Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Bishop's Wife - The power of love and prayer

The Bishop's Wife is a romantic comedy starring Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young originally released in 1947. Here is what the DVD cover says about the movie: "Heavenly bells are ringing, jubilant choirs are singing and Christmas joy is blanketing the world like freshly fallen snow. But the Yuletide spirit has yet to warm Bishop Henry Brougham's Victorian home. Struggling to raise funds for a new cathedral, the preoccupied young clergyman has neglected his loving wife Julia, and now only divine intervention can save their marriage! But the powerful and handsome angel sent from above has a mind of his own... and teaching mortal Henry an immortal lesson in romance isn't all he's got planned."
Aside from the obvious theological implications of angels, clergy and cathedrals, there are several good messages in this film. Dudley the angel only appears in answer to prayer. Later he suggests that he can only be dismissed by prayer but remains when the Bishop's prayer is offered for the wrong reasons. This is a nice example of the fact that God knows and answers our needs rather than our wants, no matter what we've asked for.
Another thread of the story involved a rich woman who will donate enough money to build the cathedral, but only if it carries the name of her late husband in very prominent places. Dudley comes along later in the story and simply listens to the woman's expression of grief and loss over her late husband. She later decides to donate the money to missions and charity instead of building the cathedral. This idea perfectly reflects James' words when he wrote, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27) While there is certainly nothing wrong with churches and church buildings, there's something to be said for directing our money toward ministry.
The Bishop's Wife is one of those wonderful movies made when stories were more important than eye-candy and flash. While not quite on par with the best Christmas movie of all time (It's a Wonderful Life), it is well worth your time as a pleasant Christmas diversion.

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