Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urge church members worldwide to observe the Sabbath with renewed fervor. This emphasis on Sunday behavior and attitudes may be particularly impactful for LDS college students who often find the other six days of the week too busy for adequate recreation.
Some millennial Mormons have found themselves torn between the proper observance of their faith’s holy day and the enjoyment they expect from their leisure time. They turn to Netflix, this generation’s replacement for the DVD player, to bridge the gap between Sabbath-day observance and entertainment. Though most people use Netflix to watch their favorite comedies, dramas and television shows, the site is home to spiritual selections as well. Here are some of our favorites:
The Prince of Egypt (1998)
Featuring a star-studded voice cast and colorful animation, “The Prince of Egypt” depicts the Biblical story of the Israelites’ exodus from slavery. The film received critical acclaim and helped put Dreamworks on the map.
Son of God (2014)
“Son of God” is a film adaptation of the 10-hour History Channel miniseries, “The Bible,” which can also be found on Netflix. Though it received mixed reviews from critics, the movie’s cinematography and inspirational subject matter make this a great choice for Sunday watching. “It’s one of my favorite movies,” said Ashley LeBaron, a BYU senior majoring in family studies. “It made me think of different interpretations on some of the things I’d always thought of only one way.”
17 Miracles (2011)
LDS filmmaker T.C. Christensen takes viewers on a heartwrenching journey with this historical drama. “17 Miracles” is the story of a band of Mormon pioneers who endure unimaginable hardships on their trek west. “It shows the hand of the Lord in the journey of the pioneers,” said Erica Hammond, a freshman studying family and consumer science education. “It’s really touching.”
Meet the Mormons (2014)
When the LDS Church produces and releases a film it in theaters, you can be sure Mormons will show up. That’s what happened with “Meet the Mormons,” a documentary detailing the lives of six church members. Some critics around the country panned the film, reviewing it as “shameless propaganda.” But it appears the audience enjoyed meeting the Mormons — the film boasts an 89 percent audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Don’t let its R-rating fool you — Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” packs a spiritual punch. The film, which depicts the final hours of Christ’s life, is a harrowing look at the cruelty of first-century Jewish leadership and the suffering of Jesus Christ. Though the movie is inherently spiritual in nature, some viewers may be concerned with the graphic, albeit accurate, depictions of violence it contains.
American Mormon (2005)
What in the world do Americans think about Mormons? Filmmakers Daryn Tufts and Jed Knudsen find out in the aptly titled “American Mormon.” In the documentary-style production, Tufts and Knudsen conduct man-on-the-street interviews all around the country to gauge public perceptions about the church. “It’s fun to know what people think,” said Mariah Johnson, a junior studying film. “It’s nice to know that most people think we’re pretty alright.”
Saints and Soldiers (2003)
Amid the influx of LDS-themed comedies in the early 2000s, “Saints and Soldiers” stood out in stark contrast. The movie, Excel Entertainment’s highest-grossing film ever, was originally rated R for war violence, but producers sacrificed content to lower the rating. The film, which contains LDS actors, is based on true events in World War II.
God’s Not Dead (2014)
The influential German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously declared that “God is dead.” In the contradictorily titled film, “God’s Not Dead,” a college student is required to sign a paper affirming Nietzsche’s declaration in order to pass his atheist professor’s philosophy class. He refuses and instead debates his professor in front of his peers. Though the film received mixed to negative reviews, it may be of particular interest to those facing their own spiritual questions.
The Saratov Approach (2013)
Two Mormon missionaries were kidnapped and held for ransom while serving in Saratov, Russia in 1998. “The Saratov Approach” was a wildly successful depiction of these harrowing events, and is one of the best-reviewed LDS movies of all time. If you can take heart-numbing suspense, this movie is a great choice.