Was looking at religious themes in films today in Transition Year class.
In a previous class I had broken the students in groups, each to list
films with religious themes in various categories - horror, serious drama,
comedies, biographies, and weird (films about cults, dodgy preachers etc).
Today I followed up this exercise with clips from relevant films. The
clips went down well I think: from Ken Loach's Raining Stones the
scene where the Irish priest (Tom Hickey, excellent) tries to persuade
the main character not to spend too much money on his daughter's first
communion dress; the sermon from The Field where the priest (Sean
McGinley, very unsympathetic) lambastes the locals for hiding a murderer;
a similar scene from On the Waterfront, where the priest (Karl
Malden, very sympathetic) encourages the dockers to stand up to the mob
and reveal who killed one of their members; the few scenes from Sister
Act were enjoyed, especially the scene in Church where the new choir
gets its first outing - corny I know; I felt I had to give an example
of a Biblical epic (can't stand 'em) so I showed the parting of the waters
from The Ten Commandments (great skit on that in the soup parting
from Bruce Almighty). The students were attentive, made some very
interesting points in discussions between clips and laughed at the more
subtle humorous moments (I've had classes that have sat stony faced watching
Fawlty Towers (English class!). Next week we're doing films on
the life of Jesus.
Finally saw Walk the Line last night - the Johnny Cash biopic.
More could have been made of the importance of religion in his life, but
there were some nice moments - his brother Jack getting familiar with
scripture to get ready for life as a preacher while Johnny listened to
country music on the radio. There's a funny incident when Johnny sings
a gospel song for a record producer who finds it too ordinary and unconvincing
- Cash misinterprets this as the producer thinking he, Cash, doesn't believe
in God! It's clear all along that both Cash and future wife June Cater
were inspired by gospel songs from an early age, and when she gets him
to leave behind the drink and pills it is suggested by a Church visit
that religion has a part to play in this turn around. But Cash is shown
warts and all, and his cheating on first wife Vivienne is particularly
painful. The film well deserves all the accolades it got, especially tghose
for the two performances at the heart of it - from Reese Witherspoon and
inservice day in Laragh went well I think, at least I enjoyed it. The
setting didn't seem so idyllic with the rotten weather. But I met some
old friends and some new teachers signed up for the faitharts email list.
The session was about using Music DVDs in religion class, either to illustrate
themes under discussion or as a study of religious themes in music, or
the search for meaning in modern culture (Part A of the NCCA's framework
document for non-exam classes at senior cycle). The teachers seemed to
enjoy the music and came up with some good ideas for dealing with this
material in class. I can send the materials I used as Word document attachments
on request (see contact link on left) - song words, worksheets, full list
of songs used and on what DVDs. Might put these on site as download anyway.
Just found out last night that the James Taylor video Squibnocket
is being released on DVD in October - I'd highly recommend it, partly
because the song Shed a Little Light is performed really well,
even prayerfully, on that one. It's a country studio setting, better than
the concert setting in the Pull Over DVD. Best price seems to be
on play.com where it can be pre-ordered.
Sept 2006 Finally getting a bit of free time to get the blog going again.
During the summer I managed to get CD versions of tapes I have found really
useful over the year - mostly on Ebay. No more winding and rewinding and
missing the right song for prayer room sessions. Songs From the Loft
has an excellent selection of songs suitable for school and features various
artists from the US contemporary Christian music scene, including Amy
Grant, Kim Hill, Ashley Cleveland and Wes King. Coram Deo is along
similar lines but more reflective, and features Michael Card among others.
Standout tracks are Lord of Love (great for prayer services on
the Trinity) and Now Is the Time for Tears, a wonderful piece on
bereavement. Brother to Brother is also excellent - Michael Card
and John Michael Talbot sing each others songs - plenty of material for
prayer and reflection sessions. Also picked up a music DVD guest starring
Amy Grant (Peter Cetera is main performer) and it was worth the price
to get her version of El Shaddai, a beautiful prayer song written by Michael
Card. Bringing my first class to the prayer room this week so I'll surely
use some of this material. Tomorrow I'm doing an inservice workshop for
the Dublin Diocesan Advisors in the idyllic setting of Laragh near Glendalough.
Based on a section of the NCCA's non-exam syllabus I'm looking at the
search for meaning in modern music, using a selection of music DVDs for
the purpose. Have prepared some materials (song words, worksheets, resource
lists etc) which I'll send to anyone on request (Word attachments). Will
write about how I get on in a day or two.