Question: Can a person "feel the spirit" while watching movies?

Table of Contents

Question: Can a person "feel the spirit" while watching movies?

The Spirit testifies of all true principles, regardless of the source

Why would I "feel the spirit" when watching fictional movies? Some of these movies are even violent and R-rated, such as Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List.

The Spirit testifies of all truth. The Spirit can testify of true principles taught or portrayed in fiction as well as in real life such as the importance of sacrifice, the importance of family, or of humility. For example, why would one feel so compelled by the story of Les Miserables? After all, the movie portrays prostitutes, thieves, and blasphemers. However, the message is of the importance of mercy over justice, of self-sacrifice, and of forgiveness. Why wouldn't the Holy Ghost tell us these are true principles? The same can be said of many movies, including animated films such as The Lion King.

Also, one should not equate the witness of the spirit with emotion. Just because an experience generates a pleasant emotional response does not mean that you are "feeling the spirit." Just because one can "feel the spirit" regarding religious matters does not mean that one is unable to feel good or inspired about anything else. No Latter-day Saint will say that they felt the spirit "confirm the truth" of a movie. Important here is to understand the different factors that play into spiritual epistemology. It involves all of our faculties (See Alma 32:27). Spiritual epistemology is a complex interaction between and evaluation of the thoughts of your mind, the feelings of your heart, the physical health of your body, the light of Christ (which can increase by doing good and decrease and be diminished by doing what is wrong), the outside influence of the Holy Ghost, and everything that God has deemed good in the world. One can feel a more passive influence of the Holy Ghost which is like an abiding peace that comes when one is doing what is right or in the presence of something good since we seek after all good things (A of F 1:13) and all good things come from God (Moroni 7:12), or it can be more dynamic as when we are seeking revelation in which we will receive both inspiration or revelation in our mind and a phenomenon (not just a feeling or emotion) in our heart.

The movies Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List are very accurate and profound dramas that depict certain important historical events: In this case, the D-day invasion and the Holocaust. They are, out of necessity, R-rated and violent movies, nevertheless they are still deeply moving and, at their most beautiful moments, can move our hearts and minds to God as they teach simple but profound truths. We are moved by these portrayals because we empathize with the sacrifice and suffering of those depicted. Just because we seek "confirmation of the spirit" in religious matters in order to receive confirmation of their truthfulness does not require us to be "dead in feeling" to the rest of life. We should understand how the spirit works, including how it interacts with everything mentioned above, and do our best to evaluate it.

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