Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life
by David Cherniak
New York, NY: Spiritual Literacy Media in association with Ardustry Home Entertainment, 2005
6 DVD’s, 13 hours total
Reviewed by Rev. Karen Knight-Price
Like a divinely rich piece of chocolate, best savored in small manageable bites, the DVD series Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life is a rich and flavor filled treat, needing time to be enjoyed and processed.
Written and produced by filmmaker David Cherniak, the twenty-six alphabetical meditations are based upon the same titled book by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. A tool for spiritual growth, suitable for all, regardless of one’s particular religious path,Spiritual Literacy is a six volume series full of beautiful images, powerful quotations, poignant stories, and rich lessons about what it takes to have a basic understanding to become spiritually literate in daily life.
Each thirty minute film represents a spiritual quality based upon a letter from the alphabet. For example: A is for “Attention,” B is for “Beauty,” C is for “Compassion,” and so on. When viewing each segment, one spiritual quality at a time was plenty to absorb and process. The producers of this masterpiece have created visual poetry.
The opening credits reveal the design of the media before its viewers:
To read the sacred in everyday life, we have to develop new qualities that open us to the presence of the spiritual within all aspects of existence. No moment, no thing is to be excluded. But, like any other kind of reading the sacred requires an alphabet. Here in twenty-six parts are twenty-six different qualities that are needed to practice spiritual literacy for reading the sacred in everyday life. (Disc 1)
There is a universal appeal to this work and an understanding of the sacred that will resonate with any seeker. For example, the meditation for the letter B is in relation to the quality of beauty. The viewer immediately sets his or her eyes upon a large meandering rhinoceros, looking for all its worth like a exemplary specimen of the species. There is a beauty to be seen in this huge creature! The viewer discovers that often beauty is hidden, and one only has to look, and truly see.
Another delightful film was “Play.” The narrator explains that play “is the joyous quality of the spiritual life” (Disc 4). Images of children playing encourage the pilgrim to play and embrace the moment of right now.
Spiritual directors and guides will find Spiritual Literacy to be a unique tool for both individual and group work. Each film is certain to draw out opinions, memories, and insights of hope, and possibility. A particular themed meditation would be an ideal discussion starter for a group of individuals from differing paths, with no apparent commonalities. A free viewer’s guide is available at www.spiritualityandpractice.com and includes reflection and discussion questions, and possible practices for each episode. The images, words and music in this series can only serve to emphasize the unity within all humanity.
Karen Knight-Price lives in Davisburg, Michigan, USA, with her husband and two children. They share a love for each other, their land and animals, the joy and whimsy of life, and a passion for God. Karen has served as United Methodist pastor for eighteen years and is currently the youth and family pastor at the Goodrich United Methodist Church in Goodrich, Michigan. She shares her enthusiasm for teaching children and youth as well as preaching and celebrating life.