Friday, November 25, 2011

Book Review – You Are What You See: Watching Movies Through A Christian Lens" by Scott Nehring

This blog is being posted on Black Friday. Many of you are on the look-out for the ideal Christmas present. Others are content to let your spouses do the shopping (my hand's up here) and may be more interested in seeing a movie. If you are a shopper whose significant other is heading to the theater, I have the ideal gift for you.

But wait a minute. I hear some protests. This blog is not about watching movies, and definitely not about shopping. Objection noted, but allow me to continue and I should prove why this book about movie watching should be on the must-buy list for every Christian writer.

I had the privilege of hearing Christian film critic Scott Nehring on Chris Fabry live (3-5pm on WGNR-FM, 97.9). Nehring's reviews have been syndicated on several websites including Reuter's, USAToday, FoxNews, and The Chicago Sun Times.

Chris mentioned Scott's book You Are What You See: Watching Movies Through A Christian Lens in the course of the interview. I read this book based on my interest in movies and having a cinemaphile for a father. Through the course of reading, I discovered things to think about as a Christian novelist.

The epigraph sets the tone for the book: “We have come from God and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of true light, the eternal truth that is with God.” (J. R. Tolkien)

Nehring's book is divided into three sections. The first establishes the role of movies in our society for better and mostly for worse. He shows that today's films are helping lead our culture to collapse and Christians have the role of setting our society back on solid ground.

The second section captured my attention as a writer. It establishes the fact that a movie is a story and deals with structure and character types. His premise is that in essence every film has the same structure with the same types of characters popping up here and there. He believes this story structure is engrained in us.

I found this part very helpful for having more knowledge on my craft. It points out what readers expect from a story. Of course, there is a part of me wondering where I can bend the rules in a way that will surprise the reader and keep them reading, as opposed to shocking them and having them throw my book across the room.

In the third section, Nehring challenges Christians to take an active role in the culture. This includes a discerning eye in watching movies (and I believe the principles apply to other forms of entertainment, such as reading novels). He also challenges Christian artists to engage the society with high quality product that deals with real-life issues.

This is added: There are two interesting appendices to the book, looking at the structure in Pulp Fiction and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I found the latter to be very interesting.

Next month, I'll be having an interview with Scott Nehring about the book and writing. If you want more information on the book, go to You can also access Scott's movie reviews at And of course it's on Amazon, where you'll see a variation of this review by yours truly (among a few others).

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I love book reviews! I too listen to WGNR here in Indy. I have many Chris Fabry Live podcasts in my iTunes Library.