Editor’s Note: To get the free 72-hour rental, visit The Gospel Coalition, download the current episode and enter the code provided. The Aug. 11 episode is “The Economy of Wonder,” and the code is “TGC6”.
For seven weeks, The Gospel Coalition is promoting a new short film series from the Acton Institute called “For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles.” On Monday, July 7, The Gospel Coalition offered a coupon to watch the first film in the series for free (normal rental price is $1.99 for a three-day rental) and has continued to offer a coupon for each subsequent film in the seven-part series for the next six Mondays (July 14, July 21, July 28, Aug. 4 , Aug. 11- TODAY, and Aug. 18).
“For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles” is a kinda quirky, extremely hipster, theologically rich, artistically beautiful documentary which primarily asks the question, “What is our salvation for?” The series should especially appeal to the millennial generation in its format, look, and quality. If you’re a millennial Christian (or younger), watch it. Even if you miss the “free Mondays” this summer and have to fork over the buck ninety-nine, watch it. It’s worth it. If you’re a bit older and not in touch with the millennial generation, it’s still definitely worth watching for what the series says, just be warned, you might think the format’s a little goofy. Like I said, it’s extremely hipster.
Episode 6: The Economy of Wonder
This week, Evan and Steve talk about wonder.
Steve says, “Wonder is to wisdom what flavor is to cooking or winemaking.” To illustrate his point, Steve makes Evan lick a book about winemaking. Yes, lick a book. Evan says, “It tastes like book” (meaning, not wine). “That,” Steve says, “is what wisdom without wonder is like.”
The film interviews Makoto Fujimura, the founder of the International Arts Movement, who says that “the church has exiled beauty from its conversations.” Since the iconoclast movement, we have pushed art out of the church and given it to the world.
But, Fujimura says, “Jesus seemed to indicate that beauty is the door into the Gospel.”
Fujimura talks about Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet, saying, “What she has done is beautiful and enduring because it is ephemeral, because it’s useless, because it’s a waste. God somehow demands of us so much more than this transactional nature. It is really about the gift that we’ve been given, and the only response we can give back is with extravagance, with gratuitous beauty.” It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Dead Poet’s Society, “Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for!”
This film ends with the shortest letter that Evan has written to the exiles yet. The theme of this film is so simple. It is simply to behold.
“So you can pray, so you can love. Be still. Behold.
Behold. Behold our God. Behold His Creation. Behold the world around you. Behold the beauty of the world around us. Enjoy.
I would end there, because I do think this one simple point is valuable. We have forgotten beauty, we have become a utilitarian, transactional people, we do need to behold the beauty of the world around us.
But what I really thought was missing from this film in the series was, ironically, the whole “for the life of the world” aspect of it. How does our simply beholding benefit the world? The call of this film should have been to create! To not just behold the beauty that is already there, but to give beauty to the world. No, that doesn’t mean you have to be an artist, or a dancer, or a filmmaker … each of us is creative in our own way. God is Creator, and we are made in His image; we are all creators, too. If we’re in this “for the life of the world,” we shouldn’t just be passively enjoying the beauty of the world around us, we should be giving more beauty to it!
How can you be creative? What beauty can you offer to the world? How can you support and encourage others in their creative pursuits? Go out into the world and BEHOLD and CREATE!
Kathy Larson is the director of Christian Education and Creative Arts at Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, N.C.
Episode 3: “For the Life of the World”: Creative Service