I’m not sure I want to say that Doubt was my most favorite holiday movie but it was the movie that most impacted me. It is the movie I can’t stop thinking about. I’m not sure how long the scene between Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep) in Sister Aloysius’ office lasted, but I don’t remember breathing. It is one of the most intense and dramatic scenes I’ve ever experienced.
I think that most great movies have a line or a scene that is the very reason the director made the whole movie for. Sometimes that scene is an epiphany. Most often it seems to come in the last third of the film. Doubt contained several scenes that I thought could be that moment – the scene I described in my first paragraph, a scene I will mention in the next paragraph, and a scene depicting a conversation between Sister Aloysius and the mother of student Donald Miller. However, I was totally surprised by the power and transformational (for me) impact of the last two minutes of this movie. Powerful.
The other scene involved a sermon delivered by Father Flynn who tells the story about a priest who hears the confession of a woman who admits to gossip. The priest instructs her
to take a feather pillow on top of a building and cut it open to release all of the feathers. Later the priest instructs the woman to go out and gather up all of the released feathers and return them to the pillow. She replied that it would be impossible because the feathers had gone out to the four corners. The priest responds by saying that is what GOSSIP does, once gossip is released there is no control over where it goes, how broadly it disperses and how impossible it is to recover.
The power of the story was magnified through director John Patrick Shanley masterfully illustrating Father Flynn’s story by portraying the released feathers caught in the wind currents, spreading to the ends of the earth.
In Adam Hamilton’s book Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White he writes, “We are all afflicted with the same human condition. One of the hallmarks of our tendency to sin is that we feel the need to criticize, we take pleasure in gossiping, and we feel qualified to make judgments, often with very little information… The Apostle Paul says it this way, ‘Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up’ (Ephesians 4:29 NIV). The Greek word for ‘unwholesome’ is sapros. It means rotten, putrid, or worthless—and in this context I believe Paul means to describe, in part, the words we use to destroy others, for in the rest of the verse he contrasts this first form of speech with that which is ‘helpful for building others up.’”
Seeing at least one movie a week is a part of my Spiritual Rhythm of Life. The movie Doubt is a great example of why I have incorporated movies into my devotional life.