Second of Two Parts

The first part of this survey of innovative religious filmstrips appeared in the February 18 issue. The categories it covered were Bible background, Bible books and stories, Bible related, and Christian history. The code letters used are: ccassette; rrecord; r/c—both record and cassette available; t—text only; and tgxtext, study guide, and extra suggestions.


ADULTS. Burt Martin Associates has inaugurated a fine series of filmstrips that interpret Christian paintings (r, t). These are not necessarily famous or even great paintings. The photography is superb in its detail, the narrative sensitive. The first three filmstrips feature the works of William Holman-Hunt, Eduard von Gebhardt, and Sir Edward Burne-Jones. The series is ideal for women’s and college groups and for all persons interested in the arts. The evangelical emphasis is subtle but present. So far the series has dealt just with nineteenth-century painters, a choice that might confirm the prejudices of some who are convinced that Christianity is still there. The producers are to be congratulated and encouraged; one hopes they will widen their scope.

CHILDREN. Child Evangelism Fellowship has produced two filmstrips, one aimed at boys. Lion Territory, and one for girls, Strawberry Ice Cream Cones (c, tgx). “Lion Territory” is a captivating story that successfully integrates the inner city and child evangelism. But the other is a tear-jerker that will turn off even the most sheltered girls.


ADULTS. The Evangelical Alliance Mission has produced a pleasant little surprise entitled The Trees Rejoice (c, t) that is an evangelical paean to nature and nature’s Creator. It is the first of a projected series. The producer, TEAM, is unobtrusively mentioned once. Pilgrim Prayers For a Searching Earth (Paulist Press) is a four-filmstrip set (r, t) by Patrick Mooney that uses poetry and photography in an attempt to evoke awareness of the presence of God. The filmstrips—“Young Love’s Dream,” “The Search,” and the two-part “Sacrament For the Suffering Earth”—are often enigmatically powerful. Mooney’s Irish lilt helps. But there are discordant moments when all the esthetic sensations meld into the theology of Teilhard de Chardin, the poetry of Rod McKuen, and the background music of “As the World Turns.”

CHILDREN. For grades three to six Broadman has a two-part program; God’s Plan and God’s World and God’s Men of Today: Scientists and Explorers (c, t). The first is the Mickey Mouse Watch version of Paley’s Clock. Using basic facts of science to demonstrate the orderliness of nature, it leads children to consider God’s perfect plan for them. But the sequel does not have the same evangelistic edge. It ritualistically eulogizes Albert Schweitzer as a Christian missionary-scientist. That this was made by Southern Baptists is evident only in the credits. Abingdon Audio-Graphics’ Learning About God’s Universe (r/c, tgx) is for the same age group but sharply different. It is a highly realistic, hopeful presentation of the givenness of the creation, and does not skirt the problem of evil and suffering.

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ADULT. High quality marks TEAM’s presentations of its mission work in Aruba, Chad, Colombia, Japan, and Peru, and at its headquarters. Excellent photography, humor, and a compelling sense of urgency and dedication characterize the filmstrips (c, t) of this interdenominational evangelical agency. Another interdenominational agency is the American Leprosy Missions. Its work has close ties to the United Church of Christ in Thailand (Chansoon of Chiengmai) and the United Lutheran Church of Tanzania (New Hope at Iambi). It has two other filmstrips, very informative, on leprosy: Clinical Aspects of Leprosy (totally unsuitable for children) and A Doctor Teaches About Leprosy. No audio accompaniments complement the text, and someone versed in pronouncing medical terms ought to be the reader. Nowhere is it suggested that the leprosy of the Bible may differ from modern leprosy.

Lutheran World Relief channels the relief funds of the American Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church in America, and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Its work is seen in Miracle at Baramati (India), A Little Goes a Long Way (Ethiopia), and A Different Kind of Help (Latin America) (r, tgx). It is impressive to see Lutheran work keep stride in revolutionary, touchy Ethiopia, supplying recently liberated serfs with oxen denied them by their former aristocratic landlords. LWR is also progressive in Latin America, engaged largely in self-help programs.


ADULTS. The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company has produced a two-part package on the aged: So Easy We Forget and Blessed Are the Lovers (c, tgx). It is well worth having.

Also Roman Catholic is the Paulist Press offering, Justice in the World (r, tgx). The three filmstrips show the activist side of the church in ferment. “Three Worlds” is representative of the other two (“Right to Develop,” “Church in the World”). The opening theological atmosphere is Teilhard de Chardin. From Teilhard’s Omega Point, the viewer is zipped through Charles Reich’s Consciousness III, McLuhan’s Global Village, Toffler’s Future Shock, Arnheim’s Visual Thinking, and then, breathlessly, into the planet of Three Worlds (ours). Events, however, swiftly overtake filmstrips like these; this one was produced before the category of Fourth World nations rose from the dust. Useful as discussion-provokers for well-read and skeptical evangelicals, this series comes complete with guitar background, folk-singer, and the kind of unctuous narrator that used to be associated by the social activists with piety-in-the-skiety-by-and-byety.

