Pop some popcorn and invite friends as America’s beloved faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty leads us through a dozen big-screen stories inspired by Jesus’s life. McNulty provides everything you need to spark spirited discussion from the best film clips to show your group—to dozens of questions you could ask. You’ll explore hits like The Passion of the Christ and Jesus Christ Superstar. And some surprises, too! Can you find Gospel themes in Cool Hand Luke and Broadway Danny Rose?
That’s the way Amazon introduces Ed McNulty’s Jesus Christ Movie Star, a book designed to spark spirited reflections either for individuals or small groups.
Who Is Ed McNulty?
The Rev. Dr. Edward N. McNulty is one of the nation’s leading faith-and-film writers, publishing in magazines, books and the Internet for more than 40 years. In fact, 2020 is the 30th anniversary of Ed’s signature publication, Visual Parables Journal. We’ve got a ReadTheSpirit cover story about this project that has inspired individuals and congregations nationwide for three decades.
Now a retired Presbyterian minister, Ed has served churches in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York. He published the first of his 11 books in 1976 after seeing the excitement and inspiration movies stirred in his work with children, youth and families. Throughout his career, he has written thousands of articles and film reviews in Catholic and Protestant-sponsored magazines and newspapers—and, since 2013, he has appeared in more than 300 weekly issues of ReadtheSpirit.com weekly magazine in his own special section called Visual Parables.
After founding Visual Parables in 1990, McNulty earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in the field of art, film, and theology while heading up a popular film series in Ohio. He also is a sought-after presenter on faith and film at national conferences and has led retreats that include movies to spark discussion and meditation.
Dr. McNulty has taught at elder hostels, seminaries, colleges, churches, and camps, from Massachusetts to California and Canada. He has produced programs and spots for television and radio that have been used around the country. Married to Sandra H. McNulty, a talented banner maker, they are the parents of five grown children.
‘Jesus Christ Movie Star’: An entire faith-and-film series in one book
What did Jesus look like? Sacred images of Jesus grace churches worldwide, but millions of moviegoers picture Jesus from classic films. Now, one of America’s most beloved faith-and-film writers invites readers on an inspiring journey, meeting Jesus again through a dozen big-screen stories of Christianity’s founder.
Because nearly everyone enjoys talking about movies, this kind of program is a terrific way to welcome newcomers and energize inactive members in growing congregations. If you find yourself trying to convince clergy and lay leaders that this is a good idea, tell them that a faith-and-film series is likely to bring new faces into the congregation and, depending on how you choose to organize your series, could lead to church growth.
This is fun and spiritually enlightening. From many years of guiding viewers, Dr. McNulty knows what details you will need to host a successful evening. If you are not part of a group right now, you still can enjoy this book for your own home viewing—most of the films included this book are easily available from the media services now reaching American homes, including Netflix and Amazon.
You’ll find complete discussion guides, including tips on selecting short film clips to show to your group, on 12 films. Some are straight-forward depictions of Jesus: The Gospel According to St. Matthew, Jesus, The Miracle Maker, The Visual Bible: The Gospel of John, The Passion of the Christ, Son of God, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Some feature inspiring and thought-provoking stories that have made many moviegoers think of Jesus’s life, including: Jesus of Montreal, Cool Hand Luke, Bagdad Café, Broadway Danny Rose and Babette’s Feast. In addition, the book includes shorter overviews of dozens other Jesus-themed movies. And, the book includes online resources that will help you easily locate the latest versions of these films.
In exploring movies in this way, we are following Jesus’s example of using stories to enlarge his followers’ vision and challenge them to live as if his kingdom of love and justice had already come.