Director: John Patrick Shanleyirishchurch1

Genre: Drama, Mystery

Writer: John Patrick Shanley, play and screenplay

Discussion Outline

1. Themes to watch for: Authority, struggle between certainty and doubt,

2. Symbolism to watch for: a cat in the house, a stained glass window with an all-seeing eye, windows are constantly found open

3. Scene 2 [5 min.]: Doubt sermon (stop after Father Flynn gives him the toy)

  • What did you learn about Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn from this scene? About the time period and the school?

4. Scene 8 [5 min.]: Donald Miller (start with digging in the garden to caught mouse and “you need to be a cat”

  • Proverbs 15:14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
  • Is Sister Aloysius right to be concerned?

5. Scene 10 [12 min.]: The accusation (to making a phone call to Mrs. Miller)

  • Watch the jockeying of power positions, the struggle between change and the status quo
  • Jude 1:22-23 Be merciful to those who doubt, snatch others from the fire and save them, to other show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
  • What was the dilemma for Sister James?

6. Scene 13 [10 min.]: Donald’s mother

  • Mrs. Miller said to the sister: “I’ll be standing with my son and those who are good with my son.” Was the mother wrong? (Possibly have participants write write their answers on cards then discuss as a group)
  • Romans 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

7. Scene 14 [10 min.]: The accusation

  • Father Flynn says, “We are the same.” Why does Sister Aloysius  refute that?
  • If Father Flynn is lying, and has something to hide, are Sister Aloysius’ actions justified? (from Christianity Today)
  • Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

8. Scene 15 [10 min,]: Sisters’ doubts (fast forward to outside bench scene)

Sister Aloysius said, “In the pursuit of wrongdoing, one steps away from God.” Is wrongdoing ever good even in service for a greater good?

References and Additional Resources:

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