Screened Signs of Grace


Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957).

The second global conference on spirituality in the 21st century, organised within the network by John L. Hochheimer, begins tomorrow and ends Saturday. The event takes place in Prague, Czech Republic. I am presenting a paper on Friday, 23, that takes André Bazin’s article "Cinema and Theology" as its starting point to discuss the sacramentality of film. Here is the abstract:

This paper is a reading of André Bazin’s article “Cinema and Theology”, which reflects on the relation between cinema and theology. It also appraises (and praises) the achievement of Heaven Over the Marshes (Cielo sulla palude, 1949), which is developed in another essay that concentrates on this film. The reading takes into account Bazin’s ontology of cinema, which has been at times simplistically described as a belief in the simple transparency of the cinematic image. Yet we need to read him closely. When Bazin talks about the connection between reality and what is on screen, he is not talking about a quantitative relationship, but about a qualitative one — as he clarifies in another text, “Cinematic Realism and the Italian School of the Liberation”. His interest in the singularity of things challenges cinema creators and spectators to attend to the particularities of what is filmed and screened as well as to acknowledge that these are indefinable and can only be experienced. For Bazin, cinema has the ability to confront us with the evanescence of things, but also with their existence, an existence whose traces we see on screen. There is according him something miraculous about this, something that turns movies into objects of wonder. They have the capacity to increase our sense of the mystery of earthly things by capturing and screening it. It is no surprise then that he writes that “cinema is in itself already a kind of miracle”. As a Catholic, Bazin refuses to divorce the body from the soul and nature from grace. “Cinema and Theology” echoes Flannery O’Connor’s words on art in “The Church and the Fiction Writer”. The article confirms that the French critic saw film as having a sacramental aspect, given that film works may present visible signs of invisible grace.

The programme of the conference is below.

Session 1: Wandering the Spiritual Path:

John W. Fisher (University of Ballarat), “The Importance of Relating with God for Spiritual Well-Being”

Rouhollah Zarei (Yasouj University), “Allegory: A Spiritual Journey”

John L. Hochheimer (Southern Illinois University), “Learning Through Inner Listening: A Pedagogy of Spirituality”

Session 2: Forgetting the Self While Connecting with Spirit:

Einav Rosenblit (Tel-Aviv University), “Forgetting ‘Self’ as a Means of Spiritual Growth”

Phil Fitzsimmons (Avondale College of Higher Learning) and Edie Lanphar (Garden Street Academy), “When Kids Spirituality Connect: The Sources, Sites and Storying of ‘Relational Consciousness’”

Nancy Billias (Saint Joseph College), “Auto-da-Fé”

Session 3: Pedagogies of the Human Spirit:

Noorin Fazal (The Institute of Ismaili Studies), “What Does It Mean to be Human?: Teaching Virtue Ethics Pedagogy in a Religious Education Classroom in Vancouver, Canada”

Jerry Bowling (Harding University), “Experimental Pedagogies for Transforming Student Spirituality”

Andre L. Delbecq (Santa Clara University), “Spiritual Formation for Leaders in Higher Education and Heathcare”

Session 4: Spirituality and the Developing Self:

Galyna P. Shevchenko (East Ukraine Volodymyr Dahl National University), “Spiritual Development of a Personality as a Process of Spirit Creation”

Mohammad Ali Taheri and Sara Saie Joeghan (independent scholars, Iran), “Mysticism (Erfan) and the Quality of Life”

Duysal Aşkun Çelik (independent scholar, Turkey), “Reflections and a Proposal for the Curriculum Development in Psych-Education with an Example of a Case Study from Turkey”

Session 5: Spirituality in Islam:

Abulrazzak M. Alhamad (King Saud University), “Spirituality: An Islamic Perspective”

Mukhlis Abu BakaR (Nanyang Technological University), “Cognitive, Affective, Spiritual, Transformative Learning in an Islamic Religious Education Programme”

Session 6: Spirituality in Music and Dance:

Richard McGregor (University of Cumbria), “Music: Transcendent and Mundane”

Michael Weiss (University of Vienna), “Realising Emptiness Through Dance: Ways of Transmission in Japanese Buto Dance”

Melanie Boyd (University of Calgary), “No Wrong Notes: Group Singing in the Oral tradition as Source and Expression of Spirituality: A Case Study ”

Session 7: Spirituality in Film, Literature and Architecture:

Sérgio Dias Branco (University of Coimbra), “Screened Signs of Grace: André Bazin’s ‘Cinema and Theology’ and the Sacramental Facet of Film”

Kerstin W. Shands (Södertörn University), “Journeys Towards Grace: Spiritual Perspectives in Contemporary Transformative Narratives”

Hadi Fayyaz, Ahmad Ali Heydari, and Maryam Alvan Darestani (Allameh Tabataba’i University and University of Tehran), “Ecstasy of Anxiety: A Study of the Spiritual Impact of Contemporary Architecture”

Session 8: Spirituality, Suffering and Palliative Care:

Patricia Fennell (independent scholar, USA), “Spirituality Throughout the Phases of Change in Suffering”

Mojdeh Abedi (Monash University), “Palliative Care within the Iranian Context: Re-Defining Palliative Care, Deploying Spirituality as a Support Measure and the Need for Cultural Sensitivity”

Elisabeth Gedge and Deirdre Querney (McMaster University), “Scratching the Itch: Speaking of Spirituality in Addictions Counseling”

Session 9: Spiritual Leadership, Well-Being and “God”:

J. Deagon (Griffith University), “Synergies Between Home Economics and Spiritual Health and Well-Being”

Martin C. Fowler (Elon University), “The Wanderer Is Home”

Session 10: The Post-Modern Self and Alternatives to Violence:

William S. Schmidt (Loyola University Chicago), “Technology and Post-Modern Selfhood: A Spiritual Assessment”

Wim Van Moer (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), “A Place for Religious Atheism in 21st Century Spirituality?”

Eleanor Novek and John L. Hochheimer (Southern Illinois University Carbondale), “Spiritual Praxis: Quaker Peacemaking and Communicative Action in the Alternative to Violence Project”

João Botelho em Coimbra


O cineasta João Botelho estará hoje em Coimbra para participar em mais uma sessão do Páginas Tantas no TAGV, coordenado por Osvaldo Silvestre. Às 21h30 será projectado o filme Tempos Difíceis (1988), com comentários do realizador e meus. Apareçam.