Incorporate films, tv episodes, podcasts, and other media that include plots or conversations related to ethics and the activity of
Incorporate films, tv episodes, podcasts, and other media that include plots or conversations related to ethics and the activity of philosophical inquiry as an in-class activity. By viewing popular media, students understand that philosophical ideas and ethical issues are part of everyday, contemporary life. The suggested film and questions offer an opportunity for reflection on why the textual material matters, which can be used as the basis for discussion or assessment.
Based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking follows Sister Helen as she ministers to a death row inmate who brutally raped and murdered two teenagers. Loosely based on true events, the film chronicles the crisis of faith that Sister Helen faces as she moves through the last days and weeks of Matthew Poncelet's life on death row.
Dead Man Walking illustrates that even in deeply codified religious traditions, such as Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular (Sister Helen is a Catholic nun), disagreement and tension can easily bubble up about matters of doctrine. In this case, the Christian doctrine in question is the Old Testament maxim to mete justice by an eye for an eye. Also of interest is the New Testament mandate to love thy neighbor as thyself. Students will be able to discuss these different interpretations of doctrine and evaluate the difficulty of achieving religious harmony.
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