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ADULTS.Church Leader Motivation (c, t) is a psychological rather than biblical offering of Broadman Films to meet the interest in discipling that is sweeping the churches.

CHILDREN. A model of childlike lucidity is Our Episcopal Church (r/c, tgx) from Winston House Filmstrips for grades kindergarten to two. Joan Mitchell’s narration shows a feeling for children. The second of the four filmstrips, “The Bible: A Book For Remembering,” is a wonderful presentation that would be good in any denomination.


CHILDREN. Winston House is a producer of superior “values education” materials for children. Filmstrips are only one part of its multimedia line. Episcopal in sympathy, Winston House also produces for the secular market. That it successfully appeals to both religious and secular sectors is evident in two of its series. Living Our Christian Faith (c, tgx) is a good animated four-part series for grades one to three. Churches of various denominations can beneficially use it. On the other hand. Values in Action (c, tgx), for grades four to nine, can be used in church but is geared toward the public school. The goal is values clarification. The creators are Fannie Shaftel, an educator, and George Shaftel, a writer. They have organized a ten-part series around role-playing. The dramatization is believable and relevant; among the titles are: “Sticky Fingers,” “It’s All Your Fault,” and “The Instant Weirdo.”

Taking a different tack from role-playing, Encore Visual Education stresses discussion in Let’s Talk About What’s Right (c, tgx). The goal in these four filmstrips for grades one to four is responsible decision-making. Prepared by educator Ruth Bradley, these secular filmstrips can be profitably used in a Christian setting. Representative titles are “Cheryl Shares the Library” and “Who Took the Pictures?” The dramatization and narration of Winston House and those of Encore Visual Education are on a par—superior.

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Ikonographics is the producer of the five-filmstrip Folksville Series (c, tgx), a distinctly Christian approach to values clarification and decision-making for grades three to six. Each situation is carefully described and closes with appropriate Scripture. Titles include “The Candy Store” and “Soap Box Derby.”

For teen-agers and older young people, Paulist Press has fantasy. In two stunning collections, Dragons and Other Scary Things and Tales of Wonder (r, tgx), the stories of James Carroll are brilliantly rendered. Carroll, a Catholic, is an important author of lyrical devotional prose. The four fairy tales (“Nobles Three,” “The Dragon War,” “The Tumbler and the Princess,” “Strawberry Bells”) are all from Carroll’s book Wonder and Worship: Stories For Celebration. The art, narration, and original music are beautifully coordinated. Violence and evil are the stuff real fairy tales are made of, and these stories help us get grips on reality as it is graciously superintended by God. That graciousness does not necessarily eliminate gore and ghastly this-worldly endings. Younger children may not ponder these as older viewers would, but they will relish the fairy tales for themselves.

I am impressed by the creative energies and the scriptural insights and applications of Roman Catholic filmstrip producers heretofore overlooked by Protestants. Who among Protestants is as innovative and true as Twenty-Third Productions, Alba House Communications, Ikonographics, and Paulist Press? (The first two were mentioned in Part I of this survey. Their addresses are included below.) Let us end our impoverishment by studying their catalogues and viewing their wares. Better yet, let us emulate them.—Dale Sanders, Myrtle Creek, Oregon.


Abingdon Audio-Graphics, 201 8th Avenue S., Nashville, Tennessee 37202.

Alba House Communications, Canfield, Ohio 44406.

American Leprosy Missions, 297 Park Avenue S., New York, New York 10010.

Broadman Films, 127 9th Avenue N., Nashville, Tennessee 37234.

Burt Martin Associates, P.O. Box 6337, Burbank, California 91510.

Child Evangelism Fellowship, Warrenton, Missouri 63383.

Encore Visual Education, 1235 S. Victory Boulevard, Burbank, California 91502.

Ikonographics, P.O. Box 4454, Louisville, Kentucky 40204.

Lutheran World Relief, 315 Park Avenue S., New York, New York 10010.

National Catholic Reporter Publishing

Company, P.O. Box 281, Kansas City, Missouri 64141.

Paulist Press, 545 Island Road, Ramsey, New Jersey 07446.

The Evangelical Alliance Mission, P.O. Box 969, Wheaton, Illinois 60187.

Twenty-Third Productions, P.O. Box 180, Mystic, Connecticut 06388.

Winston House Filmstrips, 25 Groveland Terrace, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403.

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