2016 Year In Review | FCC 123

Happy New Year from Finding Christ In Cinema! Join us as we ring in the new year by reflecting on certain films which we covered in 2016 to see how they can encourage us to not be so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good.

For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction and Previous Episode Recap
  • 00:04:45 – 2016 Year In Review  
  • 00:49:18 – Well-mannered Frivolity
  • 00:57:05 – Lightning Round 
  • 00:58:39 – Upcoming

2016 Year In Review: How to Be Earthly Good

Michael and I never know how these things happen; we can only explain it in terms, to borrow from Pacific Rim, of “drift compatibility.” We’ll spend a week apart from each other, reviewing our appointed film in our own way. At the end of the week, we come together only to find that we plan on making the same point.

Call it hive mind, call it a Neural Handshake, call it a movement of the Holy Spirit, call it what you will – it has served us well as we’ve prepared our shows over the past year. We pray that it ultimately serves God as well as we bear the message we believe He chose for us to bear.

That message came in the form of the Johnny Cash song entitled “No Earthly Good” (check out the full song here). Here’s the first verse:

Come heed me, my brothers, come heed, one and all
Don’t brag about standing or you’ll surely fall
You’re shining your light and shine it you should
But you’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good

The main idea of the song is to not be “so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good” – to not be so focused on loving “everybody” as a concept that you can’t love those right in front of you as reality.

Of the films we’ve covered in 2016, Michael and I have chosen the films we believe best demonstrate how to be earthly good. Michael’s approach is a narrative movie marathon with five films that show how one can be earthly good. I, however, have chosen to tack on three films to one of FCC’s favorite Bible verses in an effort to use those movies to point to that passage and make it easier to remember.

This image from THE MARTIAN shows Matt Damon as Mark Watney looking at the frozen potato plants.

Michael’s 2016 Year In Review Movie Marathon

Michael gives us five films that, when watched in order, will show the narrative journey to a better understanding of what it means to be earthly good.

1. The Martian

In The Martian, astronaut and botanist Mark Watney has been left for dead on Mars. Just because he can survive doesn’t mean that he is saved. In fact, the cold, hard truth is that Mark can’t save himself. It takes his teammates returning to Mars to pick him up.

Neither can we save ourselves from our own sins and transgressions against God. We can survive for a while like Mark, but we cannot rescue ourselves. For that, we need an advocate…

2. Bridge of Spies

…like Tom Hanks’s character James Donovan in Bridge of Spies. Donovan has been assigned to defend a Soviet spy simply called Abel in a Supreme Court case. He is further called on to make a prisoner trade that will restore Abel to his homeland and rescue the two American prisoners.

In like manner, Jesus is our savior and advocate. He is our bridge, and it is only by him that we can get back to God.

3. Zootopia

In Zootopia, Judy Hopps is told to settle and be complacent in Bunnyburrow. She chooses, however, to be the light in a dark world. Because of that, her childhood nemesis Gideon Grey – a fox – becomes her parents’ business partner. Nick – another fox – becomes her partner in her fighting crime and shining light in the darkness and give flavor to the world of Zootopia.

Jesus tells us that we are now the light of the world. Therefore, we are to let our light shine before men not so that we can receive the glory but so that God can.

4. The Little Prince

The Aviator in The Little Prince has a story to tell, and he finds his audience in the Little Girl that’s moved in next door. He tells her of the Little Prince that changed his life. The Little Girl then wanted to meet the Little Prince for herself so she could have her own story to share.

People hear about Jesus as an abstract all the time. The only way they might ever truly desire to meet Him for themselves is if they hear what He’s done for us and how He’s changed our story for the better.

5. Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting shows us a young man named Will Hunting who’s had a rough life. He’s a brilliant guy (genius, even) who lets his past shut him off from the rest of the world. Because of this, he continually breaks the law and ends up in trouble with the court. He is only set free from this vicious cycle with Sean Maguire steps in and takes care of him. Sean had had enough life problems on his own that he could identify with Will and reach out to him the most effectively. After Sean’s climactic and cathartic final intervention, Will arises a changed man now set free from the bondage of his past.

