Friday, June 13, 2014

The New Spirituality

6/13/2014—It is very worthwhile for my readers to take a look at a review of the new movie, The Fault in Our Stars, by Jodi Eichler-Levine, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. (review here). The title of the review refers to the "blockbuster spirituality" of the original novel by John Green. It is not that Professor EC (I hope she does not mind this contraction) is criticizing the movie compared to the book. Rather, she is praising the spirituality presented in the movie, but attributing it, properly, to the original book.

Professor EC notes that Green served as a hospital chaplain and had considered a career in Christian ministry. Of course the novel in the movie the question that Green has said he is interested in, which is why some people suffer and others do not.

Professor EC puts the matter very well when she writes that the success of the movie "is enmeshed with the sparklingly vast, multifaceted nature of contemporary religious life." The main character, Hazel, makes jokes about angels and harps. But her father responds more deeply:

"I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in parts because of the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it –or my observation of it – is temporary?"

Professor EC calls this quote a cosmology for our times: a passive yet hopeful plea to a vast, personified universe. And she also notes all those atheist who find beauty in God and the religious nones who still pray.

It is a great review. Professor EC has a lot to tell us. I expect to be returning to her thoughts.

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