Two Hours in the Dark


“My films must let every man, woman and child know that God loves them, that I love them and that peace and salvation will become a reality only when they all learn to love each other,” wrote filmmaker Frank Capra.

Sometimes the Church has forgotten the power of a good story well told, shying away from new media, especially film, in the first half of the twentieth century. Capra made it his mission to use the cinema, which had not only been abandoned but often vilified by the Church, to teach a specific worldview to his audiences. His professional epiphany occurred when, at a low point in the director’s life, a mentor reminded him that he had access to the most powerful means yet devised to “preach” a message—hold an audience captive “for two hours, in the dark,” his friend said, and you could convince men and women of just about anything. Though we know that salvation does not come through loving our neighbors, Capra was onto something when it came to the instrument he used for his message.

Storytelling is near to the heart of God. The Bible is infused with “story”: the Gospels are four different descriptions of Jesus’ life on earth, each finely tuned to a particular audience and narrator; the “Acts of the Apostles” is exactly that—an action-packed record of the Spirit at work through Christ’s earliest followers. (Has there ever been a movie of “Acts”? It begs to be filmed.) The Prophets offer a God’s-eye view of the histories found in such books as Samuel and Kings, and Jesus conveyed truth through many parables. Even a book as dry as Numbers contains the fantastical account of Balaam and his well-spoken donkey. And though we often think first of the Psalms as examples of ancient worship, the songs of Deborah and Miriam are among the oldest portions of the Bible.

This issue of Alliance Life explores the ways that several Alliance (or lately Alliance) church members are using their gifts in the performing arts to tell God’s story. A talented actor, fascinated by the Word since his days at seminary, takes a biblical worldview to the stage. A young filmmaker decides early in his career to make movies “about something that matters.” An Alliance pastor, who is also a well-respected jazz player, takes a gig—to draw people in France to church. And the creator of a popular Christian video series loses one dream but not his vision—to teach Christian ideals both wryly and righteously.

The means has changed but not the message. So tell the “old, old story”—even when the iPhone is the campfire.

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