The Fabelmans and the Stewardship of Storytelling

Zachary Lee

Zachary Lee
February 2, 2023

Echoing 1 Peter, Steven Spielberg’s Best Picture nominee reminds us that artists should be 'faithful stewards of God's grace.'

February 3, 2023

This is a keen and compelling analysis of an important theme explored in this movie. Thanks so much for the connection to spiritual gifts! It dovetails nicely with FABELMANS' interrogation of vocational identity, too--the idea that we so easily identify with the things we do and that, left unchecked, such things can become an idol of false worship and (to your point here) a source of great relationship pain. I think about the father's relentless pursuit of a “successful” career and his difficulty sympathizing with his family’s increasing discomfort as he finally gets to enjoy the trappings of that success. I think it’s also present in his inability (at first) to regard Sammy's passionate work as a filmmaker as anything more than a hobby. We see (through Sammy's eyes) how the dad’s over-realized vocational identity plays out in his marriage and relationships with his children, of course; but we also see how Sammy's obsession with his film work eventually alienates him from others even as it gives him a kind of storytelling power over them. We see him wrestling, especially in that hallway scene, with the siren lure of that power, having a charmingly Spielburgian identity crisis over the dubious morality of being a filmmaker in the first place. Your essay highlights how FABELMANS resonates with the biblical call both to discern our vocations truthfully and to steward our vocational gifts wisely—in ways that serve others rather than merely ourselves. This, after all, is the essence of Colossians 3:23, right?

February 8, 2023

Thanks for your words Johnathan. Wonderfully and succinctly said! Your words take on deeper meaning as I imagine Spielberg looking at the legacy of his filmography as he was making this film, perhaps asking in the stories he chose to make, the characters he wrote etc. if he was, as you said, falling into the "siren lure" of filmmaking, or if he was a good steward (and perhaps this film is the articulation of his hope that more often than not, he was the latter).

Add your comment to join the discussion!