God and the Bodhisattva:
A Buddhist Reading of Stranger Than Fiction

By Richard Hutchinson


1. Stranger Than Fiction. Dir. Marc Forster. Perf. Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, and Emma Thompson. 2006. DVD. Columbia Pictures, 2007.

2. See for instance Lloyd Baugh, Imaging the Divine: Jesus and Christ-Figures in Film (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997); Matthew McEver, “The Messianic Figure in Film: Christology Beyond the Biblical Epic,” Journal of Religion and Film: Vol. 2, No. 2: October, 1998) and Anton Karl Kozlovic, “The Structural Characteristics of the Cinematic Christ-figure,” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Volume VIII: Fall 2004.

3. Campbell, Joseph, The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, [1945] 1972.

4. Lama Surya Das, Awakening the Buddha Within. NY: Broadway Books, 1997: pp. 42-3.

5. Corliss, Roger J., 1989. The Vision of Buddhism. St. Paul, MN: Paragon House, 1989: p. 41.

6. Corliss 32.

7. Watson, Burton, translator, The Essential Lotus. NY: Columbia University Press, 2002.

8. Gyatso, Tenzin, H.H. the Dalai Lama XIV, The Path to Enlightenment. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 1982: p. 133.

9. Gyatso 145.

10. Surya Das 144.

11. Surya Das 77.

12. Gyatso 87.

13. Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching. NY: Broadway Books, 1998: pp. 161 - 168. The Dharma is the Buddha’s teachings, and the Sangha is the Buddhist community.

14. Coogan, Michael D., ed, Eastern Religions. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2005: pp. 63-65.

15. Molloy, Michael, Experiencing the World’s Religions, Third Edition. NY: McGraw-Hill, 2005: p. 88.

16. Surya Das 82.

17. Mackie, , J.L., The Miracle of Theism: Arguments for and against the Existence of God. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1982.

18. Corliss 122.

19. Cited in Corliss 134.

20. Bhikkhu Bodhi, “Introduction” to The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya, Translated by Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi, Third Edition. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications: p. 57. The passage cited refers to the Brahmanimantanika Sutta: The Invitation of a Brahma, MJ 49, pp. 424-430. The Pali Canon is accepted by scholars to be the oldest collection of Buddhist writings. The diverse Mahayana tradition develops later.

21. Corliss 122.

22. Corliss 143, 161.

23. Literally “Machine of God.” Realizing that the watch served as a Deus ex Machina opened up the insight that led to this paper.

24. Sherburne, Donald W., ed., A Key to Whitehead’s “Process and Reality.” Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966.

25. Scott, A.O. “Hearing Voices? It’s Just Somebody’s Imagination.” The New York Times. 10 Nov. 2006. 12 Nov 2006. <http://movies2.nytimes.com/2006/11/10/movies/10fict.html?pagewanted=print>

26. Phillips, Michael. “Stranger Than Fiction? For DePaul’s Zach Helm, Success Is.” Chicago Tribune Online Edition. 5 Nov 2006. 12 Nov 2006. <http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/chi-0611040283nov05,0,3342184.story?coll=chi-leisure-hed>

27. Sluyter, Dean, “Are You Willing to Get Lost?” Beliefnet.com, reprinted from Tricycle: The Buddhist Review 12 November 2006. < Http://www.beliefnet.com/story_1861/story_18617.htm>

28. Ian Harris, Ian, “A ‘Commodius Vicus of Recirculation: Buddhism, Art and Modernity.” Chapter 23 in Westward Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Asia, ed. Charles S. Prebish and Martin Baumann. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002.

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