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Movies and books can be catalysts for personal storytelling, soulmaking, and spiritual formation. We've got resources for your "group," whether it's you and your partner or a small group meeting regularly.
Recommended films and discussion questions; create your own spiritual film festival with just a visit to the DVD/Video store. Talk about novels and other books with your partner and friends.
Regarding HenryA Values & Visions Guide
By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
"To be a traveler on this earth you must know how to die and come back to life."
Regarding Henry is about an aggressive, successful, and amoral New York lawyer whose life is upended when he is shot in the head by a thief during a robbery. As he recovers, he has to relearn and refashion what he does at home and at work. For our review of the film and a plot synopsis, click here.
Henry's journey is essentially a spiritual one as he seeks new sources of meaning and purpose. His vulnerability opens him up to the positive values of love, play, intimacy, tenderness, and conscience that were all absent in his existence as a go-for-the-jugular lawyer.
The screenplay by Jeffrey Abrams focuses on the process of personal transformation. Director Mike Nichols, who was interested in this theme, has written: "For all the searching for happiness that we do, we tend not to notice that sometimes it is a catastrophe which re-orders our lives in wonderful ways. There's something about cutting loose everything and starting again that somehow tells you the most about what life really is especially family life." The questions in this Values & Visions Guide are designed to spur your reflection and discussion on the kind of spiritual transformation that can grow out of personal catastrophe.
Regarding Henry runs 108 minutes and is PG-13.
1. KEEPING THE HEART OPEN
"Mostly heartfelt practice is about keeping the heart open to the world around us to people, places, ourselves, and the divine. It means coming from a place of empathetic attunement," Belleruth Naparstek writes in Your Sixth Sense.
"The desire for intimacy is the desire to share that which is innermost with another person. It is a fundamental psychological need in human lives, one of the few basic needs that organize our behavior and experience and provide our lives with meaning," Dan P. McAdams explains in Intimacy: The Need to Be Close.
3. LEARNING FROM CHILDREN THAT LIFE IS PLAY AND A JOY
"Jesus said, 'You can't enter the kingdom of heaven except as a child.' How silly. All children do is play. . . . They don't understand how serious the business of life is. Ah, the business of life. But life isn't a business, is it? It doesn't have a profit-and-loss sheet, a bottom line. Life is given to us as play. Little children understand that," John Robert McFarland has written.
4. LIFE-GIVING SAINTS
"A saint," according to Frederick Buechner, "is a life-giver. A saint is a human being with the same hang-ups and dark secrets and abysses as the rest of us. But if a saint touches your life, you come alive in a new way."
5. DO GOOD WORK
"Good work that leaves the world softer and fuller and better than ever before is the stuff of which human satisfaction and spiritual value are made," Joan Chittister writes in Wisdom Distilled from the Daily.
"Remember that your family has a potential for resilience and growth energized by its problems, and by the way in which your family learns to give meaning to its problems. Problems are family soul food," Paul Pearsall observes in The Power of the Family.
7. A GROUNDED SPIRITUALITY
"We need to realize that the purpose of being here is not to conquer and control, but to serve something larger than ourselves," John Welwood writes in Ordinary Magic. "To that end, we need to develop a grounded spirituality, one that can affect the quality of life through being committed to the here-and-now."
This guide is one in a series of more than 200 Values & Visions Guides written by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. Text copyright 2001 by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures. This guide is posted as a service to visitors to www.SpiritualityandPractice.com. It may not be photocopied, reprinted, or distributed electronically without permission from Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat except it may be duplicated for use by groups participating in the e-course "Going to the Movies as a Spiritual Practice." For other uses and for a list of guides in the Values & Visions series and ordering information, email your name and mailing address to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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