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Scoring Transcendence

Films are the lingua franca of western culture; for decades they have provided viewers with a universal way of understanding the human experience. And film music, Kutter Callaway demonstrates, has such a profound effect on the human spirit that it demands theological reflection.

By engaging scores from the last decade of popular cinema, Callaway reveals how a musically aware approach to film can yield novel insights into the presence and activity of God in contemporary culture. And, through conversations with these films and their filmmakers, viewers can gain a new understanding of how God may be speaking to modern society through film and its transcendent melodies.


“… an important contribution to Christian theological approaches to film.”

—S. B. Plate, Hamilton College, Choice (Vol. 51 No. 04, 2013)

“Adding its voice to the choir, Scoring Transcendence charts a new way forward for music in the field of film and religion, providing a coherent paradigm that elevates film music to its rightful place next to the images.

—Carl Laamanen, Music, Sound and the Moving Image Journal (8:1)

"Scoring Transcendence stands as a benchmark for theology's involvement with cinema. It's spirited, and every page evokes an enthusiasm for cinema and theological criticism that readers are sure to find stimulating ... Callaway's work could very well be the decisive text that brings theological film criticism into the fold of contemporary film scholarship."

—Brandon Konecny, Film International

"Callaway has produced an original and highly significant work that will be required reading for anyone interested in the topic of film music from a theological perspective. His readings of films in particular are subtle, always illuminating, and frequently brilliant. I highly recommend the book."

—Jim Buhler, Associate Professor of Theory, University of Texas

"In Scoring Transcendence, Callaway challenges us to listen carefully to the soundtracks that enliven the most inspiring movies. He dials into the pitch, tone, and timbre that underscore Pixar's beloved stories. Callaway demonstrates a remarkable ear to hear the revelatory moments in complex films from Magnolia to There Will Be Blood. This is an essential addition to the burgeoning arena of theology and film."

—Craig Detweiler, Director, Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture, Pepperdine University

"Scoring Transcendence is the most significant work written on theology and film music to date. An enlightening and extremely thoughtful piece of scholarship!"

—John Lyden, author of Film as Religion: Myths, Morals, and Rituals

"...a welcome advancement in studies pertaining to the Christian faith and the arts. It is clearly written, insightful, interesting, controversial at points, and trendsetting for further discussions."

—Jeremy Evans, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Southeastern Theological Review

"By focusing on music, Callaway makes an important contribution to a neglected aspect of film and religion discussion. Scoring Transcendence is to be warmly welcomed and deserves careful assessment."

—Clive Marsh, author of Theology Goes to the Movies and co-author of Personal Jesus: How Popular Music Shapes our Souls