Faithspotting “Soul”

Due to Covid protocols, Kenny joins Mike by phone for a virtual recording of Faithspotting as they share their thoughts about, and spot faith elements in the newest Pixar film Soul. We apologize for the less than optimum sound quality.

Listen to Soul episode: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/faithspotting-soul-quarantine-edition/id1524339974?i=1000503502376

Disney Pixar Jamie Foxx

While Soul is perhaps the most impressive Pixar film visually, it is a complicated film that addresses age old questions, experiences, and wonder.

Soul is the most faith oriented film Pixar has yet to produce. By its name alone, it conveys a faith that life extends beyond the here and now limitations of finitude. In Soul there is the here and now, as well as the great before and the great beyond. 

Faith Elements Spotted:

The understanding of soul as wholeness, that which makes life complete, is of God and connects one to God. (Genesis 2)

The place of joy in life:  Joy is found in all most or all aspects of life, the big events and everyday moments.  Marriage, Meals, Harvest, Sexuality, the gift of the Messiah.  (Proverbs, Psalms, Song of Solomon, Genesis, Isaiah and other prophetic books.)

Similar is the Hebrew and Jewish understanding of Shalom which addresses peace, wholeness, integrity, and well being.

The New Testament echoes this call for joy and extends to heavenly as well as earthly joy. (Luke 1, 2 birth narrative, 15 Parables of lost and found,) The joy of advent and the Incarnation and  gift of Christ and the return of Christ and promise of the end of time /God’s Kingdom (eschatoloy.)

The Variety of Spiritual Gifts: Persons are given different gifts, passion/spark and purpose. Each of these have value and are rooted in God and help bind together and support others.       I Corinthians 12

Victor Frankl “Man’s Search For Meaning” the joy and strength purpose and meaning offer, even inthe most difficult of circumstances. For Christians hope and joy of the majesty and strength of God over those things that seem overpowering. Proverbs 19:21, 2 Samuel 23:1-4, Isaiah 61:1-3, Luke 4:16-19, Romans 8:18-30, I Corinthians 3:7-9, James 5:10-11

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Faithspotting Favorite Christmas Movies

Listen to the Favorite Christmas Movies episode

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/faithspotting-favorite-christmas-films/id1524339974?i=1000502738477

Mike and Kenny share and discuss their top 5 Christmas films. Faith is about story and in addition to specific faith elements spotted they share the stories behind these films that make them truly favorite Christmas films. 

Faith Elements Spotted: Themes With Accompanying Scripture and Hymns

The power of story to bring persons and groups together, establish commonality, Traditions, and memories which enhance and lead to greater meaning.

Anticipation for the Advent of Christ. The deep desire and anticipation for the greatest gift, the coming and gift of the Messiah, ( A Christmas Story) Isaiah 9:2-7, Luke 1:25-56;

A Christmas Story

Hymns: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel vs. 1,5,7 and refrain; Lift Up Your Head, Ye Mighty Gates, vs. 1,3,4;

Incarnation (Joyeux Noel) John 1:14. Luke 2:8-14

Hymns: Hark The Herald Angels Sing vs. 2;  O Come All Ye Faithful vs. 2, 6; In the Bleak Midwinter vs. 2;  Once in Royal David’s City Vs. 2,3; Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.

Joyeux Noel

**Following the recording of the podcast, I listened in on the weekly Facebook live event, “Coffee on the Porch” hosted by my friend and UMC Clergy collegue, Eric Folkerth, who made the point that because of the incarnation there is no place on earth beyond God’s presence.  The joining together of the enemies in the land between the trenches, aka No-Man’s Land, to sing and remember the birth of Christ shows No-Man’s Land does not mean No-God’s Land. While No-Man’s Land is by definition not the place for men, there isn’t a No-God’s land. Wherever the “No-Man’s land is in our life, it is perhaps the place we experience God most powerfully.**

Redemption and Transformation (Scrooge, Its a Wonderful Life) Luke 2:22-38, 3:1-18, Hymns: Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus; Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming vs 3;  Silent Night vs 3

Scrooge

Reconiliation:  (Home Alone, Scrooge,) Isaiah 40:1-11, John 1:1,10-17,

Home Alone

Hymn: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing vs.1

Meaning and Purpose in Life, (A Charlie Brown Christmas, Its a Wonderful Life,) Luke 1:46-56, John 1:35-42;

