FBC Lawrence Secondary Menu

Sanctuary of the Cinema


Sanctuary of the Cinema

Art by Danny Joe Gibson

Course Overview

Sanctuary of the Cinema is a free film course that applies a Christian interpretive lens to a variety of films for the purposes of spiritual enrichment, cultural engagement, communal experience, and personal growth and development. Chad Thomas Johnston, author of Nightmarriage, and Jennifer Harris Dault, editor of The Modern Magnificat: Women Responding to the Call of God, cofounded the course at First Baptist Church of Springfield, Missouri, in 2005.

Chad transplanted the course to First Baptist Church during the Lenten season of 2009, screening Danish director Gabriel Axel’s Babette’s Feast as the course’s first film. The class has explored faith in film in a variety of genres: Comedy (Hae-jun Lee’s Castaway on the Moon), Drama (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s Le Fils), Documentary (Jessica  Yu’s In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Henry Darger), and Classic Cinema (Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd), among others.

Childcare is provided. Please take this opportunity to enjoy a fantastic film without any interruptions from your children—and free of charge, no less.

All features begin at 6:00 p.m. in the sanctuary at First Baptist Church. Film screenings followed by group discussion. Food and drink are permitted, and occasionally provided. Feel free to bring a friend, a snack to share, and lots of thoughts to share after the credits roll.

Instructor Chad Thomas Johnston is a slayer of word dragons who resides in Lawrence, Kansas, with his wife Rebekah, their daughter Evangeline, and five felines. He has written for Image Journal‘s “Good Letters” blog, In Touch magazineThe Baylor Lariat, and CollapseBoard.com. Johnston’s first book, the whimsical memoir Nightmarriagewas a finalist for a 2013 Shirley You Jest! Book Award in nonfiction writing. He received his Master of Arts in Communication Studies from Missouri State University in 2003.

As a Lecturer in the Department of Communication at Missouri State University, Chad taught developed and taught his own intersession film coursework, including Communication and the New Emerging Superpower: A Dialog with China through Film, Asian Voices: Exploring Interpersonal Communication in Asian Films, The Passion of the Filmmaker: Investigating Christian Messages in Film, and Intercultural Communication and China: The Films of Zhang Yimou. He also developed and taught an online course for Drury University called A Survey of Intercultural Communication Through Film.

Chad can be reached at:
Twitter: @Saint_Upid


2016-2017 Course Syllabus


October 23th, 2016
The Armor of Light
2016, Documentary, Rated PG-13
88 min., English
Dir. Abigail Disney

This provocative, election-year appropriate documentary follows an Evangelical minister and the mother of a teenage shooting victim who ask, “Is it possible to be both pro-gun and pro-life?” A film about faith, firearms, and one minister’s journey.



November 13th, 2016
This is Martin Bonner
2013, Drama, Rated R
83 min., English
Dir. Chad Hartigan

An ex-convict believes that a 58-year-old divorced man is a kindred spirit who can help him get his life back on track. Justice Matters supporters, take note! This one is for you.



December 18th, 2016
The Drop Box
2015, Documentary, Unrated
79 min., English & Korean (With Subtitles)
Dir. Brian Ivie

The Drop Box tells the story of South Korean pastor Lee Jong-rak and his efforts to embrace and protect the most vulnerable members of society. It is an exploration of the physical, emotional, and financial toll associated with providing refuge for orphans that would otherwise be abandoned. The movie is also a reminder that every human life is sacred and worthy of love.



January 22nd, 2017
The Station Agent
2003, Comedy/Drama, Rated R
89 min., English
Dir. Tom McCarthy

When his only friend dies, a man born with dwarfism moves to rural New Jersey to live a life of solitude, only to meet a chatty hot dog vendor and a woman dealing with her own personal loss.



February 19th, 2017
La Promesse
1996, Drama, Unrated
90 min., French (With Subtitles)
Dir. Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne

From the makers of The Son (Le Fils), one of the first films screened at Sanctuary of the Cinema, comes La Promesse. Roger uses his 15-year-old son Igor to help him ruthlessly traffic and exploit illegal aliens. When one of the aliens is accidentally killed, Igor cares for the dead man’s family against his father’s orders.



March 26th, 2017
1999, Drama, Rated R
101 min., Spanish (With Subtitles)
Dir. Benito Zambrano

Solas is a drama of Spanish women whose emotional life is as rich as their surroundings are poor. Maria is a beautiful but troubled woman adrift in a nameless city in southern Spain.  Pregnant and abandoned by her boyfriend, she is desperate for oblivion and angry at the entire world. Emotional rescue comes in the form of her own mother, who comes to stay with her daughter when Maria’s father needs surgery at the hospital in town. The mother cooks, crochets and befriends the gentlemanly neighbor downstairs while patiently trying to reach out to her daughter, whose bitterness is no match for her mother’s love and devotion.



April 23rd, 2017
1996, Drama, Unrated
97 min., French (With Subtitles)
Dir. Jacque Doillon

Live-action films about the very young are rare, and even more rare are such films that work as well as Ponette does, without cloying or pandering. The film stars 4-year old actress Victoire Thivisol as Ponette, who’s lost her mother in a car accident. Doillon captures what the faith of a child looks like in this woefully out-of-print film. A perfect Easter film.



May 21st, 2017
Waste Land
2011, Documentary, Unrated
99 min., English/Portuguese (With Subtitles)
Dir. Lucy Walker, Karen Harley

Located just outside Rio de Janeiro, Jardim Gramacho, Brazil, is the world’s largest garbage landfill. Modern artist Vik Muniz works with the so-called “catadores,” the men and women who pick through the refuse, to create art out of recycled materials. Muniz selects six of the garbage pickers to pose as subjects in a series of photographs mimicking famous paintings. In his desire to assist the catadores and change their lives, Muniz finds himself changed as well.