Part 1: Force-Fed Sermons?

At Christianity Today Movies, we like to wrestle with the Big Questions. You know, like: "Can George Lucas redeem himself in the last installment of his Star Wars saga?" And: "Will Disney be faithful to the Narnia books in its film adaptations?" And: "Will Tom Cruise's hair still be absolutely perfect after all those cool explosions in War of the Worlds?"

And, of course, this: "What's a Christian film?" We explored that topic in an insightful 4-part series last year, but lately we've been wrestling with a more pointed question: "Just how explicit, in the things of faith, should a Christian film be? Should it be in your face with Jesus and the gospel, or should it be more subtle?" There's no easy answer, and the answer likely begins with the words, "Well, it depends …"

We asked two sharp-thinking filmmakers to help us wrestle with the question. Rik Swartzwelder is an L.A. filmmaker whose short, The Least of These, won numerous awards on the film festival circuit. Atlanta's Angela Harvey is a filmmaker, writer, graphic designer, and founder of Crimson, which produces independent films, gospel tracts and greeting cards.

In an oversimplified nutshell, Swartzwelder believes Christian filmmakers should feel free to be direct with spiritual content—including the gospel—in the context of cinematic storytelling, while Harvey believes such things should be communicated in a more subtle way, if at all. With those assumptions as the starting point, we asked Rik and Angela to debate their positions in an e-mail exchange—which we're now sharing with you in a special four-part series, starting today and running through Thursday.

Rik requested that Angela start the conversation. And that's ...

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