The Life of Pi

The Life of Pi is an artistic masterpiece for universalism. Eastern theology is peddled as dogma: “The way of karma, the way of God.” Monotheism is gently dismissed because “Faith is a house with many rooms.”

The protagonist, Pi, attracts our sympathy from the beginning. The poor lad’s actual name, Piscene, came from ”an elegant French swimming pool [and] became a stinking English latrine,” Pissing, thanks to schoolyard bullies. His father is a harsh pragmatist while Pi is a seeking idealist.

Pi blends religions with humor when he surprises a Westerner by concluding his prayer with “Amen.”

His guest responds, “I didn’t know Hindus said Amen.”

“Catholic Hindus do,” Pi replies. “They get to feel guilty before hundreds of gods.”

Pi weaves his lovely tapestry of religious harmony. “I met Krishna first.” After his mother introduces Pi to Hinduism, he accidentally meets a Roman Catholic priest and is baptized. “I came to faith through Hinduism, and I found God’s love through Christ. God introduced himself again—this time through Islam. I found a feeling peace and serenity.”

As the trailer reveals, Pi ends up on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. As his life peels down to bare essentials, he writes in the lifeboat manual, “Words are all I have left to hang on to.” Then a storm blows away his notebook. He is left with a raw experience with divinity and shouts, “Praise be to God!”

The actor who plays Pi said in an interview that he appreciates how the movie questions illusion and reality.

At the end of Pi’s incredible journey, you are offered the opportunity to disbelieve everything he has told you when Pi asks, “Which story do you prefer?”

“As for God, you will have to make your own mind,” declares Pi the oracle.

(Quotations from the movie are based on my notes and may not be word-perfect.)

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About Ben Unseth

Executive Director at Project Understanding (2014-2017), social service agency in Ventura, CA
This entry was posted in communication, culture, public square and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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