"As I grow older part of my emotional survival plan
must be to actively seek inspiration instead of
passively waiting for it to find me."
— Bebe Moore Campbell
Every time we go to a movie, we make an intention to be open to its potential transformative powers. In 2014 we were inspired both to love and to act heroically by many of the films we have chosen as the Most Spiritually Literate Films of 2014.
We were swept away by Richard Linklater's Boyhood, a nearly three-hour film probing the childhood of an East Texas boy from elementary school through his arrival at college. Boyhood inspires us with its tantalizing invitation to loosen up, look around, and master the art of improvisation.
- Belle is an old-fashioned costume drama that won us over with its truly delirious love story. These other films moved us to go for romance, commitment, and new adventures in our intimate relationships:
- Only Lovers Left Alive featuring a vampire couple who have mastered the art of romance
- Love Is Strange about an elderly gay couple who have to be resilient after they lose their New York City apartment
- The Fault in Our Stars, a heart-rending love story about two adolescents battling cancer
- Begin Again, a touching love story about the soulful coming together of a couple who let music pull them through their troubles
- The Lunchbox, a drama set in India about the unusual way that a yearning and lonely man meets a wife whose husband ignores her
- The Theory of Everything, which covers the 25-year love affair between Stephen Hawking and his first wife, who became his caregiver providing him with shelter in the storms of his life.
Movies about Heroes
In these times of worldwide distress, we feel the need more than ever for heroes with spiritual qualities that can inspire us to service. 2014 has provided us with an impressive batch of dramas that give us hope, open our hearts and minds to fresh possibilities, and lift our spirits. We were moved by:
- Selma, which celebrates the moral leadership of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who showed us how nonviolent action can effect social change;
- Cesar Chavez, a stirring portrait of the great Latino leader who expended himself in pursuit of justice for migrant farm workers while espousing the ethic of nonviolence
- Still Alice about the courage of world famous linguistic professor who finds herself in a battle with early onset Alzheimer's
- Citizenfour, an incredibly important documentary about the whistleblower Edward Snowden who revealed the concerted attacks on the privacy of citizens by governments and intelligence-gathering agencies
- Kill the Messenger, which is based on the true story of an investigative journalist who broke an important story on governmental corruption and unethical behavior of the CIA
- The Imitation Game, the strange story of the mathematical genius whose led the World War II team that broke the code used by Germany to encrypt messages
- The Salt of the Earth, a stunning documentary about the life and work of the world-famous photographer whose pictures create empathy for the poor and the oppressed
- Two Days, One Night about the spiritual unfolding of a low-paid factory worker who after losing her job takes giant strides forward in a process of self-transformation
- Alive Inside, an uplifting documentary about an intrepid social worker who has brought personalized music tapes to thousands of elders in nursing homes and watched them perk up and come alive
- Big Hero 6, an enchanting animated film that salutes a robot who possesses the spiritual qualities of heart, caring, service of others, and nonviolence;
Big Hero 6
- The Homesman, which probes the kindness and Christian charity of a single woman who volunteers for a dangerous mission to look after three mad women exiled from their prairie community in 1854
- Code Black, a sobering documentary about a band of idealistic doctors trying to initiate new procedures to serve the poor and transform the health system
- Wild, about a young woman seeking to find a way into a future of her own choosing through a 1000-mile trek
- How to Train Your Dragon 2, a parabolic film about why it is important to love all animals
- A Most Violent Year, which challenges us to empathize with a principled entrepreneur who struggles not to lose everything during a dark night of the soul
- Virunga, an astonishing documentary set in the Congo, where we meet four heroes who are caught up in a battle to save the glorious park that is home to the last mountain gorillas and other wild animals.
Our One-World Womb
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin has written: "We are all of us together carried in the one-womb world." We are sharing the inspiration we have received from the Best Movies of 2014 because we see them as a source of hope.
There is an abundant and endless supply of truth, beauty, and love in these movies. They remind us of the streams and tributaries that make a mighty river, as described in this passage one of our spiritual heroes, Joyce Rupp in The Cosmic Dance:
"I once walked in ankle-deep water across the small narrow source of the great Mississippi River in northern Minnesota. As I did so, I thought of the myriad streams and tributaries that join to make a wide, vigorous river. Like that river, everyone and everything is joined in the dancing water of the cosmos. Individually we are small rivulets but united we are a mighty river held in one great embrace of All Goodness. Together we are strong. Together we have hope. Together we will grow. Together we will co-create a world that dances in harmony and love."