In every premise, it is conflict that drives the communication forward. To prove your premise you must disprove the negation of your premise. The disproving of the negation of your premise is what actually propels your communication. If there is no negation and no conflict possible in your premise, then your communication will be stillborn, with no direction or goal. Many Christian movies fail from a lack of conflict. They should keep in mind that the world is caught in a spiritual battle; thus, conflict is both necessary and inevitable.

Drama means, “to do” or “to perform.” In performance, for every action, there must be a reaction. To illustrate this, have two friends stand five feet apart, facing each other, and ask them to tell each other in as many ways as they so desire, “ I love you” for no less than two minutes. After a very short period of time, this dialogue without conflict will become very boring. However, if you ask one to convince the other of his or her love for the other, and you ask the other to resist this advance, the dialogue will be very entertaining, and one, or the other, will have to relent, thereby establishing the premise for that brief scene as either “love triumphs over rejection” or “resistance destroys love.”

Some Christian radio and television interview programs are boring to all but a few loyal supporters, because the host avoids conflict or loses sight of the value of loving conflict. In these boring programs, the host and the guest spend all their time affirming each other so that the program remains static and uninteresting. If the host defines what he wants to discover in the interview, which is his premise, in such a way as to probe who his guest is and why the guest is there by asking the tough questions which the audience needs and wants to know, then there will be real dialogue. The interview will be interesting because there is conflict built into the program, even if only on the level of a premise such as “curiosity discovers important information.”

This conflict does not have to be mean, petty, or angry, as so much conflict is on non–religious television. The conflict can and will be loving if the tough questions which prove the host’s premise are asked in love. A thoughtful, loving host can ask tough questions in a loving way to reveal the interesting story that every guest has to tell. The conflict in the interview is merely the vehicle by which the guest proves his or her story to the host and the audience. Without a clear –cut premise, there will be no conflict, and neither the host nor the audience will have any idea what the host is trying to communicate.

There are four basic plots that categorize the primary types of conflict inherent dramatic stories: 1) Man against man, 2) Man against nature, 3) Man against himself, and 4) Man against the supernatural or sub–natural, including aliens.

These categories help us to evaluate the premise or main proposition in a story, but they may not help us determine whether the story fits the Christian worldview. Another traditional literary approach proposed by Northrop Frye[1] divides stories into five different kinds:

Mythic: The triumph of the hero/protagonist(s) by an act of God or god(s).

Heroic: The triumph of the hero/protagonist(s) by his or her own means.

High Ironic: The triumph of the hero/protagonist(s) by a quirk of fate.

Low Ironic: The failure of the hero/protagonist(s) by a quirk of fate.

Demonic: The defeat of the hero/protagonist(s) by evil, demons, et cetera.

A story that fits the Christian version of the traditional mythic story, where the God of the Bible or Jesus Christ helps the hero or protagonist overcome his or her antagonist, is a story that fits the Christian worldview. A story, however, where the hero or protagonist—especially a Christian one—is defeated by demons is probably not a story that Christians should want to see because it contradicts the biblical worldview.

Beyond the basic story types, there are various themes.
The eight basic themes are: Survival, Redemption, Revenge, Betrayal, Coming of Age, Love and Romance, Mistaken Identity, and “Fish Out of Water.”

To be continued…

Please read HOW TO SUCCEED IN HOLLYWOOD (WITHOUT LOSING YOUR SOUL) for a complete guide to filmmaking.

0098_MillerGreetings from Kathy Collard Miller in the Southern California desert near Palms Springs.

Have you had your eyes examined lately? The last time my eyes were examined, I felt tense having that puff of air come toward my eye to test for glaucoma. I knew it was coming and the longer I waited for it, the more tense I became. I knew it wouldn’t hurt me, but it still scared me. I wanted to push the machine away and protect my eye.

Do you feel like your eye is one of the most sensitive parts of your body that you want to protect? I do. It just feels so scary and dangerous to have anyone pointing something close to my eyes. There’s an automatic reflex that says, “Get away! I will protect my eyes!”
Do you know that God feels the same way about you? He will protect you just like you and I want to protect our eyes. How do I know? That truth is found in Zechariah 2:8. You’ve heard the verse before: “for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye–” (NIV). But maybe you’re like me. I didn’t really understand what it meant.

