"The visible church is all the people who get there from time to time in God's name," observes Protestant minister and novelist Frederick Buechner. "Anybody can find out who they are by going to look. The invisible church is all the people God uses for his hands and feet in the world. Nobody can find out who they are except God." This delightful movie is about what happens when God chooses a little girl to be his messenger and she tries to make his work more visible in the world around her. It's a perfect film for group and family discussion. For our review of the film and a plot synopsis, click here.


1. Like the supermarket manager in Oh, God! Tracy is surprised by God's physical appearance: "Somehow I thought you'd look holier and more fancy. . . . I mean like with a crown and a long beard and a flowing white robe." God responds: "You're thinking of Charleton Heston." Some religious traditions expressly forbid or downplay visual representations of God. Others allow the use of images as a way of meditating or reflecting Divine Presence. Have you ever seen a visual representation that begins to approximate your idea of God? What are the positive and negative sides of such images? Why do you think that movies always have God speaking in a deep voice? What is appealing and what is unappealing in George Burns' depiction of God?

2. List four or five attributes of God you memorized as a child. Then discuss the following:

  • "Yes, I 'm not always on Cloud Nine." List three reasons why you would guess that God isn't always happy.
  • "Nobody's perfect. I blew it with the Red Sea, all the salt and no life in it. And the flamingo. A beautiful bird and I put the kneecaps on backwards. I think I could have found a better way for a skunk to defend himself." Can you imagine an imperfect God or one who learns from mistakes? What miracles of creation amaze you the most and balance the so-called flaws?

3. God tells Tracy:" I'm a very busy man. My phone never stops ringing." How many calls a day do you make to God? On what occasions do you think you've gotten through to him? What happened?

4. In the film, God isn't very hot on miracles. He explains: "People remember the miracle and forget why I did it." Talk about the panel of psychiatrists and their responses to God's razzle-dazzle special effects. Someone once said miracles come from faith in God rather than faith in God from miracles. What is your take on that?

5. Tracy asks her mother to name some of God's strongest points. She never answers. What would you say to her? Try this exercise before seeing the film and then repeat it afterwards to determine if your assessments have changed.

6. Talk about this quotation in terms of the film as a whole: "If the action of God is as mysterious as it seems it probably isn't going to be susceptible of simple explanations. Waiting around for the light of intelligibility to go on is the guaranteed way to stay in the dark." (Robert Farrar Capon)

7. What does God reveal about storytelling and himself in the parable of the tiger and the little cat?

8. God says: "I know it sounds like a cop-out but there's nothing I can really do about pain and suffering. My problem was that I could never figure out how to make anything with just one side to it. Ever see a front without a back, a top without a bottom, an up without a down? O.K. There can't be good without bad, life without death, pleasure without pain. That's how it is. If I take sad away, happy has to go with it. If anyone knows another way, I wish they'd put it in the suggestion box." What have you been taught about the link between God, pain and suffering? Compare that explanation with the one given above.

9. Take the slogan "Think God" and turn it around in your head for three minutes. Look at it from all sides. Play with the words. Then write down on a piece of paper all the ideas and images which come into your head. Share your associations with the group.

10. How do you feel about a God who declares: "I need everyone. I need all the help I can get."?


Human beings are quite capable of making this pinball machine of the word read TILT.
— Robert Farrar Capon

1. God says to the panel of psychiatrists who don't believe that the Creator spoke to Tracy: "Where is it written that Moses had an exclusive?" How do you test the spirit of those who claim to be God's spokespersons? Have the members of your group each write down three "tests." Then share your lists.

2. Tracy is told that she belongs to a club of "pretty good people." God includes Socrates, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and Abe Lincoln in the club. Who do you consider to be God's best ambassadors throughout history? In the past ten years?

3. God speaks further of his prophets: "The best of them had their weak moments. They all struck out a few times." Do you consider yourself to be a member of this company? When have you struck out?

4. Tracy is treated as an outsider and even separated from her parents because of her encounters with God. Have you ever been cut off from others because of your faith? In what situations? Did you feel closer to or abandoned by God?


Wonder helps build bodies in 12 ways.
— Sister Corita Kent

1. Share your responses to ad campaigns created by Christian denominations or institutions. How about the billboards with religious messages on them?

2. In the late 1960s, Sister Corita Kent advocated that churches take a deeper look at commercials for their spiritual implications. She turned the slogan for Wonder Bread around. In this film, Tracy comes up with these amendments of popular ads:

  • How do you spell relief? G-O-D.
  • You're in good hands with God.
  • God is bullish about humanity.
  • Let God put you in the driver's seat.

Take three contemporary ads and see what you can come up with.

This guide is one in a series of more than 200 Values & Visions Guides written by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. Text copyright by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. 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. For other uses and for a list of guides in the Values & Visions series and ordering information, email your name and mailing address to: brussat@spiritualrx.com.