Tag Archives: movies

Stuff Chris Armstrong likes, #1


Picture of Benny Beaver (en), mascot of the at...

Yes, this is the mascot of OSU. Yes, it's a beaver. Don't anger it.

Some links I’ve run across and would like to share.

First, the Oregon State University historian of science, medicine, and ancient Greece & Rome Gary Ferngren (who I’ve quoted many times on this site–go ahead, search on his name–and am hoping can help us out on Christian History issue #101 on healing in the early church & the Christian invention of the hospital) was captured on video three years ago debating OSU colleague Marcus Borg at a meeting of the OSU Socratic Club. A straightforward, clear presentation of “traditional Christianity.” Worth watching.

Second, an interesting article on Salon.com about a question that has occupied my mind over the years: Why are Christian movies so awful? The “presenting symptom” here is the movie Soul Surfer.

Third, a poem by my creatively and intellectually outstanding future daughter-in-law, Hannah Sauerwein, on being sick. It moves in a different, perhaps more reflective, ambit than this poem by the master of humorous poetry, Ogden Nash. But it certainly has its own charm. Proud to know Hannah!

Ta ta for now!

Luther (2003) still a movie worth seeing


If you didn’t check it out the first time around, the 2003 movie “Luther,” bankrolled by the Lutheran financial company Thrivent and starring Joseph Fiennes, is still worth seeing. Here’s my review back when it came out:

A Reformer’s Agony
A high-caliber film shows how messy it was when Luther helped change the course of history
Chris Armstrong

LUTHER
directed by Eric Till
RS Entertainment

Before the Reformation, the meaning of life came highly structured from the hierarchy of the Church. One didn’t ask questions. One didn’t need to.

Many believers, perhaps most, experienced Truth through relics, images, and rituals—not as oppression but as comfort. To be sure, one did not meet God face to face. But one did not want to! For the late-medieval rank and file, assurance of salvation came not from bold access to the throne of God, but from the myriad mediating practices of penance and devotion.

In Luther, one scene in particular brings home this historical reality. Continue reading

Smorgasbord: The oldest church, some Hollywood magic, Asian-American museums, virtual catacombs, and a flaming tract


Here’s a buffet table of snips & snails from a few years ago, from the front section of Christian History & Biography issue #89: Richard Baxter & the Puritans.

On the menu are possibly the oldest church ever discovered, several Hollywood renderings of Christian historical themes, a couple of museums related to Asian Christianity in the U.S., a virtual tour of the Roman catacombs, and a flaming polemical tract by Baptist firebrand Roger Williams (who, by the way, is an ancestor of mine–I like to think I get my “free spirit” side from ol’ Rog):

Living History
Oldest church discovered, Christian history in the movies, rare book by Roger Williams
Chris Armstrong

Oldest church discovered?
In seminary, we learned that the Roman Christians didn’t start erecting public church buildings until after Constantine legalized their faith in 313 A.D. As a result, almost all evidence from the first three centuries of the church has come to us in the form of manuscripts, not architecture or furnishings. Now archaeologists have uncovered a building in the northern Israeli city of Megiddo, near the biblical site of Armageddon, that challenges the conventional wisdom. Continue reading

Christ and (pop) culture: The Lord of the Rings, The Passion of the Christ, and the Highway of Holiness


Pop culture isn’t always Babylon. Five years ago the conjunction of a number of blockbusters offered a unique opportunity for reflection in the Christian History weekly online newsletter:

The Lord of the Rings, The Passion of the Christ, and the Highway of Holiness
Has God been “re-routing” us through popular movies, books, and cultural events?
Chris Armstrong

I don’t remember a time when the realm of popular culture has seemed more alive with divine purpose.

During the past year or two, how often have we been publicly reminded—through movies, books, and events—of vital truths about who we are and who God is? Through Peter Jackson’s third Lord of the Rings movie, Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, and other prominent cultural events, we have been pushed off of the path of complacency and back towards the “highway” depicted by Isaiah: Continue reading