Over at Capital Commentary, Byron Borger offers some valuable reflections and rather extensive praise for the Acton Institute’s new educational DVD series, For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a visually enjoyable Christian educational video curriculum,” he writes, “and I know I’ve never seen one so thoughtfully inspiring about a foundational Christian view of creation, culture, social life, and redemption.”
Indeed, FLOW offers a peculiar blend of artistic beauty and educational oomph. FLOW excels and exceeds at both showing and telling, and does so in a way that not only captures the mind, but instills a deeper, meditative longing in the heart for restoration and renewal across all spheres of life.
As Borger aptly captures, the series is unique in the way it unleashes the imagination toward a fuller, more nuanced vision for cultural engagement.
The teaching interviews and bold cinematography are so artfully expressed, though, that the blend of neo-Calvinist and conservative Catholic social theories that form some of the theoretical/theological background of the films are hardly noticeable; they are what Calvin Seerveld would call “suggestion-rich” and allusive. And they are often illustrated, not preached, with curious narratives and fantastic footage in settings as diverse as Makoto Fujimura’s art studio and Dr. Tim Royer’s Neurocore clinic which studies brain-related neurological issues.
The allusive style doesn’t obscure the meaty content; a didactic element is embedded in each session’s narrative as Evan asks various friends to respond to his large questions about how faith might matter in the modern world, his perplexity about “what is our salvation for?” Many of the scholars who appear to help Evan discern an answer are, in fact, friends of [the Center for Public Justice]. From Amy Sherman to Anthony Bradley to John Perkins to several background authors thanked in the acknowledgements (such as Steve Garber), this fabulous series has a pedigree and perspective that will thrill any serious CPJ friend. It offers a framework for the sort of nuanced political vision that CPJ supports. The episode on politics, for instance, reminds us of the good of politics, but also the limited calling of the state–affirming justice and the rule of law, but suggesting that human societies can flourish best if there are limits to the reach of the state.