Freedom of religion is a highly promoted and followed aspect of American lives. It’s not unusual to see a temple and a Christian church across from each other or for there to be prayer rooms located at schools and workplaces. Most private schools in America have some sort of religious orientation to them and people form their lives around their faith. Faith is what guides people into decision making that ultimately leads them into living their faith desired lifestyle. Likewise, this is true for Pete in “Stolen Summer” who tries to spread the word of God to his Jewish friend through his self proclaimed quest.
Project Greenlight’s “Stolen Summer” takes place in the suburbs of Chicago where a mischievous eight year old Catholic boy, named Pete, is reprimanded by a nun at his Catholic school and told to follow the path of the Lord and not that of the devil. He then takes it upon himself to help get someone to heaven, by using his Catholicism in believing that being Catholic is the only way to get their. Since Judaism doesn’t believe in an afterlife he befriends a young Jewish boy, Danny, after visiting a Temple. He finds that the Jewish boy is ill and thinks he is a perfect candidate for his quest and so sets up a decathlon for him to get to heaven.Pete uses what he’s learned through school and church to teach Danny about what is the right way of life. Although the boys are just kids, and Danny’s salvation seeking from Pete is quite innocent, Danny’s father is a rabbi and is not happy about his son’s conversion to the Catholic faith.
Pete’s Catholicism can be traced to Dei Verbum which literally translates to “God’s word.” Pete gets the word of God through scripture and talking to his priest. Numerous times throughout the film he visits his church to ask the priest questions about his faith along with what he should do. The way Pete uses his priest as a resource is exactly how God intended priest and other persons of higher up clergy to be used for. This is supported by Dei Verbum which states,“how God acts towards human beings; that, as he spoke through the prophets, his people might understand his ways ever more deeply and clearly, and demonstrate them more widely to the nations”(Dei Verbum 4).
Pete’s understanding of scripture is much like how it’s described in Chapter three of Dei Verbum that, “all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work”(Dei Verbum 3). Pete is doing just what God wants him to do by spreading his word to others. In fact, it’s almost as if Pete is a prophet of God spreading his teachings to someone who doesn’t believe it. Since Danny is Jewish he believes only what is in the Old Testament. However; Christians believe, “the new Testament should be hidden in the old, and the old Testament should be made manifest in the new (Dei Verbum 4). Danny believes that Earth is the place of one’s salvation, whereas; Pete believes your salvation is with God in heaven. The different religious views of Pete and Danny often led to conflict in the film.
Do you think children of different religions should use their religious interpretations to influence each other?
A great controversy in the film is that of Pete’s parents being somewhat okay with Pete’s quest, while Danny’s father advocates against it. Whose position do you take on it?