Meaning at the Movies by Grant Horner

Horner, Grant. Meaning at the Movies: Becoming a Discerning Viewer. Wheaton, Crossway, 2010. 224 pp. $16.99. Purchase at Amazon for $11.55 or less. Purchase for Kindle, too!


Grant Horner is best known here at Christian Book Notes for his Ten Lists Bible Reading Program. What many may not know, however, is that he is associate professor of English at the Master’s College and has taught film their for over fourteen years. In other words, he knows what he is talking about when it comes to movies! He also contributed to John MacArthur’s book Think Biblically! and is a regular speaker on topics ranging from pop culture to philosophy to current theological trends.


Divided into two parts consisting of eight chapters, Horner looks first at the practical considerations of watching movies. His opening chapter is hard hitting, yet encouraging enough to be worth the price of the book. He offers a look at how we, especially Americans, have found many and new ways to completely misunderstand basically everything. The final chapter of the first section looks at how we, as the Christian movie viewer, can question everything and redeem the even the times when we are watching movies.

The second section is pretty much a manual on how to view the various genres of movies prevalent in our culture today. He looks at genres like comedy, thriller, and romance movies. His conclusion is a discussion on the importance of movies actually having meaning and how man’s memory of these movies can either hinder or nurture spiritual growth.


It seems as though there has been a recent uptick in the need to be discerning at the movies. I have reviewed You are What You See by Scott Nehring recently and have even witnessed the explosion of sites like Plugged in Online by Focus on the Family as the Christian sub-culture (when compared to the rest of the world) is attempting to better equip one another to respond to what is being taught through cinema.

I would be curious to know how much of the book is based on his college curriculum that he teaches on film. (I will ask in an upcoming interview.) What I most appreciated about Meaning at the Movies is his biblio-centric approach to the discussion. For example, the second section is based primarily on his understanding of Romans 1.


The youth pastor who struggles with what his youth watch in the movies could not do any better than to purchase this resource and become well acquainted with the material. From this book, a youth pastor (and even a children’s pastor to a certain extent) can equip the youth to think critically and Christianly when at the movies.

I can even envision a Sunday evening study on being more discerning at the theater based upon this book. Scripture is sprinkled liberally throughout the book that it really becomes a guide to using the Bible as a topical tool to viewing movies.

Perhaps more importantly, are the parents of children and teens. They would do well to teach their children how to analyze a movie from a biblical understanding.

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