Like Arrows: Movie by Family Life, with thoughts on Christian filmmaking.

This is more of a public service announcement than a movie review. Like Arrows: The Art of Parenting is a production of Family Life Ministries, and is available as a limited run film in select cities through tomorrow night. If anyone is interested in supporting the effort, you can check online to see if it is playing near you.

We saw the film last night with several friends. I don’t want to offer a full review of the film, and here’s why. I have recently developed an understanding that there is a distinct difference to be found between religious themed  films produced by film makers and movies produced by vocational preachers which are more accurately described as sermons presented in cinematic format.

For example, The Passion of the Christ was produced by an accomplished filmmaker with a passion for and commitment to the historical integrity of his film’s subject matter. The result was a film that both religious and nonreligious people appreciated. It was great film making, no matter what your particular belief system, because it was made by a great filmmaker. As such, it was also an effective witnessing tool.

Contrast The Passion of the Christ with a movie such as Courageous, which was produced by a pastors turned film makers, the Kendrick brothers. The result of their efforts was a film which catered to the beliefs and convictions of your average Sunday morning churchgoer. Effectively,  it was a sermon transformed into a narrative on film; encouragement for Christian fathers “fighting the good fight”. That isn’t to say I agree with every perspective offered, but I respect their overall intent.

Once this distinction between the two types of films was fully absorbed, it changed the way I approached such movies. Last night’s excursion was for us, more than a trip to a Christian movie. It was friends, fellowship, a night out, and a chance to receive some parenting encouragement as the focus of this movie is Christian parenting. The title of the movie is drawn from the Scripture verse found in Psalm 127: Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.

So to reiterate, this is more of a public service for my Christian readers interested in knowing about Christian film releases. The trailer is below, and any burning questions about my specific thoughts on the film I’ll answer in the comments.




13 thoughts on “Like Arrows: Movie by Family Life, with thoughts on Christian filmmaking.

  1. hearthie says:

    Other than Passion, I can’t think of an explicitly “Christian” popular entertainment that I’ve ever enjoyed. Well. Okay. Veggie Tales, before Phil Vischer sold it. VT is excellent.

    I grew up in the days of really bad copies of worldly entertainment. Christian art can be excellent – most of the art in the Western world is Christian. BUT it wasn’t a copy of the World’s… it was its own thing.

    Maybe I just don’t like derivative art.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Major Styles says:

    Every film centers on a conflict: Exposition, Conflict, Denouement. So I guess showing a family undergoing a trial of some sort is realistic/necessary.

    I only wonder how realistic the conflict will be. For example, will it be an accurate assessment of the obstacles facing the Christian family. Or, will be be a watered-down or tangential issue used in favor of the deeper problem.

    On a related note, the first thing I noticed was the father in the delivery room when his child was being born (something that has only occurred after second-wave feminism in the 1970s). My son was born two weeks ago and I was adamant about not being inside the room to watch that.


  3. Elspeth says:

    I agree with you about every single Christian production I’ve except Passion. I’ve heard and read some good rumblings about I Can Only Imagine but I’m not going to buy tickets -we’ll rent- and that only because it is a Hollywood produced “Christian” film not a Christian preacher/ministry produced film.

    The Kendrick Brothers were a part of this one as well, and I’m just not a big fan of their stuff.

    Because of the social aspect of the excursion, we went ahead to see the movie with that mental compartmentalization I mentioned tempering our expectations.

    Our friends really enjoyed it (I saved my *issues* to share with my closest friend in the group today since she knew I had deeper thoughts than, “It was alright”, LOL).

    Interestingly, one of the men I least expected to take exception with any part of it was fairly put off with the aftershow portion, which was basically the equivalent of, “Here’s what we’re trying to coney”, as if it wasn’t blindingly obvious throughout the entire film what the point of it was.

    Loved your thoughts about Christian art on the whole. It’s true. Derivative art can be good, but Christians certainly don’t do it well in the music and movies departments.

    Veggie Tales (1st iteration) WAS awesome.


  4. Elspeth says:

    I only wonder how realistic the conflict will be. For example, will it be an accurate assessment of the obstacles facing the Christian family. Or, will be be a watered-down or tangential issue used in favor of the deeper problem.

    They tackled some real stuff. Realer than we’ve ever had to deal with, but things that we have seen other parents deal with. And to their credit (despite the gosh awful acting!) they confronted things that many Christians obsessed with the facade of perfection would have a hard time even acknowledging.

    Of course Dad was distant and unavailable, and there was the sage black couple with lots of wisdom and advice to impart, and kids who weren’t smoking weed or making OOW babies.

    Par for the course stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Elspeth says:

    You know Hearth, I was just thinking about Christian fiction writers. Not only Lewis or Tolkien, but even more contemporary writers such as Francine Rivers.

    Writers who happened to be Christians rather than Christians who decided they needed to write fiction for us, by us.

    The difference in what they wrote is startling which just sets up what should be obvious: use the gifts you’ve been given rather than trying to force something. Just because you percieve a void doesn’t mean you have to be the one to fill it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. hearthie says:

    It’s much like what they said of the later Heinlein books, that he sold his genius for a pot of message. (Heinlein’s message was decidedly not Christian, but the rule holds – it makes very poor prose). It’s not an uncommon malady with writers, TBH.

    Just write or draw or paint or compose or act and let the light of God within you shine out. Preachin’ is preachin’, and has its place. Skits for the purpose of illustrating a point (even film length skits) likewise have their place. But no one outside the fold is going to want to pay to watch them.

    Let’s all compare VT – explicitly Christian and happy about it – and the myriad cartoon horrors perpetrated by FoF. Or not. :p You’d have to watch some of it. And I like you better than that!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Major Styles says:

    There is a name for this, but it escapes me. It means an “acceptable list of topics by the powers-that-be,” essentially. These limited topics are presented under the guise of an honest discussion; the end result is that the other relevant topics are strategically avoided.

    It gets harder to sit through entertainment when you notice this going on.

    Another ugly arena for this is cartoon. I have been watching more of these lately with my daughter, and the underlying agenda is impossible to ignore.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Robyn says:

    “Other than Passion, I can’t think of an explicitly “Christian” popular entertainment that I’ve ever enjoyed. Well. Okay. Veggie Tales, before Phil Vischer sold it. VT is excellent.” -comment by Hearthie.

    I completely agree! For me, I find “christian” programming to ‘bunnyish’ …. the presentation of ‘real life as a believer’ just comes off looking hokey. There’s a realness to a life; a rawness in each and every one of us humans that you cannot capture unless you’re willing to step away from the sanitization … and into the “desert of the real.” (<— Morpheus from The Matrix)

    You know when Paul said, "when i was a child ….. but then i put away childish things"? It feels like we are adults and its time to put away childish things, yet the christian film makers keep bringing to us, childish concepts of … milk; they seem very surface with no depth.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. hearthie says:

    Think of Tolkien … LoTR is chock full of Christian virtues, but it’s real in a way that has nothing to do with elves or hobbits.

    Meh. Great art is great art. Saying something is “great art” because someone on our team made it is just embarrassing.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Robyn says:

    yeppers …. “just embarrassing”!

    Truth is truth and can be captured or displayed in any number venues or media some don’t agree with. Life is messy — people are messier. The sooner we all grapple with and accept that, the quicker we can see truth.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Elspeth says:

    When I read this I thought briefly of my favorite jazz album: Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. I have no idea what he believed but it doesn’t change my view of that music as great music.

    Liked by 2 people

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