Catholic boy’s quest to bring his Jewish friend to heaven (Mary Sayegh, Feb 9th-14th Discussion)

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.

Discussion Questions

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?

24 thoughts on “Catholic boy’s quest to bring his Jewish friend to heaven (Mary Sayegh, Feb 9th-14th Discussion)”

  1. If the child’s religion is Catholic, then yes I do think he or she should use their religious interpretations to influence other religious children. I think that a lot of religions made their religions based of the Catholic religion, and just took away some of the Catholic beliefs they do not like.

    I think Pete is doing the right thing, and I think that it is good Pete’s parent are okay with Pete’s quest. Pete is not forcing Danny to believe anything. All Pete is doing is just telling the word of God to Danny, leaving Danny to think whether or not he should believe what Pete is saying. Mary even states, “Pete is doing just what God wants him to do by spreading his word to others.”

  2. 1. I believe that anyone, young or old, should use their religious beliefs as a standing ground to anyhing in their life. Likewise, I believe that if you are religious, you are taught to be an influencer in the world, to spread the Word, based on your beliefs of your religion.
    2. I definitely take Pete’s parents side. I believe that he was right in trying to communicate his beliefs to his friend, Danny, in a way they he thought would tremendously make a difference in his life. Pete’s accepting parents is a perfect example of free-will, something everyone rightfully has. Pete felt that he needed to share his beliefs with his friend, so he should be allowed to do that. His parents felt the same way. Danny’s father on the other hand, wanted to stop it, which I think is wrong, regardless of whether his religious beliefs are different or not, because it is not his life to make that decision, rather, it is his sons life, which makes it his sons choice of whether he wants to believe it and convert or not.

  3. 1. Children are so innocent, I believe it is totally fine for them to share their beliefs with other children of different religions. The children are just looking out for the best interest of their peers and looking to spread/share love! There’s nothing wrong with them sharing what they believe in!

    2. I also agree with Pete’s parents. Again, they are children, they don’t have the level of understanding that an adult has yet. So I don’t believe, if the parents were to reprimand the child for being exposed to other religions, that the child were to understand what the parent’s want them to. If anything, it might just instill a feeling of disappointment in the children.

    1. I think you have a really good outlook on this! I completely agree that children are just trying to focus on the best interest of their peers. Children are like sponges, whatever they hear, it is just natural that they will retail that information and repeat it to their other friends and family, especially if it is something that spikes their interest.

  4. I do think they should use their religious interpretations to influence each other because by one spreading religious interpretations to others, it helps the other person to know and understand the different belief.

    I would take Pete’s parents position because it is very good to spread one’s belief to others. It gives the other individual a chance to know another belief other than their owns, and it also helps them to make sure that the religion they are in is what they really want.

    1. I completely agree with you. Children are allows to use their own religious interpretations to influence each other, because it allows for opportunities for others to understand other religions. Although i would understand if children shouldn’t, because they haven’t fully developed a coherent or sound outlook on the different aspects of religion.

  5. 1. Do you think children of different religions should use their religious interpretations to influence each other?

    I think that a child should be allowed to express their religion and talk about it with other children, but I think there’s a fine line between expressing religion and influencing others to believe what you believe.

  6. I believe children with different religions should be allowed to express their religious beliefs with one another, if it is done in a respectful way. But I do not think that they should use their religion to influence each other.

    I agree with Danny’s father position against Pete’s quest because I feel as though Pete is to young to have a full understanding of biblical significance. I believe that it takes time to fully understand scriptures and certain religious beliefs/practices.

    1. I can definitely see Danny’s dad point of view. Teaching my child to follow a path that I think is right and having someone else come and distract them from my teachings would absolutely upset me! So I can see that happening, but I think I would consider the fact that he is not old enough to understand yet!

  7. Hello, I liked your post, I found it interesting. Yes, I do think that children should share their different beliefs of faith with each other. Especially those doing it in a way to help others. Like in the movie the reason behind the one boy of sharing his faith was to get the other boy to heaven.

    I would have to say that I side with Pete’s parents. I believe that the boys quest was a good decision.

  8. I believe that children of different religions should use their religious interpretations to influence each other. I think children have a basic understanding of what they believe in based on how they were raised and I think it is important to share these thoughts with other growing individuals as the foundation of later thoughts, values, and morals. I think everyone’s thoughts are important and this type of exposure can have a huge impact on a child’s journey in discovering who they are and what they choose to believe in.

