Last weekend my daughter asked me to take her to the movie Soul Surfer. I was a little wary of the religious aspects of it since she’s still working through her own beliefs, but it wasn’t a bad movie for a 14-year-old girl working through depression regardless of religion. The story of determination and hope outshines any messages of faith it had so I think it’s a decently positive movie for nonbelievers as well. The times they touched on religious belief may be comforting for believers and eye rolling for nonbelievers, but for this nonbeliever they didn’t try too hard with the attempts to associate real world events and human strength to a godly purpose. I think it’s a story about believers without necessarily trying to spread belief. I know I would have hated watching this movie for myself but maybe I’m less critical because I did it for my daughter.
If you don’t know it, it’s a movie based on a true story about a surfer that survived a shark attack but lost an arm. The family rightfully thanked the friend’s dad for what he did to save Bethany more than they thanked their God for saving her. It saddens me when believers give all of the credit to the supernatural and don’t give any credit to the efforts right here on Earth. If you’re going to believe in gods then I still expect you to acknowledge the efforts of humanity since I’ve never seen the gods work without our “help.” Even when it comes to the inevitable question of “why bad things happen to good people?” the answer is the same as you’d get from any human with or without religion. Sometimes things just happen and there is no reason we know for it. They try to suggest that there was tie to an unknown purpose and possibly that was to serve as an inspiration to others. However, the inspiration we can get from Bethany’s strength is for anyone to be inspired by without or without gods.
It was the challenges faced by Bethany and how she dealt with them and overcame them that was the topic of discussion for us. We talked about depression being my daughter’s shark or maybe even her arm loss. We talked about how something that seems so hopeless and terrible at the time can be overcome and there really is a reason to continue living and continue working to be better than our current conditions. We talked about how Bethany and my daughter both have help along the way to survive but ultimately it was Bethany’s strength, determination, and desire to do more and better that made her the better person she has become. Not once did our talk bring up god, religion, or anything supernatural because it wasn’t necessary for the conversation. Not everyone needs such things to give them hope. My daughter felt a little hope and a little happiness to see a fellow teenager girl overcome and triumph. It was a good moment and I hope things like this can provide some amount of help while we work through overcoming her depression. The movie may not have touched my “soul” but it was a nice moment with my daughter that through her it touched my heart. I wish for Bethany’s strength for my own daughter and anyone else that needs it.