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Hymns: In The Bleak Midwinter vs. 4; I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light vs.1,2,3, Go Tell it on the Mountain Refrain

Community and family (A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone) Luke 1:5-20

Its A Wonderful Life

Hymns: The Friendly Beasts;

Reflection / Call to the Kingdom of God (Joyeux Noel, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Scrooge) Luke 1:67-79. Romans 1:1-7

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Hymns: Hail to the Lord’s Anointed vs 1,2,4;

Note in the comments if you would be interested in a more detailed discussion guide, or email kenny@crossroadsfaithandfilm.com

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Faithspotting “The Crown” Part 2

Follow Link to listen to The Crown Part 2 episode. Please consider subscribing on Apple Podcast, Google, or Spotify.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/faithspotting-the-crown-part-2/id1524339974?i=1000502016732

Faithspotting hosts Mike and Kenny continue looking at the faith elements in the NETFLIX series, The Crown. In this episode, Faithspotting examines the faith elements spotted in “Bubbikins,” the fourth episode of season three and “The Hereditary Principle” the seventh episode of season four.

Faith Elements:

Both episodes examine mental illness and how it is addressed by members of the Royal Family as presented in the series. The overarching faith issue is the power of shame and valuing others by their perceived utility. As God loves all people regardless of physical, emotional, or spiritual limitations, we are called to love others even if they are limited in their ability to return love or the worldly “value” they offer. Followers of Christ are called to love as Jesus loves, John 13:34-35.

NETFLIX The Crown Jane Lapotaire

Bubbikins: Romans 8:18-38, Job

The faith of Princess Alice, in the midst of the loss of her position and her family is an example of the place and power of faith in the midst of trying circumstances in life. The suffering of the current times cannot compare to the glory to come in God’s Kingdom.  Even in the midst of sickness, suffering, and loss, through Christ one is more than a conqueror.  Also, nothing can separate one from the love of Christ. 

Alice also presents a contrasting example to that of Job. One might say the reaction of Alice is what God hoped if not expected from Job.

“The Hereditary Principle”: Loyalty to God. 

Helena Bonham Carter

Jesus taught in Luke 14:26-28 that one’s first and primary loyalty is to God, even if it causes a break within or from one’s family. If forced to choose between God and family, or anything, the disciple is to choose God. 

Next Episode: Favorite Christmas Movies!

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Faithspotting “Hillbilly Elegy”

Link to Hillbilly Elegy Faithspotting episode

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/faithspotting/id1524339974#episodeGuid=212d7fed-1fa4-4f21-9092-db389757e603

Kenny and Mike discuss the NETFLIX film Hillbilly Elegy and examine faith elements spotted in the latest film from Director Ron Howard. Set in Middletown Ohio in 2011, with flashbacks to 1997, Hillbilly Elegy is based on the bestselling memoir by J.D. Vance and depicts his struggle to overcome extreme family disfunction and systemic poverty community and family poverty.

Warning: Those who have experienced abuse or addiction in  relationships may experience triggers by some depictions in the film.

NETFLIX Haley Bennett, Glenn Close, Owen Asztalos

Faith Issues Spotted:

* Awareness and appreciation of life. Genesis 1

* Living as Easter People with hope in the midst of brokenness. Romans 8:18-39

* Filling voids and finding ultimate meaning and purpose in life serving God. Romans 12

* Living into God’s goodness, image and likeness in which all are created. Genesis 1:26-27

* Centrality and importance of community and repairing when community is broken.  Luke 10:26-27

* Loving and caring for oneself in Godly ways and loving God in caring for oneself. Deuteronomy 6:4-6,  Ephesians 3:18-20, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30,

NETFLIX Haley Bennett, Gabriel Basso, Amy Adams
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Faithspotting The Crown Part 1

Kenny and Mike discuss the faith elements spotted in 2 episodes from the NETFLIX series The Crown, “Vergangenheit” from season 2 and “Aberfan” from season 3.

