“Dr. Eckel has ruined watching movies for me forever.” As one of his former (and current) students, I can attest to Dr. Mark Eckel’s remarks (on page xiii). I am one of those students who can say that with a smile on my face. Yes, watching movies has been ruined for me. Yet, it has been ruined in the best possible way. That is why I am delighted to share with you his new book, When the Lights Go Down: Movie Review as Christian Practice. Many Christians already engage is watching movies but what is lacking is engaging in movies Christianly. We need not be passively intaking, but actively watching and thinking. Dr. Mark Eckel equips us to do just that.
When the Lights Go Down is structured around 15 different headings, each with short articles by Dr. Eckel, interviews with various people depending on the subject, a review of a movie pertaining to the particular heading, and questions to be observed and discussed. In wanting to teach theory with practice (xiii), Dr. Eckel accomplishes the feat here. His desire to write this book for the casual Christian movie-goer (xiii) succeeds as he “puts the cookies on the bottom shelf” (another teaching lesson by Dr. Eckel to me). The stories he shares give the book a personal touch and will draw the reader in. One of the most fruitful features of this book is the concept of seeing movies through an apologetic-evangelistic lens (Eckel 28). I was first introduced to this notion in a Dr. Eckel class when we watched Crimes and Misdemeanors and it has not left me since. Of course, with a book about movies, some disagreement may be had between the reader and the author. The author covers this issue when he speaks on guidelines, being sure we do not fall into legalism (Eckel 56).
The main critique I would give When the Lights Go Down deals with the interview section of the book. Some of the interviews can provide some good food for thought but are not greatly intriguing. Other interviews are more captivating than others. For instance, I really enjoyed the philosophy interview with Dr. Ronnie Campbell on pages 38-46. Case in point, some interviews are more appealing than others.
All in all, When the Lights Go Down is a superb resource to add to your library. If you are a Christian and an avid-movie watcher, you need to get this book. I know, for me, there are a number of movies I want to see now because of this book. So, let’s answer the call to action, the theory with the practice, Dr. Mark Eckel gives: “Take out your notebooks. Let’s get started” (Eckel 255). Let your movie-watching be ruined…in the best possible way.
To purchase When the Lights Go Down, click here.