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What 'Les Miserables' teaches about prayer

Published: Monday, Aug. 3 2015 7:51 p.m. MDT

This undated publicity image provided by Universal Pictures shows Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean in a scene from the motion-picture adaptation of This undated publicity image provided by Universal Pictures shows Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean in a scene from the motion-picture adaptation of "Les Misérables." Jackman was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, for his role in the film. The 85th Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 on ABC. (Laurie Sparham, Associated Press)

Our take: JustPeaceTheory.com founder Valerie Elverton Dixon, discusses the various prayers offered by Jean Valjean during the movie "Les Miserables" that hit theaters Christmas Day 2012. She notes the similaries between the character set during the French Revolution and modern-day situations.

When we think about the movie Les Miserables, a nominee for the Motion Picture Academy Awards best picture, the role of religion is obvious. We see a Catholic bishop give the hero, Jean Valjean, a second chance at life and we see the conflict between grace and law in police officer Javertís relentless hunt for Valjean. But when I watched this latest movie iteration of Victor Hugoís novel, I noticed the prayers.

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean in Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean in "Les Mis?ables." (Universal Pictures, Laurie Sparham)

When scholars talk about prayer, they describe the meaning of the relationship between the individual and the act of communication with a transcendent Other, a divine love, that some call God. A prayer may take us deeper inside ourselves and cause us to commit to what we think is a righteous course of action. Prayer can also take us outside of ourselves in a willingness to pray intercessory prayers for someone else. Prayer demands action.

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