Magazine article Momentum

Encountering the God of Surprises and Second Chances

Magazine article Momentum

Encountering the God of Surprises and Second Chances

Article excerpt

"Field of Dreams"

At a recent workshop for catechists, I used the movie "Field of Dreams" to illustrate how films can be used to help students understand the concepts we teach about God and to invite other catechists to do the same. "Field of Dreams" is a film that illustrates a God who calls us to right relationships and God's reign as one of inclusion and wholeness.

Ray Kinsella, the main character, begins the movie by briefly recounting the story of his upbringing by a widowed father, a former minorleague baseball player, from whom he eventually became estranged before his father died. Ray is an Iowa farmer who builds a baseball field in the middle of his cornfield because he believes he is called to do so. He hears a voice say, "If you build it, he will come." He sees a vision that shows him he must build a ball field.

Like the biblical prophet, he withstands the derision of his neighbors and the disbelief of his family and he faithfully follows his calling, believing that if he builds the field, Shoeless Joe Jackson, his father's hero, will come to play ball. Shoeless Joe does come, as do other players, first "sinners" who had once been banned from the game and then others. In much the same way that Jesus spoke of the Reign of God as a banquet to which all are welcomed, Ray welcomes all players to his field.

Ray thinks that by building the field he has answered his calling and fulfilled his vocation. Yet the voice calls to him again, saying, "ease his pain," and "Go the distance." It sends Ray off in search of a recluse author in Boston and a doctor in Minnesota and Ray brings them home to Iowa believing that his purpose is to help each of them live out an unfulfilled baseball dream.

Yet, there is more to the story: the field is not solely for Shoeless Joe, the author or the doctor. Ray's dad has come to the field as a catcher, giving Ray a second chance to play catch and to heal his wounded relationship with his father.

"Field of Dreams" is more than a movie about baseball. It is about faith, reconciliation and finding God in the ordinary experiences of life. It is about faith because Ray not only hears the call, he also responds to it despite receiving ridicule, despite experiencing financial pressures to sell the farm and despite not knowing where he is being led or why. …

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