In all religious traditions, the small stuff is important — a mustard seed, a burning bush, a bodhi tree. The message is clear: God lurks in the little moments; in a movie, this might be just one scene on which the entire plot turns. You will recognize it for its "aha!" qualities. Because grace is a gift of God that comes to us without our effort, the analogy in movies would be actions and attitudes that come as a surprise to the characters and to you in the audience. Often they involve an element of surrender or letting go.


Movies are full of characters who want something more, better, or different in their lives. Since they are so busy wanting, they usually are not very grateful for what they have. Greed, envy, and feeling entitled are three cronies who show up repeatedly in films set in contemporary times. What a relief it is to come across someone — many times a child or a holy fool — who is thankful for all the blessings of life!


Movies about hope are more common than you might think they would be in our often cynical and shallow society. The protagonists are usually courageous and persistent souls who use hope as their fuel as they fight the good fight. Films about political activists, prisoners of conscience, and workers for social justice are examples. In other stories, hope is the tonic that enables oppressed groups — refugees, the homeless, prisoners in jail — to hold on to their dignity and keep going.


Films give us multiple opportunities to practice hospitality. First, we are challenged to be hospitable to the movie itself. This means setting aside any expectations and critical tendencies and being open to its characters, ideas, ideals, and events. Second, it means identifying mentors of hospitality in the story. These are people who are welcoming to those from different religions and cultures, including strangers and enemies. A film that celebrates pluralism and diversity is bound to have some of them.


All films are manifestations of the imaginations of their creators. Some seem to go beyond the call of duty in terms of creativity. Think of the films that take you into fantasy realms or dreamscapes. Think of animated films with talking animals and objects. Or think of biographical films about artists and inventors who make the world a better place by exercising this faculty. When the filmmaker's imagination takes you into new arenas of meaning and gives you images of fresh possibilities, watching the movie becomes a spiritual exercise.

Page 4: Joy - Love

Page 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8