The faith that closely reflects my cultural background
would be Christianity; I grew up with parents that would wake me up every
Sunday for a church service no matter the circumstance, or how tired I was. I
was taught to pray to God every night as tradition or at any point in which I
needed guidance or advice. In order to gain knowledge on the religion I was
following, my folks gave me a daily schedule on Bible readings so that I could
be prepared for Sunday school the following week. My Grandparents had raised
all seven of their children, including my Mother, as Christians in a similar
fashion as I have along with the other children in my family; they attended
Sunday school in which my Mother and her four sisters would go around and
perform gospels within certain parts of Guyana. In those times, Guyana was
considered a significantly poor country, and with my family being a part of
that demographic, it helped to believe in a higher principle to get through the

The religion closest to Christianity would be the religion
Christianity rooted from, Judaism. Christianity and Judaism have a close
relationship in history; the disciples of Jesus all followed Jewish customs,
even Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament. Anyone who had any type
of relation with Jesus were Jews and whoever followed him, believed he was the
messiah. Despite their similarities however, both religions have been in strife
for as long as Jesus’s existence has been preached around the world. They have
been in constant strain because the Jewish faith rejects the concept of Jesus
as the messiah even though Christianity rooted from Judaism. While there are
characteristics that distinguish the two religions, what makes them quite
similar is the concept of time that connects them.

            If one thing could connect these
religions, it would be sin, as both would agree that it is defined as
rebellious acts against God. The film that focuses on the concept of sin on the
side of Judaism would be Kadosh. The movie revolves around a set of characters
living as Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem; Meir and his wife Rivka are a married
couple trying their absolute best to conceive children and no matter how many
rituals they perform or how many prayers have been said, nothing seems to work
out for them. At one point of the movie, the rabbi instructs Meir to break
things off with Rivka because they’re unable to produce children; Rivka’s
unfortunate circumstance is considered a sin in the community. Kadosh relies heavy
on the concept of sin as it is one of the main themes, Meir having to live up
to the religion he adores no matter his heartbreak in order to be faithful as an
Orthodox Jewish man.

Another prime example in the film is Rivka’s younger
sibling, Malka; Malka is in love with Israeli soldier, Jacov, but as one can
predict, that wouldn’t hold up too well within a community such as this. The rabbi
instructs Malka as well, to marry the ultra-Orthodox Jew, Yossef, who attends
the same religious functions as Meir does. Yossef is a bit unhinged because all
he knows is his religion, nothing on the outside world interests him unless it
was about Judaism; he goes about the streets of town in a truck with a speaker
and does his best to urge every Jew in town to come together as one to fight
off against the enemies who have no God. Malka and Yossef are forced to wed,
and awkwardly attempt to procreate. If they don’t do this or if Malka were to
stay with Jacov, it would be considered sin as well because it’s against God’s
wishes. Jacov joined the military against the wishes of the community even if
it was for the greater good of his country, and although he’s still religious, he
was considered a godless man by going against the code of conduct. All of their
lives are practically ruined because they can’t live up to the standards of
committing no sins.

The Mission is a Christian based movie that also
relies on the concept of rebelling against God. This movie focuses Jesuit
missionaries that expanded their mission to tribes in South
America. A major part of the storyline was about a former mercenary turned missionary,
Rodrigo; he worked for slave traders by means of capturing and killing tribes
of Indians for money and reputation. He had a brother who he loved deeply, as
well as a girlfriend which he had strong feelings for; unfortunately for Rodrigo,
his girlfriend and brother were deeply in love with each other and tried their
best to hide it from him, which in hindsight was pretty easy as Rodrigo went
out doing mercenary jobs so often. The secrecy had ended when his girlfriend
would confess her love for his brother after he return from his previous
mission. Out of anger, he storms in on the couple making love then storms out
and berates people of the town until his brother runs out, half naked,
attempting to stop him. Rodrigo and his brother fight until Rodrigo kills his
brother and sentences himself to jail.

At this point in the film, Rodrigo knows he committed
a pretty hefty sin, murder, and decides to punish himself by segregating and
staying in a jail cell. A priest who the audience, and ironically Rodrigo,
meets at the beginning of the movie visits Rodrigo in the cell and states the
sins that he has committed; he’s not only talking about murdering his own
brother, but also the fact that he was a mercenary hunting down Indians like
they were wild animals. The priest, Father Gabriel, suggests that he join their
missionary and free himself from the sins that weigh him down; Rodrigo already
aware the of the sins he’s committed, accepts his proposal and proceeds to
journey with the missionaries with weights that was tied to his body. Having struggled
with the heavy lifting, Rodrigo carried on knowing the reward at the end of his
journey was bountiful and necessary to his being. He completed this difficult
trial when he reached to the tribe that he had previously attacked, exhausted;
the tribe informed on his task to freedom, forgave him graciously even after
the horrible sins Rodrigo had committed against them. These examples show that
both religions believe that God has mercy because he has love superior to sin.

Judaism and Christianity are quite similar but what separates
them is the concept of Jesus being the messiah; they both believe in Jesus but
the problem is that Judaism didn’t not see Jesus to be the messiah for one of
few reasons, he worked on the Sabbath. The Old Testament prohibited working on
the Sabbath, however Jesus healed those in need on the Sabbath just like any
other day of the week. This had offended the Jews as Jesus had gone against the
laws of the religion which they believed was created by God. Jesus had also
associated with thieves and prostitutes which the Jews believed was completely
wrong as Jesus should have been condemning them; this behavior led the Jews to
believe that Jesus was not fit for the position of messiah. As a child raised
by the values of Christianity, the religious quest matched my upbringing, not
to judge those who don’t do right by the eyes of God but to help them in any
way possible to stray from the path that they were on.