Not everyone’s restoration story will be as spectacular as Will Hunting’s, but that shouldn’t stop us from reaching out to others in the first place. Lord knows whatever obstacles may prevent from reaching out – friends, family, our own troubled pasts – but it’s knowing that life isn’t about us but that it’s about others to keep us from making that mistake.

This image from GOOD WILL HUNTING shows Matt Damon and Robin Williams in the Its Not Your Fault scene.

Brenden’s 2016 Year In Review Movie Marathon

I took a slightly different approach. My movie marathon is based on Micah 6:8, which reads as follows from the New Living Translation:

O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.

Watching these three films in this order will help you remember this verse and will hopefully help you and all of us remember this verse as we go out and be earthly good.

1. Casablanca (To Do What Is Right)

Humphrey Bogart’s character Rick is a heartbreaking example of doing the right thing. His Cafe Americain is a safe haven for refugees on the run from Nazi forces, even when the surrounding community isn’t so neutral. He even provides safe passage for two young lovers to safety, even when one of those lovers is the woman that broke his heart and turned him to drinking.

It’s a beautiful reminder that we can still do the right thing even when we’re battling our own shortcomings. So often we let our sins stop us from doing the right thing, but Rick shows us that even while we are trapped in our sins, we can still be earthly good and love our neighbors.

2. A Knight’s Tale (To Love Mercy)

William Thatcher, royal or not, knows how to be merciful and is merciful whenever he can be. He invites the homeless poet Geoffrey Chaucer to join him in his quest to become a knight. He further shows mercy on Chaucer when his antics land him in a bad spot with other gamblers. William is even merciful to Edward the Black Prince of Wales (before he knew he was the prince).

It’s an image of mercy in action. It’s the kind of mercy that reflects God’s mercy on us. It’s the kind of mercy that inspires us to also be merciful to those who sin against and even those who don’t.

3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (To Walk Humbly With Your God)

I can’t think of a better picture of humility than Charlie Bucket from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Charlie spends his weekly wage from delivering newspapers on a loaf of bread for his bedridden grandparents and his single mom. Even when he has the opportunity to give them a better life by selling Slugworth an Everlasting Gobstopper, and even after Grandpa Joe and Willy Wonka have their own batttle of pride, Charlie remains humble.

If we could all strive to be as humble as Charlie Bucket, we would all be earthly good.

This image from WILLY WONKA shows Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket.

Whichever movie marathon you choose, it is our prayer that they help us all be more earthly good.


Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes – including links to articles discussed – by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is a graduate student pursuing his Master in Theatre Arts degree with Regent University. He is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. You can find him live-tweeting his favorite movies on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever or posting poetry and unsolicited opinions at thebookofbrenden.com
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  • Philip Heard

    Hey guys, great job with FCC in 2016! I think my most pleasant surprise was how much I liked Goodwill Hunting on re-watch after having a negative memory of it. That film’s theme of loving people who are difficult to love and empathizing with their pain and struggles is a great message we Christians need to learn again and again.

    Also, I finally saw Batman v Superman for the first time, and the Ultimate Edition, at that. It was…pretty good.

    I really enjoyed it, and skipped the theatrical version to avoid it’s shortcomings. The one thing that stands out for me is how Bruce Wayne said if there was a 1% chance that Superman was a threat to the planet, it had to be regarded as a certainty. Bruce Wayne wanted 100% certainty that Superman was not a threat, which is just an unrealistic expectation. This is a common struggle for people in that we want no doubt about things, and taking stuff on faith and just trusting God can be difficult. So much so, that many people reject God completely because they don’t feel they can be 100% certain he exists, or they think even if he does exist they can not be certain he is a good God. The vast majority of life is uncertain, and I think the most sane and rational thing to do is place our faith and trust in God, as Psalm 55:22 tells us: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” (NKJV)

    Great job, love the show guys! #muhweeladgimli

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