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By Admin | May 5, 2004

In his novel “American Gods,” science-fiction/fantasy writer Neil Gaiman discusses the notion that gods exist because people believe in them. The moment the faith disappears, so do the gods and their powers. David Hilder’s short film “Faithful” conveys a similar idea. Consisting of only three characters, two of which have lines, “Faithful” is about a man named Bob (David Cole Wheeler) and his encounter with God (Yuri Lowenthal). The film begins with a shot of a blue sky. New age, electronica-hinted music composed by Jacob Enk plays, and there’s a brief glimpse of a cathedral’s interior. We then see a middle-aged man’s profile; he’s smoothing out his hair. The camera takes us back to the cathedral, where another man is sitting among rows of chairs. The two men soon meet. The man fixing his hair is Bob. The other one is God. Unable to cope with his wife’s (Tracy Larson) death, Bob decides to hang himself. He would’ve been successful too, but God interrupts him. Wearing a purple flannel and dark khakis, Bob appears remarkably composed for someone who was close to killing himself. God—young and quite aesthetically pleasing—is dressed in a tattered, black suit and a white, button-down shirt. For a being with his kind of creative and destructive abilities, it’s surprising to see him display signs of physical fatigue, mental exhaustion, and even fear.

At the risk of upsetting Christians who are reluctant to ponder outside tradition, “Faithful” poses questions that commonly arise in the minds of those who, for whatever reason, begin to doubt. For example, is God really all-knowing and almighty at the same time? Is he perfect? Would God cease to exist if people stopped believing in him? The implications of these questions are tremendous. Viewing Christianity (or monotheism in general) from a philosophical standpoint, God (and the belief that there’s only one) could be the manifestation of how humans’ faith in “higher powers” has evolved. We’ve figured out why it rains, why it thunders, and how to start a fire. We don’t necessarily need to attribute natural phenomena to mythological figures, but we still need to delegate responsibility for tragedies and miracles to something greater than ourselves. Not to say that God is the same as the Greek entities that reside in Mt. Olympus or the Nordic ones that call Asgard home, but “Faithful” suggests that if God were to ask us not to believe in him, he wouldn’t have to be God anymore. The notion that he’d want to quit makes us feel uneasy because it implies that he has weaknesses—he might be more human than we think. In addition to stimulating profound analyses of how we perceive God, “Faithful” also reminds us that being the creator of the universe can’t be easy. If you were tired and felt your services to mankind were no longer necessary, you’d likely want to call it day too.

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  1. Heather Stafford says:

    Is there anyway I can watch this movie? I this it’s a very insightful way to view the monotheistic as well as atheist view of “God”. I would like very much to see it.

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