    I can understand where both sides are coming from. In one hand, I think it is great that Pete is sharing the word of God just like his parents, but, on the other hand, I know it must be hard to let your child be influenced to think otherwise on the religion you breathe and live by when it comes to Danny’s father. In all honesty, I would support Peter’s parents because I believe that Pete has the greatest intention to positively impact Danny’s life and strengthen his relationship with the Lord. Ultimately, whether it is now or far into the future, it will be up to Danny to make that decision for himself and what he wants to believe in.

  9. I think they should be allowed to express their own religion. They are kids and although they may not understand all the different types and how important it is to most people.

    I am on Pete’s parents side. They are not old enough to understand yet and most likely don’t even know fully what they believe.

  10. I think the kids should be allowed to share their own religion with each other because like many other had been saying children share what they hear and see, and they are innocent not really understanding the full concept like the adult does. Sharing religion beliefs with one another as they growing I feel like they would be more open mind with the different religion background.

    1. I agree, because people have to learn to be open minded about other religions. That’s how it should be in the society, and it’s better to start as children!

  11. This post was very interesting, however, I don’t think children should use their religious interpratons to influences each other. I think children get very confussed about religion at a youge age so i think they should not be influenced and they should explor without other influences. I stand with Danny’s father, because children don’t really know what they belive in and what religion really is and they should’nt be influenced by others.

  12. I think children of different religions shouldn’t use their religious interpretations to influence each other, because every child was born in different family and background, therefore, some parents wouldn’t like their children play with other kids in different religions, also would limit their children’s friendship with the children in other religions. When parents are very sure what their children should believe in, it wouldn’t work even the children want to influence each other, or it would be hard to continue it.

    1. I completely understand where you’re coming from. Children haven’t really developed or fully understand what their own religion is, and could even interpret their own religion in a wrong way by mistake. Although I don’t think that kids should have their own friendship limited if they are from different religions. After all, they are just kids. I think that one of the biggest, if not the biggest, influence in a child’s life are his or her parents/family. So if the child has been influenced to follow a certain religion, then its up to the parent’s to make sure that their kids follow their religion, So kids of different religion can influence other kids, but as long as the parents maintain their own structure teachings, then there is on problem. I don’t see the reason to separate children just because they are from different backgrounds.

      1. I agree. I think children are at such a vulnerable stage in life, and like those who have mentioned above, they really do soak up a lot of information like a sponge, whether they know it or not. It is the role of the parent to be the biggest influence in their child’s life and I think that they should be aware that not only are their children going to encounter differing thoughts and opinions but also know how to approach them it comes to this concept. I still side with Pete’s parents, but I also think Danny’s parents have a right to respond and react to what is happening in his life.

  13. I agree that children should talk to each about their religion and what they believe in because it will expose them to different religions. Having this exposure will allow the child to have knowledge of the religion and give them a chance to form those views if they would like. Saying this I don’t believe other children should influence other children’s views because then the child isn’t forming his/her own views and is being forced to believe in something.

  14. I think I would take Danny’s father’s position, because when his child doesn’t want to believe in what’s the whole family believing in, it’ll affect family relationship, moreover people who believe in different religion will have various ideas with each other. On the other hand, it’s not right to force the children to believe the religion they don’t want to.

  15. I agree with Pete’s parents, because religion should start to be understood at a young age. I’m not saying that religion should be shoved down someone’s throat, but it’s good for kids to discuss it. I like how Pete and Danny influence each other, because I believe that it will help the friendship grow.

  16. I agree that children should talk about their religions. It can open them up to other religions. Speaking from experience I grew up in a very Catholic community and went to a catholic school until the 8th grade. So as a child I did not know much about other religions. It wasn’t until I got to high school since it was a public a where I got to know more about other religions

  17. I believe that it’s a great thing to be able to talk comfortably about your religion and that it would help if the discussion about religion started at a younger age. Speaking up about their own religion helps spread the word of their faith and helps the religion as a whole to have another voice for it. Having open discussions about your own religion could also potentially help a person further understand other religion as well and what they stand for. Children from our generation are speaking less and less about religion and it could be due to the fact that they feel uncomfortable about speaking about their faith and would not know how others would react which is why I agree that speaking openly about your own religion and talking to others about theirs is a great concept.

  18. It is nice to see that children can talk about their faith in a powerful manner. A lot of children are not follower of a specific religion or faith but followers of their parents and what they dictate. If a child is not educated about his religion or the parents follow religion in a biased way then it would be wrong for the child to spread his/her faith on others. On the other hand if a child is educated by both parents and schooling then the child may have actual facts and truthful knowledge that he can share with others. If you love your faith, or are at peace and find happiness through your faith, of course you would want to share that with others. Pete knows that his friend is ill and is just projecting what he knows, in this case is his faith through catholicism.

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