As far back as I can remember,
I always wanted to watch movies.
Many of my earliest childhood memories are watching movies. Movies at the theater, movies at home, home movies I shot with a Bolex Super 8 film camera. It was all fair game. Comedy, action, musical, slow-burn classics, fast-paced animated, popular fare, weird oddities, kid stuff, all-ages stuff, seemingly only-adults-would-like-it-but-still-great stuff. I still get such a kick out of sitting down and enjoying a good movie (or eviscerating a bad one). As you read this, I’m probably watching a movie right now.
The other thing that’s been as constant in my life besides movies is my personal faith. We were in worship and Sunday School every week, not to mention the pageants, the special events, and the outreach projects. My faith journey has taken a winding road, from devoted participant to staunch atheist to becoming an ordained clergy person who still asks big questions. Looking for God is my full-time job, but better than that, it’s a full-time way of life. As you read this, I’m probably thinking about God right now.
Movies and faith. Two things that deserve more credit for going hand-in-hand so well. Seeking the sacred in the secular is one of my favorite ways to be open to God.
There is one place where these two worlds often seem closed: R-rated movies.
While I usually got to watch what I wanted as a kid, every once in a while I heard that “those movies aren’t for Christians.” Too much language, sex, violence, and other content that is not for Christians. I get it if those topics aren’t your cup of tea. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong for Christians to watch movies that have them. Or avoid movies with a particular rating altogether. Be mindful, be aware, but don’t be obtuse.
I’m not interested in restricting how the Spirit speaks to people, and if it’s going to be through art, then movies are a perfectly-suited medium for the Spirit to speak. And if that’s true, then that can include R-rated movies. People who hear me preach often hear me use movies as sermon illustrations. That said, I seldom use R-rated movies in my work because it can get misconstrued that by mentioning a movie in worship, I and/or the church are officially endorsing that movie. Rather than cause confusion, I usually avoid it. Here in this place, on my own time and with you as part of the club, I can and will deep dive on R-rated movies and God.
R-Rated Movie Club is a newsletter about theology and R-rated movies from a clergy nerd.
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About the author:
I’m Rev. Nate Melcher and I love God and the movies. I’m an ordained clergyperson from Minnesota with a background in teaching and performance arts.
The first R-rated movie I saw was The Blues Brothers and I was under 5 years old. The movies I’ve seen the most is Raiders of the Lost Ark. The movie that changed how I think about movies is Pulp Fiction. The movie I’m most proud of showing my kids when they were little and they legit enjoyed is 2001: A Space Odyssey. And my favorite R-rated movie you likely haven’t seen yet is Out of Sight. Those aren’t all R-rated movies, but that may give you a good sense of the kind of moviegoer I am.
R-Rated Movie Club is my attempt to have fun putting all three of my degrees to work: BA Film Studies, MFA Creative Writing, and M.Div. This newsletter is my own creation and written on my own time. It is not affiliated with nor endorsed by any church or religious entity where I am employed. For a longer bio, original liturgical resources, or to book me to lead a workshop or officiate your wedding, please go here.
Newsletters are a thing again, and I love it. Subscribe to get access to the newsletter and website. Never miss an update. Creating my own newsletter is new to me and life balance is important. I set out to build a schedule that seems reasonable for me as a content creator and stays fresh for you as a reader. Here’s the 2024 plan:
Sunday Matinee | Most Sundays
Sunday Matinee entries are the heart of R-Rated Movie Club. The primary item is Quotes with Notes, a pair of scripture and movie quotes to compare, contrast, or compliment. There are occasionally polls, giveaways, and other goodies, too.
Feature Presentation | On Occasion
Feature Presentations are deep-dive essays pairing an R-rated movie with scripture to explore scenes, themes, and character studies. Care is given to write about a variety of movies, from popular to classic to what deserves a second look.
And “More:” | On Occasion
Additional entries may include podcast audio, videos, essays, and the glory that is the always-ambiguous yet always-enticing “more.” Sometimes, these entries stand on their own, other times they will supplement or enhance other entries.
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