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Religion and Film

Below are the 19 most recent journal entries.


  2007.04.23  13.11
New Site

The Blog has been transferred to www.ReligionAndFilm.com

Please feel free to visit it, as it's been completely redone (Search engine, Topic related links, Time/Date archiving, domain name, Video Blog, etc).

My website gets reviewed this Tuesday, so wish me luck!

Also thank you all for your comments!!!

-Leonard O Goenaga


  2007.04.02  00.18
New Site;

New Website and Blog!

Check out: www.religionandfilm.com



  2007.04.01  12.47
A Line in the Sand...

The Issue of Homosexuality, Christianity, Love, and Judgement.
By Leonard O Goenaga

Movie:The Last Year (Journal 9, 3/25/07-3/31/07)

Before I continue in my journal, I might as well take a moment to express my opinion on the acting in The Last Year:


It was GOD awful (Hahah, I tried to make that into a pun). However, I didn’t watch the film in a homophobic, biased, or immature manner. I personally felt the acting and story dragged on, and continued to beat the message of universal love. It was completely predictable, and the scenes lacked any form of emotional appeal. The only scenes I found worthy in ALL of The Last Year were the ones involving the exchange of scripture between the gay students and the other characters. I could have watched these scenes and spared my mind the mental shrapnel that was the rest of the film, but as a good student I watched it from beginning to end. These scenes in The Last Year held the core idea’s behind the film: That as Christians, we tend to overlook that universal love Christ talked about in exchange with the judgment of sinners.

I can see the problem The Last Year addresses. I see how ‘Christian Cooks’ sprinkle life with biblical sugar, and try to place life in their Christian-cake-molds. Being Christian is completely different (and difficult!), and as depressing as it is for me to say it, some Christians use Christianity to their favor. In no ways am I hinting at this being a majority (I believe it’s an extreme minority), but there are those individuals who call themselves Christians because it makes life easier and brings that social environment. One of my greatest complaints against Christian churches is that Christians manage to cluster with other Christians. Here we have a dying world, desperately in need of that love Christ displays, and his body here on earth (us) is keeping to it’s own kind and restricting it’s output of love. We (Christians) are here on earth to be used by God to love others. The 1st Great Commandment calls for us to love God, and then the 2nd Great Commandment calls for us to love others. I believe you can summarize Christ’ message (Besides atonement and forgiveness of sin) with these two principles. These maintain an authority above anything else in Christianity. If you were to truly love everyone, you’d be in fulfillment of all laws and commandments. Yet how, as Christians, could we do that when we cluster together in our social groups (The Jocks are a good example)? I remember walking out of church and seeing all the little circles of about 5-10 people talking to themselves, and wondering where I belonged. Which group would I walk up to and talk to? I then matured in my faith, and began asking myself why we were standing there talking amongst ourselves to begin with? Why weren’t we, the zealous youth of Gods kingdom, out serving the needs of the poor and suffering after church? Why weren’t we out giving love instead of giving each other mild conversations and gossip? It kinda puts a stark line between what Christ wanted us to do, and what we were doing. Were we exchanging the gospel of love for a gospel of judgment?

“Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?” (Matthew 7:4) – Dedicated to that Dean.

But it’s NOT that easy! It’s not something we can completely explain..."

Homosexuality, Christianity, Judgement, and Love... Click to continue reading...Collapse )

Questions: I ask you these. Feel free to answer one or all:

1) What is your take on Gay Christians? Is there a place for it in Christianity? Is it merely the by-product of religious bigotry?

2) Which other films do a great job of showing a religious stereotype, and combating this?

3) Which films best express love, grace, and mercy? How?

PS: Be civil and kind to others opinions. No mudslinging.


  2007.04.01  12.22
Journal 8

Week 3/11/07-11/17/07

Journal 8

• Daybreak (Also known as Dame Sobh)
• The Seventh Seal

In this journal, I would like to compare and contrast some themes found in The Seventh Seal and Daybreak. Even though both fields are from completely different countries, with completely different cultures, and starkly different languages, we can draw several shared themes.

The first theme I would like to discuss that was mentioned in my last post was that of the unknowable. Both films aim at putting you in the position of the lead character. Both films put you in this position where you’re given as little information on the situations as the main characters. In The Seventh Seal, you’re not told whether or not God exist, or whether or not there is a meaning to existence. This is shown throughout Blocks journey through Sweden as he tries to find answers. We are not given enough information, just like Block, to knowingly come to a conclusion on meaning and Gods role in society. Throughout the film we are hinted at the existence of God (mainly through Jof and not the grotesque mutilating worship), but not enough to come to any solid conclusions.

