Viewing Guide for The Apostle

Showing: Tuesday, September 30, 6:30 pm at Geddes, CAS Room 537.

(the film will also be on reserve at the Geddes Language Lab from Friday, 9-26 to Thursday, 10-2)

My hope is that this film will help you to develop your thinking about the material of the past two weeks, particularly by thinking about the application of trinitarian theology to spiritual practice and the multiple meanings of "Church" within the film. The film shows how pentecostal Christianity builds upon the shared Christian doctrine of the Trinity to create a distinctive approach to Christian worship and practice. Pay special attention to the worship scenes, which do a fantastic job of communicating the distinctive flavor of pentecostal Christianity. (and please don't forget to make the obvious link between the identification of this movement with the Pentecost described in Acts of the Apostles. Language is important, and Sonny's taking on the role and name of ""Apostle E. F." is significant.) You might want to begin by reading The Journal of Religion and Film's interview with the director (and lead actor), Robert Duvall.

Later in the course we will talk about "scripted" and "unscripted" worship, and I will point back to this film as a window into an "unscripted" model. How is "Church" defined by the film? What is the nature of church worship in the film? What are the preachers trying to achieve? What is the relationship between preacher and worshipper? What is the role of the Holy Spirit here? Of Jesus? of the Father?

What is the significance of the opening car crash scene in the context of the entire film? What do you make of Duvall's presentation of Sonny as someone who truly channels the power of God and yet who is so personally flawed? Does this strengthen or weaken the message? Is the power of God dependent upon the righteousness of the vehicle?

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