(Pre-edited article appearing in the 1/25/15 Williamson County Sun)
BY C. WAYNE DAWSONWhile serving as a Georgetown Unity minister, Cindy B. Wright frequently illustrated spiritual lessons by citing examples from movies. Retiring from her pastoral responsibilities spanning more than 20 years in various states, she incorporated these stories in her new book, Reel Transformation. She currently resides in Sun City with her husband, three cats and a dog.
She agreed to discuss her book’s contents with The Sun:
Q. What inspired you to turn to writing and why did you focus on the cinema?
I have always been a writer. I’ve written church newsletter articles and my Sunday talks and now blog articles. I’ve also been an avid movie fan and make it a point to go to the movies as often as I can, at least once a week. What moved me to write my book Reel Transformation was the pattern I kept seeing when I went to the movies. A character would leave home and go off on a journey (either literally or metaphorically) only to encounter challenges and struggles. At some point the character would experience a shift or transformation and then return home changed. It is the typical Hero’s Journey and it reminded me of the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son who also left, went through some wilderness experiences, and then came back home changed. This pattern can be seen again and again in films from various genres…like The Wizard of Oz, Lion King, Harry Potter, in Science Fiction movies like Contact and The Matrix, in comedies like Groundhog Day and even Romantic films such as Magnificent Obsession. I have read numerous books about spirituality in the movies, but I didn’t see anyone writing from this perspective. So, I felt moved to answer the CALL to write Reel Transformation: Your Life Now Playing.
I often used examples from the movies to illustrate a point in my talks and sometimes even showed a short movie clip. My congregation loved it! My experience as a minister taught me that people will remember a story way longer than any words I say, and movies are a powerful medium for storytelling. The first movie clip I ever used was from Indiana Jones. This was way before churches were using LCD projectors and Powerpoint. I had to put a TV and a VHS recorder up on the platform. I showed the scene where Indiana stepped off the cliff even before he could see the bridge appear. I used it to illustrate my talk about moving out in faith. My congregation remembered that clip for years after that talk!
Q. Did you ever come across something unusual or fascinating when researching your
One thing I discovered is that there is a supplemental therapy in the psychological field called Cinema Therapy. Many Psychologists will recommend to their patients that are struggling with a certain issue that they watch a particular movie and then come back to therapy to discuss it. For instance, if a patient was dealing with issues of anger the therapist might recommend the film The Upside of Anger or if they were working to get free of addiction the therapist might suggest Days of Wine and Roses, or depression, Harold and Maude…and so on. Sometimes it is easier to see your own behavior reflected in a character in the movies, because it allows you to step back from your own problems and it provides some often needed perspective.
Q. What portion of your book did you most enjoy writing and why?
I really enjoyed writing all of it. I loved finding movie quotes to head up each chapter. I loved finding movies from different genres in Section II and then showing how the character went through each of the stages. I especially loved researching and reading other books that related to spirituality in movies. I have acquired quite a library of about 60 books about spirituality and film. And now my book has joined them on that shelf and that feels great!
Q. What do you hope readers come away with after reading your work?
The subtitle of my book is Your Life Now Playing. My prayer is that people will begin to watch movies differently and more consciously. That they will see their own life’s journey in the characters up on the screen. If I can understand that Dorothy’s feeling of Divine Discontent singing about Somewhere over the Rainbow is really a CALL for her soul’s growth, then I might recognize that in myself, and find some comfort, when I’m experiencing that same feeling of discontent. I also continue to write about movies in my blog: reeltransform.blogspot.com so I hope people will find me there.
Click here to find Cindy's book or click on the photo of her book in the right column of this blog.