Lee University Department of Communication Arts hosted film scholar Dr. Terry Lindvall, who presented on his knowledge of the parallels between film and society’s view of prayer.
Dr. Lindvall, The C. S. Lewis chair of communication and Christian thought at Virginia Wesleyan College, presented “Hollywood Teaches Us to Pray: A Century of Exemplary and Revelatory Prayers in Hollywood’s Comedy Films.” His lecture was the first of Lee University’s Centennial Lecture Series.
“Seeing a film isn’t usually a spiritual experience, but Dr. Terry Lindvall’s observation of the number of prayers in film has made us much more aware of the sacred over what tends to be profane,” said Dr. Michael Ray Smith, professor of public relations at Lee.
Dr. Lindvall showed clips from a compilation of films from the silent era of cinema to present day. Throughout his lecture, he explained his observed parallels between the films and potential takeaways of society concerning prayer.
“Prayers are frequently answered more directly in films than they are in real life,” said Dr. Lindvall. “Society can anticipate their prayers to be answered more imminently on account of what certain films display.”
Clips were played from movies such as “Bumping into Broadway,” directed by Hal Roach, “The Kid,” directed by Charlie Chaplin, “Little Annie Rooney,” directed by William Beaudine, “Blazing Saddles,” directed by Mel Brooks, “Home Alone,” directed by Chris Columbus, and “O Brother, Where Are Thou?” directed by Ethan and Joel Coen.
“Lindvall gave a different perspective on prayer through the lens of Hollywood films over the past century, showing us what we are really praying to: love, money, survival, and happiness,” said Chloe Grabeman, senior public relations student at Lee. “It was a tough truth with a hopeful spin, and he had a very informative and creative approach.”
In addition to his role as professor, Dr. Lindvall writes and speaks on film around the nation. He is the author of six books, including “Celluloid Sermons.”
An ordained Congregational minister, Dr. Lindvall has taught at Duke University School of Divinity, College of William and Mary, Fuller Seminary, among others. He received his Doctor of Philosophy from University of Southern California.
The Centennial Lecture Series, sponsored by Lee University Office of Academic Affairs, will take place throughout 2018 as the university celebrates its 100th year. Dr. Mikeal Parsons, of Baylor University, will continue the series on Thursday.