Is film a religion?
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Date: 22 March, 2004
Approaching film as interfaith dialogue might sound a tad bizarre. But if you watch a lot of films, then this really is intriguing brain food.
John Lyden argues that films provide a religious function in society, regardless of how religious their actual plot is. As he delves into the work of various anthropologists and theologians he begins to build up quite a convincing argument.
He explores the theory that religion enables
people to get to grips with critical questions that the everyday
throws up: Can good triumph?", "What does sacrifice
mean?", "What do we do with the violent feelings we sometimes
Church does similar things; I feel moved at certain
points of a service,
I dont think Lyden meant his readers to turn the tables round and question church, but I now have to ask myself whether church is actually a well directed piece of entertainment. Nevertheless, he has certainly provided a useful method to think about film.
Despite occasional tenuous conclusions,
and the admitted need for further research, this is an important
book. Considering watching films is a major pastime in the western
world, anything that can help us engage critically is most welcome.
Especially interesting considering the current Passion fever.
Film As Religion: Myths Morals and Rituals, John Lyden, published by New York University Press, 287pp