Forgiveness is good for your health – just ask spiritual heavyweights like Sister Helen Prejean, Deepak Chopra, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many others. But while their insights into the necessity of forgiveness and reconciliation are important to the health of the human soul are intelligent and articulate, the documentary “The Big Question” delivers its message the strongest through the forgiving words of those victimized by horrible acts of violence.
The documentary, produced by Catholic film company Paulist Productions, begins with recounting the massacre of Amish girls at a Pennsylvania schoolhouse in 2006. That night, the parents of the girls did something astonishing: they went to the shooter’s home in an act of forgiveness. They even went to the funeral of the shooter – a man who had turned the gun on himself after the slayings.
It is this story layered with numerous other courageous stories of others who suffered horrific losses that make this documentary memorable and truly set it above the typical religious documentary riddled with cliches on matters of the heart. “The Big Question” also doesn’t promote one line of faith solely – a fact some church groups may not appreciate so much, but I think makes for a better discussion. The viewpoints of many spiritual thinkers of different faiths only reinforces the struggle and the gift that forgiveness truly is for all of us as humans. In addition, I think the scientific discourse in the film really enhances the argument we have all heard preached in some way or another : lack of forgiveness only hurts yourself, not the one you can’t forgive.
I can’t recommend this documetary highly enough to church groups and even academic classrooms that teach philosophy and religion. The DVD,available for sale starting today from VIsion Video, comes ready made for small group discussion or larger group workshops on forgiveness.