Using Film in Orthodox Pastoral Practice

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Православни богословски факултет Светог Василија Острошког Универзитета у Источном Сарајеву
While most Christian denominations were condemning or openly demonizing movies when this form of artistic expression was still in its infancy, many of them today embrace film and use it for pastoral purposes. Orthodox Church is not an exception: while at the end of 19th century Holy Synod of Russian Orthodox Church officially opposed movies because of their potential to lead the faithful astray, modern Orthodox filmmakers produce movies with the blessings of the highest Church authorities. Some of these movies, e.g. "The Island" (2006) and "Man of God" (2021), seem to function as cinematic homilies, more effective and more memorable than traditional formal homilies one can hear inside church buildings. Nevertheless, religious movies are primarily artistic expression sand, as such, should be interpreted as any other work of art. Theological interpretation of movies, especially by pastoral theologians, should encourage their actual use as pastoral means in parish communities. Since the theology of film is still largely unknown or ignored in the Orthodox world, this paper contains a short introduction to the topic of "theology and film", which is followed by theological analysis of four films with specifically Orthodox themes: "The Island", "Angel's Aisle", "Healing Fear" and "Man of God".
It is not hard to understand why the film seems to be an excellent medium for conveying the Christian message to modern humanity. This paper aims to explore such mediating role of movies, specifically in the case of the Orthodox Church, as well as to offer theological interpretation and evaluation of several movies that explore typically Orthodox Christian themes: "The Island" (2006), "Angel's Aisle" (2008), "Healing Fear" (2013) and "Man of God" (2021). These movies were selected in accordance with two principle themes of Christian preaching: repentance that leads to redemption ("The Island"and "Angel's Aisle") and the lives of saints as models for Christian conduct ( "Healing Fear" and "Man of God").
Кључне речи
Film, Orthodox Church, pastoral practice, hagiography, sin, repentance, redemption, faith, preaching