“Get Up in the Morning and Do the Work”: The Spiritual Message of the 2013 Oscar Nominees for Best Film
Source Newsroom: Baylor University
WACO, Texas (Feb. 19, 2013) — Oscar-nominated films Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, Les Misérables and Life of Pi — different as they are —have a common message for all of us: We have to take our lives as they are, not as we wish they were. Being a hero is about not giving up, despite incredible challenges, says pop culture critic and author Greg Garrett.
“In Les Misérables, the huge themes were grace and forgiveness,” said Garrett, Ph.D., a professor of English in Baylor University’s College of Arts & Sciences. “In Zero Dark Thirty, there's the post-9/11 question of ‘What do you have to become to bring a fugitive to justice?’ But in all these films there’s the common theme of playing out the hands we’re given.”
“So you find yourself stuck in a lifeboat with a ravenous tiger? Make it work out for the both of you (Life of Pi),” he wrote in an article in Patheos.com. “So your wife left you and your brain doesn't work the way it ought to? Be a stand-up guy. Get over your delusions, and see the wonderful person standing in front of you, and work together to make some sense out of this crazy world. (Silver Linings Playbook) So you've been given the task of rescuing people in a dangerous situation and the best chance you have is to pretend they're scouting a movie in Revolutionary Iran? Well, then—make the best imaginary movie you can (as Alan Arkin's Lester Siegel says, “If I'm doing a fake movie, it's gonna be a fake hit”) . . . (Argo)
“If there's a spiritual message that seems to be common to most of the Best Picture films, it's that you have to get up every morning and do the work, where you are, with what you have,” Garrett said.
The movies’ themes echo traditions of a host of religions: Christianity’s daily progress toward holiness, the Jewish working for the healing of the world through acts of daily justice that spread out into the world like ripples in a pond, or Buddhists’ seeking to act with compassion and “mindfulness” — the process of being totally where they are rather than wishing to be elsewhere, he said.
Greg Garrett is the author of three critically-acclaimed novels and an internationally-recognized authority on culture, religion, and politics who has written nonfiction books including The Gospel according to Hollywood, Holy Superheroes, Stories from the Edge: A Theology of Grief, and We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel according to U2.
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