Click through to read my list of 10 Movies with a Positive Portrayal of Faith
I'm a God n' Jesus kinda gal. I'll keep it at that, and maybe add that I'm not really "religious" though I do regularly attend a non-denominational church.
A lot of people think that being a mega-geek runs contrary to a Christ-centric faith. There's a very, "everything is the devil" stereotype that seems especially prominent in the Mid-West. I find people are often surprised/offended that Jake and I can proudly sport Star Wars tattoos and still regularly attend church.
To some it seems a contradiction. (Something I've written about before for The Burnside Writers Collective, specifically in regards to movies. Though I wrote that a couple of years ago and it's a bit more disrespectful in tone that I try to write now.)
I believe God has the ability to communicate to everyone in their own particular emotional language, and I grew up highly invested in film and television. There are many movies that speak to me on a spiritual level that may seem...odd. I'm not talking about the obvious choices, though those are fine too. To each her own.
There's a place for, "The Preacher's Wife" (An excellent holiday gospel soundtrack.) and "The Passion of the Christ", "The Prince of Egypt" and even the George Burns classic "Oh God". Many even enjoy the Christ-like allegory to be found in, "Superman" and most superhero movies in general.
Here are the movies that hit home for me...
2. Joe Vs. the Volcano - There's a moment in this underrated little gem packed full of symbolism where Joe is sure he's going to die. Adrift on a life raft, of sorts, he feels a great swell of gratitude for his life, and I can tell you that I've had the very same feeling wash over me several times. This is a moment that takes a break from religious cynicism, from religion entirely, to just show the way the scope of our lives can sometimes wash over us. Especially in times of trouble.
3. Muppet's Christmas Carol - The story of Scrooge never gets old. Ever. It's just the kind of transformation I think really speaks to a genuine encounter with God. We tend to think of all the bad examples of "conversion", the creepy cultural kind that makes someone suddenly a zombie who can't listen to secular music anymore and has to deny their personality and judge others.
But I believe true conversion is so much simpler than that. It's exactly what Scrooge goes through, transforming him from a miser to a generous and kind soul concerned for his fellow man and full of joy. That seems a lot closer to the truth to me than any show put on by a tv preacher. THIS hits close to home for me regarding real faith and the love of Jesus...
4. Return to Me - This is a sweet little romantic comedy with a cast full of lovable Catholics. Their faith is genuine and the film is all about a series of fate/God-bred coincidences that bring redemption to a seemingly unredeemable situation.
This movie, to me, fits a better description of "Christian movie" than something like, "Left Behind". I'm sorry to always speak so negatively of "Christian movies", but they just don't play for me. I know they have their place in the world and make a lot of people happy. They just don't jive with me. This movie, as improbable as the plot seems, follows a pattern closer to the reality of the way miracles really do unfold in our lives.
6. Ben Hur - This movie, along with The Ten Commandments always manages to pull me in completely. Ben Hur, however, isn't about Jesus. Not really. It simply takes place during the time and place Jesus existed. Though Ben Hur does meet Jesus once. It's a sweet scene of kindness and power.
7. Hook - I know, this is a weird one. It doesn't really fit the criteria for the rest of this list. But there's something so sweet about the concept of the Lost Boys. I can't get through the food fight scene or the part where the littlest Lost Boy is checking Peter's face to see if he's really the Pan without bursting into tears.
Admittedly, these boys also remind me of some of the homeless kids I knew in Romania, making it extra difficult for me not to cry when I watch it. So much of the Bible, so much of what Jesus says, has to do with taking care of widows, orphans, and all those in need. This scene seems to address the idea, to ask the question, who are we really? Where is our true self buried under all our defenses?
10. The Seventh Seal - This movie changed my life. It's a famous art-house movie that all film students are basically required to watch. I was resistant to it initially. But I immediately warmed to the film as it unfolded. It follows a family of traveling entertainers, a husband and wife and their new baby, during the time of the Black Plague.
The husband often sees visions of Mary with the baby Jesus. Though they are often condemned as doing the devils's work in the entertainment business, they are happy and secure despite the medical afflictions of the age and the scary group of ultra-religious people that have popped up insisting that the plague is a mass punishment from God. The film is eerily relevant today. Eerily, I say...
Again, I know this is a goofy list. I do. But I just get so tired of seeing christians always portrayed as book-burning jerks or violent rebel-rousers. That, to me, is not real faith, not real christianity. Those were just a few of the occasional moments in movies that lift my spirits, that make me think, "I bet God is like that." I know that sounds naive and kind of dopey, but it's how I really feel.
What about you? Is there a moment in any movie, maybe something strange or unusual, that just touches your heart and seems to ring true to you about who God really might be? Feel free to share in the comments section.