One of them is a transformation in how we think of knowledge. We need to shift from (1) thinking of knowledge as the mere acquisition of data or information, and that alone, to (2) to recognizing that there are many valuable ways of knowing: verbal, visual, tactile, rhythmic, social, and spiritual, for example. Quantitative knowing is valuable, but it is not more valuable than qualitative knowing, Verbal knowing is valuable, but it is not more valuable than visual knowing. Analytic knowing is valuable, but it is not more valuable than emotional and spiritual knowing.
What is spiritual knowing? Spirituality and Practice offers a spiritual alphabet that names many of its some forms. Consider them forms of knowing.
From a process perspective, these many forms of spiritual knowing are not isolated from other forms; they are woven into the other forms. Verbal and visual, tactile, and rhythmic: all can include a sense of unity, mystery, love, yearning, and zeal. Even data acquisition can do so. Spiritual knowing is part of, not apart from, other ways of knowing.
Process theology also recognizes that these various forms of spiritual knowing are ways of touching the very Soul of the universe, in whose life the universe unfolds and whose very heart is shaped and nurtured by the wisdom and beauty of the world. They are "spiritual" for two reasons: they are ways of touching and being touched by the Spirit, and they are ways of enriching life on Earth, which is the Spirit's concern.
The movie CODA raises many valuable questions: What unique forms of spiritual knowing are available, and perhaps intensified, in Deaf culture? How might being deaf or hard of hearing, even as difficult in a hearing-hegemonic world, nevertheless open a person to a greater form of spiritual aliveness than he or she might otherwise enjoy? How might these deaf-enlivened forms of spirituality be further enriched by interactions with the hearing world? And how might the hearing world be enriched by interactions with Deaf culture?
As you watch the trailer and video below and read the review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat of Spirituality and Practice, these are questions to consider. And if you happen to be a hearing part of such a hard-of-hearing family, or a member of Deaf culture, you will have special insight into the questions. Please share your insights with others. Your insight adds to the wisdom of the human family, and helps all appreciate more deeply that, in many ways, Deaf is Beautiful.
In process theology the whole of life, human and more-than-human, is enriched by cultural and ethnic diversity, including the uniqueness of Deaf culture and the diversity within it. They are many ways of being deaf. Indeed, the living whole of the universe, God, is likewise enriched by this diversity. Deaf cultures are part of the multitude of traditions that help make God "God." Each way of being human adds something to the very make-up of God, apart from which God would be less "God." God is deaf, too.
Ruby (Emilia Jones) is a fresh-faced 17 year old who lives near the waterfront in Gloucester, Massachusetts. While her mother Jackie (Marlee Matlin) takes care of housekeeping, she works on the family's fishing boat with her father Frank (Troy Kotsur) and older brother Leo (Daniel Durant). Ruby is a CODA – child of deaf parents – and her brother is also deaf. As the only hearing person in the family, she is their interpreter and go-between with the world. Now a senior in high school, she's been doing this all her life.
Sometimes Ruby is so exhausted that she falls asleep on her desk at school, and she is often the target of ridicule by her suburban classmates. She finally musters up enough courage to show up at choir class, but when asked to sing to determine in which section she belongs, she flees the room. She returns the next day and impresses the music teacher, Mr. V. (Eugenio Derbex) with her singing. Soon she is enjoying being in the choir. She's pleased with Mr. V. asks her to sing a duet with Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) at their concert.
Coda is an emotionally rich coming-of-age drama directed by Sian Heder and based on a 2014 French film, La Famille Belier. Heder does a commendable job depicting both what is unique and what is universal about Ruby's situation. When the family decides to try a new approach to make their fishing business profitable, they need Ruby to help them communicate and set it up. Yet she would like to go away to music school. Their being deaf complicates the situation but does not completely define it. Viewers will recognize universal elements of family life here -- deep love, sibling rivalry, the parents' desire to hold on, the child's need to break free.
This is a feel-good movie with a few lows and many highs. You will find yourself cheering for all the characters, a rare accomplishment by the writers, directors, and actors. And you'll recognize and celebrate Ruby's realization that singing gives wings to her spirit, freeing the soul so she can really soar.
If you have been moved emotionally by Coda, we have just the book for you. It explores the soulful depths of music: The Musical Life: Reflections on What It Is and How To Live It by W. A. Mathieu. He says that being musical has nothing to do with knowing how to play an instrument or to sing a tune. It is "a way of being aware, an angle of perception, a tilt of the ear."
Another Amphibian Movie
Children of A Lesser God is an amphibian movie which introduces us to the world of the deaf and then moves with equal grace into universality as it explores the challenges we all face in love relationships. True communion, we learn, must not come at the expense of deep respect for each other's precious individuality.
Sound of Metal offers a touching portrait of the spiritual journey into deafness by a heavy metal drummer. The result is a meditation on the intricate balancing acts involved in all human experience. We are transported into a world where community grows out of silence.
Both Sides of Deafness
Immortal Beloved was written and directed by Bernard Rose with a heightened sensitivity to the flashes of feeling and the flights of fantasy in Beethoven's inimitable creations. Gary Oldman effectively conveys the ways in which this composer's physical ailment frustrated him and cut him off from others. Yet at the same time his deafness served as a seedbed for some of his most soul-stirring passages.
The Best Things in the World Must be Felt in the Heart Helen Keller (1880 - 1968), who was deaf and blind, worked for the American Foundation for the Blind for 44 years and traveled around the world giving new hope to those with disabilities. She modeled for us the spiritual practice of zeal which means to be truly alive in the fullest sense of the word. Ruby in Coda would certainly identify with these words by Keller. May they be a guiding light for you as well:
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt in the heart.