About Visual Parables

Ed McNulty

Ed McNulty

Visual Parables’ host Edward McNulty is a trusted friend in congregations nationwide, after more than 37 years of publishing film reviews, study guides and books that explore the inspiring connections between faith and popular culture. Thousands of men and women have enjoyed his books, the full Visual Parables Journal , or talked with him at his workshops in the US and Canada. Many small groups have used his materials for retreats and Film & Bible studies. Numerous families have heard Ed’s ideas echoed from pulpits and in newsletters—thanks to clergy and newsletter editors who subscribe to either the Journal or the monthly Film Capsules.

Ed McNulty explains:
Why Visual Parables is important to me—and to you

My long career in ministry spans many turbulent changes in American life. I like to recall that, as a young man, I was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and played my own small part in the civil rights movement—as did so many men and women in that era (see my blog on this). That deep commitment to peacemaking and nonviolent activism extended into my ministry in teaching and writing about faith and film. I agree with those writers who have suggested that, had Jesus arrived in our midst in the 21st century, he probably would have become a filmmaker. Jesus’s potent stories still speak to us after thousands of years—as do stories from the Hebrew scriptures and from other faith traditions around the world. Thus I named my journal 2 1/2 decades ago Visual Parables

In the 1970s, I began writing about television, Christian music, and film in Catholic, Protestant and secular publications. Then, in 1990, while serving as a pastor in Dayton, Ohio, I began sending out a one-page newsletter with short reviews of films called Visual Parables. These newsletters expanded and eventually became a full-scale magazine: Visual Parables Journal. The Journal has been published in various formats, and by various companies. Now, it is digitally delivered to subscribers, packed with an array of  film-discussion guides in each issue, plus much more, including articles about films appropriate to each religious season, and Doug Sweet’s columns on DVDs and film books, and a column on the Common Lectionary and film.

Helping men and women to see the many connections between faith and film is a ministry—a true vocational calling—for all of us who produce Visual Parables Journal. For that reason, I give away—free of charge—nearly 1,000 of my Movie Reviews. (That link takes you to all of my Movie Reviews, starting with the most recent review. Or, you may want to search the whole database with this A-to-Z listing of movie titles.) Each month, I also publish a free set of Film Capsules, mini-reviews that I find clergy, newsletter editors and webmasters like to share with their own readers. I hope to reach as many people as possible, because my consistent approach to film over so many years is unique.

Why is Visual Parables unique? There are hundreds of online sites and magazines offering film reviews. They cover a wide range of viewpoints—but most ignore the spiritual side of film. In fact, many film critics deplore attempts by filmmakers to bring religious themes to viewers. Yes, there are critics who review movies from what they call a “Christian” point of view, but most of their websites offer either moralistic judgments or are aimed at alerting parents about problematic content like coarse language or nudity.

I have a high regard for many long-time colleagues, including Fred and Mary Ann Brussat who include film reviews in their vast online magazine Spirituality and Practice. I also recommend the work of my colleague Fr. Dennis Kriz, OSM, in his website Fr. Dennis at the Movies—and David Bruce’s Hollywood Jesus. I could list more, but my point here is that you can look at the reviews on these other sites and you will see that Visual Parables is unique. First, the materials are widely trusted. This monthly magazine has been used by men and women for almost 25 years. Second, each issue of the Journal is practical—directly connecting film reviews to the faith and practice of readers. Our motto is: “Film & Faith in Dialogue.” The sets of Reflection-and-Discussion Questions that accompany the reviews in each issue of the Journal form ready-made study guides. Throughout the year, I add much more, including seasonal suggestions for appropriate films for small groups and congregations, occasional interviews and coverage of new DVDs and new books about film. If you want to bring the power of movies into your spiritual life, this is the Journal you will want to read.

I began exploring the connections between faith and film in the 1960s, when such programs involved projecting 16mm reels of film. I have moved through VHS to DVD and into Internet streaming–and from typewriter to computer, from print to digital—and I hope that this newly re-launched Visual Parables website will be an exciting resource for you, your family, your small group—and your entire community.

The Ed McNulty Video:
Why our goal is “seeing” in new ways

I produced this short video a few years ago. It still captures the underlying theme of Visual Parables—even though the end of the video mentions an old web address. The current, easy-URL for reaching this website is www.VisualParables.org—ending in dot-ORG.



Click on the image to preview a free sample of the Spring 2007 issue of the Visual Parables Journal


Email us: EdsVisualParables@gmail.com

Please consider subscribing to Visual Parables Journal. You can purchase individual back issues, but a year’s subscription to the full Journal opens up full access to all back issues. Plus, by purchasing a subscription, you are contributing to this important, ongoing work. SUBSCRIPTION OPTIONS: Our new Visual Parables Store links to PayPal, a popular online method of payment. When you “Check Out,” PayPal provides a completely secure method of payment by credit card—whether you have used PayPal before or not.

Visual Parables Staff

Editor/Reviewer: The Rev. Dr. Edward N. McNulty

Additional reviewers: 

Cindy Corley

The Rev. Markus Watson


Rev. Douglas Sweet