In Their Own League Advent Countdown: 2. Doubt

By Morgan Roberts

The 2008 film “Doubt” is a Christmas movie.  I know what you’re saying to yourself, “That’s a bit of a stretch, Morgan” or “Morgan, that’s super dark.” or “Um, Morgan, are you in therapy???” But hear me out!  “Doubt” is brilliantly a Christmas movie because it shows the complexity of the religion and the institution celebrating this holiday.

Christmas is not merely carols and presents and ghosts guilting rich people into paying their taxes.  It is sometimes about the struggles of our chosen families.  How we disagree or make assumptions or be absolutely dramatic with one another. Just like how Sister James (Amy Adams) and Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) fight over having “Frosty the Snowman” sung at the Christmas play. (For the record, I’m Team Sister James).

But the film also highlights the uncomfortability, the many paradoxical truths one must hold when existing in a celestial institution operated by flawed, complex people.  Every character exists in the gray – not good, not evil, human. Though, there are allegations of a priest abusing someone.  That is pretty evil.  But, do we ever truly learn what Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) did or did not commit?  No.  Will Sister Aloysius live with guilt or not over her actions?  We will never know.  And will any of these characters ever find the peace and solace they had in their faith?  Who knows.  More importantly, are peace and solace truly achievable or are they ephemeral moments of life that we are constantly in search of?

Yes, outwardly, “Doubt” only occurs during Christmas, but woven into the fabric of the film are the layers of tradition, humanity, humility, and sometimes corrupt nature of the people behind the pulpit and preaching the gospel.  Ultimately, the holiday celebrates a person destined to die to absolve humanity of their sins.  That does not mean sin was ever erased.  And so while we celebrate joy, we must also recognize the ugliness of our choices, and how all of those truths can be held at the same time.

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