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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

October 21, 2008

Being Human through the Lens of Bruce Almighty

On October 11, Ave Maria Press hosted its Fourth Annual Teacher Enrichment Day at Notre Dame. The teachers in attendance participated in a lesson plan exchange. Periodically we will be highlighting some of those lessons on the Engaging Faith blog.

This lesson connects the content of Chapter 1 of Your Life in Christ to various themes found within the film Bruce Almighty. The students are assigned Chapter 1 before watching the film. They are asked to write responses to four of the seven questions that follow. They are also required to highlight in red type any quotations they use from the textbook. The film can be assigned to watch at home or all or parts of it can be shown in class


1. In the beginning of the film, Bruce blames God for his lousy life. On pp. 26-27 of Your Life in Christ the book offers eight tips for remembering what it means to be "human" (and not either God or a robot). Choose four of these "tips" and give examples from Bruce's life (at the beginning) as to how he was not accepting of those aspects of being human.

2. When Bruce's life starts falling apart, Grace tries to give him proper perspective. Using all you've learned about grace, how does the character Grace reflect God's grace? Use examples from throughout the whole movie. State at least five examples. (Grace is defined in the text as: "A free and unearned favor from God, infused into our souls at Baptism, that adopts us into God's family and helps us to live as God's children.")

3. There's a theological pun early on in the movie when Bruce comes to "Omni Presents." It is based on a major doctrine about how we experience God. See if you can figure out the play on words, and then explain the actual meaning of the theological term. (Reference: Catechism of the Catholic Church 232–256).

4. In the film, Bruce grants everyone everything they as for and chaos ensues. Then, when Bruce asks God about how to answer prayers, God responds with another question: "Since when do people know what they REALLY want?" God is suggesting here that perhaps people ask for the wrong things in prayer. Read pages 39–40 of the text under the section "Humans Are Wounded by Sin." Using scenes from the movie as examples, answer: "Why is it a good thing that God does not grant us everything we ask for or want?"

5. Read the section on page 38, "The Social Nature of Humans." The quote on page 38 from Frederick Buechner—"The life that I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place and time my touch will be felt. Our lives are linked. No man is an island"—reflects a lesson that Bruce had to learn. Do you think that he learns this lesson by the end of the movie? If so, give examples. If not, move on to another question! Use words from the text such as community, common good and solidarity.

6. Read pages 33–35 of the text under the heading "Our Spirital Nature." This section exmphasizes how the God-given gifts of an ability to think and love, and use of our free will in a responsible way call us to good moral behavior. In the movie, Bruce says: "How do you make someone love you without effecting free will?" and God responds "Welcome to my life!" Give some examples from the film that illustrates this teaching. Be sure to state which points from the chapter you are focusing on in your answer.

7. Toward the end of the film, when Bruce is in heaven, God invites him to pray. Instead of praying that Grace will love him, he prays for something else. What part of the text in the section "Humans Are Made in the Divine Image" (pages 28-31) does this selflessness of Bruce reflect?

This lesson was submitted anonymously. If the teacher who created the lesson would send me an e-mail I will be glad to credit you and your school!


1 patrick Powers

Jan. 29, 2011
Re. the Bruce Almighty showing. Depending on your situation. Some students complained to our school chaplain about the sexual content of the movie and I was asked to discontinue showing it. I have not been in a high school classroom in several years and now would have either deleted the offensive scenes or talked about them prior to the showing. The movie is otherwise very good and most of the students really enjoyed it.

2 Jared Dees

Jan. 31, 2011
Thanks for the advice, Patrick. It is always a good idea to talk with students and parents about the content of the videos you intend to show in class. It is easier to prevent fires than to put them out.

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