Transformation in Film (a seminary project)

For one of my classes this semester I was asked to do a project that helps lead people in transformation. I love movies, and I believe there are some incredibly transforming moments in film. So for my project I chose to write reflection questions for a few of the films that have been most influential in my life. I would like to invite you to participate with me in this project.

There are three movies involved in this reflection, Unbreakable, The Incredibles, and Braveheart. The intention is for them to work together. Ideally you would watch and engage in all three of the movies and reviews over the next couple weeks, but if you are crunched for time you could certainly engage in one or two of the films. You can do it alone or as a group, but however you do it engage with your whole heart. When you have finished, please leave a response on the blog. This will allow me to use your responses as a part of the project. If you are nervous about putting yourself out there, you can leave an anonymous response.

I pray that the Father will meet with you as you engage, and that you will experience his presence more and more as he transforms and fills your life with his love.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


“Purpose is what gives life meaning.” –Charles H. Perkhurst

-Watch Unbreakable. Pay attention to the emotional state of David. Early in the movie he says that he wakes up in the morning feeling sad. Watch for the reason for David’s sadness and how he changes during the movie.

1. What do you think is the reason for David’s sadness?

2. What changes for David during the film? Ultimately, what makes the sadness go away?

-I’m sure your answers to these questions are the same as mine (and probably better), but let me state my opinion for the sake of us all being on the same page. I think David experiences this sadness because of a profound lack of meaning in his life. Watch the deleted scene where David speaks to the priest. It’s no wonder that M. Night Shyamalan says this was the first scene he got right. It completely encapsulates David’s defining characteristic in the film, his search for meaning. David’s journey in the film is one of discovering and embracing his purpose. It is this journey that ultimately chases away the sadness.

3. Can you relate to David on any level? Do you have an unmet longing for meaning in your life, or have you discovered and embraced the unique purpose God created you for?

-If you have an understanding of the purpose God created you for, spend some time right now thanking God for that purpose. Thank God that you have been created for a purpose and he has revealed that that to you.

-If you identify with David’s and his sadness, take a moment right now and read Psalm 139. You might be very familiar with it. But try to read it with new eyes, with a fresh perspective.

1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.

19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!

20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.

21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?

22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

-God knit you together; he formed you with a purpose and intention. As my Dad likes to say, “God don’t make no junk.” Spend some time praying now. Ask God to tell you or show you the purpose for which he created you. Ask him to point out the unique gifts he’s given you, the passions that bring you to life. Listen and watch for his response. Listen for his voice. Watch with expectation for his answer to your prayer.

The Incredibles

“Man fully alive is the glory of God.” St. Irenaeus

-Watch The Incredibles. Pay close attention to your reaction to the characters and story. Listen and watch for where your heart is stirred.

1. What struck you about The Incredibles? What scene was your favorite or had the biggest emotional response in you? Why do you think that is? What happened in the scene? Is there someone/something you relate to?

2. How did each of the four main characters feel about their powers early in the movie?

3. Which character do you connect or identify with the most? Why do you think that is?

4. How did that character’s feelings about having powers change at the end of the movie?

-The Incredibles is a about embracing our gifts, strengths, and passions. God created each of us for a purpose, and he has given us what we need to accomplish that purpose. We don’t need to be ashamed of or hide our gifts, strengths, and passions. He has given them to us so that we can use them, not for our own selfish purposes, but for his purpose.

5. What are your strengths? If you were a super, what real strength of yours would set you apart?

-If you have trouble identifying your strengths there are some great resources below.

Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment

Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

What You Do Best in the Body of Christ by Bruce Bugbee

Ask a friend who really knows you what strengths he/she sees in you.

6. How do you feel about your strengths? What do you think about them?

7. How might you more fully embrace the strengths God has given you?

8.What are you passionate about? What motivates or gets you excited?

-If you have trouble identifying your passions below are some resources. is an assessment that can be helpful. is an exercise that can help identify passions. The type of organization you give the money to and participate in reveals something about your passions.

9.How can your strengths and passions work in harmony in your life today?

10. What would it look like for you to live a life today where your strengths and passions are fully embraced and put into action?

11. What are some things you could do right now to live more deeply out of the strengths and passions God has given you?


“Every man dies, not every man really lives.” –William Wallace in Braveheart

(Before you engage in this experience it is important that you understand an assumption I am making. I believe that God has called each of us to a specific life. We have all been called, given access to, the Abundant Life (John 10:10), a life full of love, joy, peace, freedom, and meaning. The assumption I am making is that you agree with this simple theological truth.)

-Watch Braveheart. Pay close attention to your reaction to the characters and story. Listen and watch for where your heart is stirred.

1. What struck you about Braveheart? What scene was your favorite or had the biggest emotional response in you? Why do you think that is? What happened in the scene? Is there someone/something you relate to?

-I have a theory about Braveheart. I don’t think we are meant to identify with William Wallace. I think we are meant to be inspired by him, even desire to be like him, but I don’t think we are supposed to identify with him. I think the character of William Wallace is a Christ-figure in Braveheart.

2. What do you see in the character of William Wallace that makes him like Jesus?

-I don’t think we are meant to identify with William Wallace, but there is a character that I think we are meant to identify with another character. I believe we are meant to identify with Robert the Bruce.

3. Think about the character arc of Robert the Bruce. Describe him at the beginning of the film. What happens to him during the film? Who is influencing him? What does he do? How does he change?

4. Watch the scene between Robert and his father that starts 2 hours and 12 minutes into the film.

-What are the competing messages in Robert the Bruce’s life? Who do these messages come from? What do you think he means when he says that he will never be on the wrong side again?

5. In what ways have you been influenced away from the calling God placed on your life? What lies have you agreed with that keep you from living the life God has given you? In what ways have you lost heart?

6. Identify the influencer or lie and give it a face or an image. Stand up and imagine the face or image is right in front of you. Tell the influencer that you will not lose heart; tell the influencer as Robert the Bruce does that you will never be on the wrong side again.

-Watch the final scene (“Bleed with Me” on the scene selection menu)

7. Imagine yourself on a hill like Robert the Bruce at the end of the film, but instead of your enemy in front of you, the enemy lies defeated behind you. In front of you is the life God has given you. Thank Jesus for the work he has done to make that life possible by defeating the enemy that lies defeated behind you. Invite Jesus into the journey. Ask him to lead the way for you as Wallace did for Robert the Bruce, and charge forward to claim that life as the patriots of Scotland do in this final scene.