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Volume V, 2006

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In his book, Film as Religion: Myths Morals and Rituals, John C. Lyden argues that the movie theater has become a surrogate sacred space, where film provides for its audiences a system of world-naming that contributes to the formation of morals, the establishment of ritual, and a manner of addressing matters of ultimate concern.

“Films can be taken as illusions in one sense, but can also have the force of reality by presenting a vision of how the world is as well as how it might be. In the ritual context of viewing a film, we ‘entertain’ the truth of its mythology and ethos as a subject of consciousness even as it entertains us.”

If his assertion is reasonable, it leaves us to question the distinction between entertainment and religiosity. Lyden himself points to the limitations of existing scholarship on religion and film when he says that prior study has focused on exigeting the films themselves as “texts” rather than exploring the experience of moviegoers. The goal of my research is to speak with audience members and discover what quality a film must possess if it is to transcend the ordinary and reasonably be considered religion.