In this verse, the word “apple” refers to the pupil which is the opening of the eye allowing rays to reach the retina. It is the tenderest, most vulnerable part of the eye. The slightest injury can bring huge problems, the worst being blindness. No wonder God has designed us to instinctively protect our eye. He knows the consequences are serious.

The NLT words it this way: “For he said, ‘Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession.'”

Clarke’s Commentary offers this fascinating insight:

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Kathy Collard Miller

Kathy Collard Miller

Hi, I’m Kathy Collard Miller greeting you from the desert near Palm Springs in Southern California. But don’t worry, it’s a dry heat! Today let’s talk about two women in the Bible: Rebekah and Rahab.

God loves women! Not only did He create us, He features women in the Bible. He uses women for His purposes and glory. God values us and yet is honest about revealing the biblical women’s sins and mistakes.

We all have been convinced we know best for ourselves or others, yet God hasn’t gotten the memo. In the case of Rebekah, she actually received the memo from God that He would pass along the inheritance to her favored son, Jacob—not the older brother as usual. But the plan seems to be going awry so she puts in her two cents worth to the point even Jacob is worried. What does Rebekah do? Assure her son to trust her plan to manipulate God—well, not exactly in those words but that’s her intent.

What a mistake. Instead of trusting God’s sovereignty, that He is in control and can fulfill His plans, she connives …. well, let’s just call it what it is…she schemes to fulfill God’s will—her way. She just couldn’t trust God to fulfill His plan. As a result, she pays the price of never seeing her beloved son again.

In total contrast, Rahab is a woman without any previous knowledge of Jehovah God and yet depends upon His sovereignty.

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0099_MillerHello! It’s Kathy Collard Miller from the Southern Californian desert in the Palm Springs area.

From Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30, we learn about the Syrophoenician woman who truly represents a prayer warrior. Her request is dire for her and her daughter. What’s amazing is she is a Gentile. In this account, Jesus goes to the region of Tyre and Sidon, on the Mediterranean coast. This is the only time Scripture indicates Jesus left the land of Israel. Just as he had to go through Samaria to meet the needy woman at the well, so he needs to leave his country to meet this needy woman. How gracious of him!

In Mark’s gospel account, this woman is identified as a Greek, born in Syrian Phoencia. The cities of Sidon and Tyre are in that area, which is northwest of Galilee.
The apostle Matthew, when he writes his gospel, describes her as a Canaanite, which is true. But by using that word instead of something general like “Gentile,” he is emphasizing the significance of what Jesus does for her. She isn’t just a Gentile, but comes from a long history of her people, the Canaanites, being despised by Jews.

The Canaanites of Jesus’ day are descendants of the Canaanites in Joshua’s day—the same people God had commanded to be wiped out. But because of the disobedience of the Israelite invading army, some survived. Survivors, like this Gentile woman, are despised because they represent the Jewish race’s history of disobedience. Plus, Canaanites are considered “unclean.” There are many reasons this woman had no right or invitation to engage Rabbi Jesus. However, her desperation and her faith compelled her. We can only imagine how she originally heard about him.

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Dena Dyer, Author
Marti Pieper

Marti Pieper

Greetings from Marti Pieper in lovely Mount Dora, Florida, where October means we’ve turned off our air conditioner and opened the windows. Our weather doesn’t get cold enough to produce leaves with true autumn color, but we do have plenty of pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and the ubiquitous pumpkin spice coffee drinks to help us join the rest of the northern hemisphere in celebrating  fall.

Dena Dyer, Author

Dena Dyer

Today, I’m delighted to introduce to you a friend-by-writing, Dena Dyer. I “know” Dena from several mutual friendships and of course through the Christian Authors Network, but we have yet to meet in person. Her Texas home is near Fort Worth, where my husband and I married and welcomed our first two daughters into our family. I have just enough in common with Dena to want to get to know her better, so  let’s all do that via this interview.

Welcome, Dena! How did you get into writing and how many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?

I started writing as a second grader, when I discovered a passion for stringing together words and making people laugh. To date, I’ve had seven books released with royalty publishers and have an eighth that will come out next year. It’s a humorous devotional book for couples, which I’m writing with my hubby. My latest release is 25 Christmas Blessings: An Inspiring Countdown to Christmas! (Barbour), a devotional book for individuals and families. It includes 250 service ideas, which I’m really excited about. Before that, I wrote Wounded Women of the Bible: Finding Hope when Life Hurts (Kregel) with my friend and fellow minister’s wife, Tina Samples. Read More →