Freshmen Lecture Welcomes Josh Larsen ’96

Josh Larsen speaking to freshmanMovies are many things—escapist experiences, historical artifacts, business ventures, and artistic expressions. Movies are also prayers, according to Josh Larsen ’96, guest lecturer for the 2016 Freshmen Lecture, which took place Oct. 3 in Ozinga Chapel Auditorium. “What might movies say to God?” Larsen, editor of Think Christian, asked the audience. “Those who are not Christians do pray, although their prayers are different than how Christians pray.”

Using clips from movies as diverse as “Toy Story” and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters!” Larsen outlined categories of prayer that movies can fall into such as lamentation, yearning, joy, and confession. For example, he pointed to many science fiction films like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” as a type of yearning prayer. “Why bother to yearn, if there is no object to yearn to?” he asked.

Before joining Think Christian in 2011, Larsen spent 16 years in the newspaper business and served as a film critic for Chicago-based Sun-Times Media. The co-host of Filmspotting, Larsen’s first book, Movies Are Prayers, is scheduled to be published next spring.

The Freshmen Lecture began with a greeting and prayer from Dr. Karen Dieleman, English department chair.

The annual Freshman Lecture enriches the core experience for freshmen by engaging them in a challenging but enjoyable learning opportunity outside the classroom setting. Though organized by the English department and contextualized in the Composition or Introduction to Literature classroom, the Freshman Lecture aims to be interdisciplinary and perspectival. It offers listeners new avenues of reflection on such topics as cultural engagement, learning, communication, and personhood.