Word Pictures: Knowing God Through Story & Imagination  -     By: Brian Godawa
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Word Pictures: Knowing God Through Story & Imagination

Inter-Varsity Press / 2009 / Paperback

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Product Description

Christianity is logical and reasonable, but it's not merely logical and reasonable. Award winning screen writer and popular Christian apologist Brian Godawa in, Word Pictures: Knowing God through Story and Imagination, looks beyond the roughly 30% of the Bible that is made up of Laws and propositional truth, to the rich imagery and startling storytelling that make up the majority of the Bible. It is in this mix of symbol, narrative, law and logic that God compels, encourages and instructs us, and we come to know and love God with our whole selves.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 204
Vendor: Inter-Varsity Press
Publication Date: 2009
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0830837094
ISBN-13: 9780830837090
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Artist and screen writer Brian Godawa used to revel in his ability to argue the truth of the gospel, often crushing his opponents in the process. In time, however, he began to realize that winning an argument about the logic of Christianity did not equal persuading people to follow Jesus. What was missing? Through prayer and searching the Scriptures, Godawa realized that while God cares deeply for rationality, propositional truths were not the only, or even the primary, tools he used to reach people with his Truth. In fact, Godawa discovered that story, metaphor and imagery were central to God's communication style because they could go places reason could never go: into the heart. In his refreshing and challenging book, Godawa helps you break free from the spiritual suffocation of heady faith. Without negating the importance of reason and doctrine, Godawa challenges you to move from understanding the Bible "literally" to "literarily" by exploring the poetry, parables and metaphors found in God's Word. Weaving historical insight, pop culture and personal narrative throughout, Godawa reveals the importance God places on imagination and creativity in the Scriptures, and provides a biblical foundation for Christians to pursue image, beauty, wonder and mystery in their faith. For any Christian who wants to learn how to communicate and defend the Gospel in a postmodern context, this book will help you find a path between the two extremes of intellectualized faith and anti-intellectual faith by recovering a biblical balance between intellect and imagination.

Author Bio

Godawa is an award-winning screenwriter. He has also taught and written on film and philosophy, screenwriting, and the art of watching movies. Four of his screenplays have won multiple awards in such competitions as the Nicholl Fellowship, Austin Heart of Film, Fade-In, Worldfest, Writer's Network, Chesterfield Writer's Film Project, Columbus Discovery Award and Screenplay Competition.

