For the Life of the World: A Review of a Theological Fairy Tale
If you’re up for it, a gangly, bearded red-head would like to invite you on a journey through your faith. You would be wise to accept his invitation.
For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles is a seven-part video series produced by the Acton Institute and “hosted,” as it were, by the aforementioned red-head going by the name of Evan Koons. The films are what Evan calls a “a series of short ‘exploration’ films” in pursuit of the “bigger picture of what it means to be ‘in the world but not of it.’” The films vary in length from fifteen to twenty minutes, approximately, and are worth every moment you spend watching and re-watching them.
From the moment you enter the world of Evan Koons, you understand that you have entered a place of story. You’ve stepped into a world that’s one-third hipster, one-third fairy tale, and one-third practical theology for life. It’s an odd but effective combination, one that allows for the narrative to be tailored to the need of the larger goal without ever coming across as pandering or disingenuous. In short, the films are what Aesop’s Fables would be if Aesop was a Christian and a film-maker.
And a little bit of a hipster.
The series begins by posing and answering the question of “What is our salvation for?” and progresses by exploring the practical ramifications of that little Q and A session (which I won’t spoil here). Evan plays the part of curious traveler in this theological fairy tale and scholars, thinkers, and doers like Amy Sherman, Dr. Stephen Grabill, and Dwight Gibson rotate in-and-out of the supporting cast of wise men and friendly villagers that point our traveler on his way. Other guest, such Drs. Anthony Bradley and John Perkins, the Zwyghuizen family, and world-renown painter Makuto Fujimura make appearances in specific episodes that relate to their fields of expertise. Once the topic and theme is solidly established in episode one, the following episodes explore, in order, the topics of love, creative service, order, wisdom, wonder, and the church.
For the Life of the World is pretty darn amazing. That’s simply the best way to describe it. It boasts some phenomenal production value and strikes a perfect balance between whimsy and thought-provoking. The episode on wonder took my breath away. Four times. It is, without a doubt, the only series of practical, theological videos I would ever turn-on and watch just for the fun of it. And I would. In a heartbeat. Because very few things can encourage, challenge, and entertain you like a good fairy tale, even a theological one.
My advice is that you take a chance and follow Mr. Koons down the rabbit-hole. For the Life of the World is something the church wants (quality entertainment) and needs (practical advice on how to live out our salvation). Do yourself and your community a favor and check this one out.
You can rent/download the episodes at www.flannel.com or find out more at www.letterstotheexiles.com