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  2007.04.01  12.09
The Seventh Seal (full)

Show media Loading...

The Seventh Seal (full)
"The Seventh Seal (full)" on Google Video
The Seventh Seal (Swedish: Det sjunde inseglet) is an existential 1957 Swedish film directed by Ingmar Bergman about the journey of a medieval knight (Max von Sydow) across a plague-ridden landscape. Its best-known scene features the knight playing chess with the personification of Death, his life resting on the outcome of the game.

1. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050976/
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seventh_Seal


  2007.04.01  12.04
Journal 7

Week 3/4/07-3/10/07

Journal 7

• The Seventh Seal.

The Seventh Seal was quite an interesting piece of film. It’s nice to have the opportunity in the classroom to watch a film I wouldn’t ordinarily get the opportunity to watch, and The Seventh Seal was one of these. I really enjoyed it, and it probably ranks as my second or third favorite film of the semester.

To keep the summary short, the film is about a knight (Block), who tries to cheat and slow down death with a chess game. After returning from the Crusades, he finds his homeland swamped with the Black Plague, death, and suffering. He is torn between the purpose of his existence, and whether God exists or not. It is for this reason, to find meaning and God, that he tries to cheat Death in a chess game. This theme of meaning, existence, faith, death, and God lead us to the central theme of the movie.

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  2007.03.27  08.49
Journal 6

Week 2/25/07-3/3/07

Journal 6

This week we didn’t watch a new film, but discussed ‘Garden of Eden’ and the others in more detail. One of the discussions we had during class was about the role of rituals in religious life. We touched upon everything from offerings, to the benediction, to sacramental. The role of these rituals in our past three films have been questionable. You could say that man needs ritual in their lives; or desires them to be there. I’ve always seen rituals as a way to keep mans life in some sort of order. It offers man some kind of control over their life, and maybe even gives man a sense that they’re controlling their fate.

As I learned in my Religion Analysis course, certain religion even take the extremes of believing rituals as a way of controlling Gods. We can even see this in modern day Kabbalism. From here we have an idea of how important (and powerful) this idea of ritual seems.

Now comes our various films. In all three (especially ‘Acts of Worship’), we get several images of objects that represent rituals. In ‘Acts of Worship’, we get ritualistic images that stretch from the statue of St. Jude to the prayer card. Yet the interesting thing is that throughout the film, these rituals seem not only powerless but useless. This theme of powerless and useless ritual is shown in Shawshank, Acts of Worship, and Garden of Eden.

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  2007.03.04  22.51
Black Snake Moan

I wouldn't normally suggest a Movie like this (because of the extreme amount of sexuality and drugs), but someone from the community said it had spiritual themes. In the spirit of informing you guys out there about current films with religious themes, I decided to check out a review and got this:

"Raw, misguided, twisted and, despite the film's Deep South setting, typical Hollywood. Black Snake Moan finds preachers drinking and cussing alongside other supposedly "God-fearing Christians." For example, after spouting the s-word, R.L. launches into a prayer for Lazarus, asking the Heavenly Father to provide divine strength for his friend. Later, it's Lazarus who draws attention to the preacher's expressions of "g--d--n," saying, "In your line of work, I wouldn't use the Lord's name in vain."

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  2007.03.03  16.18
The Messianic Complex

The Messianic complex in Film
By Leonard O Goenaga

Most of us (if not all) have sat through those wonderful films with the good-guy and the bad, and have watched as our hero single handedly saved the day (Star Wars anyone?). It’s probably the most cliché scenario in all of film: The Good Vs the Bad, and the actions of one man having single-handedly tilted the balance in favor of good.

Yet where exactly does this heroic concept come from? There’s many ways to argue it, but what exactly is it that appeals to us about good conquering? Why do we rejoice in the defeat of evil? What is evil? What I’m getting at is what is it about this hero ‘saving’ others that offers a profound insight into the our own human nature?

In various films we find something I call the messianic complex. In order to touch upon this, we must first define what makes up a messiah and savior...
The Messianic Complex; Click and Read onCollapse )


  2007.03.03  14.06
Some Humor

In now ways is there supposed to be some rich evaluation of this scene. It's just for good fun ;D


  2007.03.03  11.36
The Garden of Eden

Week 2/18/07-2/24/07

Journal 5

The next movie was an Indy Film by the name of ‘Garden of Eden’. The movie surrounded itself around a group of individuals, who manage to get themselves caught in a struggle within Mexico, and have their lives come together in one form or another.

