In her regular column for Salvo, senior editor Marcia Segelstein interviews people who are making an impact in their respective fields on the entertainment industry. In the current issue she talks with screenwriter Brian Godawa. Read an excerpt below and the entire interview here.
For the next issue of Salvo, Marcia interviews Eric Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. The new issue mails out in early June. Stay tuned.
Heart of the Story
An Interview with Brian Godawa
Brian Godawa is interested in stories and pictures, words and images, intellect and imagination. He’s put his interests to work as a screenwriter (To End All Wars), an author (Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment and Word Pictures: Knowing God Through Story and Imagination), a documentary writer and director (Wall of Separation: The Phrase That Divided America, PBS), a graphic designer, and an advertising copywriter.
During his interview with Salvo he talked about the importance of imagination for Christians, what he considers the weirdest verses in the Bible, and his new book, Noah Primeval.
Salvo: Why do you choose to work on or create projects that are not overtly Christian?
Brian Godawa: Until I read Francis Schaeffer, I didn’t know how to integrate my Christian worldview with my art. Incorporating your worldview into your art isn’t the same as propaganda or sermonizing. And I don’t mean those terms in the negative, because, of course, there can be good propaganda. As I studied the history of art and of storytelling, I came to understand how to integrate my worldview into my storytelling. The very structure of storytelling is a means of communicating redemption. I’m not that interested in what might be called the genre of Christian movies or Christian stories. There’s a legitimate place for it, but it doesn’t tend to be as influential on me spiritually. If you look at the movie, To End All Wars, you’ll see a very explicit spirituality.
You’ve spoken about the importance of imagination. Do you think sometimes Christians fail to appreciate imagination?
I do think imagination is often a neglected element in our relationship with God, particularly in the Evangelical churches in America, the tradition that I come out of. In my book, Word Pictures, I chronicle some of my personal journey in that area. I pursued a very intellectualized faith, heavy on the apologetics and heavy on the intellect. At some point, I realized I had so intellectualized the pursuit of God that I had neglected the imagination. The intellectual and rational pursuit of God is important, but it’s only half the equation. I had to rediscover how much God uses imagination in the Bible to communicate truths to us.
I eventually came to realize that the Bible is actually a story, and the doctrines are embedded within the story. I had to learn how much God communicates himself through images, through metaphor, through poetry. There are some ways that imagination communicates God’s truth that rationality cannot.