This Star Wars The One? "Star Wars, Episode III, The Revenge
of the Sith" may well be the ultimate in the George Lucas series, as it continues
to pioneer a new art form: spirituality fiction. Some have compared the sixth
and final episode to Shakespeare. No way. For all its battle scenes, its vision
is comic, not tragic, as is the core myth of American civil religion which the
entire series promulgates.
The Passion of the Christ Mel
Gibson's blockbuster reveals more about the personal faith and passions of the
movie maker than about Jesus of Nazareth. And while Gibson is completely entitled
to tell the story any way he pleases, he did not present it as his personal take
on the gospel narrative; he advertized it as being true to the text. It was not.
Lord of the Rings As A Christian Classic R. R. Tolkien wanted
to create a literature in which Christianity was implied rather than imposed,
suggested rather than preached. He saw the need for speaking truth in fresh, new
forms, accessible to those who are put off by official church dogma. In the Rings
trilogy, the words "God" or "Christ" never appear, but the reality which these
words refer to is communicated in every word and phrase of the text.
America's Mythic Hero The Taylor Hackford movie, Ray, casts
the singer and song writer as an icon of American civil religion. I commend this
compelling film, but the truth about Ray Charles is more complicated.
Lessons in Love Gone Wrong Adrian Lyne's controversial film
is not so much about pedophilia, as about an obsessive love that can poison a
marriage as well as a relationship between an older man and a child.
Matrix The Matrix deals with a central theme of religion: the ultimate
fate of life on this planet in the context of a titanic struggle between good
and evil. The chief difference between this film and the Bible is the absence
here of a transcendent God. Matrix reflects a topless spirituality in which people
find salvation by drawing upon a power within themselves. But is this God? You
The End of The Affair On a rainy
night in 1946, novelist Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes) begins a journey of discovery.
Why did his ex-mistress Sarah (Julianne Moore) abruptly end their passionate love
affair two years before? Never have I seen a movie that comes closer to telling
it like it is: that a relationship with the Almighty Read
The Legend of Bagger Vance This
film conveys something that Christian mystics, Buddhist masters, and others have
long understood. Becoming the person you are meant to be involves the sometimes
ironic process of letting go of the ego and its needs, dying to the self, so as
to enter a deeper relationship with the world, with other people, and with God.
A deep truth packaged in the form of a good yarn. Read
The Hurricane This movie
centers around the story of the wrongly convicted boxer, Hurricane Carter. But
it is neither about boxing, nor even the actual human being whom Bob Dylan brought
to national prominence with a 1975 protest song. This movie touches the more fundamental
questions that all of us face in our search for freedom and redemption. Read
Dogma Dogma is one of the
most entertaining films ever made about religion. Keep in mind that it's a satire
that aims directly at the flaws and pretensions of organized religion. Film maker
Kevin Smith's humor is outrageous, so if you are easily offended, this film is
not for you. But Smith is teasing us to share in his vision of a God who has a
supreme sense of humor! Read Review
is enough eye candy here to please those who go to the movies for pure pleasure:
the sensuality of Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, the picturesque French village
of Lansquenet, and the action that flows in and out of a village church, chocolate
shop, medieval castle and surrounding countryside. But this film also works as
a parable, offering a formula for the reform of Christianity. Read
Fight Club On September
11, as I watched the towers of the World Trade Center collapse, taking thousands
of innocent victims with them, I was reminded of the final scene in this movie.
Those who bring down the towers of corporate capitalism in this film are not terrorists
from a distant land, but sons of our own, suggesting there may be more than we
want to learn when we ask, "Why do they hate us so?" Read
Stealing Beauty Can a
film which is so obviously about sensuality also be about the spirit? Can a work
of art which celebrates sex also speak of the soul? Can anything as secular as
Stealing Beauty also be about the search for God? Using this movie as a case in
point, the answer to these questions is obviously, Yes!
American Beauty What
this film reveals even in the midst of an apparently boring suburban culture is,
to put it in a word, beauty. Not the simple beauty of appearances, but the deeper
beauty that conveys a sense of the ultimate worth of life itself and the mystery
that lies behind it. Read Review
Spitfire Grill This is a deeply theological film packaged as a feel-good
drama. It is set in the down-east village of Gilead where institutional religion
may be on the skids, but where the hearts and souls of its central characters
are very much alive. As the film unfolds, we are drawn into a drama of sickness
and healing, death and resurrection, sin and redemption. The combination works
for me! Read Review
Harry In this engaging Woody Allen film, the central character is a
writer who embodies what Allen refers to as "my philosophy of life."
Sky There are two parables in this coming of age film; one intended,
the other implied.
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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.