Religion and Spirituality in the Movies

By William L. Blizek.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Many people identify themselves as spiritual but not religious. In this paper I try to draw a distinction between the spiritual and the religious in terms of institutions, rituals, doctrines and creeds, and power or authority on the one hand and such concepts as love, forgiveness, transformation, hope, and inspiration on the other hand. Drawing such a distinction is difficult because there seems to be considerable overlap between the religious and the spiritual. I take it that film influences society and that society influences film as well. I also believe that ordinary people experience religion and spirituality through film. In this paper I want to explore how religion and spirituality are expressed through film by examining such films as Milos Forman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Bruce Beresford’s “Tender Mercies,” Antonia Bird’s “Priest,” Tim Robbins’ “Dead Man Walking,” Robert Duvall’s “The Apostle,” Steven Soderbergh’s “Erin Brockovich,” and Richard Curtis’ “Love Actually.” I conclude that inspiration seems to be the idea that connects the religious with the spiritual.

Keywords: Religious, Spiritual, Film, Inspiration

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, 2012, pp.107-114. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 304.162KB).

Dr. William L. Blizek

Professor of Philosophy and Religion, The College of Arts & Sciences, The University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska, USA

Dr. Blizek is Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Founding Editor of the Journal of Religion & Film at the University of Nebraska where he has taught for forty years. Dr. Blizek teaches courses on religion and film, atheism, and ethics and has taught courses on human values in medicine, self-deception, and ethics and film. He is the editor of The Continuum Companion to Religion and Film, as well as Justice and Punishment, and The Humanities in Public Life. Dr. Blizek is the winner of the Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award for the University of Nebraska system, the Chancellor's Medal for service to the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Outstanding Contributions to the Status of Women on the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus.