The Secular and the Sacred in American Life

What role does religion play in shaping attitudes about America? How does it come into conflict with the
secular institutions of American democracy? Is America "one nation under God"? Who gets to decide what
morality is in this country? How does religion come into conflict with the independent American
spirit? Why? Are there any ways in which this spirit has influenced religious practice and belief in
America? What role does our Puritan history play in our religiosity? Has our national attitude about religion
changed with the many immigrants this country has? What is the difference—if any—between religion and
spirituality? Must religion be organized to be effective? How much do we adhere to "separation of church and
state"? Can religion and a secular state ever coexist peacefully in America? Should they?
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1.
Agnes of God (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
When a naive novice nun is discovered with a dead newborn in her convent quarters, a court-appointed psychiatrist investigates her case. (98 mins.)
Director: Norman Jewison
 
2.
The Apostle (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
After his happy life spins out of control, a preacher from Texas changes his name, goes to Louisiana and starts preaching on the radio. (134 mins.)
Director: Robert Duvall
 
3.
The Believer (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A young Jewish man develops a fiercely anti-Semitic philosophy. Based on the factual story of a K.K.K. member in the 1960s who was revealed to be Jewish by a New York Times reporter. (98 mins.)
Director: Henry Bean
 
4.
Black Narcissus (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
After opening a convent in the Himalayas, five nuns encounter conflict and tension - both with the natives and also within their own group - as they attempt to adapt to their remote, exotic surroundings. (100 mins.)
 
5.
Black Robe (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A young Jesuit priest seeks to convert the Indian tribes in Canada while also trying to survive the harsh winter. (101 mins.)
Director: Bruce Beresford
 
6.
The Boys of St. Vincent (1992 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The true story of boys being sexually abused at their orphanage ran by a religious community in Newfoundland. (93 mins.)
Director: John N. Smith
 
7.
The Chosen (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
In 1944, in Brooklyn, two Jewish kids become friends. One is from a very conservative family, and the other is more liberal. The issues of importance of tradition, parental expectations and the formation of Israel cause constant friction. (108 mins.)
 
8.
Conversations with God (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Chronicles the dramatic true journey of a struggling man turned homeless, who inadvertently becomes a spiritual messenger and bestselling author. (109 mins.)
Director: Stephen Simon
 
9.
Dead Man Walking (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A nun, while comforting a convicted killer on death row, empathizes with both the killer and his victim's families. (122 mins.)
Director: Tim Robbins
 
10.
DreamKeeper (2003 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
In South Dakota, in an Indian reservation, an old storyteller Indian asks his grandson Shane, who is in trouble owing money to some bad guys... (174 mins.)
Director: Steve Barron
 
11.
Elmer Gantry (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A fast-talking traveling salesman with a charming, loquacious manner convinces a sincere evangelist that he can be an effective preacher for her cause. (146 mins.)
Director: Richard Brooks
 
12.
Friendly Persuasion (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The pacifist attitude of a Quaker family is tested as a result of the American Civil War. (137 mins.)
Director: William Wyler
 
13.
Gentleman's Agreement (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A reporter pretends to be Jewish in order to cover a story on anti-Semitism, and personally discovers the true depths of bigotry and hatred. (118 mins.)
Director: Elia Kazan
 
14.
American Playhouse (1981 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
 
15.
Hester Street (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
It's 1896. Yankel Bogovnik, a Russian Jew, emigrated to the United States three years earlier and has settled where many of his background have... (89 mins.)
 
16.
Jesus Camp (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A documentary on kids who attend a summer camp hoping to become the next Billy Graham. (84 mins.)
 
17.
A Life Apart: Hasidism in America (1997 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Hasidic Jews seem alien, and even hostile, to those outside their culture,which frequently includes other Jews... (96 mins.)
 
18.
Lilies of the Field (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A traveling handyman becomes the answer to the prayers of nuns who wish to build a chapel in the desert. (94 mins.)
Director: Ralph Nelson
 
19.
A Man for All Seasons (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The story of Thomas More, who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarriage. (120 mins.)
Director: Fred Zinnemann
 
20.
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid $10,000 he'd stolen in a robbery. (92 mins.)
 
21.
The Pianist (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II. (150 mins.)
Director: Roman Polanski
 
22.
Places in the Heart (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
In the Deep South in the 1930s, a widow and her family try to run their cotton farm with the help of a disparate group of friends. (111 mins.)
Director: Robert Benton
 
23.
A Price Above Rubies (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
About a young woman who is married to a devout Jew and the problems that trouble their marriage because... (117 mins.)
Director: Boaz Yakin
 
24.
The Ten Commandments (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The Egyptian Prince, Moses, learns of his true heritage as a Hebrew and his divine mission as the deliverer of his people. (220 mins.)
 
25.
Trembling Before G-d (2001 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A cinematic portrait of various gay Orthodox Jews who struggle to reconcile their faith and their sexual orientation. (94 mins.)
 
26.
What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Interviews with scientists and authors, animated bits, and a storyline involving a deaf photographer are used in this docudrama to illustrate the link between quantum mechanics, neurobiology, human consciousness and day-to-day reality. (156 mins.)
 
27.
Wise Blood (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A Southerner--young, poor, ambitious but uneducated--determines to become something in the world. He decides that the best way to do that is to become a preacher and start up his own church. (106 mins.)
Director: Jhon Huston
 
28.
Angels in America (2003 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Playwright Tony Kushner adapts his political epic about the AIDS crisis during the mid-eighties, around a group of separate but connected individuals. (352 mins.)
 
29.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business. (158 mins.)
 
30.
Band of Sisters (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Band of Sisters tells the story of Catholic nuns and their work for social justice after Vatican II of the 1960s... (88 mins.)
Director: Mary Fishman
 
31.
God in America (2010 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
(360 mins.)
 
32.
Doubt (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A Catholic school principal questions a priest's ambiguous relationship with a troubled young student. (104 mins.)
 
33.
Raw Faith (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
This surprisingly open and revealing documentary follows two years in the private life of a minister... (94 mins.)
 
34.
Witness to Jonestown (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
(120 mins.)
 
35.
Hell House (2001 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A look at the "Hell House" performed annually in October by the youth members of Trinity Church (Assemblies of God) in Cedar Hill... (85 mins.)
Director: George Ratliff
 
36.
Let the Church Say, Amen (2002 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
In Washington D.C., one church becomes the symbol of a local community dedicated to one another. (87 mins.)
Director: David Petersen
 
37.
A Life Apart: Hasidism in America (1997 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Hasidic Jews seem alien, and even hostile, to those outside their culture,which frequently includes other Jews... (96 mins.)
 
38.
Brother Born Again (2001 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Filmmaker Julia Pimsleur used to make up elaborate lies about her brother Marc, rather than explain that he had dropped out of college... (76 mins.)
Director: Julia Pimsleur
 
39.
Praying with Lior (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Praying with Lior asks whether someone with Down syndrome can be a spiritual genius. Many believe Lior is close to God... (87 mins.)
Director: Ilana Trachtman
 
40.
For the Bible Tells Me So (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
An exploration of the intersection between religion and homosexuality in the U.S. and how the religious right has used its interpretation of the Bible to stigmatize the gay community. (95 mins.)
Director: Daniel Karslake
 
41.
Lilies of the Field (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A traveling handyman becomes the answer to the prayers of nuns who wish to build a chapel in the desert. (94 mins.)
Director: Ralph Nelson
 
42.
A Serious Man (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Larry Gopnik, a Midwestern physics teacher, watches his life unravel over multiple sudden incidents. Though seeking meaning and answers amidst his turmoils, he seems to keep sinking. (106 mins.)
 
43.
Arranged (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
ARRANGED centers on the friendship between an Orthodox Jewish woman and a Muslim woman who meet as first-year teachers at a public school in Brooklyn... (90 mins.)
 
44.
Inherit the Wind (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Based on a real-life case in 1925, two great lawyers argue the case for and against a science teacher accused of the crime of teaching evolution. (128 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kramer