Welcome to our discussion of Through a Screen Darkly by Jeffrey Overstreet. We’d love to hear your thoughts. Even if you’re not reading along, feel free to join in the discussion.

Week 2 – Saving the World
Movie of the week: Born into Brothels

“But the stories that satisfied me most were those in which the Great Goblin was slain by a hero with a sword or Peter Pan send Captain Hook to an ugly demise in the jaws of a ticking crocodile. Thus the first definition of ‘hero’ that made sense to me had a great deal to do with desiring a savior.” – p.141

“The whispers of his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who had given his life to save his friends, reminded me of Jesus, who had done the same. It was heartening to encounter heroes who made a difference by making themselves smaller and opening themselves to something greater.” – p. 144

1. Think back to your childhood. What’s the first memory you have of a “hero” – from either a movie or a book? What heroes are examples of “making themselves smaller and opening themselves to something greater”?


“There is something within each of us that wants to see our enemy suffer, and these films pour fuel on that fire without cultivating any conscience or appreciation of mercy alongside it. To love one’s enemy is to consider and care about what happens to him.” – p. 175

“The more I pay attention to the way in which some films play to an audience’s bloodlust, the more I see how this kind of lurid entertainment reflects the strategies of pornographers. In both pursuits, the filmmakers exaggerate certain elements in order to appeal to unhealthy appetites. Both tend to cultivate hungers that increase with each occasion. It’s designed to become addicting.” – p.175

2. What are the hallmarks of a healthy vs. an unhealthy depiction of violence? Give some examples of and your reaction to both.


3. If you’ve seen Man of Steel, what did you think about Superman as “hero”? About the role of violence in the film? Keep in mind the quotations noted above.


In some stories, magic represents something to be sought after and controlled. Supernatural darkness is very real, and stories that make us curious about dabbling in sorcery are certainly dangerous. Most fairy tales highlight the foolishness of bargaining with devils. ‘Good magic’ is usually a whimsical invention of the storyteller that serves as a representation of spirit, talent or faith. Without these imaginative elements, we could never have met Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Cinderella, the King Arthur of Legend, old Scrooge, and Aslan, for starters.” – p.152

4. How would you explain the difference between that which is “good magic” and harmful/dangerous supernatural darkness? Name a few movies which reveal the “foolishness of bargaining with devils.”


“Viewers may assume that the movie (Born into Brothels) will teach them about the need to rescue Calcutta’s poor, trapped, miserable children. But they’re likely to discover by the end of the film that the opposite has also occurred – the children have actually delivered the audience from a false and crippling perspective.” – p.195

“If we open ourselves to art that introduces us to perspectives and experiences of people around the world, we begin to close the distance. We draw closer to understanding our neighbors.” – p. 197

5. Have you ever left a movie (or interaction with any type of art) and felt like you were “drawn closer to understanding your neighbor”?


6. What did you think of Born into Brothels?


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For further reading:
Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale by Frederick Buechner

If you’d like to join us or to catch up on the conversation:
Week 1 – How We Watch


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The Gospel According to Jill Phillips and Andy Gullahorn
On Limitations and Lemonade Stands, Free Will and Miracle