Episode Link https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/faithspotting-the-crown/id1524339974?i=1000500420872

NETFLIX The Crown Tobias Menzies, Victoria Hamilton, Claire Foy

Vergangenheit was the 6th episode in the show’s second season. The subjects depicted were a request by Queen Elizabeth’s (Claire Foy) uncle and former King, the Duke of Windsor (Alex Jennings) to re-enter service to the Crown and country following his abdication in 1936. The episode is set during the first crusade of Billy Graham’s ministry in the United Kingdom. While most of the Royal Family and government leaders scoff at the ministry and positive reaction of the British public, the Queen is positive to Graham’s message and invites Rev. Graham (Paul Sparks) to preach at Windsor Chapel and meet with her. The Queen later consults with Graham when she struggles in forgiving her Uncle following revelations of his sympathy and support for Adolf Hitler prior and during the early years of WW2.

Faith Issues Spotted:

Forgiveness and surrender of oneself to God. 

Matthew 18:21-35, Matthew 6:9, Luke 11:2

“Aberfan” was the third episode of the third season. Set in 1966 and depicts the tragic collapse of a coal tip in the hills above the Welsh mining town of Aberfan. A 30 foot high wall of coal waste and debris hit the town’s elementary school killing 116 children and 28 adults. Following visits from the Prime Minister Harold Wilson (Jason Watkins) and Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies) who attends the funeral and burial service for the town’s children, Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Coleman) waits 8 days before visiting meeting and with survivors and families. 

NETFLIX The Crown Tobias Menzies

Faith Issues Spotted:

The Incarnation of God and the ministry of presence. The healing and wholeness experienced in communal worship.

John 1:14, 1 John Chapters 1,4

For a group study guide on this episode mention in comments below or email kenny@crossroadsfaithandfilm.com

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Faithspotting “The Social Dilemma”

Mike and Kenny discuss the film and faith issues in the important Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma. The film is a documentary addressing the addictive and destructive elements of social media. Former early executives of social media platforms discuss the manipulative tactics and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to support a business model built entirely around luring the attention and focus of “users.”

Follow link to listen to The Social Dilemma episode

Faithspotting – Faithspotting “The Social Dilemma” (google.com)

Netflix

Faith Issues Spotted:

The freedom God gives humanity to choose whether we will act righteously, what God desires for us, or even what we perceive to be in our self-interests.   Genesis 2  The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Such freedom is a part of our creation in the image and likeness of God.

What do we value, what treasures do we seek and collect, and what brings us joy.  Heavenly treasures bring joy and are eternal, while worldly joys are fleeting and may result in unhappiness or even brokenness. The difference between happiness and joy. Joy is of God, while happiness may only be of the world. Proverbs 21:6, Matthew 6, Luke 4, Hebrews 11,

Netflix

Where do we find joy and contentment? As Christians we find it in our relationship with God and how that relationship enhances our relationships with family and friends. Psalms 63, 100, 66, Job 20:1-7, Romans 15:13 Philippians 4,  Galatians 5:22-26, 

The nature of true community (groups of people brought together because of mutual concern for others including sacrificial love for others) vs alliances (groups constructed around the utility of others to enhance position, profit or standing.) I Corinthians 13: 4-6, Hebrews 10:23-25.

Contact Kenny Dickson for information regarding discussion guides leave comment belowor contact kenny@crossroadsfaithandfilm.com

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Faithspotting “Joker” Halloween Edition

Kenny and Mike discuss the film and faith elements found in Joaquin Phoenix’s Academy Award winning performance in Todd Phillips’s film Joker. Spoiler Alert!

Follow link to listen the episode.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/faithspotting/id1524339974#episodeGuid=e12a31d4-cdbc-450b-b880-7c3b4b6b0f05

Joaquin Phoenix as Joker Warner Brothers

As with all Faithspotting episodes, we hope the conversation addressing the issues of life and faith spotted in Joker will be interesting and informative to listeners regardless of whether or not they have seen the film. 

Faith Issues Spotted and Discussed

What the world would be like without the presence, love grace and hope of God. Observing the presence of Christ through the absence of Christ. (Holy Saturday) The lack of Love of Neighbor.

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck

Blessings and Woes (Luke 6-Sermon on the Plain) 6:25 Woe to those who laugh at you. Love of neighbors and enemies. Do unto those as you would have them do to you.

Those with eyes should see, and those with ears should hear. Ezekiel 12, Mark 8

#halloween #Joker #joaquinphoenix

“Faithspotter” Spotted

Mike Hatch doing the “Joker” on the Joker Stairs
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Faithspotting Hosts’ Favorite Halloween Movies

Follow the Link below to listen to the episode:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/favorite-halloween-films/id1524339974?i=1000496042373

Join Kenny and Mike for this Halloween Special as they share their top 5 films for Halloween, and share their memories, stories, and connections to these films. 

