In a small monastery in the heart of California's wine country, Brother Anselm (Martha Hackett) has a mystical encounter with the angel Gabriel. Suddenly this quiet, reserved monk is aglow with a divine radiance. This proves to be quite unsettling to Frederick (Bernard Hill), the abbot, who doesn't want any changes occurring on his watch. Francis (Paul Guilfoyle), the community's mediator, feels caught between his loyalty to the abbot and his genuine respect for the mystery that has occurred.
When Anselm's features change and he turns into a pregnant woman, the monastery is split into opposing factions. Three of the younger monks are awed by the miracle in their midst while the old guard, including Adrian (Daniel Von Bargen), finds this development to be the work of the Devil. William (Naveen Andrews) feels quite protective of Anselm when she is put under lock and key in her cell. Duncan (Joe Spano), a doctor and scientist, desperately tries to come up with a reasonable explanation of what has happened but is unable to do so.
At the core of A Question of Faith, directed by Tim Disney based on a story by Rachel Ingalls, is the clash between spirituality and religion. Anselm sincerely believes she has been touched by the Spirit, an experience she will not give up even when it is unsupported by either reason or authority. The depth of her spirituality is undeniable. At one point, Francis says this may be "a pivotal moment, a new way of seeing heaven and earth."
But the abbot responds to the mystery the way the institutional church has traditionally reacted to things outside its control or explanation seeing it as a threat to the faith of Christians. Although Frederick is unable to come up with concrete proof of any divine intervention, the Mexicans who work for the monastery in the winery realize something special has taken place. One of these lay Catholics says: "God has touched Brother Anselm and you must take very good care of him for God."
Meister Eckhart, the thirteenth-century mystic once wrote: "We are all meant to be mothers of God. For God is always needing to be born in us." This parabolic drama asks us to consider the implications of this idea. What does it mean to truly carry the divine seed within our physical bodies? And how do we give birth to God in our lives? As we contemplate these questions, we are also asked to reverence and embrace God's mysterious ways and to nurture a faith that is open to the inexplicable. The message is clear: Believers must always be ready to accept the freewheeling Spirit's continuing revelations. In our time, this means that certain segments of the Christian community must give up their fear of homosexuality and their continued denigration of women.