On Spirituality at the Movies

My spiritual journey has long been enriched by works of art. The poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. The paintings of Edward Hopper. The plays of Eugene O’Neill. These artists and others have helped along the way.

But I am a child of the movies. I’d spend Saturdays at the Roosevelt theater watching the likes of “Gunga Din” or “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”. I’d also spend Saturday afternoons at the Orient theater watching a double feature of those wonderful science fiction films of the 50s. “Forbidden Planet” and “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” might be typical features.

As I’ve grown older, my love of movies has only grown. Thankfully, an unexpected benefit was the spiritual nourishment I found in films along the way. A few such as Ben Hur and The Hoodlum Priest had clear religious overtones. But the ones that touched me most were spiritual without being religious. Here are a few:

1. The Shawshank Redemption  is just that — a beautiful reflection on the ways we imprison ourselves and how hope heals us. As Tim Robbins says: “Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies”.

2. The Visitor is a moving reflection on midlife and a man who rediscovers that our passion makes life worthwhile.

3. Return of the Jedi is for me a wonderful metaphor of the Wounded Healer. It helped me find my way to sobriety.

4. A River Runs Through It is a meaningful reflection on how we are interconnected. As  Robert Redford reads at the conclusion: “Eventually all things come together and a river runs through it”. The film also has something to say about the power and challenge of unconditional love.

5. Tender Mercies also tells a story of redemption but touches on the anger some of us feel when tragedy strikes. We hear a poignant outcry from Robert Duvall near the film’s conclusion: “I never did trust happiness. I never will.”

6. Bang the Drum Slowly. Of course, we have to have at least one baseball movie! This is a moving reflection of friendship in the face of death.


Reflections: 1. Are there any works of art that have enriched your journey? If any films have enriched your journey, please consider adding them here via the Comments section.


About richp45198

I am a clinical psychologist and have an abiding interest in matters spiritual.
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1 Response to On Spirituality at the Movies

  1. Mike Gaglio says:


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