What are your favorites and why, and what are your Halloween movie stories?

Come for the films; stay for the stories.

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Faithspotting “A Ghost Story”

Kenny and Mike discuss the film and faith elements spotted in David Lowery’s A Ghost Story, which stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.

Both Mike and Kenny enjoyed A Ghost Story and found it to be an organic film that did not resort to artificial devices or technology to capture interest and inspire reflection after viewing. The film is highly recommended for those who enjoy, and savor films that work to generate interest through strong story and character development. Listen to the A Ghost Story episode here or on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/faithspotting/id1524339974?i=1000494958156

Faith Matters Spotted:

A Ghost Story A24

Fear to move forward: Excessive nostalgia, clinging to objects, places, and times in life is rooted in the fear of losing the familiar rather than having faith in the future. The Ghost’s halting before a portal to an afterlife is emblematic of the Israelites halting in taking over the land God promised. God forced the Israelites to wander in the wilderness because of their lack of faith in God’s faithfulness to protect and provide for the nation. The result of the Ghost halting and seeking to cling to his present life was to remain in the present observing rather than living life.    (Numbers 32)

Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara

Seeing and Experiencing God Through a Veil: In our lives we experience God, our relationship with God and living in the Kingdom of God through a veil or dimmed mirror. Through the resurrection we are able then to see and experience God and God’s Kingdom without the distortion of our worldly brokenness. By hesitating to move forward to his afterlife, the Ghost was left to witness life through the veil of his death sheet rather than living and experiencing God and life in God’s Kingdom directly and fully. (I Corinthians 13:12, II Corinthians 3:13-16)

The Timeless Nature of God: Though remaining in his current life, the Ghost moves forward and backward through time, through the history of the home’s location. God as Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, God is timeless. Time, as known in worldly ways do not limit God as it does creation. (Genesis 1:1-5, John 1:1-3, Hebrews 13:8, Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13)

Director David Lowery, Casey Affleck

#davidloweryfilms

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Faithspotting: “Enola Holmes”

Kenny and Mike discuss Enola Holmes and spot the faith elements on the Netflix film starring and produced by Millie Bobby Brown. Follow link to listen to the episode on Apple Podcast. Also found on Google Podcasts and Spotify. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/faithspotting-enola-holmes/id1524339974?i=1000494134548

Netflix

Enola Holmes is the 16 year old sister of the famous London detective Sherlock Holmes and their older brother Mycroft. Following the death of her father soon after she was born, and her brothers moving out when she was a young girl, Enola’s world was her mother Eudoria and her home. Eudoria developed Enola’s mind through traditional academic studies with special emphasis on developing deductive thinking. Eudoria also developed Enola’s physical health through rigorous activities including Jujitsu. 

When Eudoria is disappears on Enola’s 16 birthday, her brothers return home where Sherlock is to find Eurdoria and Mycroft takes charge of raising Enola. Being her brother Sherlock’s sister, Enola takes it upon herself to find her mother, led by clues left behind for her by Eudoria.

Faith Elements Spotted:

Millie Bobby Brown, Helena Bonham Carter

John 14- Jesus does not leave His disciples orphaned. He prepared his disciples to continue His ministry without Him with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus offers his followers peace, His peace, which is different from the way the world sees and understands peace. The Peace Christ offers is God’s faithfulness to God’s promises of grace, love and life.

John 10: The Good Shepherd, Jesus described himself as the good Shepherd who was willing and did lay down his life for the sake of the flock under his care.  He was able to do that partly because of His peace that came from his love for and faithfulness in God’s promise of life eternal in God’s Kingdom. Disciples are to have that same peace and willingness to be good shepherds who risk, and at times suffer for the sake of those in their care.  

Matthew 18, Luke 15 the Parable of the Lost Sheep. As good shepherds, disciples are called to go out, even into the dark wilderness searching for the lost one, rather than remain with the 99 who are safe. 

Philippians 2:12  Disciples must take responsibilities for their own faith, or as Paul taught the members of the church he founded in Philippi, to  work out their own salvation. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism emphasized this teaching for followers of the Methodist movement. Although parents, friends, and others can play a significant role in introducing and developing one’s faith, each person must take responsibility for their own faith and relationship with Christ. 

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