From Laws to Liturgy, Edward Epsen offers a constructive account of what God produces in the act of creation and how it is ontologically ordered and governed. Inspired by the philosophy of Bishop Berkeley (18th century), Epsen proposes that the physical world is produced by the way God ordains the course of possible human sensations, with angels executing the divine ordinances. Idealism is here re-attached to a tradition of Christian Platonism, updating the traditional notions of the
aeon, angelic government, and the divine ideas, so as to be capable of explanatory work in regard to the philosophical problems of perception and induction: the objectivity and observability of the world are explained by a unified sacramental economy of the Eucharist.
Is cinema evil, or sacramental? Can films make theological contributions? Can film-viewing be a religious practice? How do films, values and power interact? The study of film and religion engages a range of diverse questions through different approaches and methods. In this contribution, I distinguish three complementary approaches. In the first section, I discuss those that focus on the film as text, the representation of religion in film, and how theology happens in film. The next section will broaden this perspective by taking into consideration how films affect audiences, and how the relationship between film and audience might have religious dimensions or serve religious functions. In the third section, attention to the text and the audience are combined with the consideration of both film and religion as agents in cultural processes in order to think about how film and religion are shaped by and shape value systems and ideologies. In the last section I will begin to tackle the difficult question of theory and method. I consciously postpone this part until the end because, in many cases, methodologies and theoretical frameworks are implied in and emerge from concrete case studies rather than being consciously reflected upon. This final section has two goals: it will make explicit some of these underlying assumptions to serve as a starting point for a more sustained reflection on the theories and methodologies of the field, and it will highlight some of the pitfalls we encounter if we are not methodologically and theoretically precise in our work.