Through a Screen Darkly

It’s summer.

Time for a good book.

And for going to the movies.

For the past year, Greener Trees has hosted a reading group. Together, we’ve navigated our way through some thought-provoking books: The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers, Refractions by Makoto Fujimura, The Art of T.S. Eliot by Helen Gardner, and So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger (also discussed on the Rabbit Room site). Minds were stimulated and hearts stirred. At first glance, the reading selections may appear to be a bit random. Despite the diversity in genre, however, a common theme runs throughout the books. One of creativity, beauty, and truth. One of grace that’s often discovered in the most unlikely of places. One of hope.

I’d like to invite you to join us on our next adventure – reading and discussing Through a Screen Darkly: Looking Closer at Beauty, Truth and Evil in the Movies by Jeffrey Overstreet. After a friend had watched an award-winning (and somewhat quirky) movie, she commented that some films require muscles of the mind that she wasn’t quite sure how to use. She needed a personal trainer. Perfect. Here’s our personal trainer for thoughtful movie viewing.

Jeffrey Overstreet was a film reviewer and columnist for Christianity Today from 2001-2009. He’s been a film critic for a variety of other publications, including Paste Magazine and Image Journal. Overstreet is also the author of The Auralia Thread, a four-book fantasy series that begins with Auralia’s Colors. You can visit his blog here.

In Through a Screen Darkly, Overstreet explores a variety of movies – from blockbusters to esoteric foreign films. He invites us to journey with him. As we explore the new terrain, previously underused muscles are discovered. We’re stretched. Overstreet provides challenging questions and a thoughtful framework through which we can engage with the art of cinema.

“Jeffrey Overstreet is a witness. While habituating the dark caves of movie theaters, he gives articulate witness to what I too often miss in those caves — the contours of God’s creation and the language of Christ’s salvation. … I find him a delightful and most percipient companion — a faithful Christian witness.”   Eugene Peterson

Here’s how it works: Each Monday, we’ll start our discussion of the assigned chapters and corresponding movie. Life is full, so some folks may only get to the reading, not the movie, and that’s fine! Think of the weekly movie viewing as “extra credit.” During the final week, we’ll be watching and having an in-depth discussion of Babette’s Feast.

For those who are on Facebook, send a message to Greener Trees Reads and you’ll be approved to join the online discussion group. For those who are following via the blog, I’ll be posting a few questions for discussion each week.


June 17     Part One: How We Watch (Chp 1-4) The Story of the Weeping Camel
June 24     Part Two: Saving the World (Chp 5-7) Born into Brothels
July 1        Break (use this week to catch up or get ahead)
July 8        Part Three: Fools and Jokers (Chp 8-9) The Fisher King
July 15      Part Four: Art of Darkness (Chp 10-12) Apocalypse Now
July 22      Part Five: Summoned by Music and Light (Chp 13-14) The New World
July 29      Looking Closer: Questions for Movie Discussion Groups Babette’s Feast                                                             

Through a Screen Darkly is available for purchase here at the Rabbit Room. If you purchase a Rabbit Room membership, you’ll receive 15% off of this and future orders.

If you’ll be joining us, please leave a note (and any questions) in the comments section. Invite a friend to join you. Happy viewing!


If you liked this post, you might like these:

An Unfinished Work
The Problem of Forgiveness

3 thoughts on “THROUGH A SCREEN DARKLY – An Invitation

  1. Just read the first chapter. Delightful. Looking forward to this! By the way – I did a little digging to find *The Story of the Weeping Camel* (my library system doesn’t have a copy). Discovered that it’s on YouTube ( Haven’t watched yet, but it seems to have the necessary subtitles!

  2. My answer to that—“No, not necessarily.” In my life of reading, moviegoing, listening to music, and studying visual art, I have encountered truth, beauty, and mystery as much in the work of non-Christians as I have in the work of Christians. I’d even go so far as to say that the truth and beauty I have found in the work of unbelievers has strengthened my faith even more than what I’ve found in “Christian art.” And that’s to be expected. I believe that we are all made in the image of God, and that eternity is written in our hearts . . . in all of our hearts. Thus, when anybody achieves any kind of beauty or truth in their work, that goodness is from God, whether the artist likes it or not.