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December 31 , 2009

Spiritual Films

The Secular Approach


For decades, centuries even, when people thought of spirituality, they thought only of religion. I aim to stretch the tent of spirituality in this e-book to include secular experience. My particular approach to secular spirituality is through the medium of film. Characters in the 43 films I discuss come to spirituality without religion. In some of these films, religion nibbles at the edges of events, as when, in the Brazilian film Central Station, Dora, the cynical letter writer leaves hard-bitten Rio with a boy she hopes to return to his father and finds herself surrounded by evangelicals, shrines, and churches. She does not have any kind of religious conversion, but there is no denying that the piety of the countryside softened her and escorted her into spirituality. Now and then I quote assorted Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and Jews, but usually only when their remarks throw light on secular matters. I have avoided relying on muddled mystics who write about the Great Turning Cosmic Oneness of Everything. I don’t know what they are talking about.

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