On-Line Book Reviews
What Our Reviewers are Saying
Angela Walker, Exec. Editor, ChristianCinema.com
“For those who wish to be equipped to watch film thoughtfully, Scott Nehring’s book is an important tool. He carefully examines our culture, provides instruction about film structure, and provides specific references to familiar movies to illustrate his points.
“This book has a place in my library, and I’d recommend it for anyone who wants to dig deeper into films and their meaning beyond the obvious.”
5 out of 5 stars from Midwest Book Review
“Cinema is a massive part of the modern culture, and they have a massive impact on the world as it is today. You Are What You See: Watching Movies Through a Christian Lens delves into the importance of movies to culture, and what they mean to a Christian family. A thoughtful discussion of movies and what they mean to Christian morality, You Are What You See is worth considering for the pondering Christian.”
Dr. Charlie Starr, Humanities, Kentucky Christian University
[snip] “I am especially grateful for Nehring’s argument that, while culture war may have its place, imposing censorship is not the solution to our problems—that the choices out there aren’t the problem, but our own heart is. The choices we’re likely to make—that’s where the problem lies; that’s what we need to concentrate on.
“Higher praise, however, goes to ideas Nehring expresses which are seldom expressed anywhere else. I agree with his analysis that external rating codes placed on movies are insufficient guidelines for judging a movie’s merits. I also agree that watching film can be an act of ministry—it can keep us culturally relevant and create opportunities for sharing our faith.
“Nehring is dead-on when he says that our ‘down time’—the time we use to entertain ourselves—belongs to God as much as any other aspect of our lives.
“One thing which Nehring points out which several Christian critics have said and need to keep saying loudly is that Christians need to stop compromising in their own participation in the production of culture, of art, specifically of film. Christians have been making bad films for long enough! It’s time to stop.
“Nehring is at his best in Part Two of You Are What You See where he offers the reader a way to value even very secular films by showing how all movies follow a specific story in both structure and content. He introduces us to a universal four-act structure in film which, once we know it, allows us to engage movies more actively and critically. Then he shows us that the plots of movies, as built around that structure, are in fact a single plot, a single story—the story of the Hero. In introducing us to the Hero’s story, the role of the villain, the role of the mentor, the secondary antagonist, and the very concept of archetypes which these represent, Nehring helps us to truly see movies through a Christian lens. And then when he introduces us to the concept of the Great Story, the one story which all stories are telling, one buried in the unconscious mind of each of us—placed there by God to familiarize us with the greatest of truths—and then shows us how Christ is the true Hero of which all those stories speak—well it’s just magic: a perfect revelation. The reader who studies and embraces this section of the book will never watch movies the same way again.”
Sherry Early, Semicolon book reviewer and home educator
“Great introduction. Then, in Section 1 of the book, we get almost 100 pages of what’s wrong with Hollywood. This first section of the book felt repetitive to me. True stuff, and Mr. Nehring is repeating a message that our culture needs to hear and that I need to be reminded of. Nevertheless, Section 2 of this book, entitled ‘The Structure of Film: Seeing What’s Right in Front of You,’ was the part that I most enjoyed. … Even though I’ve seen some of this material before in other places (books about writing), Mr. Nehring brings a coherent voice and style to his explanations, and he includes a wealth of examples…. The author says that after reading this section of the book you will never watch movies in the same way again; … I agree with Mr. Nehring’s prediction. I have been watching movies and reading in a different way since I read this book. This book is a reference tool that critics and literary and film “geeks” can use to understand the structure and meaning of the stories we are consuming. It would also be a useful source for aspiring writers of fiction, whether they be screenwriters, playwrights, short story writers, or novelists. …
“Section 3 of the book gives guidelines and suggestions, not rules, for Christians who want to watch movies intelligently and and grow in their discernment about which movies to watch and how to watch those that we do choose to view. Finally, Mr. Nehring’s thesis is that ‘movies matter. Movies impact your life every day, even if you never watch one.’ If this statement is true, and I believe it is, then it behooves us as Christians living in this day and time to learn what we can about the impact of our cultural icons (movies) on us and on those around us. And since we are further commanded to be salt and light in a fallen world, You Are What You See is a good resource for Christians becoming that salt and light in the area of cinematic culture.”
Chandler Birch, ChristianBookPreview.com
“Despite the fact that his premise has huge potential to lead to a diatribe, Nehring steers clear of hypocritical finger-pointing, and his informal tone and vast knowledge of film history make this book into a fascinating and enlightening study. He promises that, by the end of the book, his reader will be unable to watch movies in the same way ever again, and he keeps his word. By the end of this intelligent, entertaining book, cinema will never be the same; rather, it will be yet one more tool to learn about and glorify our God.”
Christian Book Notes by Terry Delaney
[snip] “[I]f you do watch movies, do yourself a favor and read You Are What You See. It will cause you to re-think what you place before your eyes on television or in the theaters.
“If you are a youth pastor or even a college & careers pastor, you should really read this book. It will provide some excellent talking points with the youth and those you minister to as regards what they watch. Given Scott’s discernment and Christian worldview, Good News Film Reviews has become a resource I will return to again and again when deciding what to watch and what not to watch. I recommend you use this resource as well.”
Brandywine Books by Lars Walker
[snip] “You Are What You See is a good introduction for Christians at their wits’ end trying to figure out what to do about popular entertainment. You won’t be given a hard-and-fast formula, but you’ll come away with some maps and compasses to help you find your own way.”
The American Culture – “New Book Provides Cultural Compass”
[snip] “It would be easier to praise or pan his book if it had been the sort of thing I half-expected—either a call to “come out and be separate” from popular culture, or a point-by-point, guaranteed-or-your-money-back blueprint for cultural revolution. Instead, the author leaves a lot of room for individual decisions. Because freedom is part of the deal, and every Christian has his own gifts, strengths and weaknesses.
“This is good. But it means the reader has to do a fair amount of work, forever asking himself “How does this apply to me, if at all?” “Where do I fit in the scheme of things?”
“That, however, is the price of honesty and biblical fidelity.”