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Lessons from the movies

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MOVIES nowadays frequently pull down rather than lift up. But once in a while there are films so insightful and so true to the dimensions of the human heart that you come out almost a different person from what you were when you went in. Perhaps there is a considerable lesson to be learned from the way an occasional film can awaken and energize and open our thought. We're reminded of how natural it is to us to see things in the largest, most loving terms. Anything less is sheer imposition. You could call it an overlay. I remember a time recently when two relatives who had been barely on speaking terms came out of the theater inspired by an excellent film they'd just seen. Their relationship was mended, and they just naturally began sharing their deepest feelings about the picture.

When the dull habit of self-concern or believing in a flat material sense of things is broken, love and unselfishness spring up. They seem perfectly present and natural again. In fact, we feel that they are us -- our thought, our real selves.

Of course it isn't necessarily a film that brings this about. It could be the perspective supplied by a friend's support or a turn of phrase in a Haydn cello concerto or an aria sung by Bjrling. But the point is that such experiences help us have a larger sense of dimension in regard to what man is -- and, most immediate, in regard to what we already are.

The Bible teaches the same lesson but with more depth. For example, the Bible talks about putting on ``the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.''1 And this theme runs through the entire New Testament. We read of how there is a new man, or individuality, that can be found in spite of what the human personality appears to have been or done up to that point.

When Christ Jesus forgave sinners and healed them, they were able to take up and live with something of this new selfhood that the Master saw as perfectly present for them. No matter what image of themselves as sinful, weak, poor in character, they had been accepting, they were freed.

There's a short statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, which gives much food for thought along this line. She writes, ``Man's real ego, or selfhood, is goodness.''2 Even a touch of this, coming through in an inspiring film, can lift us into a very different sense of ourselves.


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