For those who don't know, my father is a Methodist minister. Consequently, I've got a lot of sympathy for ministers in fiction, which tends to be rough going as more often than not if there's a religious figure in a piece of fiction they're evil, since a villainous pious person is a pretty easy hypocrisy to counterpoint a protagonist's goodness.
On the other side of the equation, I also get frustrated when religion is shown in a good way by providing cheap, easy platitudes. I love it when we see someone really wrestle with religion in films like WINTER LIGHT or CALVARY. Now, I'm not writing anything that heady, but when it came time to write the sermon that ends Act One of THE WITCH IN THE WOODS, I wanted my minister, a good but flawed man, to really wrestle with spiritual loneliness. It's something that hits any religious person at one time or another, and I think it would certainly be hitting the citizens of the town of Putnam at this point in the script.
Loneliness has emerged as a theme, maybe THE theme, of the script. It only seemed appropriate, then, to have my Into Act Two break center around a town, through its spiritual leader, giving into loneliness and despair, only to have the extremely lonely and isolated witch, ANNE, arrive to give them aid.
SO, I figured I'd share that bit of sermon and break here, just to show you proof of life for this crazy script. Here you go! FATHER CAVENDISH'S SERMON:
Most of you have heard about what happened yesterday, about the dire straits our town is in. Some of you have even come to me asking for guidance. There are things a pastor is supposed to tell his flock at such times. "Have faith." "Trust in God." "The Lord will provide." But those are cheap lessons, and in times like these cheap lessons are the ones we can afford the least. The Lord does not always provide. He did not provide for John or Sarah Latham, and in the coming days he may not provide for our water, our comfort, possibly even our lives. In the coming days, we may feel entirely alone.
But we won't be the first to feel that way, nor the last. Let us remember, the good Lord Jesus Christ was terribly alone on the cross and in his hellish sojourn the three days following. In our righteous journey to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, perhaps it is only right that occasionally we share in his loneliness. Let us take comfort and possibly, ironically, find communion in the realization that, at times, we are, all of us, terribly alone.
BOOM! The door to the church BURSTS OPEN! Everyone turns to see ANNE and HANSEL standing in the church doorway.
Oh, hey! Here you all are! Sorry, am I interrupting something? Anyways, whenever you're done here, I was thinking...maybe I'd help you take down some witches.
Sitting in a chair behind the altar, SISTER EMILY smiles.