Even if the Christian and Jewish community disagree
with each other on what Jesus represents, they both agree that Monotheism is the
key to mankind; they both believe that God is the creator of everything and is
all knowing. Daughters of the Dust is a film based on an African American
family living on an island far from the North based on their past experience
with slavery. A significant theme in this movie is religion as there are many
being represent by different members of the family; everyone’s beliefs helps
them as they struggle while preparing to migrate to the mainland. The matriarch
of the family, Nana Peazant, is the clan’s closest root to the ritual magic she
holds on to; she’s actually the only one holding on to that tradition and continues
to grieve its inevitable disappearance.

Her daughter, Viola Peazant, is a Christian missionary
who had already migrated to the mainland but was called back for one last get-together
with her family before the major migration. Throughout the movie, she pushes
her views of Christianity within her family in hopes of converting them before
they reach the North. The battle that Viola faces is her mother’s tradition of
magic, she tries to preach the idea of Monotheism to the children of the island
by reading the Bible and quoting scriptures. The idea of her doing this is to keep
her family on the right path, unlike her cousin, Yellow Mary who works as a wet
nurse and more importantly, a prostitute. Both of their morals are in constant
conflict with each other as they both try to preach their views to the island. The
concept of a higher principle was used to keep the troubles of the North far
from them as their aim would be to praise God, the all-knowing.

A Serious Man is movie based on Judaism and a man that’s
constantly down on his luck; Larry Gopnick is a physics professor that faces
many problems including a wife that’s been cheating on him with an old friend. He’s
also receiving anonymous letters sent to the tenure committee at the university
he’s teaching which are completely negative, a brother that constantly gets
into trouble with the law, and children that are both obnoxious in their own
way which doesn’t comfort Larry at all. However, no matter the trouble he’s in,
he remains a man true to his morals; Larry has a student that tries to bribe him
constantly for a passing grade then has his father come to his house and
intimidate him. He also lives next to a neighbor that doesn’t favor him too
well, most likely because of his religion, which means Larry is living next to
a potential anti-Semite. He’s a great provider for his family but that doesn’t seem
to be enough to overturn his luck.

After all this is quite clear to the audience, the
movie begins Larry’s quest for relief through his religion, seeking out an
ancient rabbi that seems to have the answers he’s looking for. This relates to
many people in the real world who believe in a higher power that can’t be seen
with the human eye; when problems arise and there seems to be no end to them,
God is suspected to be absent during the tough times. This is a problem that people
face in both Christianity and Judaism, and that I have faced as well, so what
does one do when this occurs? Larry decides to meet with a rabbi in training,
and according to the rabbi, Larry thinks that God is not around to help him
through these trials because he has apparently forgotten how to look for God.

Larry finds no help within his meeting with the junior
rabbi so instead he locates the help of a senior rabbi; the rabbi decides to
tell Larry a story about a Jewish dentist that found Jewish writing on the back
of his patient’s teeth. This bothers the dentist which then sends him on a
quest to find out how this was possible, and after a while of searching the
dentist does not succeed and continues on with his life; though that’s not the ending
of the story because according to the rabbi, the ending doesn’t matter. There was
no moral to that story, nothing that would even be considered as help to Larry
in his current situation, but the rabbi does state that the problems people
have with God are similar to those of people who have toothaches: they’ll have
its impact but will eventually go away.

To no avail from that rabbi, Larry finally seeks the
help from the rabbi he’s pretty much been wanting to meet with this entire time;
unfortunately, the rabbi refuses to meet with Larry because he’s too busy. The ending
of the movie is just more bad news after another, no happy ending for the
Gopnick family. Those leaving the theater will wonder what was the point of
this movie entirely; from a religious point of view, the answers to problems
that people face, is to look for God. People who participate in a Monotheistic
religion are constantly reminded to look for God in trying times, especially
because of how difficult it is to do so.

As stated earlier, Jesus would hang around sinners
because he was looking to save them, instead of condemning them. In Christianity,
the power of forgiveness supersedes any sin as long as it’s true to God. This
is shown in The Mission when Father Gabriel helps Rodrigo free himself of the
many sins he’s committed. Father Gabriel and the members of the missionary
accepted Rodrigo as one of their own, let alone forgiving him; this film was
true to its theme of Christianity especially against violence and judgement towards
others. “His considerable burden is literally cut away, setting him free from a
past that binds him.” (Lyden, 115). Those in the Jewish community believed that
Jesus should’ve behaved more like them, neglecting the criminals. This concept of
Judaism is in the movie Kadosh; Rivka’s younger sister, Malka was in love with
an Israeli soldier, Jacov, that fought for his country. However, when Jacov
returned, he was banned from the religion on the whole because it was forbidden
to join the army within that community. Jacov defied the rules and participated
anyways which led him to be an outcast in his own town and religion. The idea
of Jacov being segregated and called godless is a perfect example of why
Judaism didn’t accept Jesus; instead of forgiving Jacov, who still is true to
Judaism, they neglected him and broke off his relationship with Malka because it
was a code of conduct.

This course opened my eyes to other religions and the
values each one held. Every movie that was presented to us, gave a different
perspective into the religion the class was studying at the time. What surprised
me most was how much Hollywood movies dove into religion; the films you showed weren’t
all independent films as some of them were well known, directed by famous directors
and producers, as well as the actors that participated in these films. As for
my own religion, the religion quest I’m on isn’t as extreme as portrayed from
other religions in these movies, even with Christianity.


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