Remote Virtue

A Christian Guide to Intentional Media Viewing

by Jen Letherer


Visual literacy is essential because viewer discretion is always advised.

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Cover image for Remote Virtue

October 2015


Pages 200
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Religion/Society
  Popular Culture/Media, Television, and Radio

This introduction to media literacy from a Christian perspective provides the tools to find and assess the beneficial—or harmful—ideologies depicted in notable films, programs, and trends.

Television and movies shape popular culture, with audiences often unaware of how media messages influence the way they think, act, and view the world. In this enlightening guide, author Jen Letherer interprets film and television shows from a Christian standpoint, revealing how beliefs and values portrayed on the big and small screens often impact the moral conduct of daily viewers. This book provides the tools for Christians to discern the implicit and explicit messages found within this medium, and shows how motion pictures can improve or erode religious principles and a spiritual way of life.

In a conversational tone, the work combines classic film theory, an assessment of story structure, and faith-based film criticism to delve into meaning and interpretations of popular movies and shows. Highlighted television programs include Top Chef, Modern Family, Downton Abbey, and The Walking Dead. The book also features films like Citizen Kane, Thelma and Louise, Star Wars, Inception, and The Hunger Games. This fascinating critique prompts media consumers to analyze the messages that their favorite broadcast programs send, consider if those messages are in line with their own values, and align their viewing choices with their personal beliefs.


  • Addresses why and how we should become intentional and conscientious viewers of television and movies
  • Utilizes strong research and a wide range of commercially successful and well-known media examples that will engage readers
  • Presents a critical thinking framework with which to question media messages
Author Info

Jen Letherer teaches film studies, theater, and writing for the Department of Communication and Media at Spring Arbor University. Her published works include The New Female Archetypes: Rethinking Women's Roles in Groups Through Television. She received her master's degree in film production from Boston University.



"In the fertile, provocative tradition of Neil Postman, Jen Letherer challenges her readers to change the channels of perception to seek and discover 'remote virtues,' not only those virtues that seem so distant from media, but are deeply embedded in them. Drawing from a wide range of theoretical and biblical perspectives, Letherer articulates a compelling framework from which Christians may discern the sermons from Downton Abbey to The Walking Dead, providing a delightful and insightful commentary on both the media and their consumers, us. "—Terry Lindvall, C. S. Lewis Chair of Communication and Christian Thought, Virginia Wesleyan College

"This splendid book is wise, insightful, and practical. You’ll appreciate TV and movies more, be a more discerning and informed viewer, and know how to discuss the latest ones with friends and family."—Quentin J. Schultze, Professor of Communication Emeritus, Calvin College

"In playful and accessible ways, Letherer draws important distinctions between sacred and sacrilegious intentionality as it relates to media consumption and critique. She calls readers to cultivate holy habits and virtuous viewing practices in an age of digital storytelling. Letherer slowly and artfully pulls back the curtain to reveal the true identity of The Great and Powerful Oz.." —Robert H. Woods Jr., Coauthor, Prophetically Incorrect, A Christian Introduction to Media Criticism; Network Administrator, Christianity and Communication Studies Network (

"While many Christians have written about the importance of paying attention to movies, Jen Letherer offers excellent, and much needed, advice about how to pay attention, discussing what to look for on the screen as well as in one’s own viewing practices. From its evocative title to its closing sentence, Remote Virtue is stunningly articulate, reflecting Letherer’s well-informed understanding of the moving image, not only its history but also theories about its power. She then applies that understanding to specific television shows, applications that will transform couch-potato spectators into virtuous viewers."—Crystal Downing, Distinguished Professor of English and Film Studies, Messiah College

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