Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

Billy Budd by Herman Melville has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Billy Budd is a handsome young seaman. His natural charm and charisma, along with his innocence, make him well-liked by his peers. Although he only knows himself to be an orphan who was found as a baby, some think a man so appealing must possess royal blood. Billy’s only obvious flaw is that he stutters when he becomes emotional.

Billy is a sailor aboard a merchant ship called The Rights of Man until he is impressed into service by the British Royal Navy. It is 1797. The British are not only dealing with opposition from the French, but they’re reeling from several mutinies. Tensions are high, and rumors abound that even criminals and rebels are being pulled from prisons to be used as sailors. Billy joins the crew of the HMS Bellipotent. The captain, Edward “Starry” Vere, likes Billy. The ship’s new master-at-arms, John Claggart, doesn’t.

Many gossip and speculate about Claggart’s origins. While he carries himself like someone noble, he also seems to have an “abnormal” or “defective” quality. Claggart becomes jealous of Billy’s popularity, good looks and innocence. The author points out that envy of this kind is almost more shameful than a criminal act.

Billy finds himself getting into trouble for little things. He consults a wise Danish man for advice. The man tells him he’s being punished because Claggart doesn’t like him. Innocent Billy is stunned by this revelation and doesn’t really believe it. Claggart gets an underling named Squeak to spy on Billy for him. Squeak exaggerates Billy’s errors and further convinces Claggart to ruin Billy.

Claggart eventually accuses Billy of mutiny. The captain calls both men into his quarters to discuss the matter. Billy is so shocked by the accusation that he begins to stutter. Unable to express himself, he hits Claggart in the face and accidentally kills him. The captain is forced to call in a court made up of officers, trying to keep things quiet for fear of another mutiny.

Billy testifies that he did kill Claggart but had no part in a mutiny plot. The captain and court members all want to show compassion and support Billy. However, Vere points out that it’s important for them to follow the letter of the law in this time of war. Billy is sentenced to be hanged the next day. He dies asking God to bless Captain Vere.

When Vere later dies battling the French, the last words on his lips are Billy’s name. A news article later erroneously reports that Billy was a conspirator to mutiny and that he stabbed Claggart, who was bravely trying to enforce the law. The book ends with a poem for Billy written by another sailor.

Christian Beliefs

The narrator mentions Calvinism and natural depravity. He makes several brief biblical references. For example, he likens Claggart’s dislike for Billy to Saul’s jealousy of David. Vere calls Billy an angel of God. The chaplain tries unsuccessfully to explain death and salvation to Billy before his execution. He finally gives up, believing that it’s even better for Billy to go to Judgement with innocence than with religion. The chaplain doesn’t try to advocate for Billy because he knows it isn’t his place. As a military chaplain, he’s in the difficult position of serving both the Prince of Peace and Mars, the god of war. The narrator uses imagery involving Christ when describing Billy’s hanging.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Captain Vere struggles to decide whether he should spare Billy because of the young man’s intentions or hang him because he committed a crime. Vere’s compulsion to uphold the law wins out, but he is sorrowful about the decision. Claggart uses his authority to spy on Billy and cause trouble.


Billy hits Claggart in the face and accidentally kills him. Billy is hung and dies asking God to bless Captain Vere.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

14 to 19


Herman Melville






Record Label



G.K. Hall & Co, USA and Chivers Press, England; first published in 1924, this unabridged edition published in 1997


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!