer: Cinema & Religion, Hohle argues that virtually all movies project a surprising degree of religiosity. “Most good films subtly express a certain worldview, a statement about the human condition: Who am I? Am I a good person? What is my redeeming purpose in life? Certainly, those are some of the fundamental questions of religion, and many movies invite an examination from that perspective. If we don’t, we miss some profound ideas and lessons.”

Noted Professor of Theology and Culture at Fuller Seminary, Dr. Robert Johnson, 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 people in profound ways.

The current four-week class is funded through a grant by Zion Lutheran Church and School of Walburg, Texas and other patrons. The course concept is similar to an ESL class for non-native English speakers, but in this case, it is entertainment as a second language. This series was designed to help viewers develop a higher sense of media literacy and fluency in interpreting the films they see. Faith and Film is designed for anyone who wants to develop a higher awareness or appreciation for the inspirational power of movies.

The course will feature free screenings of selected films at The Palace each evening. Every screening is followed by an open discussion led by Hohle and other area scholars, practitioners, and theologians.

“There is no better setting to truly consider the richness of the film narrative than in a comfortable movie theater with an audience,” Hohle said. “While our respondents primarily speak through the lens of Christianity, we really learn from each other as we take the time afterward to unpack and share the personal religious experience the film provides for each of us.”


For more information, email philip@parabolicmedia.com or visit the frequently asked questions page.

*The Faith and Film Informal Class is a production of Parabolic Media, made possible through grants from Zion Lutheran Church and School and other patrons. Viewers should be aware that some of the movies to be examined contain violence, sexual situations, and rough language. Be it further known that the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the staff, governing board, or patrons of The Georgetown Palace Theater.


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).

Summer 2024 Series 

  • June 2, 2024
  • June 9, 2024
  • June 16, 2024
  • June 23, 2024

    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.

    • June 2, A timely movie: One that touches on the prevailing issues of the day.
    • June 9, A popular movie: One that caught the public’s attention.
    • June 16, A heroic movie: One where the protagonist(s) set out on a journey to defeat the antagonist(s) and return with a boon.
    • June 23, A classic movie: One that has stood the test of time.

    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



    © Philip J. Hohle

         . . . According to Barna and Gallup polls, most of the residents in the U.S. are religious—or at least, we claim Christianity or some other mainstream faith-based worldview. Is it not strange then, that filmmakers often avoid addressing anything serious about religion in their movies?  At times, religion does play some positive minor role in the plot, but religiosity is more often the cause of the antagonist’s opposition to the less-religious protagonist than the reverse. It has become self-evident; religion is too complicated or fragmented for a scriptwriter to use as background for her characters. In making a character too religious, the writer runs the risk of losing some of the consubstantiation a viewer needs in order to like a character.

         In spite of filmmaker’s reluctance to make the celluloid sacred, I will argue in this book that films are full of religion. Both unconsciously and consciously, filmmakers infuse religion into the story in subtle ways, which can be missed unless the viewer is able to interpret the film on a less conventional level. Furthermore, I propose that if the viewer is not aware of the filmmaker’s religious sense-making within their created world, they are more subject to influence or even conversion. Considering the power of film, one can argue that the filmmaker is today’s tent-revival evangelist. But of course, most of this influence is worked in the unconscious and not always recognized in a conventional read of the film.

       In reading on, there will be some terms I use often that help shape the argument. As a matter of fact, Cinema & Religion is the sequel to Lenses, my previous book revealing ten perspectives one can use to interpret and make sense of movie narratives. . . .

    [section omitted]

    . . . This brings us back to the fundamental premise of this book. Films are full of ideology, and that ideology is often an identifiable worldview that is promoted as passionately as any religion. In these pages, we will compare the values, assumptions, and beliefs represented in films that, not only entertain us, but they comfort or disrupt us; they instruct and motivate us; they help us make sense of our lives. I hope that sounds like religion to you.

    This book will:

    • Identify the key religious themes commonly found in narratives.
    • Show how these themes can be found and examined in a film.
    • Illustrate how the religious perspective will reinterpret the role and function of characters, the meaning of signs, and even the plot found in a movie.
    • Help the reader compare and contrast the ideological messages some popular movies to the divine story in Christianity.
    • Advance your emerging fluency as a lay critic, becoming more confident in recognizing the ideology and theology of a film.
    • Help you find a voice in communicating a case for its value or lack of value to our world. Ultimately, you can help shape the conversation over the film’s contribution to our culture’s grand narrative.
    • Motivate you to respond to an exigence (an urgent issue) raised by the film viewing experience.
    • Affirm and strengthen your appreciation for the power of film and the ability of the filmmaker to bring the viewer to experience transcendence in the story.

    LENSES: Ten Ways to Interpret the Movies You Love (and some you hated) by Philip J. Hohle, Ph.D.

    LENSES book cover man with film running in his head

    Excerpt from the Introduction

    © Philip J. Hohle

    …This remarkable influence is why it is so vital that viewers learn to read film. It is not so we can all have the same interpretation. I think of the old school literature professor who refuses to recognize any alternative interpretation of a classic poem. Recall the first literature class John Keating has with his students in Dead Poet’s Society4. Keating has his students rip out pages in the textbook that proposed the goodness and truth of a poem could be measured scientifically—leading to a singular, objective interpretation.

