Terry Lindvall

Episode 174,   Aug 02, 2023, 06:14 PM

My guest this week is Terry Lindvall, the C.S. Lewis Chair of Communication and Christian Thought at Virginia Wesleyan University. Terry talks about his seminary background, looking at religion and popular culture, and we find out about Terry’s academic history and his work in history, theology and communications.

We discuss how both of us have been influenced by H. Richard Niebuhr’s seminal work on Christ and Culture, as well as the role of censorship and why, as Terry attests, the church should be using movies as they employ parables. He talks about the importance of showing film clips to his students, e.g. Pixar films, in terms of disclosing the divine. We also talk about Roger Ebert’s learned film reviewing.

Terry discusses how he looks at the role of prayer in film in relation, for example, to the films of Robert Benton, and the spiritual journeys that other filmmakers are on. Terry also reflects on how agents tend to stop people like us from getting through to filmmakers.

Terry was born in Basel, Switzerland, and his father studied under Karl Barth. There are Swedish antecedents, too, and the young Terry would visit that side of the family at Christmas. We talk about historicity vs. fantasy in relation to Tim Burton’s Big Fish and we consider how the past is sometimes wilder in actuality than it was in our imagination.

Terry talks about how he writes his books for his students, that his father was an Assembly of God chaplain in the military, back in the days when movies were frowned upon, and we find out how Terry got into films and especially international animation. His most recent book is on animated parables. We find out why animation and comedies are especially key for Terry.

He has taught church history, also, especially with respect to helping Terry understand about laughter and satire. Terry talks about why the worst moments of our lives can also be our best and why we need to go through crisis in order to appreciate the gifts that life can bring.

We learn about how he was given a C.S. Lewis endowed Chair, about the value of comedy including in the context of funerals and about the relevance of our personal stories in the way we address people.

Then, at the end of the interview, we discover why Terry thinks it is important to focus on the present.