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Book Highlights Films from Special Collections

By Rachel Judy

August 21, 2015

Celluloid Serman book launch

Celluloid Serman book launch


As one of the earliest buildings completed on the Regent University campus, the University Library holds a special place in Regent's history. Its historical value, however, is greater than just the building itself. The University Library is also the home of a large collection of Christian filmspast and present many of which were obtained by Andrew Quicke, a professor in the School of Communication & the Arts.

Quicke recently co-authored a book, Celluloid Sermons: The Emergence of the Christian Film Industry, 1930-1986. Written with co-author Dr. Terry Lindvall, the C.S. Lewis Professor of Communication and Christian Thought at Virginia Wesleyan College, the book is the second in a three-part series that chronicles the highs and lows of Christian filmmaking.

Celluloid Sermons is "a book that could only be written at Regent University," Quicke explained. "No one has written much about Christian filmmaking." Quicke had easy access to several of the films that made their way into the book, thanks to Regent's collection which houses more than 3,500 films.

While movies like Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, Fireproof and, more recently, Courageous, are films with Christian principles, the films Quicke focused on are ones that were professionally made for use in preaching and teaching by churches. "It's a fascinating sociological look at, say, what a Lutheran church thought about dating," he said.

"Although suspicion toward the film industry marked many conservatives during the early 1930s, many Christian leaders came to believe in the power of technology to convert or to morally instruct people," the book's Amazon description reads. "Thus the growth of a Christian film industry was an extension of the Protestant tradition of preaching."

The book looks at key films and individuals during the 50-year timeframe, from films produced by the Billy Graham Association to apocalyptic "end-time" films and Focus on the Family's instructional videos.

Quicke, who has been on the Regent faculty since 1986, was instrumental in obtaining many of these films for the library's special collections. He currently teaches in the Cinema-Television Department.

The University Library houses two collections of Christian films. The first is the Christian Film Collection which includes works from production companies such as Cathedral Films, Moody Bible Institute, Johnson-Nyquist, Mars Hill, Concordia, Ken Anderson Films, and World-Wide Pictures. The second is the C. O. Baptista Film Collection and Archives which represents the work of the C.O. Baptista Film Mission of Wheaton, Illinois. The core of the collection consists of 89 original 16mm film titles both live and animated motion pictures dating from the 1940's.