re:View is a very unusual approach to the study of worldviews. It uses popular culture and life experiences to illustrate worldviews rather than beginning with explanatory information. The series is designed for a teen and young adult audience and for presentation in class setting, but classes might meet only once a week. In addition, re:View can be completed as either a seven-session or thirteen-session course, so it will likely be used along with other resources as part of a religion, worldview, or more-general humanities course.
The overarching goals of the course are to steer watchers toward a Christian worldview, but one that is put into action. Viewers are told that rather than being influenced by the world they need to influence the world themselves. It spends little time with apologetic defenses of the Christian worldview—Jesus, the Cross, Salvation, etc.. Instead the emphasis is on what I think of as the “So what?” questions—how does my worldview influence my interactions with others, my moral choices, my personal goals, and my attitudes.
The course consists of seven lessons, with one DVD for each of the seven lessons. However, a number of the lessons can be explored further with provided expansion lesson material. So the same seven lessons might be used over seven sessions or up to thirteen sessions. The entire course is very creatively packaged in what looks like a case for a film reel.
The titles and topics of the seven lessons will give you some idea of what the course covers.
1. “Numb” – culture
2. “Sign” – ultimate questions
3. “Swear” – worldviews
4. “Check” – naturalism
5. “Reset” – transcendentalism
6. “Help” – theism
7. “Seen” – engaging culture
Lessons are presented according to lesson plans provided as PDF files on each DVD,
Each lesson has a short creative film that is used to open the discussion. These are very professional videos with scripted stories. Some of the short videos are purposely stark and depressing as they portray worldviews in action. Some of these videos are very obvious in their story-telling, while others are a bit obscure. For some lessons there is brief introductory material for the teacher to set the stage before watching the video.
Discussion questions to be used after watching the video help students grasp the meaning and wrestle with its message. Dr. Bill Brown then hosts a short video teaching that is also found on the lesson DVD. The teaching expands upon the worldview aspect of the lesson, combining philosophy with cultural understanding. These segments are presented against the backdrop of interesting video scenery filmed in New York City. No boring, talking heads!
Parents or teachers might want to watch the additional video segment with Director Mike Koerbel’s explanation of how or why each video was created to illustrate the lesson. These explanations are especially helpful for a few of the videos that might leave viewers puzzled. Videos are meant to challenge and intrigue viewers, to interest them in discussing deeper questions. This is accomplished through other lesson elements as well, so students are never left without the point of the lesson made clear even if it’s not apparent after the first video.
These other lesson elements include a number of handouts and visual aids. You will almost certainly want to use the handouts with questions for students to answer. Students should write out answers to some questions, but some might be used for discussion.
Scripts of the teaching presented by Dr. Brown, found on the DVDs as PDF files, might be very handy for parents or teachers both to prepare for the lessons and as they lead discussions. One lesson includes an informal debate on the existence of God that would be great to use if you have enough students. In addition, a promo DVD with trailers that is included with the set might be useful for some course organizers.
Purchase of the study gives you access to a downloads section on the publisher’s website where you can get access to iPod-ready video files for the complete course, reviews of current movies or music that teachers might want to use to expand or illustrate lessons, and updates to the teaching material.
The course was developed by folks as Cedarville University, a Christian college. The course seems to assume a general familiarity with Christianity, but it speaks well to those who might not have accepted Christ or might not be living a Christian lifestyle. This makes sense since Christian college students are too often only nominally Christian.
Parents and teachers should have fun exploring the lessons right along with students. Since the video and Dr. Brown do the teaching, parents or teachers need not be experts on the topics.
re:View is not returnable once you’ve opened it, but you can’t really see what it’s all about without opening at least some of the DVDs. So I urge you, before buying, to watch the YouTube promo at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pPDQw1xu9A. Interestingly, this promo automatically segued into one of the full-length creative films the first time I watched it, but it didn’t do this consistently. Click on the following links if you want to go directly to a couple of these films: “Numb,” and “Reset,” and “Swear.” These YouTube videos should give you a good preview of the actual content.