In this film we have 2 sets of individuals. One set are those whom are from America, and cross into Mexico looking for something. One girl in particular is looking for her Mexican heritage and culture, while another girl is trying to find herself through other people. We also have another female who comes across the border in hopes of living a better life with her mother and children.

Then on the other side of the film we have an individual who is trying to leave Mexico for North America in the hopes of finding worker and a better life. To use a visual example, both groups are currently in deserts. Our first characters desert is that of her heritage. He believes that by crossing over into Mexico, she will find a ‘garden’ of culture that would show her roots and who she is. Our second character, the America girl, hopes that she can satisfy her artistic calling through leaving the desert of the united states for the culturally and artistically rich Mexico. She too is looking for that Garden on the other side of the Border. This same thing can apply to the lady leaving from Brooklyn with her Kids, and our illegal immigrant. Our Mexican male character has the hopes of dealing the opportunity lacking and job-scarce Mexico for the work rich Garden of the United States.

These characters all share the action of looking for something better. Our different is that they’re looking in opposite directions, but they all share that human tendency of hope and longing. This leads us to ask what is Eden? Why is the movie titled such?

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  2007.02.28  10.30
Welcome to the Community!


This is a community for the exchange of idea's and perspectives on movie’s and their religious themes. In this community we all share an interest or love of religions, and constantly find them appearing in various forms throughout the day. One place where religions can be constantly found is in the media; and one media in particular is the film industry.

Sometimes religious themes are obvious (Such as Christianity in Chronicles of Narnia, or Tibetan Buddhism in Kundun), while other times they must be searched for. Our role in this community is to do the searching. Many of us may hold brilliant insights on a specific theme in a film, while another may build upon that shared theme or event present something entirely new. It is this open flow and exchange of idea's which backs the purpose of the community.

Think of it as a market-place, where idea's and perspectives are bartered. It’s nothing new that Buddhist, Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Hindu’s view the world entirely differently, and it’s these different perspectives that aid us in viewing a film in another light. Here we can share these perspectives of films, and add to each others perspectives with our own. You may post about a favorite film and describe the transcendental conflict, or just go about arguing with fellow members.

Whether it's a debate on a films religious meaning, or the intent of sharing a favorite film with religious undertones, this is the place.

Just remember a few rules:

-Respect the other members. By all means challenge their opinions and assumptions, but offer everyone respect in the form of the Golden Rule.

-No spamming other communities or webpages without the moderators permission.

-If your post is turning into a research paper, please use lj-cuts.

-Feel free to post youtube video’s of your film; by all means it’s encouraged.

-Nothing inappropriate. Treat this community as an open forum in the classroom. Try to keep your language educated and professional, and prevent cursing out of respect to the other members.


-Leonard O

Link to the Community: http://community.livejournal.com/filmandreligion/


  2007.02.24  10.23
Peace is Every Step

Film: Peace is Every Step

Say this on a religious community. Its from the Buddhist Film Festival. Thought maybe some of you would be interested


  2007.02.24  09.37
Bridge to Terabithia

Movie: Bridge to Terabithia

Dear Blog,

So I was on a date with my wonderful girlfriend, and as always she wanted to go watch some little kids movie. Now I personaly didn't mind because I'm a huge fan of fantasy, and I hold creativity as one of mans greatest gifts (and fantasy movies are an image of creativity at it's best). Anyways, she told me it was a disney movie, and that worried me, but a few friends of mine gave it an amazing review.

The movie was 'Bridge to Terabithia' and for being a kids movie it was extremely moving and deep. The story was rich and rewarding; one of those movies that appeal to most everyone. This was one of those two-faced Disney movies. You know, the ones where on it's face is a cute little kids story, and on the other side is a deep message on the human condition.

It was a movie I wouldn't expect to find references to religion, but as you'll find upon watching it, it has minor elements of Christianity, Hope, Freedom, Preserverance, Suffering, and a bunch of other good stuff.

I enjoyed it. Alot. Some tell me I'm a kid at heart, but when you watch this type of film you can only ask yourself who isn't? I would refer it to all of you. I'll give you all a chance to watch it before I spoil the film by analyzing it's themes.

Good Stuff.

-Leonard O


  2007.02.24  09.32
Shawshank Redemption

Movie: Shawshank Redemption


Week 2/11/07-2/17/07

Journal 4

The next movie on the list is the ‘Shawshank Redemption”. Since I had to go out of state for a wonderful trip to Tennessee, I had to rent the movie and watch it outside of class. All my classmates were telling me what a wonderful film it was, so I didn’t want to ruin it by watching merely the beginning and end.

