Thinking and the “Violent Visual Impact”

Jacques Ellul, The Humiliation of the Word (Eerdmans, 1985), page 221:

We are arriving at a purely emotional stage of thinking. In order to begin reacting intellectually, we need the stimulus of an image. Bare information or an article or book no longer have any effect on us. We do not begin reflecting on such a basis, but only with an illustration. We need violent visual impact if thought is to be set in motion. When we jump from image to image, we are really going from emotion to emotion: our thought moves from anger to indignation, from fear to resentment, from passion to curiosity. In this manner our thought is enriched by diversity and multiple meaning but is singularly paralyzed with respect to its specific efficacy as thought.

Zooming and Panning

One of the great challenges we face in studying Scripture is the way we are forced to move from the cosmic to the personal, back to the cosmic, and then back to the personal. We are always trying to focus on the massive seismic implications of Christ in the universe as we drop into the life and ethics and affections of our lives in Christ. But for that to happen we must again see ourselves within the cosmic context.

The Bible keeps us zooming and panning, not getting lost in the cosmic in the neglect of the personal, and not getting preoccupied with felt needs of life so we lose the cosmic perspective. Which means for us Christians, understanding our proper context as Christians means keeping our hand on the lens.

This is why my eye is drawn to the video work of urban filmmaker Rob Whitworth. He does with urban landscapes what theology (at its best) seeks to accomplish, using stunning time-lapse photography to merge the grand with the personal. Here’s two short films that do it well:

Dubai Flow Motion (2015)

This is Shanghai (2014)

Pilgrim Musical Performance Package

A while back on the blog I commended a wonderful DVD of the musical production Pilgrim that was filmed at Covenant Life Church, featuring the high school talent in the church. The Pilgrim DVD is a two-hour long modern interpretation of Bunyan’s classic The Pilgrims Progress set to music. Pilgrim is a brilliant and theologically rich adaptation. My entire family enjoyed the production and I commend the DVD to you.

Pilgrim was originally developed with the goal of adapting Bunyan’s story to modern culture. Christian Theatre Publications, the folks who wrote and produced the original musical and DVD, have now released a performance package for churches and schools. The package includes a reproducible script, piano score, 30 vocal books, a music CD with full vocals, and an optional accompaniment CD/backing track. The original production DVD is also available. The script can be shortened as needed and can accommodate various cast sizes. I’m told the first step in bringing Pilgrim to your church or school is to apply for a performance license. You can do that here.

It’s worth checking out.


You can read my original review of the Pilgrim DVD here.

Even better, you can read Justin Taylor‘s review of the Pilgrim DVD here. Writes the überblogger extraordinaire: “I give the whole thing a high recommendation!”

And you can watch the Pilgrim DVD trailer here:

Rube on Roids

The band OK Go (think treadmills) has a new music video for the song “This Too Shall Pass.” Rube would be proud:

“Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.”

–St Thomas Aquinas

[HT: Comment by T-Bomb]