Cinema as a Moral Compass

Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 4:48 am

Cinema as a Moral Compass

Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in "The Fighter" (2010)
Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in a scene from “The Fighter.”;

“We are a storytelling species, and we have always used our stories to teach one another how we should live, and how we should not.”
— David Gushee, “Teaching virtue at the movies in 2011”

In a recent article from the Associated Baptist Press, David Gushee, a professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University in Atlanta, highlights four recent films, including The Fighter, that have narratives with accounts of moral virtue. This is a fresh way for me to share and evaluate new films.
I want more meaningful categories with which to talk about films rather than discussing whether it goes on the holiday viewing list or is an Oscar contender. Though I trust Roger Ebert’s judgment implicitly, the number of stars doesn’t tell me anything about how to live well or how to treat other people. Gushee’s language does.
What four films come to mind that have provided you with some teaching moment in the shape of a moral compass?

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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