Fortunately, I don't have to explain why the title character of The Bishop's Wife, Loretta Young, seems oblivious to the fact that people will gossip if she goes dining and ice skating alone with Dudley the Angel (Cary Grant). We don't have to puzzle over why the title character of The Preacher's Wife, Whitney Houston, thinks it's okay to "window shop" for a man other than her husband, mistaking angel Denzel Washington for a man.
No, thankfully, we just have to look at the churches. The Bishop's Wife has two Episcopal churches: St. Timothy's, the church where Bishop David Niven used to be pastor, and the other church he currently pastors in the film. I didn't catch the name of that church, so for our purposes we'll call it St. David's. The church in The Preacher's Wife is Saint Matthew's, an unusual name for what seems to be a Baptist church. We'll look at different aspects of ministry in each of these churches.
Going My Way to Sister Act) seem primarily concerned with building programs and fundraising. I've attended enough congregational and leadership meetings to attest to the fact these are among the more dull functions of a church. St. Timothy's, on the other hand, seems to be primarily concerned with its music program, their boys' choir.
MUSIC PROGRAM: As just mentioned, St. Timothy's has a quite wonderful boys' choir. The highlight of the film for me was their performance of Charles Gounod's "Noel." The choir does have a rather odd rehearsal schedule -- the boys come together for one song and then depart. But it seems to work. There's not much to say about St. David's music program. As for the music at St. Matthew's, with Whitney Houston as choir director and soloist and Lionel Richie playing the piano, there certainly is a degree of excellence.
PRAYER: Again, nothing about prayer from St. Timothy's. The Bishop does pray for the problems of the church and learns to accept God's will rather than his own in answer to his prayers. Preacher Henry, on the other hand, presents one of the worst analogies I've ever heard about prayer. While talking to a young man facing trial he says, "Do you play basketball? Prayer is like when you take a shot and the time between the shot and the basket, you hope. And that is what prayer is like." So I guess in that analogy: Shooter = Person Praying, Shot = Prayer, Basket = God. As someone who is a horrible shot in basketball, I must say I really hate that analogy. If I had to have a sports analogy for prayer, I'd rather compare it to a son having a catch with his father like in Field of Dreams.
Note: This review originally appeared in Dean and Mindy Go to Church, 12/11/14