    Conversely, the lessons in this book serve more like a guide to make us more sensitive—more aware of both the effect proposed by the filmmaker (e.g., the film craft as a noun) as well as the affect film has on us (as in a verb). In becoming literate, we become aware of the power we give film. But do not worry that your nuanced sensitivity will spoil your enjoyment—not like how a backstage tour of Disneyland diminishes the magic. Instead, I argue our literacy makes film even more powerful. We become more aware of the subtleties most viewers miss. Knowing more about the craft makes one appreciate it so much more when the film is indeed well made.

         Becoming fluent means you can help others toward a higher appreciation of such well-made movies. Fluency for me means one can interpret film for the benefit of others—to heighten their own literacy. This increased competency can mean you will more fully love the good movies you love. Likewise, you will help open other’s eyes to seeing disruptive films for what they really are. To our friends, parents, children, and the stranger in line at the film festival— we are critics. And the more fluent we are, the more we provide useful lenses for others to use.

    Lenses are what this book is finally all about—ten sets of glasses one can try on in order to make sense of a film. Metaphorically, this book is an exercise in showing the changes of hue and texture each lens affords. Thus, selecting an appropriate lens becomes critical to a fulfilling and helpful critique of a film. Not only will each lens reveal a different story in the same movie, each person also employs personal filters that may blur or sharpen what the filmmaker intended. Being aware of one’s filters can reveal something about us as they simultaneously serve to help illuminate the film…

    4. Dead Poet’s Society, directed by Peter Weir (1989; Touchstone Home Entertainment, 2012), BluRay.

    Find this book on AMAZON in both paperback and eReader editions.

    Fall 2019 Movies

    Lenses: Entertainment as a Second Language

    The title of the movie we select for discussion will be posted here one week in advance (including starting time and theater number).

    Nov. 18th, 6:00 PM, Theater 2

    Jojo Rabbit

    From IMDB [Fox Searchlight] “Writer director Taika Waititi (THOR: RAGNAROK, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE), brings his signature style of humor and pathos to his latest film, JOJO RABBIT, a World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy (Roman Griffin Davis as JoJo) whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.” PG-13, 1 hr. 48 min. View trailer here.


    Past Movies Discussed

    Nov. 4th 6:00 PM, Theater 3


    Oct. 28th 6:00 PM, Theater 10


    Oct 21st 7:00 PM, Theater 1

    Gemini Man

    Oct 7th 6:30 PM, Theater 8


    Sept. 30th 6:30 PM, Theater 9


    Sept. 23rd 6:00 PM, Theater 10

    Downton Abbey

    Sept. 16th 7:00 PM, Theater 2

    Brittany Runs a Marathon

    Sept. 9th 6:00 PM, Theater 3

    The Peanut Butter Falcon


    Lenses: Entertainment as a Second Language

    LENSES Informal Class for Community Learners


    Parabolic Media is pleased to announce the return of Lenses, the popular Informal Classes for the Community starting Monday, September 9th.  6:30 PM at The Moviehouse & Eatery. For the Fall 2019 LENSES Series, there is no registration fee. Simply purchase your ticket at the box office or online on the Moviehouse & Eatery website. The series runs Sept. 9 through Nov. 18 (excluding Veterans Day on Nov. 11).

    New for the Fall 2019 season, participants will be viewing CURRENT films being offered by The Moviehouse & Eatery. Due to fluctuations in distribution, the movie, start time, and theater number will be announced no earlier than one week prior to each class. Watch our web page for updates. Note that the opinions expressed in LENSES do not necessarily reflect the position of The Moviehouse’s owners, managers, or employees.

    Poster announcing series on Monday nights at the movies house and eatery.


    Participants will explore and practice ten valuable lenses that can make them fluent in their media consumption—better at making sense of the messages and meanings behind their favorite movies. Improve your media literacy—become fluent in reading popular film.

    The Lenses series is parallel to the Cinema and Religion series offered at The Moviehouse each spring. Focusing on film, the two classes provide examinations of this compelling media form in the context of an actual movie theater with an audience—the most pure and powerful viewing environment.

    For more information, visit the FAQ page.


    Class logo

    Short Tragedies

    A Review of Independent Shorts (SXSW 2018)

    by Philip J. Hohle, Ph.D.

    As a whole, those who selected the narrative short films for the 2018 SXSW festival are apparently obsessed with themes of gender identity. I have selected a number of these shorts to analyze for the deeper questions they raise—along with the obvious conflicts and concerns more conventionally found in the story. It is often the less noticeable films that make for the richest philosophical discussion.

    Continue reading Short Tragedies

    Where’s Coach?

    Review of Write When You Get Work (SXSW 2018)

    by Philip J. Hohle, Ph.D.

    Viewers might consider this film as another in the genre of anti-hero comedy. When it is difficult to place the actions in some framework of reality, the plot becomes absurd, and absurdity can only be placed in the comic genre. Often, the absurdity comes from a juxtaposition of ideas that seem incompatible—in this case, the good-hearted criminal.

    Continue reading Where’s Coach?

    The Return of Religion

    Review of Jinn (SXSW 2018)

    by Philip J. Hohle, Ph.D.

    It is refreshing to see well-developed African-American characters in a narrative, and this story is one of the best in avoiding stereotypes. Not surprisingly, Jinn is written and produced by a group of emerging Black filmmakers in the U.S. What adds to the quality of this film is that the narrative provides a refreshing take on the troubled encounters the whole world seems to have with religion these days.

    Continue reading The Return of Religion