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Abstract

I believe the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. As Berger claims, "seeing comes before words." Pictures, particularly the moving kind, have always fascinated me. Consequently, for over a decade, I have included films among the required readings in my courses in the hope of encouraging students to experience films as religiously pertinent texts that invite critical reading. Convinced as I am that we live in a highly visual culture, I am equally convinced that films, more often than not, elude the critical eye. In my experience, students tend to: 1) see films merely as entertainment; b) distrust the ability of films to contribute to their understanding of religion; and c) apply few of their critical thinking and reading skills to the interpretation of films. For these reasons I have tried to make the case for the importance of film in the religion curriculum. In what follows, I describe my own critical perspective and the rationale for including films among course texts. Furthermore, I comment on courses in which the interpretation of films has enriched students' understanding of religion and of the complexity of cultural contexts.

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2

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