Editorial Reviews

"Godawa is one of the best thinkers on Christianity, art and culture writing today. His latest work, Word Pictures, encourages a much more holistic viewing of movies and TV, which in turn leads to a more complete understanding of the Word of God. His work will make you want to first reach for your Bible and then view (or, even better, make) art that engages the culture and advances the kingdom of God. He has also convinced me that I am a 'literarialist.' Read this book and you'll probably become one too."
"Brian Godawa is that rare combination of industry professional and serious intellectual who is respected by the academic community and the media industry as well. When Brian speaks, I make notes, because what he thinks matters. Word Pictures is exactly what the culture needs to hear right now. We've moved from a text-based culture to a visually based culture, and Brian's book is the key to making that transition. It's changed my thinking about understanding the Bible in a postmodern era."
"Brian Godawa's incisive delineation of word pictures in the aftermath of a collapsed modernity heralds a new, thoughtful, biblically postmodern perspective of movies and the arts. This is a biblically holistic perspective. As a Hollywood insider, Godawa is uniquely situated to assess both the assets and liabilities of today's major movie industry and to offer valuable suggestions to Christians for how they should interact with it. We all would do well to listen carefully to Godawa's well-honed argument and heed his advice."
"Accessible and engaging, Word Pictures introduces readers to the popular discourse among religious conservatives about visual culture in a mass-mediated society. The strength of Word Pictures lies in the author's fresh explication of biblical passages, 'literarily' situating them in both generic and cultural contexts and then drawing interesting parallels for thinking about contemporary popular art."
"Brian Godawa's book is an exploration of the literary nature of the Bible. It is a spirited and balanced defense of the imagination as a potential conveyer of truth. There is a lot of good literary theory in the book, as well as an autobiographical story line. Pervading all this wealth is a sense of the author's energetic mind. The thoroughness of research makes the book a triumph of scholarship as well."
"A timely corrective to those of us who would reduce faith to words and arguments, given by an author who uses words and arguments so well. In Word Pictures Brian Godawa manages to be contemporary without being trendy, faithful to tradition without being hidebound. It should be read by anyone concerned for the well-being of biblical truth in twenty-first-century popular culture."
"This book deserves, and will delight, a wide readership. Part autobiography, part biblical studies, part apologetics, part aesthetics, part historical theology, only a 'Renaissance man' like artist-intellectual-communicator Brian Godawa could have brought together 'word' and 'image' with such serene, soaring mastery. I'll be requiring it in my preaching courses."
"This is must reading for anyone interested in the huge question of the use of words and the legitimacy of images for theological and apologetic discourse. Brian Godawa has left no stone unturned. Moving insightfully through the Bible, Luther, Calvin, Tolkien, Lewis and, of course, films, Godawa lays to rest the many fears about images and imagination. More than that, he encourages Christians to get involved in the media, with a view to transforming them rather than hiding behind the safe wall of 'Christian art.'"
"At a contentious intersection of faith and contemporary culture, Brian Godawa offers what many of us have been calling for: balance. In a world (and often a church) torn by imbalanced devotion to either word or image, Godawa joins the two with a needed 'and.' He shows a well-developed literacy for both forms of communication, shows how the Bible incorporates both and challenges us to engage our culture creatively and redemptively on both fronts."
"Brian Godawa is that rare breed--a philosopher-artist--who opens our eyes to the aesthetic dimension of spirituality. Cogently argued and fun to read, this book analyzes the rich variety of literary genres found in Scripture itself. Godawa shows convincingly that God interacts with us as whole persons, not only through didactic teaching but also through metaphor, symbol and sacrament."

Product Reviews

Product Q&A



Author/Artist Review

Author: Brian Godawa
Located in: Los Angeles, CA
Submitted: September 22, 2009

    Tell us a little about yourself.  I am a writer/director of documentaries and feature films. I wrote the award-winning feature "To End All Wars' with Keifer Sutherland. And i wrote and directed the PBS documentary "Wall of Separation" about church state relations in history. My previous book Hollywood Worldviews was simultaneously released in an updated version with Word Pictures. And I speak around the country to churches and Christian schools about movies and worldviews.

    What was your motivation behind this project?  The Bible is not a systematic theology of abstract propositions or a treatise on doctrinal correctness. It is a collection of narratives, poetry, images and metaphors that convey God equally through rationality and imagination. If we want to know God more biblically, as well as be more persuasive to a postmodern world, we must embrace the power and mystery of imagination in our approach to and understanding of God.

    What do you hope folks will gain from this project?  1. The Bible considers imagination to be of equal value with rationality in our understanding and communication of God. 2. Our knowledge of God (theology) is incomplete and distorted without an aesthetic or theory of beauty. 3. Biblical theology is not always clear and distinct ideas, but often ambiguous and mysterious metaphors. Therefore, it is okay for us to have mystery and uncertainty in our theology. This uncertainty should breed humility in our claims to knowledge and doctrine. 4. As Christians, we must stop being suspicious of artistic imagery and embrace it as a positive biblical counterbalance to rational propositions. 5. Christian communicators should not retreat from cultural narratives as worldly, but should enter the cultural narratives, retell the narratives through a Christian worldview, and thereby capture the cultural narratives for Christ.

    How were you personally impacted by working on this project?  In recent years I went through a change of mind in how I understand theology and my faith. I have always been an artist, but in my theology and faith I overemphasized rationality and underplayed imagination. I learned that this was more a product of my culture than of the Bible, which utilizes a vast amount of imagination to communicate GodÂ’s truth. I think Word Pictures is needed because it provides a biblical basis for renewing a lost emphasis on imagination in my own theology.

    Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists?  I dedicated the book to N.T. Wright because he has helped me more than any other author in the last 15 years to understand story and theology together, along with a high view of Scripture.

    Anything else you'd like readers / listeners to know:  Extra articles not in the book can be found at the hollywood worldviews Facebook Group or the hollywood worldviews website. I am available to speak at churches and Christian schools.

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