Pilgrimage and Living Faith

So, I normally don't blog much about movies (mainly because we don't watch them too often...mainly ones we get from the library or ones in our personal collection), but here I am posting two in a row. This one, however, is a diversion from the blockbuster movies that are all the focus right now. Both of these are a few years old now (but we just got them in from our requests at the library in the past month). You may not have heard of them, but I often find great value in the quieter independent movies  out there, and I enjoy the differing views shared from international films.

The Way came about after director Emilio Estevez's son along with his grandfather (Martin Sheen) walked the Camino del Santiago--a pilgrimage route from France to Galicia, Spain, where the remains of St. James are said to be located. Their journey inspired the movie in which an ophthalmologist named Tom Avery (Sheen) unexpectedly ends up in France after his son dies shortly after beginning his pilgrimage. Though their relationship was distant, Avery makes a spur-of-the-moment decision to finish his son's journey, depositing his ashes at various places along the way. 

Avery is reluctantly (he seriously does nearly everything he could to alienate himself along the walk) joined by three others who are making the pilgrimage for various reasons. Their serendipitous journey together helps each of them to open up and see the real reasons they are on pilgrimage. They also find the value of community--not a community of like-mindedness, but of variety.

Last night we watched Of Gods and Men (Des Hommes et Des Dieux). It is based on the true story of a small group of monks living in Algeria during the civil war that occurred during 1996. Part of the beauty of the movies is how little dialogue there is. Instead, we are shown how the monks live in harmony and peace among their Muslim neighbors by scenes of their daily life. 

As civil war erupts (largely because of a rogue Islamic fundamentalist group), the brothers find themselves in danger. They are divided at first as to whether or not they should return home to France, join another monastery in Africa, or stay. Their is real fear as they hear about and see the assassinations that are happening. Their Muslim neighbors tell them that their village exists because of their presence. As a community they seek the will of God. 

In The Way we see a faith (of sorts--the movie really doesn't try to advocate for a certain faith, but rather shows the importance of journey) discovered; in Of Gods and Men we see the struggle and beauty of
faith lived out. Both movies are simple, delightful, and provocative. Whatever your background or beliefs (there isn't any proselytizing), both movies help look more deeply at living a fuller life.

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