To offer a quick summary, the film is mainly about two characters; Red and Andy. Both have been incarcerated in the jail Shawshank for murder. Of the two, Red is a vet of the institution (in the end of 40 years), and Andy is a ‘fresh fish’ (a new comer). As a backdrop we have the jail-system (crude and brutish), and the warp-minded and violent guards that run the cells. In addition to the guards we have a very two-faced warden, who wears a mask of religion as a Christian while accepting bribes and committing sins. This warden carried the appearance as a Christian, yet uses this to cover up the acts of various sins from laundering money, to murder, to lying, coveting, and almost all other major sins. Throughout the film one of our major characters (Andy) tries to find normalcy in a place where that is stripped away from you. Andy performs some bizarre and unexplainable actions for the mere feeling of normalcy. From shaping rocks, to creating a library, to taxes, to helping someone get their high school degree. He takes upon his various jobs that are found in the real world, and all-throughout Red is by his side, amused and impressed.

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  2007.02.13  11.48
Some Religion and Film related sites.

Hey reader;

In an effort to bring us closer to the role that religion plays in film, I've decided to offer up some links of various sites. Enjoy:

University of Nebraska; Journal of Religion and Film


Web Resources for Religion and American Film

Internet Movie Database

Guide to Religious Film; everything from Amish, to Islamic, to Baptist films.

Films by Mormons

Jewish Movies

Catholic Movies

Buddhist Movies

Christian Movies

Christian Films

Journal of Religion and Culture

Some journals, sites, and other stuff about Religion and Film

Heres a great source to get you started on your quest of exploring the massive underground role that Religion has played in MANY films. It's a great source of information, and I hope it helps you out. God Bless

-Leonard O Goenaga


  2007.02.13  11.47
Journal 3

Movie: Acts of Worship

Week 2/4/07-2/10/07

Journal 3

The film we are currently watching is called ‘Acts of Worship’. It’s a film I’ve never heard of, and from what I’ve gathered in the first half it hasn’t appealed to me as much as the other two. It seems like a movie that will have a profound message, but I haven’t gathered much from it. As for a religious message, it’s been hard to find one besides the obvious iconography.

The movie surrounds this girl named Alex. Alex is a druggy. She’s rather young, and she was born and raised in a happy-go-lucky religious family. For some reason or another she left to New York, got on drugs, and made a mess of her once perfect little life. From the beginning you can see the conflict of the girls past and her present. The innocence of her youth is rivaled by the current mess she’s made of herself. She steals, does drugs, deals with drug dealers, shoots up, and steals some more.

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  2007.02.13  11.46
A second entry in my Religion and Film course

Movie: Kundun

Trailor: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5656224952036563941&q=kundun

Week 1/28/07-2/3/07

Journal Entry 2,

I’ll start by saying what another fine film! One reason I see myself enjoying this class is because of the opportunity to watch films that I would never otherwise come across. I did have some experience with Chronicles of Narnia, but this was something that was completely new to me. In addition to the film being alien to be, so was the religion of Tibetan Buddhism, so it was also very enriching to learn different aspects of the religion itself.

The movie title was ‘Kundun’, and was directed by Martin Scorsese. It’s a movie that’s based on the life of the Dali Lama (14th), and his struggles against the shadows that overcast the Tibetan people. These shadows have to do with a suppressive communist China that seeks to swallow Tibet back into it’s borders. With this, we focus on the Dali Lama’s internal and external struggles as he tries to deal and cope with the difficulty of being the political and spiritual leader of his people.

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  2007.02.13  11.45
Journal 1

Movie: The Chronicles of Narnia; The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.


Week 1/21/07-1/27/07

Journal Entry 1,

So far, this Religion in Film class has been every bit as informative and enjoyable as I initially thought. One issue I have with my current educational track (I’m double majoring in Religious Studies and Political Science) is that it leaves little open to develop ones creativity. I’ve attended art and photography magnet programs, and I have been taking pictures with my fathers Nikon SLR since I was 7. Art has always come naturally to me, and it’s always been a valuable form of expressing my emotions and sharpening my mind. Yet I find myself studying methods, theories, and other rhetoric in my classes that does little to challenge my analytical and creative thinking skills. There are, however, those rare opportunities where I can sharpen my wit, and REL3111 so far appears to be one.

My first opportunity has come under the showing of the first movie. We took two classes to watch “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe”. I have had some experience watching this movie, and even own it on DVD. This added with me being a Protestant Christian and a HUGE fantasy fanatic (I read too much about dragons and magic…), I have a good grasp on the movie and it’s message. Since I’ve seen this movie, I’ll go over the plot in a few sentences.

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