Sunday, 27 April 2008


Here's another source: Pollard, N & Couch, S, Get more like Jesus while watching TV, (Milton Keynes: Authentic Media, 2005)

In Appendix 1 (p.99) Caroline Puntis outlines the suggestions made by Damaris ( for reflecting upon a film:
  1. 'Identify the underlying world view: What beliefs, values and attitudes are being communicated?'
  2. 'Analyse the worldview: Do these ideas make sense? Do they fit with the real world? Do they work?'
  3. 'Affirm truth: What rings true with Christian faith as seen in the Bible?'
  4. 'Identify error: What seems to be inconsistent with Christian faith?'
  5. 'Identify a response: How should we respond to this material or this worldview as individuals, as a church, as a community?’

I'm going to apply these guidelines when I rewatch 'Firefly' and 'Serenity' as I think that they will help to facilitate cross-cultural and counter-cultural reflection.

I'm a little cautious about the use of the word 'error' in the 4th point. I want to make a stand for what I believe to be morally right and wrong, but I'm also willing to be challenged about what I believe.

Does that sound like I'm sitting on the fence? What I'm trying to say is that: ‘We need to be open about the possibility that film will challenge us and sometimes cause us to rethink our understanding and expression of the faith we hold dear’ see Maher, I, Reel Issues: Engaging film and faith, (Swindon: Bible Society, 1998) p.6.

Saturday, 26 April 2008


Just so that I don't forget - these are some key websites:

A site which explains the storyline and introduces the characters in 'Firefly'/'Serenity'

A forum with stories written by fans about the characters in ‘Firefly’/‘Serenity’ (this is the inspiration for chapter 3 of the dissertation outline)

A Damaris study guide on ‘Serenity’

A Damaris article on ‘Firefly’

Articles about spirituality & film and a review of ‘Serenity’ by Steve Taylor

Official Fans (known as Browncoats) Website

A blog entry about the spirituality of sci-fi (with a description of Shepherd Book - the preacher)

Friday, 25 April 2008


Last year I made notes about some useful resources that identified ways to reflect upon the spirituality of films. I'm going to copy those notes into this blog. Here's the first one:

One key source is: Higgins, G, How Movies Helped Save my Soul: Finding Spiritual Fingerprints in Culturally Significant Films, (Lake Mary, FL: Relevant Books, 2003)

Dozens of films have challenged or inspired Gareth Higgins and he groups them together under fourteen headings, such as ‘Brokenness’, ‘Anti-heroes’, ‘Justice’ & ‘fear’. He covers a wide range of films from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to ‘The Omen’. Written in a 'chatty' style this book motivates the reader to watch or re-watch the films described, and gives insight into how to look for ‘spiritual fingerprints’ in other movies.

Higgins gives the following advice for those who want to explore the meanings of films further (pp.3-9):

  • Read decent film magazines and some good books about film e.g. Derek Malcolm’s ‘A Century of Cinema’;
  • ‘Don’t read reviews before you see films’;
  • ‘Don’t expect “realism” as a mark of a film’s quality’;
  • ‘Do not eat popcorn when watching films’;
  • Watch movies with friends and then talk about them over a meal - ‘food and drink grease the wheels of conversation like nothing else’;
  • ‘Give the film your full attention … Observe how the camera moves … look around the screen for things you may have previously missed’;
  • ‘Consider what the difference between a good and a bad performance is’;
  • ‘Reflect on the possible journey that led the film maker to produce what you have just seen’;
  • ‘Don’t talk during the credits’ and do not discuss the film for at least ten minutes after the end of the credits – then your impression of the film won’t be ruined by negative comments from others who weren’t so moved.

Thursday, 17 April 2008


I am currently working towards an MA in Leadership, Renewal and Mission through Cliff College.

For my dissertation I intend to explore the spiritual themes of the sci-fi/western series ‘Firefly’ and the film ‘Serenity’.

The dissertation has to be completed by the end of March 2009. So far I've formulated the following outline:

Chapter 1: Setting the context by describing the characters and storylines presented in ‘Firefly’ and ‘Serenity’.

Chapter 2: What insights into the nature of spirituality and the emerging church are gleaned from these programmes? (eg: What is learnt from the way in which community is formed on board the spaceship ‘Serenity’.)

Chapter 3: Re-imagine a new storyline for the show – ‘How might the church emerge in the ’verse?’ or ‘Where will the search for Serenity lead’

Chapter 4: Reflection on the above exercise asking ‘What is a church?’ and ‘How can it be allowed/encouraged to emerge in an alternative society?’

Chapter 5: Critique of the usefulness of the above exercise.

My hypothesis is that an imaginative/fictitious exercise (Chapter3), which engages with ‘popular culture’ and with ‘the emerging conversation’, can reveal useful insights into the way in which the church can be re-imagined in the twenty-first century.

I'll be using this blog to record my observations as I work through this process.

I'm keen to develop a conversation with other people who are interested in spirituality, sci-fi (in particular 'Firefly'/'Serenity') and the emerging church.